Parasite: Reflecting Reality

RB Cabutin

February 28, 2020

The South Korean film Parasite recently made waves online and bagged numerous awards at  the Oscars. Those who have seen the film would agree that this movie is indeed phenomenal and has successfully caught the world’s attention to care for equality and social justice.

Parasite provides a sharp picture of society and portrays the stark difference between the rich and the poor in a realistic and creative manner.

It paints the poor as people who work so hard to have a better life. However, society seems to pull them down as they attempt to climb the economic ladder. For this reason, the poor desperately cling onto whatever means in order to survive.

It also shows how the rich tend to be oblivious to the adverse situation of the masses and how they get richer by leeching off of people who dream of a better life.

Parasite is one of the films where art imitates life, exposing the bitter reality of our society.

The question now is this: If Parasite reveals the condition of our society and the growing gap between the rich and the poor, what can we do to bridge that gap?

 

Who is the real parasite?

The word “parasite” means a person or an organism who habitually relies on or exploits others for personal gain without giving anything in exchange.

The movie tells the story of two families: the rich Parks and the poor Kims. These two families represent two major social classes in our society and the huge gap between them.

Parasite tells us that the great divide between the rich and the poor is more than just economic. Because of social divide, injustice permeates society; greed becomes a way of living and a motivation to live; many people work hard for selfish gains in order to get ahead in life.

At first glance, the movie seems to portray the Kims to be the parasites, deceiving the Parks and taking advantage of them to earn a stable income. But as the story progresses, one will be led to think that the Parks can also be the parasites as they take advantage of the Kims’ poor situation.

Gleaning from this film, this question begs to be answered: In real life, who’s the real parasite? Is it the rich who take advantage of the poor in order to enrich themselves, acquire massive wealth, and build empires? Or is it the poor who seem to capitalize on their own situation in order to demand sympathy and help from others?

 

Hope from the Right Source

In the movie, a scholar’s stone represents hope and a shot at a good life for the poor; a stone that promises wealth to whoever possesses it.

The Kims got their hands on this stone, and this became the source of their hope. It seemed to have worked for them at first. By pretending to be unrelated to one another, all members of their family eventually got hired by the Parks. But this “lucky” stone failed them in the end.

The Parks, on the other hand, drew their hope from their wealth. They relied on their riches as the source of their worth and status. This triggered their eventual downfall in the film.

One thing is clear: Hope placed on the wrong things will eventually disappoint or worse, destroy us.

See those people polishing their chariots, and those others grooming their horses? But we’re making garlands for God our God. The chariots will rust, those horses pull up lame—and we’ll be on our feet, standing tall.

Psalm 20:7,8 (MSG)

When we place our hope on our achievements or on people, we will end up disappointed. When our hope is fueled by selfish desires or dishonest gain, this can be the source of our downfall.

That is why God points us to the only source of eternal hope; the gospel of Jesus. The gospel tells us how a rich and powerful God lovingly reached down to us and made us rich in Christ; it tells us how a holy God bridged the greatest gap in order to reconcile us to Himself.

This hope does not fail or disappoint us, regardless of our financial, social, mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional status.

 

Reality of God’s Kingdom

While the movie provides a great reflection of society, it also stirs up our hearts to long for a perfect society where peace, justice, and righteousness reign.

This perfect society actually refers to God’s coming kingdom—where poverty and suffering are but a thing of the past, and where everyone is filled and fully satisfied.

The great news is that those who have surrendered their lives to Jesus belong to this kingdom and will receive this kingdom when God finally consummates it. This is a promise that we can hope for and claim right now.

This is possible because Jesus became poor so we can receive a new status and a new identity as children of God, coheirs of His kingdom.

But it doesn’t mean that we are to just wait idly by. As children of God, transforming this society is a family business.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”

Matthew 13:33 (NLT)

Making a difference doesn’t always require grand efforts to make a change. Even in simple ways, we can take part in what God is doing to transform this world. By taking small steps, our small efforts can create a ripple effect.

 

In a graduation speech, renowned writer Ricky Lee said:

“Pumunta ka sa mga bukid, sa mga minahan, sa mga bundok, sa mga batang lansangan, sa mga home for the aged, sa mga inulila ng digmaan. Magtanong ka kung anong maitutulong mo.

Magkaroon ka ng boses, ng opinyon. Mundo mo ito. ‘Di ka parang hanging nagdaan lang. Mag-iwan ka ng marka.

‘Yang hawak mong diploma, para ‘yan sa iba, hindi ‘yan para sa’yo.”

Dream big. Let your dreams be so big that it goes beyond you. Dream for the world around you.

Give generously. Educate people. Be kind to others. Preach the Good News of the gospel.

And maybe, little by little, the good you bring can bridge the gap and destroy the dividing walls in our society.

 

(Photo source: https://ph.asiatatler.com/life/why-bong-joon-hos-parasite-2019-is-a-true-cinematic-masterpiece)

 

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The Author

RB Cabutin

RB Cabutin is a Journalism graduate from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He surrendered his life to Christ when some of his activist friends shared the Gospel to him. They are now in different churches but still serving one God. RB knew he wanted to go fulltime ministry when he understood that long-lasting change in this nation would start in discipling the next generation. He serves as one of the campus missionaries of EN Campus Metro East.

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