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American Versus Korean Poverty
I talked to Rob Henderson about Parasite, the 2019 South Korean film that won the Oscar for best picture of the year. You can listen to the audio here or watch the video below. There’s a spoiler regarding The Sopranos at about 22:30-23:30 in the podcast (22:00-23:00 in the video), so skip over that if you haven’t seen it. Of course, there are spoilers about Parasite too, like in all our movie and TV reviews.
Someone asked me to do an AI transcription of these things. It turned out terribly, but if you’re interested, here it is. Cost about $17, and we got what we paid for. Don’t rely on it to quote us.
There were two main themes we kept going back to. First, there was the issue of the politics of the movie. Rob and I agree that it’s definitely not a left wing film, although perhaps we think in ways so divorced from how liberals do that others can take a different perspective.
More interesting was how the film portrayed poverty in South Korea versus the US. We tried to imagine a scenario where you made a movie about poor people in America, one that involved a married couple and their two children, who lived in a neighborhood with no violent crime and where nobody is fat or on drugs. Korean leftists I’m sure have the same ideology as American leftists, where poor people are the victims, and rich people are the oppressors. Yet so many things that supposedly make poverty difficult and inescapable in America – guns, broken homes, addiction, “police brutality” – don’t really exist in East Asia. It’s not even on the radar of a left wing director making a film about poor people. As we discuss, a cool thing about watching a foreign movie is that you gain insights into things the creator of a film might not even be aware of. Somehow, the underlying cross-national ideology manages to be the same despite massive differences in local conditions.
On a different note, I was quoted in the NYT on feminization and the current political moment. I actually had a more detailed analysis that they didn’t publish, but I’ll save it for that future essay everyone seems to want.