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The Importance Of "Parasite's" Historic Oscar Win

If you watched the Oscars on February 9, you would have witnessed a historic win in the Best Picture category. The Korean film “Parasite” beat out huge name contenders like “Little Women,” “1917,” and “Joker” to take home the grand prize of the evening. A film completely in Korean managed to win against all odds, and it was the very first foreign film to do so in 92 award ceremonies. A film about a poor family sneaking their way into a wealthy family, the subjects of class inequality is focused on heavily throughout the film. The winning was a historic moment not only for foreign language films but for Asian representation in the media industry as well. 

The Academy in the past years has been heavily criticized for the lack of diversity in the winners and nominations. When you have an all Asian cast, which is rarely seen, only most recently in the 2018 film "Crazy Rich Asians" and the 2019 film "The Farewell," saw high awards breaking down barriers against people of color in the film industry. The film industry has seen some strides towards more diversity in casts, female directors and underrepresented groups. However, there is still such a blatant lack of representation, especially at awards. This year's Oscars had no female directors and only one person of color in any of the major acting categories. "Parasite" was the only other nomination with representation with people of color in it that were the main cast.

Below is the trailer for the female-directed film "Little Women":

After winning Best Foreign Language Film at the 2020 Golden Globes, director Bong Joon-ho stated in his speech, “Once you overcome the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” calling for more representation in cinema. “Parasite” was a hit in cinema, and received critical acclaim for its acting, direction and story. The New York Times praised it saying, “Bong has some ideas in “Parasite,” but the movie’s greatness isn’t a matter of his apparent ethics or ethos — he’s on the side of decency — but of how he delivers truths, often perversely and without an iota of self-serving cant.” With the praise increasing, “Parasite” was up for several nominations at the Oscars. They ended up sweeping the Oscars taking home Best Original Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, Best Director and the coveted Best Picture. 

This sweep of awards means more than being a great film, but the ability to show that foreign films can do well. The notion that a film will be less popular because the cast isn’t white, or in English has been long-held and “Parasite” just proved everyone wrong. Not only that, but it’s such an important win for the Asian community. It is extremely hard for Asian actors to break into Hollywood, and a film with an all Asian cast is a win for representation. It’s a historic win, no film in a different language with a completely Asian cast would have ever been thought of as a contender for this award. It has broken down long thought barriers and hopefully will usher in more spotlight for foreign films and diverse casts.

While it is a win, there’s still a lot left for the Academy and film industry to work on. Not a single cast member of “Parasite” was nominated, and there are still huge gaps for representation that need to be filmed. As the industry is changing, there’s hope that this will be a gateway for more films with people of color, more films about women, female directors, LGBT representation among others to be seen on the screen.