If you watched the Oscars last night, you would’ve seen some new faces – Bong Joon Ho, a director from South Korea, received four awards last night including “Best Picture,” and the response was, unfortunately, very skewed.
Since the introduction of Crazy Rich Asians to American audiences as well as the rise of the KPOP group BTS, American audiences seem to be divided in their reception to a foreign pulse arising in their media niche. In this case, this isn’t a very diverse niche, but we can’t ignore the constant awareness being spread over acceptance and diversity in our media. Comedian and director Jordan Peele shook the scene with movies like Get Out and This Is Us, both ground-breaking films featuring a predominantly African American cast. Hollywood celebrated the concept of directors and actors who were people of color as a means of dissipating the loud cry of racism that still runs rampant in the media and in everyday life. At this point, we’ve reached the acceptance of an all-black cast, and we praise it as well as give it its own notoriety separate from the norm.
So what’s the big fuss over a South Korean movie winning an Oscar?
On the petty side, there’s still quite a large population who, for some reason, don’t like subtitles. I use subtitles even for American movies just because I’m afraid I’ll miss something. On the other hand, with the popularity of anime in America, we’ve found an alternative with dubbed Asian films and shows, but there are those who prefer to watch those films in their native language with English subtitles. That’s a small issue, and like Bong Joon Ho said, if you can get over those words at the bottom of your screen, you’ll find there’s an entire other world of media that you can enjoy.
I distinctly remember trying to introduce some girls in my high school to KPOP, and, while it was a joke, they said, “They could be saying *bomb America* and we wouldn’t even know.”
Funny, yes, but also… Not really that funny.
America has slowly gotten over the mild hurdle of a foreign group being more popular than some American artists, but it seems we’ve reached another impasse.
Personally, I don’t care about Asian representation. I think we’ve done more in our communities that need not be broadcasted for being “the first” because all we’re doing is accomplishing what we WANT to accomplish as opposed to what we need to accomplish. That being said, when it comes to these awards, I do feel very proud because that means the barrier between foreign and domestic art is truly closing, and we can move one step closer towards having one art-appreciating community that isn’t separated by something like language.
However, blatant stupidity like this just makes it very obvious that while everyone claims to want acceptance and diversity, Asians seem to be in that “gray area” of “Well, we want acceptance, but idk how I feel about Asians”.
You can’t ask for acceptance and still have exceptions like this. Filmmaking is a universal craft that should not be limited because you don’t speak the language. Films are created for a world audience. After seeing the rude responses to awards being presented to a kpop group or to an Asian actor even when they speak English, it’s pretty obvious that we aren’t included in the “diversity” pitch that everyone so loves to preach on the reg.
This is not to discount or lessen the movement that has already been set in motion. It has become very obvious that audiences readily welcome black actors, musicians, and the like with open arms. This is definitely a triumph for the minority community! We took a stand, and now audiences can see that it is in fact possible to have diversity in media. Crazy Rich Asians did the same, but because we have several other countries that push out amazing movies and music, the gap still cannot be closed without some tough love.
If you ask for diversity and acceptance, you need to accept everyone. There can’t be exceptions to a rule that is meant to include and celebrate people on a global scale. English speakers seem to be the new group to display a form of discrimination, and Asian media is the target. And for those who project that Parastite won Best Picture for the sake of “woke culture” seem to forget that this media is nothing new. You’ve all been living blissfully ignorant about a huge world of movies and music simply because it’s in another language. Were this to be in Spanish or French, the stigma would be nothing. Nonexistent. We’ve been taught to normalize Spanish music and media, but we haven’t learned to breach the language barrier despite the constant need for new material. This has nothing to do with being “woke,” and it has everything to do with being open to what is ultimately just another movie. Any other person would recognize this as a man winning an award for a movie he created. We don’t need to recognize “an Asian man winning an American award for an Asian movie he created with Asian actors.” It’s a movie. Get over it. Don’t push for acceptance if you’re the only one who wants to be accepted.
It’s no longer a cry for diversity; it’s a new breed of exclusivity.