Parasite Bong Joon-ho Bret Easton Ellis

Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-nominated thriller, challenges our sympathies throughout: Do we sympathize with the destitute Kim family? Or the wealthy Parks?

It may seem obvious to you — but it’s probably a given that not everyone sees Parasite the way you do. In the latest Low Key podcast, we talk about how our sympathies shifted, or didn’t, throughout the masterful film.

Consider: We’re always inclined to root for underdogs, and the film begins by focusing on the predicament of the hungry and internet-challenged Kim family, who live in a grubby subterranean apartment that is periodically poisoned by street-level insecticide spray. Of course we want them to succeed.

When they begin to con the wealthy and largely clueless Parks, we’re mostly on their side. But they begin harder to root for as they screw other working-class people out of jobs and even turn to violence to hang on to their newly acquired success.

It’s also hard, however, to feel very sorry for the Parks — not just because of their lack of street smarts, but because of their clear sense that there should be a line between them and their servants.

The film highlights the calamitous lack of any middle ground — in the form of a middle class.

It’s also intriguing to wonder how privileged Oscar voters will feel about the Park and Kim families. Do they follow the natural inclination to support underdogs, trying to break through? Or will the notion of being suckered by hangers-on hit too close to home?

Listen on your favorite podcasting platform:




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Here are some highlights, with time stamps (and spoilers galore):

2:05: The interesting Native American references in Parasite.

5:05: “They do a good job, once they get the jobs.”

6:10: Is Mr. Park a jerk?

7:15: How the Kims screw over other working-class people.

8:00: Are we mad at the Kims for letting insecticide get on the pizza boxes?

8:50: “The poisonous effect does trickle up.”

12:00: Ki-woo, the son in the Kim family, is a creep.

17:40: Shout-out to American Psycho.

18:15: Shout-out to Kurt Vonnegut.

23:44: “How thin is the line between the rich and the poor?”

27:05: Let’s discuss “the line” and “the smell.”

32:00: What if the Kims do have a smell, though?

33:10: The biggest crime the Parks commit.

37:50: The deal with the rock.

42:20: Why did Parasite become so popular in the U.S.?

43:50: “Rich people’s worst nightmare”

45:10: Thoughts on the Adam McKay adapatation of Parasite.

46:30: Is Tyler Perry’s Fall From Grace the “African-American Parasite“?