Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers for the film Parasite.
In the third act of Parasite, before the daughter (Ki-Jeong), son (Ki-Woo) and father (Ki-Taek) of the Kim family escape the Parks’ mansion, a heavy rain ensues. As the Kims make their way down to their semi-basement home, the rain floods downward with them and swamps their impoverished neighborhood. The water level reaches their necks in their basement, soaking important possessions and breaking the toilet. With their semi-basement inhabitable, the Kims seek refuge in a school gym for the rest of the night.
On the other hand, because their mansion is situated at a high altitude, the Parks sleep soundly through the inundation, completely unaware of the flood that devastated the Parks’ home. In the morning, the Parks’ mother Yon-Kyo cheerfully prepares an impromptu garden party for her son Da-Song and requires the Kim family to attend. While on the phone with her friends, she ignorantly thanks the previous night’s heavy storm for the clear blue sky and jokes how they “traded camping for a garden party” while the Kims’ father Ki-Taek listens resentfully.
Moments such as this from Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite depict the brutality of classism and wealth disparity. As the coronavirus pandemic ravages nations and debilitates its citizens, Parasite‘s themes add a new dimension to COVID-19. Citizens, including wealthy public figures, are self-isolating at home due to the alarming rise of new cases each day. From building 4,000 piece puzzles to singing about fried fish, celebrities are finding different ways to entertain themselves while quarantined in their mansions. Although most of them are taking to social media to inform their fans to stay home, unfortunately yet unsurprisingly, some are demonstrating the typical tone-deafness often heard from celebrities.
One such example is pop veteran Madonna with a net worth of $570 million. In an eerie video posted to her Instagram, relaxing in a milk bath strewn with flower petals, she dramatically voices her thoughts on coronavirus.
“[COVID-19] doesn’t care about how rich you are,” Madonna said. “It’s the great equalizer… we’re all in the same boat. If [it] goes down, we’re all going down together.”
Similarly, on March 19, actress Gal Gadot posted a supercut of her and two dozen celebrities including Kristen Wiig, Sia and Jimmy Fallon singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” to Instagram.
“[It] doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from,” Gadot said before she starts singing the first verse. “We’re all in this together.”
Contrary to the words of Madonna and Gadot, we are, in fact, not all in this together. The fact of the matter is Madonna and Gadot have the privilege of lounging in their million-dollar mansions while the middle and working-class are risking their lives daily by going out in public to buy groceries, clean public areas and tend to the already infected. Even worse, a good portion of the lower classes are laid off due to growing fears of the virus, including many employees from the entertainment industry. And while both Gadot and Madonna play significant roles in the business, as world-famous artists with net worths over $1 million, their comfortable livelihood also comes with ignorance and privilege. Singing about “imagining no possessions” or pensively murmuring about how a virus removes a systemic social hierarchy doesn’t offer any tangible support towards abating the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it demonstrates severe insincerity in a situation that will devastate millions of lives.
this is what that gal gadot video was like pic.twitter.com/dJqVso9vG1
— rose 💫 (@spicybeees) March 21, 2020
It’s not the entire truth that all celebrities are filthy rich people that refuse to donate nothing but “positive vibes” to coronavirus victims and medical professionals. Singer Britney Spears has offered to help her low-income fans by supplying them with diapers, food, etc. Actors Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively donated $1 million to Food Bank Canada and Feeding Americans.
Lively, Reynolds and Spears’ philanthropy was undoubtedly welcomed by the Internet, while Gadot and Madonnas’ insincere actions were chastised by the media. It may seem like these gestures demonstrate a celebrity’s character, yet it also demonstrates a similarity between them: the rich can choose between generously donating physical resources to the disadvantaged in the middle of a global crisis or posting useless videos of themselves on Instagram without providing any aid.
Just like Gadot, Madonna and other celebrities who choose to offer nothing, the Parks from Parasite chose to stay ignorant about the flood and didn’t volunteer any assistance or aid to alleviate its disastrous effects on working-class families living below them. The Parks’ choice to ignore affected their lives permanently with a massacre, and if more celebrities keep up a shallow display of support and refuse to donate their resources and money, COVID-19 will continue to take more lives.
Featured Image via CinemaBlend