OPINION: Parasite’s Best Picture win raises questions about Academy’s intent to honestly change

by | Feb 18, 2020 | A&E, Opinion

Emily Wilson, News Reporter

As I first heard the Oscar nomination list being read out by Issa Rae and John Cho, I distinctly remember their disappointment reflecting my own. I thought it would be another year for the white male.

But something happened on Sunday night I expected to never be possible. Bong Joon-Ho made history in being the first South Korean to walk away with not one, but four Oscars.

“I’m speechless. We never imagined this to ever happen. We are so happy. I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now,” Bong said in his acceptance speech for Best Picture.

Over the course of 92 years, no foreign language film has ever won Best Picture at the Oscars, making this a massive time for minority representation in Hollywood. The last time an Asian film was even nominated was Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in 2001.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has a long-standing history of being white-washed and I get the feeling diverse nominations and wins comes out of necessity and less for inclusion.

This year we had another perfect example of what Asian-American portrayals look like in Lulu Wang’s personal film of the westernized Asian-American culture. The film failed to be nominated for an Academy award despite its popularity and multiple wins at other award shows.

That piques my interest until I remember only 16 per cent of Academy voters were people of colour in 2019, according to a CNBC article last month. This is clearly not a representation of the world’s demographics.

Despite the deserving win of Parasite’s awards, it can’t be helped to fear the choice behind it. Yes, the Academy’s questionable ideals in the past seem to have taken a turn this time around, but I doubt this is something we can look forward to in the next few years.

Besides, it was noticed that the entire cast of Parasite was left out of the nominations.

So what does this mean for the future of Korean cinema and foreign films of diverse participation?

Well simply: it’s a cultural transformation in Hollywood.

With Parasite’s win as this year’s Best Picture I think we’re going to start seeing a lot more accurate portrayals of Asian-American families and see a more diverse representation on the big screen, especially those in other languages.

Bong said subtitles should no longer be a “barrier” for viewers. “You will be introduced to so many more interesting films,” he said after winning at the Golden Globes.

With more works coming out of South Korea and other countries, I expect to see an influx of minority driven stories, actors, and filmmakers.

For a country with so many deep-rooted heartbreaks, this win means so much more for South Korea than it would for a winner from North America.