Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Can Empathy Solve Class Conflict? A Brief Analysis of Houston Coley's Review of Parasite

                           


About a month ago, rising YouTube star, writer, and filmmaker Houston Coley penned a piece reviewing the movie Parasite. His conclusions were essentially that the movie forces us to be empathetic towards both rich and poor, and that, in the end, violence isn't the solution to solving wealth and class inequality. Coley's implication seems to be that change cannot occur from the bottom-up—instead it must flow from the top-down. He states as much when he concludes with the following:

"I think many of us, including those who belong to the middle-class, probably have a level of self-inflicted ignorance toward the margins, too. When you start to feel empathy for the have-nots, it often demands action, and that’s scary. But if Parasite does anything in the lives of the middle and high-class people who see it, I hope it shines a light on those margins, creating empathy and demanding action."

While I had other problems with the review—primarily how it side-steps the role that race and ethnicity play in creating class division in South Korea—I'll focus the bulk of this article on analyzing the claim that we should rely on the empathy of the middle and upper classes to create positive change in society.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Rise of Skywalker Review - A New Chosen One

                

It's been twenty years since the first time I stepped into a theater to watch Star Wars. As with most kids, I left in amazement, and immediately asked my parents for a toy lightsaber so that I could pretend I was Obi-Wan or Qui-Gon. Soon after that I discovered that there was a whole universe of Star Wars stories beyond Episode I, which I voraciously consumed via old VHS copies of A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. This led to me consuming Star Wars through other forms of media, like books and video games, with my favorite of the latter being the Knights of the Old Republic games.

By the time Revenge of the Sith came out, I was a certified Star Wars fanatic. That movie, while it has its problems, is still my favorite Star Wars film to date (something that is probably true of the majority of my generation). The lightsaber battles, the characters, seeing the fall of Anakin Skywalker happen before my eyes—all of these combined to create an experience I would never forget. Even to this day I make sure to watch Revenge of the Sith at least once a year.

When Disney announced the creation of a new Star Wars trilogy, I was very excited. While I was a bit concerned that it would ruin the conclusion of Episode VI, I went into watching Episode VII with an open mind, and was mostly pleased with the result. Episode VIII certainly subverted my expectations, as it did for most people, but at the time I left the theater feeling fairly satisfied, albeit slightly perturbed by the lack of lightsaber duels.