Parasite (Spoilers)

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andyd1010
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Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by andyd1010 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:53 am

I see a number of you consider Parasite the best movie of the decade. It was definitely entertaining and thought-provoking, but I don't see it as this amazing depiction of the plight of the poor and the privileges of the rich like a lot of people seem to. The Kims had my sympathy early on. I was ok with their duplicity at first as a means to social mobility. The way the son and daughter got their jobs was not particularly harmful to anyone, and at that point I was onboard with the movie's main messages. The Kims got more duplicitous to get the father his job, but I could still sympathize at that point. That was unnecessary though - the son and daughter were making good money and could have provided for their family at that point, and the parents could have been patient and waited for a legitimate opportunity after their children built a cushion. Especially once the father got his job, this would have been even easier. But then to physically harm a woman and take away her longstanding job, that was too far, and I lost sympathy for the family. Was I supposed to think that was a necessary means to an end? It clearly wasn't. And then the family was reckless on numerous occasions once it had fully infiltrated the Park household. If the filmmakers could have made it believable that the family's actions were necessary due to its dire impoverished situation, the movie would have been much more impactful for me.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Holden » Thu May 28, 2020 3:07 am

For me, there was almost some intangible quality that made this film good. I couldn’t explain it, but it was also their in Bong Joon-Ho’s 2007 masterpiece “The Host.” The craft of the film was utterly amazing. The movie was filled to brim with symbolism, but it wasn’t forced on you in a way that made the film seem overfilled. Every performance is perfect. For me, I agree that the family does obviously horrible things, but that’s the point. Everyone is horrible. The rich family are terrible people, the poor family are terrible, the family in the basement are horrible. The criticism that the film sends after the system of rich and poor is one similar of violence creates violence, it forces everyone into manipulation.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by andyd1010 » Thu May 28, 2020 5:49 pm

Holden wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:07 am
For me, there was almost some intangible quality that made this film good. I couldn’t explain it, but it was also their in Bong Joon-Ho’s 2007 masterpiece “The Host.” The craft of the film was utterly amazing. The movie was filled to brim with symbolism, but it wasn’t forced on you in a way that made the film seem overfilled. Every performance is perfect. For me, I agree that the family does obviously horrible things, but that’s the point. Everyone is horrible. The rich family are terrible people, the poor family are terrible, the family in the basement are horrible. The criticism that the film sends after the system of rich and poor is one similar of violence creates violence, it forces everyone into manipulation.
Thanks Holden, it does make a lot more sense from that perspective. Although, again, I think the Kims were only forced into their more benign manipulations, while the more sinister ones should have been avoided. I did get that same intangible sense of appreciation of a lot of the film's other qualities.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by prosecutorgodot » Thu May 28, 2020 6:53 pm

I mainly loved it for the flawless filmmaking. Throughout the entire first half, every shot, every frame, every piece of dialogue, every bit of acting was perfect.

Then the ridiculous twist happens and the movie falls off a cliff.

I don't see why you need the film to be black and white. I guess everyone has their pet peeve... I was sympathetic to the main characters by pure virtue of on-screen chemistry and charisma.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Holden » Thu May 28, 2020 7:46 pm

prosecutorgodot wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 6:53 pm
I mainly loved it for the flawless filmmaking. Throughout the entire first half, every shot, every frame, every piece of dialogue, every bit of acting was perfect.

Then the ridiculous twist happens and the movie falls off a cliff.

I don't see why you need the film to be black and white. I guess everyone has their pet peeve... I was sympathetic to the main characters by pure virtue of on-screen chemistry and charisma.
Reading your comment I almost sent back that Parasite was shot in color not black and white before figuring out what you meant.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Cold Butterfly » Thu May 28, 2020 10:37 pm

andyd1010 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 2:53 am
I see a number of you consider Parasite the best movie of the decade. It was definitely entertaining and thought-provoking, but I don't see it as this amazing depiction of the plight of the poor and the privileges of the rich like a lot of people seem to. The Kims had my sympathy early on. I was ok with their duplicity at first as a means to social mobility. The way the son and daughter got their jobs was not particularly harmful to anyone, and at that point I was onboard with the movie's main messages. The Kims got more duplicitous to get the father his job, but I could still sympathize at that point. That was unnecessary though - the son and daughter were making good money and could have provided for their family at that point, and the parents could have been patient and waited for a legitimate opportunity after their children built a cushion. Especially once the father got his job, this would have been even easier. But then to physically harm a woman and take away her longstanding job, that was too far, and I lost sympathy for the family. Was I supposed to think that was a necessary means to an end? It clearly wasn't. And then the family was reckless on numerous occasions once it had fully infiltrated the Park household. If the filmmakers could have made it believable that the family's actions were necessary due to its dire impoverished situation, the movie would have been much more impactful for me.
I view the family as simply products of their society. They were screwed over by class disparity and flawed socioeconomics, so they turned to murder to attain some sort of success (Very Dostoevskian if you ask me) And that's why I love the film, because it's a film that shows the impact marginalization (whether it's political or economic) can have on the poor. When I submit my EOD film ballot it will definitely be in my top three.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by andyd1010 » Thu May 28, 2020 11:28 pm

prosecutorgodot wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 6:53 pm
I don't see why you need the film to be black and white.
It doesn't need to be, so Holden's interpretation makes more sense. But I am still surprised and a little disheartened that people seem to think that poverty alone caused the Kims' despicable actions (and perhaps even justified them). To me, that is not even remotely the case.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by andyd1010 » Thu May 28, 2020 11:35 pm

It's similar to how I felt about the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, with a murderous turn that wasn't sufficiently earned or justified (this movie was still better than that season).

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by prosecutorgodot » Fri May 29, 2020 1:57 am

I thought andyd was peeved about non-black-and-white-ness. I misunderstood, but I was simply going off of what was written in the original post. I totally see and appreciate the gray area.

I agree that the violence felt like pedestrian shock value. The film was so much more fun as a simple heist-like movie.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Holden » Fri May 29, 2020 2:08 am

I didn’t mind that because the movie basically felt like two movies to me. The second is much darker and less fun, perhaps a metaphor. There are highs but in a the class system the film is representing, ultimately no one is really getting away from the negative aspects.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Cold Butterfly » Fri May 29, 2020 4:47 pm

andyd1010 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:28 pm
prosecutorgodot wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 6:53 pm
I don't see why you need the film to be black and white.
It doesn't need to be, so Holden's interpretation makes more sense. But I am still surprised and a little disheartened that people seem to think that poverty alone caused the Kims' despicable actions (and perhaps even justified them). To me, that is not even remotely the case.
Sometimes people are forced to do those things because of their social status. That’s just a reality of life.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by andyd1010 » Fri May 29, 2020 5:16 pm

Cold Butterfly wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 4:47 pm
andyd1010 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 11:28 pm
prosecutorgodot wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 6:53 pm
I don't see why you need the film to be black and white.
It doesn't need to be, so Holden's interpretation makes more sense. But I am still surprised and a little disheartened that people seem to think that poverty alone caused the Kims' despicable actions (and perhaps even justified them). To me, that is not even remotely the case.
Sometimes people are forced to do those things because of their social status. That’s just a reality of life.
I agree with that. And I think it explains the family's early actions. But social status was not an adequate explanation or justification for the increasingly horrific actions later on, in my opinion. Many of them could and should have been avoided by any reasonable person, regardless of circumstances.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Harold » Fri May 29, 2020 8:27 pm

andyd1010 wrote:
Fri May 29, 2020 5:16 pm
But social status was not an adequate explanation or justification for the increasingly horrific actions later on, in my opinion. Many of them could and should have been avoided by any reasonable person, regardless of circumstances.
What's easy to miss on a first viewing, I think, is that Mr. Kim (and to a lesser extent Mrs. Kim as well) has a seething undercurrent of rage that flares up at unexpected moments (e.g., the way their playful needling of each other during the living room scene right before Everything Changes suddenly turns on a dime and briefly gets ugly and physical). So their immediate actions when they get the upper hand back - while certainly not justified - can be seen as desperate efforts to maintain this new status quo they've found, and even Kim's final murderous action doesn't come completely out of nowhere (we've seen him bristling at Mr. Park's disgusted sniffing several times).

I definitely agree that it feels very much like two different films. When I saw it in the theater, the audience was completely with it for the first half; Bong orchestrates the Kims' scheme to get rid of the housekeeper so brilliantly that the crowd giddily applauded at the hot-sauce-on-the-handkerchief climax, even though on an objective level what they're doing is absolutely despicable. They got noticeably quieter as the second half progressed.

(Here's a brilliant subversion - they're still laughing when Mrs. Kim's expertly timed kick sends the housekeeper into that slapstick plummet down the stairs. Not so funny, though, when we realize that she's actually, you know, dying.)

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by prosecutorgodot » Sat May 30, 2020 1:32 am

The two-tone whiplash issue for me also comes up in the acclaimed "Oldboy." The twist is ridiculous but feels unearned, just like with Parasite (though on a technical and thematic level I think Parasite is better). I dont know if this kind of writing is a Korean thing or something.

On the bright side, I think "Drive" (2011) is a good example of this kind of dark story arc done well, without the whiplash. I have my issues with the film in other respects, though.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by bootsy » Sat May 30, 2020 6:22 pm

prosecutorgodot wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 1:32 am
The two-tone whiplash issue for me also comes up in the acclaimed "Oldboy." The twist is ridiculous but feels unearned, just like with Parasite (though on a technical and thematic level I think Parasite is better). I dont know if this kind of writing is a Korean thing or something.
Seems like you watched a different Oldboy than me or most others. Unearned? If you watch that movie it is completely earned and pays off. There is no way you can say it's unearned if you are paying attention while watching that movie.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by prosecutorgodot » Sun May 31, 2020 12:10 am

bootsy wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 6:22 pm
prosecutorgodot wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 1:32 am
The two-tone whiplash issue for me also comes up in the acclaimed "Oldboy." The twist is ridiculous but feels unearned, just like with Parasite (though on a technical and thematic level I think Parasite is better). I dont know if this kind of writing is a Korean thing or something.
Seems like you watched a different Oldboy than me or most others. Unearned? If you watch that movie it is completely earned and pays off. There is no way you can say it's unearned if you are paying attention while watching that movie.
Eh, that was my reaction, what can you do. It wasn't the worst twist ever, but it certainly wasn't the best.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Schüttelbirne » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:15 am

I've recently had a chance to see it (finally), so I'd like to offer some of my thoughts (they become more disjointed down towards the end, sorry).

Class seems to be one of the central themes of Bong Joon-ho's work. Both The Host and Snowpiercer deal with issues of class quite extensively, while Okja has the theme running in the background. Parasite is probably his most thorough look at class yet.
The movie takes place in a heightened reality, that much is clear. It plays like a satire with a lot of dark humor for a lot of its runtime, which tends to be less than subtle. There are only two classes here: Poor people, struggling to survive and rich people who don't have any problems. A middle class does not exist here.
So at first, it seems totally fine for the Kims to try to integrate themselves in the lives of the Parks. But soon that is thrown into question, for me maybe sooner than for most other people. Ultimately, the Kims are anti-heroes, they may be sympathetic and their intentions may be understandable, but that does not justify their actions. I disagree with the take, that their conditions shaped them and forced them to act this way. Of course the conditions people live in impact their perception of the world and the way they act in it, but every action here is still a conscious choice. I won't go the existentialist way of thinking here, where everything is a choice, because some things obviously aren't. But their decision to harm the housekeeper, despite not knowing enough about her allergy to know, whether it would proof fatal, is wrong from a moral standpoint. Now some may say that in the precarious situation on the edge of society the family lives in, questions of morality don't matter, but I disagree. I do think that most people are fundamentally good (which is something I've convinced myself of to avoid the horribleness of cynicism) and possess a moral compass that would prohibit them from doing something like that.
Also, the things the Kims do are not only a matter of surviving. The "plan" to get them all into the house seems to me like a way of exacting revenge of the upper class by betraying their trust. They rob them of their chaffeur and their housekeeper and replace them and they don't even notice anything. I do think rage fuels a lot of their actions.
Despite all this, the message the story seems to send is a rather conservative and libertarian viewpoint. The note the movie ends on, is the son writing a letter in which he promises his father to get a good job, work hard, earn a lot of money and buy the house to save him. So basically: If you work hard enough, you will be able to work yourself out of poverty. The entire scheme to get into the house and the stuff that goes on there is the wrong way to go. Trying to "cheat" yourself out of poverty won't work because you'll be found out (the whole thing about the Parks smelling the Kims is probably a metaphor for their lack of Habitus required for the position they fill). That's a weird message to send for a movie like this (or maybe I'm just overthinking things, maybe it really isn't a "message" but simply the character breaking to the pressure of the system and deciding to do things the way they are supposed to be done, but which work only in select cases).

The point of no return in this story comes in the first scene in the bunker. The decision of the mother to threaten the housekeeper and her husband with the police is basically the moment the entire rest of the story is mapped out. Instead of teaming up with them to take down their suppressing powers, they choose to fight amongst themselves, with tragic consequences.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Henrik » Fri Jun 19, 2020 8:24 am

Incredibly well-written, Schüttelbirne!
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by andyd1010 » Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:24 pm

Agreed with Henrik, nicely written! I do disagree with one point though. I don’t think it was a conservative message at the end - I think Bong was showing that it was unrealistic for him to achieve that degree of wealth simply through hard work. The film made it appear like everything was coming to fruition, but then it showed him right back in the impoverished place he started. I think it’s more of a commentary on how difficult economic/social mobility is.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Harold » Fri Jun 19, 2020 3:25 pm

andyd1010 wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:24 pm
Agreed with Henrik, nicely written! I do disagree with one point though. I don’t think it was a conservative message at the end - I think Bong was showing that it was unrealistic for him to achieve that degree of wealth simply through hard work. The film made it appear like everything was coming to fruition, but then it showed him right back in the impoverished place he started. I think it’s more of a commentary on how difficult economic/social mobility is.
Yes - in fact, I believe Bong has explicitly said, in interviews, something along the lines of "I hope the audience understands that the ending is just a fantasy - that there's no way in hell he's ever going to be able to buy that house." I don't think it's supposed to be optimistic at all, except to the extent that the son's hopes haven't been completely dashed despite all that's happened.

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Cold Butterfly » Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:57 pm

With all due respect I really disagree with the black-and-white thinking. Maybe a lot of you can’t relate to the situation the family faced in the film (not aiming this towards anyone in particular) but poverty and socioeconomic inequality can fuck a person up. Part of the reason why I love Parasite is because it’s a film that says “here is the psychology of people who are negatively affected by this and what it leads to.” The point of the film, in my opinion, is to look at how we can change and/or help in ways to fix economic inequality, which is mostly caused by incompetent governments and crooked economic policies, no matter which country you live in.

Personally I can sympathize with this family because let’s face it, they were screwed by the system their whole life and decided to put things in their own hands. This can also be looked at as an allegory for the consequences of economic inequality as well. Just look at the housekeeper storyline; it shows that they needed to succeed at all costs. And they did for a while. This also isn’t the first work of art to address these themes, so I don’t understand why people are looking at this with a law-and-order mentality. There’s Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for example, a classic novel which showed someone going at a desperate length in order to gain equality in a society that didn’t provide it.

If you’re left behind by sociopolitical/economic factors, then shit is bound to hit the fan one day. It has happened time and time through history in many countries through revolutions, riots and rejections of power structures. Parasite is a film that serves as a warning to what happens when common human decency is left in the dust. I applaud it for willing to acknowledge the brutality that comes along with it.
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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Schüttelbirne » Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:29 am

andyd1010 wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 2:24 pm
Agreed with Henrik, nicely written! I do disagree with one point though. I don’t think it was a conservative message at the end - I think Bong was showing that it was unrealistic for him to achieve that degree of wealth simply through hard work. The film made it appear like everything was coming to fruition, but then it showed him right back in the impoverished place he started. I think it’s more of a commentary on how difficult economic/social mobility is.
Oh, I do agree that he won't make enough money to buy the house. What I meant was, that the movie ending with the son having this idea in his head, that he will make it if he just works hard enough, is exactly the attitude libertarianism sends. The lack of consideration for individual circumstances making it impossible for some people to follow that ideology, is one of the points it is mostly criticized for (and rightly so).
Cold Butterfly wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:57 pm
With all due respect I really disagree with the black-and-white thinking.
Sorry, I don't understand which part of my comment was black-and-white thinking. If you could tell me, I would appreciate that.
Personally I can sympathize with this family because let’s face it, they were screwed by the system their whole life and decided to put things in their own hands.
Where do you take that from? As far as I know, they owned a restaurant which failed and now they lack the money to upkeep their former middle class status which is probably why they so desperately try to get out.
Just look at the housekeeper storyline; it shows that they needed to succeed at all costs.
I disagree on the phrasing there. They didn't need to succeed, they wanted to and were willing to do anything to get that woman's position.
This also isn’t the first work of art to address these themes, so I don’t understand why people are looking at this with a law-and-order mentality.
I don't believe in social determinism; if they were able to concoct an elaborate plan to get the housekeeper thrown out, they would have been able to get the mother a position without harming the housekeeper. They freely chose to do what they did because they all wanted to work in the same house. That doesn't mean that I don't empathize with their situation. I completely understand the psychological process they go through, but that doesn't mean that what they're doing is justified. I don't know if that's "law-and-order mentality" (because I'm not sure what you mean by that, if you could elaborate that would be kind), but if it is, I don't know what's wrong with that. I recognise that I am in a better position than the Kim family at the point in time depicted in the movie, but that doesn't mean that everything they're doing is just an effect of their circumstances. I know people who've had it much worse and they don't go around poisoning people.
I agree that this is not the first work to address these issues (it's not even the first by this director). And maybe I haven't made it clear enough, but I actually like this movie. My comment was not criticizing it, but just trying to bring my thoughts to paper, so to speak (even if that's hard as a non-native speaker). Regarding the works you mentioned: The protagonists are also anti-heroes. What they do is not morally right; that doesn't mean that it's not understandable or that one may not empathize (or even sympathize) with them.
The first works I think of when thinking about works depicting the effects of poverty on people and their results are Woyzeck and Anton Reiser.
I have some more thoughts, but I've already spent too much time on this, so maybe later. I hope I've made myself clear without offending anyone. English is hard...

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Re: Parasite (Spoilers)

Post by Cold Butterfly » Sat Jun 20, 2020 4:26 pm

Schüttelbirne wrote:
Sat Jun 20, 2020 11:29 am
Cold Butterfly wrote:
Fri Jun 19, 2020 10:57 pm
With all due respect I really disagree with the black-and-white thinking.
Sorry, I don't understand which part of my comment was black-and-white thinking. If you could tell me, I would appreciate that.
Personally I can sympathize with this family because let’s face it, they were screwed by the system their whole life and decided to put things in their own hands.
Where do you take that from? As far as I know, they owned a restaurant which failed and now they lack the money to upkeep their former middle class status which is probably why they so desperately try to get out.
Just look at the housekeeper storyline; it shows that they needed to succeed at all costs.
I disagree on the phrasing there. They didn't need to succeed, they wanted to and were willing to do anything to get that woman's position.
This also isn’t the first work of art to address these themes, so I don’t understand why people are looking at this with a law-and-order mentality.
I don't believe in social determinism; if they were able to concoct an elaborate plan to get the housekeeper thrown out, they would have been able to get the mother a position without harming the housekeeper. They freely chose to do what they did because they all wanted to work in the same house. That doesn't mean that I don't empathize with their situation. I completely understand the psychological process they go through, but that doesn't mean that what they're doing is justified. I don't know if that's "law-and-order mentality" (because I'm not sure what you mean by that, if you could elaborate that would be kind), but if it is, I don't know what's wrong with that. I recognise that I am in a better position than the Kim family at the point in time depicted in the movie, but that doesn't mean that everything they're doing is just an effect of their circumstances. I know people who've had it much worse and they don't go around poisoning people.
I agree that this is not the first work to address these issues (it's not even the first by this director). And maybe I haven't made it clear enough, but I actually like this movie. My comment was not criticizing it, but just trying to bring my thoughts to paper, so to speak (even if that's hard as a non-native speaker). Regarding the works you mentioned: The protagonists are also anti-heroes. What they do is not morally right; that doesn't mean that it's not understandable or that one may not empathize (or even sympathize) with them.
The first works I think of when thinking about works depicting the effects of poverty on people and their results are Woyzeck and Anton Reiser.
I have some more thoughts, but I've already spent too much time on this, so maybe later. I hope I've made myself clear without offending anyone. English is hard...
By law-and-order mentality I meant looking at it in the way of “you committed a crime so you’re not a good person and should be punished.” Your claims about how they may have had a “conscious choice” and just dismissing their actions as immoral (although you did acknowledge the social/psychological repercussions, your comment also seemed to dismiss it for the most part; in your reply you’ve further explained the point and I can respect if you disagree) played into black-and-white thinking. I’m not saying what they did was right, but people miss the point of the film by just saying “they did all these horrible things and aren’t good people for it.” Like I’ve said before, Parasite is a film that’s supposed to educate people on the consequences of sociopolitical/economic inequality. The purpose is to show the result of that and what it leads people to do.

And yes, they needed to succeed. In the beginnings of the movie, you can see that the family is miserable being in their particular situation. If they had kept on like that how would’ve it affected the children? Considering the father’s actions later in the film, it‘s most likely he would’ve exploded someday as a response anyways. Of course you could look at that and say “well that’s a people problem” but if his restaurant had succeeded then none of the things the Kim family ended up doing would’ve happened. You may not believe in social determinism, but the film proves the family would’ve better off in that situation. You also may know people who’ve been in similar situations that didn’t commit those actions, yes. But that doesn’t dismiss the fact that the actions the Kim family committed serve as an allegory as to what could happen as a result of socioeconomic inequality (as I’ve already said) Bong Joon-Ho has said himself that he considers the film to be a reflection of late-stage capitalism.

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