“Parasite” sets precedent for Academy Awards

McKenna Nagle

Filmmaker Bong Joon-ho made Oscars history on Sunday, Feb. 9. His film, “Parasite,” won four of the major categories: directing, foreign film, original screenplay and best picture.

The South Korean film has been growing in popularity in the States during the awards season, as it has won in several categories across the Golden Globes, BAFTAs and film festivals all over the world.

The film is a blend of drama, thriller and dark comedy. It follows a poor family who cons their way into working for a wealthy family, exploring the gap between the higher and lower classes of South Korea.

A big accomplishment of the film is the important and effective issues it portrays, while never ceasing to be totally engaging and intense.

After several online campaigns by the public for the Oscars to broaden their scope, it’s been speculated that Joon-ho’s win is a sign that the Academy is making a real effort to be more inclusive.

However, many people, including Kelli Feigely of the entertainment and media department and Fresh Films, aren’t convinced: “My gut would be [that] I’m not sure it’s going to change.”

Her doubts come from the little recognition female directors received from the entire slew of award shows:

“If the female directing [category] is any indication, [Kathryn Bigelow] won in 2010, and there’s only been one female nominated for best director since. So the question is: is this a one-trick pony?”

The Academy Awards have been heavily criticized in the last few years about their lack of diversity in the artists and films they nominate.

Filmmaker and Augustana professor Estlin Feigley describes the Oscars and Hollywood as an oligarchy:

“It’s a very small group of people that, first of all, can make films at that level. You can already see from the election process: you have to be a member of the Directors Guild that discounts filmmakers of every color, creed and sex.”

“The Academy’s directors branch decides which five films will get nominated, and it’s predominantly white males…you can’t get the demographics, unless there’s a fair number of foreign directors in there” Kelli said.

Film studies professor Katreena Alder agrees that “Parasite” may be just an exception to the Academy’s elitist rule, though she still acknowledges its achievement: “The Oscars are still viewed very much as kind of like the pinnacle.”

However, Kelli worries that this year’s low viewership of the awards will lead to future snubs of foreign films and filmmakers.

“I also wonder if they will not nominate a foreign picture again because it was the lowest watched Oscars in history,” Kelli said. “And they’re going to think about, like… was it because there were a bunch of films that no one had seen? Because it was a foreign film? Or are people just sick and tired of the same four or five guys?”