What could an English adaptation possibly add?
"Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films," said director Bong Joon-ho as he accepted his Best Foreign-Language Film Golden Globe Award for Parasite.
Bong Joon-ho's statement wasn't just a plug for his own films––while Parasite was spoken almost entirely in Korean, Joon-ho is no stranger to directing English-language movies (like Snowpiercer). Rather, Joon-ho's point was that many of the greatest movies and shows are not in English, and by limiting oneself to things without subtitles, people deprive themselves of important art and ideas that exist throughout the rest of the world.
Now is a better time than ever for Joon-ho, in particular, to spread this message. Parasite made major (Western) industry waves in 2019, going from a niche Korean film with a limited theatrical run to the most talked about movie on the top of pretty much every critic's "Best of the Year" lists, if not the decade. With the total proliferation of streaming, international films are more accessible than ever before. It's about time people start noticing movies that come from outside Hollywood.
And yet, in a strange twist of irony, just after the Golden Globes, news broke that Bong Joon-ho and American producer Adam McKay (Anchorman) are teaming up to...bring an English TV limited series adaptation of Parasite to HBO.
Bong Joon-ho and Adam McKayCREDIT: SHUTTERSTOCK
On the one hand, it's great to see Bong Joon-ho getting the level of international recognition that he's always deserved. Many wholeheartedly believe that Joon-ho is one of the most talented directors in the world right now, and if he has the chance to further his profit from a wholly original project, then more power to him. But at the same time, something feels a little off about the prospect of reshaping Parasite into a more palatable package for English-speaking audiences who simply don't want to read subtitles.
After all, while the class inequality themes of Parasite are universal in many ways, Parasite is still inherently Korean, commenting on the intricacies of said inequalities as they specifically exist in South Korea. Americanizing Parasite is unappealing for the same reason a live-action, whitewashed Akira is––sometimes art is inseparable from the culture it came from, and taking that away from it only results in a bastardization devoid of meaning.
Of course, unlike the American Akira adaptation, which Hollywood has been unsuccessfully trying to get off the ground for nearly a decade, Bong Joon-ho––the original creator of Parasite––would be fully involved in Parasite's adaptation. At the very least, Joon-ho's involvement suggests the possibility that his vision wouldn't be fully compromised for American audiences, but perhaps shifted.
Ultimately, it's impossible to say what the end result from such an endeavor would look like, but the more pressing question is still: "Why?" Why would a movie like Parasite––a perfect, succinct film that packs everything it needs to say into its two-hour runtime––need to be stretched out into a TV adaptation? What else is there possibly to add? Are Americans really so incapable of reading subtitles that they need a movie like Parasite spoon-fed to them in English?
Whatever the case, at least Bong Joon-ho will come out on top.
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Once upon a time, wearing a graphic tee with an image of a beefed up, spikey-haired anime boy was considered lame. Now, it's legit streetwear.
Over the past few years, anime has grown from a hyper-niche, oftentimes derided interest in the West to a medium just on the border of mainstream. Along the anime boom in fashion, Hollywood studios have been scrambling to buy the licenses to every anime franchise they can. But that doesn't mean anime is new to Hollywood––some celebrities have been vocal about their love of anime for years.
Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan has publicly touted his anime preferences for ages. Kanye West is a big anime fan, too, citing Akira as one of his greatest creative influences. His music video for "Stronger" stands in testament, featuring imagery ripped directly from the classic anime film.
Happy birthday to the world's biggest genre
On this day in 1973, Clive Campbell, the Jamaican-American "selector" known as DJ Kool Herc, hosted a "back to school jam" at 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Boogie Down Bronx of New York City.
Armed with a booming sound system and reggae beats, Herc– a shortened nickname for "Hercules"– commanded insatiable audiences across the South Bronx with his unique looping technique called the "Merry-Go Round." "[I knew that] they were waiting for this particular break," Herc later said, "and I got a couple of records that got the same break up in it. I wonder how it would be if I put them all together."
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