I grew up in Colorado as the only person of Asian descent in most of the environments I lived in, and so learned to assimilate into American culture while rejecting, sometimes violently, my parents and their culture. And so I looked on with anxiety — and some measure of fear — as the South Korean film “Parasite” won four Academy Awards on Sunday evening, including the biggest prize of all, best picture.
The victory of “Parasite” is a stunning moment that may not also be a watershed moment. It’s certainly cause for celebration that an organization with notoriously questionable taste seems to have gotten it right this year, and it’s unquestionably huge for the South Korean film industry. But despite the initial euphoric reaction from many Asian-Americans, the “Parasite” victory has nothing to do with Asian-American representation.
This is merely Hollywood recognizing, very belatedly, South Korea’s amazing film industry — which has been making superlative films for decades.
The social media chatter around these wins has quickly become polarized. For the left, the victory of “Parasite” represents a validation of diversity initiatives undertaken by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in recent years. The prominent Asian-American film critic Justin Chang of The Los Angeles Times observed, cautiously, that it was “a sign, perhaps, that the academy’s efforts to diversify its ranks and become a truly global institution are having an imperfect but measurable effect.”
For the right, it’s more fuel for the fear machine. It’s evidence of, if not the beginnings of a new Yellow Peril, a progressive media conspiracy to frustrate conservatives’ pursuit of an increasingly authoritarian nationalism. Even before “Parasite” won best picture, Jon Miller, a prominent host on the conservative outlet BlazeTV, complained to his nearly 60,000 Twitter followers about “a man named Bong Joon Ho” winning the screenplay award over “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood” and “1917”.
在右派那里，这部影片的获奖给恐惧机器提供了燃料。它即使不是一场新的黄祸的开始，至少也证明，进步媒介在密谋挫败保守派对日益威权的民族主义的追求。甚至在《寄生虫》获得最佳影片奖之前，保守派媒体BlazeTV的知名主持人乔恩·米勒(Jon Miller)就已经向他近6万名Twitter粉丝抱怨，“一个名叫Bong Joon Ho的家伙“打败了”《好莱坞往事》和《1917》，赢得了最佳原创剧本奖。
The lingering aftershocks of the honors for “Parasite” will satisfy some of the hopes and stoke some of the fears of both sides of the social divide. The left’s belief that Mr. Bong’s film is a remarkable of-the-moment statement about how fed up the 99 percent are with the greedy 1 percent is valid. In a way few films ever have, “Parasite” captures the spirit of its time by nailing the dissatisfaction with the ruling elite that is driving the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren campaigns and, paradoxically, carried Donald Trump to office in 2016.
《寄生虫》获奖的余波，将会满足一些人的希望，也会激起社会分裂双方的恐惧。左派认为，奉俊昊的电影是对当下的一份令人眼前一亮的宣言，讲的是99%的人对1%的贪婪鬼已经忍无可忍，这是个合理的看法。在某种程度上，《寄生虫》抓住了对统治精英不满的时代情绪，很少有电影能做到这一点，也正是这种情绪推动了伯尼·桑德斯(Bernie Sanders)和伊丽莎白·沃伦(Elizabeth Warren)的总统竞选，并且矛盾的是，它还让唐纳德·特朗普在2016年当上了总统。
And the right’s belief that the film’s awards were a craven effort by the academy’s voters to counter last year’s loathsome win for “Green Book” (and atone for this year’s repeat of a near-#OscarsSoWhite repeat) probably holds some kernel of truth as well. But I’m hesitant to give too much credit to the academy for its sudden interest in “inclusion.”
Caught in the middle are Asian-Americans. For many of us, our great hope for representation at the Oscars wasn’t “Parasite,” it was Lulu Wang’s “The Farewell,” about a young Asian-American woman who at a time of personal crisis is confronted with the widening cultural gulf between herself and her parents and grandmother. Alas, “The Farewell,” despite finding popular success and recognition at the Golden Globes and the Film Independent Spirit Awards, garnered no Oscar nominations. I find its exclusion a better indicator of how not just Asian-Americans but also female directors are still seen in Hollywood.
夹在中间的是亚裔美国人。对我们许多人来说，在奥斯卡颁奖礼上获得代表的最大希望不是《寄生虫》(Parasite)，而是王子逸的《别告诉她》(The Farewell)。影片讲述的是一个处于个人危机时刻的年轻亚裔美国女性，感受到与父母和祖母的文化隔阂越来越严重。遗憾的是，尽管《别告诉她》在金球奖(Golden Globes)和电影独立精神奖(Film Independent Spirit Awards)上获得了广泛的成功和认可，却没有获得奥斯卡提名。我发现，它被排除在外更能说明好莱坞不仅漠视亚裔美国人，而且漠视女性导演。
As a child, I was frequently asked if I knew Bruce Lee. For my classmates, there were two Asian people: me and Bruce Lee. The belief that there is only one Asian culture and not dozens, some with entrenched dislikes and prejudices against one another, has been one major source of misunderstanding between the East and the West. What “The Farewell” gets right about my specific experience of being an Asian-American is the idea that we are as foreign and alien in China as we are in the United States. It captures exactly the feeling of being culturally homeless. The win for “Parasite” is a win for Asian-Americans only if Asian-Americans buy into the prevailing generic notions around Asian culture. But I didn’t know Bruce Lee. I don’t know Bong Joon Ho, either.
There is a quiet, yearning part of me that wants to just celebrate all of those faces that look like mine. But the nervous, weather-beaten part of me worries that Hollywood will simply start strip-mining Korean product and luring Korean talent to the United States to humiliate them as sidekicks in action cop franchises. Hollywood did this with Hong Kong’s cinema in the 1990s. The biggest star on the planet, Jackie Chan, was never able to be much more than Chris Tucker’s straight man in a series of “Rush Hour” films that featured a running joke that Mr. Chan’s character was Japanese. Given China’s difficult history with Japan — reports vary among historians, but it’s widely accepted that at least 14 million Chinese people died during the second Sino-Japanese War — that’s a pretty loaded jab.
我内心深处沉默而充满渴望的部分想要赞美所有那些和我一样的面孔。但我内心那个神经兮兮、饱经风霜的部分担心，好莱坞只会简单地开始挖掘韩国影片，并把韩国人才吸引到美国，让他们成为动作警匪片里的配角，令他们蒙羞。1990年代，好莱坞对香港电影市场就是这么做的。世界上最大牌的明星成龙，最多只能在《尖峰时刻》(Rush Hour)系列电影里担任给克里斯·塔克(Chris Tucker)搭戏的“正经人”角色，片中还有一个经久不衰的玩笑，说成龙饰演的角色是日本人。考虑到中日两国之间的痛苦历史——不同的历史学家有不同的看法，但人们普遍认为，至少有1400万中国人死于第二次中日战争——这是个沉重的玩笑。
Even Bruce Lee found himself cast by a racist industry as the driver in “The Green Hornet” and, among other things, a homophobic hothead who leaps off a building after being called “gay” in the 1969 movie “Marlowe.” When a white man was cast in Mr. Lee’s place in “Kung Fu,” a show he helped to develop, he returned to Hong Kong to finally find the success he longed for.
在这个种族主义的行业中，就连李小龙也被选来充当《青蜂侠》(The Green Hornet)中的司机，以及1969年的《丑闻喋血》(Marlowe)中那个性情冲动的恐同者，那人因为被说是“同性恋”就跳了楼。在他参与策划的剧集《功夫》(Kung Fu)中，他的位置最终被一名白人演员取代，之后他回到香港，终于找到了自己渴望的成功。
It’s important to remember the provincialism of the Oscars, which Mr. Bong himself acknowledged last fall in an interview with Vulture. The Academy Awards, he said, are “not an international film festival.” Instead, “they’re very local.”