Bong Joon Ho took the entertainment world by storm with the 2019 release of his pivotal film Parasite. The film was a somewhat satirical, absurdist dark comedy that discussed the growing wealth disparity in South Korea. Part of why the film resonated with audiences so intimately though is that the story of the ever-growing wealth gap is universal. Parasite ended up winning four Oscars in 2020, also becoming the first foreign language film to win for Best Film. Building off that momentum, Bong Joon Ho announced at Cannes this week that he will be adapting the film into a series for HBO that will focus on the same themes in America.
The show will also be produced by Adam Mckay of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, and Step Brothers fame. McKay also has experience with dark, comedic forays into financially inspired satires as a producer of Succession and The Big Short. It seems like a match made in heaven for the two to turn their attention together to the economic crisis in America.
2020 was a hell of a year for a myriad of reasons that I shant re-traumatize us by recapitulating, but one area that's undeniable and continuing to plague American families is the wealth disparity. In 2020 we saw one of the largest redistributions of wealth from the lowest income earners to the highest in modern history. Already obscenely wealthy corporations like Amazon, Uber and Walmart had no problem taking advantage of a horrible situation, and inspiring the new term pandemic profiteers. And while pandemic unemployment rates have hit their lowest point, as Forbes reported, 15.6 million people are still on unemployment. Many in government are calling for a one-time wealth tax to redistribute what was made askew and neutralize the crisis. And despite all of that Jeff Bezos is still going to space, and Elizabeth Warren is big mad, saying "he's laughing at every person in American who pays taxes."
While the entertainment industry is run by the mega rich itself, it does have an uncanny power of inspiring cultural change when it exposes the dark underbelly of society. Hopefully with a dose of comedy added, Joon Ho and Mckay can shed light on a situation that needs immediate attention. Joon Ho said of his intentions for the adaptation, "Parasite is a film on wealthy and poor families, and that is a problem everywhere. [The television series] will be something of great genius, I hope. I worked with Adam McKay and he’s figuring out the scenario. We’re going to do it in the United States… The subject continues to have resonance in France and elsewhere. Many of [us] would like to be rich, but I think in all of us there is a fear of becoming poor.” Unfortunately that fear isn't just a fear, it's a reality for millions, and this show will hopefully offer both comedic relief and inspiration for change.