Rejoice: Parasite, the smash hit that was crowned Best Picture at the Oscars just two short months ago (can you believe it?), is now available to stream on Hulu.
It’s difficult to categorize any film by Parasite’s director, Bong Joon-ho; the Oscar-winning filmmaker excels at making movies that explode boundaries. His darkly comedic monster films, like The Host and Okja, double as biting social commentaries, often aiming barbs at inequality in his native South Korea. Parasite returns to those themes with superb control. It’s a bleakly comic film about two families, one wealthy and one not-so-wealthy, and a caustic tale of class conflict. (At times, it plays like a dark inversion of 2018’s Shoplifters.)
In evolutionary biology, parasitism is a symbiotic relationship between species, where one organism, the parasite, lives on or in another organism, the host, causing it some harm, and is adapted structurally to this way of life. The entomologist E. O. Wilson has characterised parasites as “predators that eat prey in units of less than one”. Parasites include protozoans such as the agents of malaria, sleeping sickness, and amoebic dysentery; animals such as hookworms, lice, mosquitoes, and vampire bats; fungi such as honey fungus and the agents of ringworm; and plants such as mistletoe, dodder, and the broomrapes. There are six major parasitic strategies of exploitation of animal hosts, namely parasitic castration, directly transmitted parasitism (by contact), trophically transmitted parasitism (by being eaten), vector-transmitted parasitism, parasitoidism, and micropredation.
Like predation, parasitism is a type of consumer-resource interaction, but unlike predators, parasites, with the exception of parasitoids, are typically much smaller than their hosts, do not kill them, and often live in or on their hosts for an extended period. Parasites of animals are highly specialised, and reproduce at a faster rate than their hosts. Classic examples include interactions between vertebrate hosts and tapeworms, flukes, the malaria-causing Plasmodium species, and fleas.
Parasites reduce host fitness by general or specialised pathology, from parasitic castration to modification of host behaviour. Parasites increase their own fitness by exploiting hosts for resources necessary for their survival, in particular by feeding on them and by using intermediate (secondary) hosts to assist in their transmission from one definitive (primary) host to another. Although parasitism is often unambiguous, it is part of a spectrum of interactions between species, grading via parasitoidism into predation, through evolution into mutualism, and in some fungi, shading into being saprophytic.
People have known about parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms since ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In Early Modern times, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek observed Giardia lamblia in his microscope in 1681, while Francesco Redi described internal and external parasites including sheep liver fluke and ticks. Modern parasitology developed in the 19th century. In human culture, parasitism has negative connotations. These were exploited to satirical effect in Jonathan Swift’s 1733 poem “On Poetry: A Rhapsody”, comparing poets to hyperparasitical “vermin”. In fiction, Bram Stoker’s 1897 Gothic horror novel Dracula and its many later adaptations featured a blood-drinking parasite. Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien was one of many works of science fiction to feature a terrifying parasitic alien species.
Parasite is now streaming on Hulu
Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a provider. The verb “to stream” refers to the process of delivering or obtaining media in this manner; the term refers to the delivery method of the medium, rather than the medium itself, and is an alternative to file downloading, a process in which the end-user obtains the entire file for the content before watching or listening to it.
A client end-user can use their media player to start playing digital video or digital audio content before the entire file has been transmitted. Distinguishing delivery method from the media distributed applies specifically to telecommunications networks, as most of the delivery systems are either inherently streaming (e.g. radio, television, streaming apps) or inherently non-streaming (e.g. books, video cassettes, audio CDs). For example, in the 1930s, elevator music was among the earliest popular music available as streaming media; nowadays Internet television is a common form of streamed media. The term “streaming media” can apply to media other than video and audio, such as live closed captioning, ticker tape, and real-time text, which are all considered “streaming text”.
Live streaming is the delivery of Internet content in real-time much as live television broadcasts content over the airwaves via a television signal. Live internet streaming requires a form of source media (e.g. a video camera, an audio interface, screen capture software), an encoder to digitize the content, a media publisher, and a content delivery network to distribute and deliver the content. Live streaming does not need to be recorded at the origination point, although it frequently is.
There are challenges with streaming content on the Internet. For example, users whose Internet connection lacks sufficient bandwidth may experience stops, lags, or slow buffering of the content. And users lacking compatible hardware or software systems may be unable to stream certain content.
Some popular streaming services include Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, the video sharing website YouTube, and other sites which stream films and television shows; Apple Music and Spotify, which stream music; and video game live streaming sites such as Mixer and Twitch.
Bong is working at the top of his game here, constructing with his cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo a world where drastic shifts inside houses signify not just changing living conditions but the interior state of the inhabitants. Everything on these characters’ insides shows up outside, too — and that may be why their world is in chaos.
At Cannes in 2019, Parasite won Bong the Palme d’Or in a unanimous decision by the jury, becoming the first Korean film to take home the festival’s top prize. And this past February, it made history again by becoming both South Korea’s first Oscar winner and the first non-English-language film to win Best Picture in the history of the awards.
Parasite is now streaming on Hulu
Want to read more about Parasite? We have you very, very covered:
- Here’s my review of the film.
- Before Parasite won an Oscar, I talked with Vox writers Alex Abad-Santos and Dylan Matthews about why we thought it should win.
- Alex also wrote about the shameful shut-out of the Parasite cast from acting nominations, and what it signifies about the Academy’s attitude toward Asian actors.
- But it did win the biggest prize!
- After it won Best Picture, I wrote about why I didn’t think it could — and why that win was so significant.
- That piece stirred a bit of a tempest on Twitter about whether or not Americans’ dislike of subtitles was universal, and whether subtitles or dubbing are better, so Vox reporter Aja Romano wrote about that debate — which extends far before Parasite.
- I also took a look back at one of Bong’s earlier films, The Host, in which many of the same themes as Parasite pop up.
- Vox reporter Alex Ward wrote about what Parasite says about Korean culture.
- Vox contributor Eric Margolis wrote about how Parasite’s win was forcing a reckoning in the Japanese film industry.
Parasite is streaming on Hulu and available to digitally rent or purchase on iTunes, YouTube, Amazon, Vudu, and Google Play.