Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Parasite is the Great Gatsby of our Era

I said to my wife in the car after seeing  Parasite that it was Gatsby. I hadn't thought about it since but the more that film resonates and now after getting Best Picture I really do believe it is a modern parable much in the same vein of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby. Both stories involve class stratification and ultimately class warfare. Parasite and Gatsby may be culturally worlds apart but they both tell the story of the American Dream or the World Dream gone bad.
Gatsby's telling of Tom Buchannan's world of privilege that Gatsby has bought his way into by being a bootlegger is much the same as the Kim's world of buying their way into the one percent  by posing as servants to the upper class. Deception is key in both stories. Gatsby fakes his lineage and the source of his money while the Kim's fake their pedigrees of education and serving the rich. The protagonists of both parables are doomed by their efforts to move up and ultimately destroyed by the forces that hold them down.

While Gatsby is but a 1920s singular comment on the American Dream as it existed in early twentieth century America, Parasite spreads out and gives the world view that the dream of having a family and living a life of satisfying work, leisure, with a comfortable home and a better world for our children transcends the boundaries of America and reaches into the corners of the world as a modern comment on the ongoing struggle between the haves and have nots. In both cases, Gatsby being shot by Myrtle Wilsons deranged husband and the Kim's destruction at the hand of the deranged husband of the housekeeper are eerily similar in that the rich use the very people they oppress to murder those who dare to break out of their class. Ninety five years separate these two stories, but the world that is painted is much the same.

william hazelgrove

Books by William Hazelgrove