Forget “Parasite,” Paris Hilton already solved classism

Cameron Iizuka

More stories from Cameron Iizuka

Cameron’s Circus
March 6, 2020

With the recent slew of awards Bong Joon-Ho’s “Parasite” raked in during this past awards season, it donned on me that perhaps I should watch this supposed masterpiece of filmmaking. 

Going in with only the knowledge that it was about a poor family and a rich family, and, unfortunately, a spoiler about the basement that I will spare you from, I was prepared to be amazed. After sitting through many car scenes, rainstorm scenes, eating scenes and even one uncomfy sex scene with my friend seated next to me, I left the theater at a loss for words. I’d never experienced a movie that made me, all at once, understand everything, even down to the orchestrated choreography of montage.

Despite my “understanding,” however, I couldn’t actualize any of my thoughts into sentences, only managing incoherent mumblings to escape myself. One of these mumblings (I wish I’d been cogent enough to have said), was that I’ve already seen something like what “Parasite” was trying to demonstrate; in how the class divide between the rich and the poor is still very much alive and actively working to tear down the fabric of the national identity.

Said something is Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s early 2000s era tv show “The Simple Life.” In the show, the two ditsy celebs would get down and dirty with working-class America in an attempt to understand “the simple life.” The show lasted five seasons, one network switch and dozens of the two wild party girls’ temper tantrums. With each season taking on different aspects of the American workforce, with one season showcasing a life on the road, another highlighting possible internships and others abandoning society completely, going into the woods, the girls get a real taste of American life outside of the Hamptons and Malibu. 

The best part of the show, though, is the idiocy of it all. One would expect the people in these ultra-rural communities to be the less-educated, more buck-wild, members of the show, but in reality, it’s Hilton and Richie. Without their phones, credit-cards, expensive cars and waiting staff, they’re helpless in the world and it’s hilarious to watch them not understand the simplicity of doing seemingly simple minimum-wage jobs. These girls –the richest of the rich, the dumbest of the dumb, the famous for the sake of being famous– are symbols of idiocracy amidst their redneck costars, and it’s interesting for the show’s creators to be so aware of that obvious class divide and deliberately frame entire episodes to fit the gag better.

It’s not an intellectual drama, or even “good” TV, but it’s a satirical look at the real issues with the American wealth system and it’s an interesting artifact of, not only the American socioeconomic divides and materialism, but also early 2000s fashion.

So after 13 years of being off-air, if you still find that Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton didn’t single-handedly reveal, if not end, American classism, just watch them in “White Chicks” where they cancel racism, too.