Did South Korean ‘Parasite’ get lucky?

Hollywood bias limits impact of foreign films in American media


Art by Taein Park

When thinking of Americans’ preferences in movies, foreign films tend not to be as popular.But why? This may be because of advertisement, accessibility, or even laziness.

One of the easiest explanations for the lack of interest in foreign films is that many Americans simply do not want to read subtitles. Some may say that this issue can be fixed by putting people saying the English translation over the movies, but this usually is not an option. This leads to another reason why these films are not as watched by Americans: they lack accessibility and distribution. It is relatively difficult to find foreign films on American movie sites. This is connected to one of the more surprising reasons why foreign films are not as liked by American audiences: Hollywood pushes their own movies more than foreign ones. They believe that people do not enjoy subtitles and prefer watching films in their own language. They play to the American demographic and promote the films they know will sell. Whatever the reason may be, the trend for many decades has been a lack of popularity for foreign films in America until recently.

This year’s award season brought shock waves when the rather unknown South Korean film “Parasite” stole the hearts of American critics. The film centers around the impoverished Kim family infiltrating the lives of the wealthy Park family through obtaining household jobs and climbing up the social ladder until an unlikely obstacle threatens their new lives forever. Dark and twisted, “Parasite” is a suspenseful and beautifully shot film with core messages of family and the effect wealth has on people and their lives. “Parasite” cemented itself in history at the Academy Awards by becoming the first foreign film to win best picture at the Oscars, while also snatching the awards for best director and best original screenplay. Though last year’s Academy Awards gave critical acclaim to the Mexican film “Roma,” that film did not receive nearly as much praise and recognition as “Parasite.” Since then, “Parasite” has been playing in theaters around the country as well as being available on demand. It is also receiving much more buzz in the United States than any other foreign film in a very long time. It can only be hoped that this trend will continue.