Home Opinions Presence of subtitles a poor critique of “Parasite” Oscar win

Presence of subtitles a poor critique of “Parasite” Oscar win

It is 2020 and the year received us with a breaking point for the cinematographic world.
A South Korean film was nominated – and won – the Academy Award for Best Picture. “Parasite” became the movie of the year. After losing a bus, looking for someone to come watch the movie with me, getting the student discount tickets and getting a car, I was finally able to watch Bong Joon Ho’s film.

There hadn’t been a single movie since “Roma” that demanded me to think so much about all the things that were happening on screen. It was shocking. I don’t think anyone expected the ending, nor development, nor anything. One just couldn’t guess what was coming next. It’s been almost a week and all my friends keep talking about it. It was hilarious, until it wasn’t. And then, when it was finally over, I had to stay behind for a couple of minutes and reconsider so many things. It will take me awhile. “Parasite” has given a lot to talk about. But not every comment is related to its quality as a movie, nor the prizes it received. And not everyone is so pleased about its victory…

And I think this is the moment where we have to start asking ourselves: where are these comments coming from? I get it. Not everyone is going to like the same movies. Everyone has different tastes. Maybe you are a fan of Tarantino. Or you grew up with “Little Women” and really, really wanted to see it win. But questioning its victory because of it being Korean? Mmm… I don’t know.

When the questions and comments start coming from that place, we have a lot to reconsider. Saying that a foreign film like “Parasite” shouldn’t be considered for Best Picture doesn’t make any sense at all. If your argument is that these movies should be confined to the international category because the Oscars are presented by the American Broadcasting Company – well, no. This is not the case. Let’s not go too far. “The King’s Speech.” Does it sound familiar? It’s probably one of your dad’s favorite movies (maybe only my dad’s?). Awarded the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2010, allow me to tell you, it is British. If the Oscars were to be an exclusively American event, I would get it. But there have been multiple British movies that have won the same nomination.

Shouldn’t they also be limited to the international film category? So let’s forget about the argument of “national movies” or anything like that. And is that truly what is bothering us?

We need to remind ourselves one more time that the world doesn’t revolve around English speakers. Let’s not get constrained by this language. Being open to new languages will allow us to open countless different worlds, all of them beautiful in their own way. If the question is, “did it deserve to win best picture?” Well, I’m not sure. I’m not a film critic. But I don’t think we need to be film critics to recognize when a movie is great. We truly just need, in the words of Bong Joon Ho, to “overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles.”

veraes1@stolaf.edu
Regina Vera Estrada ’22 is from General Escobedo, Mexico. Her majors are economics and sociology and anthropology.