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Inequality and housing injustice in the arts


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Well reviewed new South Korean film Parasite tackles inequality and housing injustice...

The Kims - mother and father Chung-sook and Ki-taek, and their young adult offspring, son Ki-woo and daughter Ki-jung - are a poor family living in a shabby and cramped half basement apartment in a busy lower working class commercial district of Seoul. Without even knowing it, they, especially Mr. and Mrs. Kim, literally smell of poverty.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6751668/

They are forced to live in what was designed as a bomb shelter under a normal home and never intended to be a home.  Much like a lot of the housing today in the UK urban areas that is converted HMOs etc and never intended to be homes.

Dickens famously portrayed poverty in the Victorian age...who is shining a bright light on miserable housing and living conditions today?  Why do we need a film from South Korea to do this?  Isn't the injustice of deliberate and rampant house price inflation and the transfer of wealth and the human misery arising from this a rich vein for the arts?

 

 

 

 

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31 minutes ago, Wayward said:

Well reviewed new South Korean film Parasite tackles inequality and housing injustice...

The Kims - mother and father Chung-sook and Ki-taek, and their young adult offspring, son Ki-woo and daughter Ki-jung - are a poor family living in a shabby and cramped half basement apartment in a busy lower working class commercial district of Seoul. Without even knowing it, they, especially Mr. and Mrs. Kim, literally smell of poverty.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6751668/

They are forced to live in what was designed as a bomb shelter under a normal home and never intended to be a home.  Much like a lot of the housing today in the UK urban areas that is converted HMOs etc and never intended to be homes.

Dickens famously portrayed poverty in the Victorian age...who is shining a bright light on miserable housing and living conditions today?  Why do we need a film from South Korea to do this?  Isn't the injustice of deliberate and rampant house price inflation and the transfer of wealth and the human misery arising from this a rich vein for the arts?

 

 

 

 

Ken Loach seems to have tried but he himself is so politically predetermined that I don't think his work gets taken seriously by anyone who doesn't read the Guardian arts section.

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I watched that film so, spoiler alert, I didnt find it was really about inequality at all,it's really about a poor family who slowly manage to take all the jobs in a rich household, without the rich family realising the chauffer, the cook, the child's tutor are all members of the same family of 'poor' people. 

During the course of the film the poor family find a Panic Room type setup hidden in the basement of the house that the 'rich' family don't know exist. After the poor family's own basement flat is flooded, they decide to live in the rich peoples bombshelter/panic room as they have nowhere else to go in the short term (they are shown in a sports hall with 100s of other people also flooded out of their homes). 

Hilarity ensues as the poor family try not to be found out as all being related and living in the basement. 

I'd be inclined to agree with the comparisons in the OP if the rich family forced the poor family to live in the basement. But they don't. 

Edited by regprentice
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There is actually a little bit of a trend for this in low budget movies over the last few years so art is imitating life as usual. Horror tends to be where you will see reality reflected most (I have a horse in the race as I sometimes dabble in independent filmmaking on the side and am attracted to such projects).

Specific titles that come to mind recently.

Freehold is about somebody getting vengeance on an estate agent in various nasty ways for costing him and his girlfriend their house.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5532370/

Dream Home is about the desperation of a young lady trying to buy a place in the Hong Kong market escalating into murder.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1407972/

The open house, which is about an open house which creates the wrong kind of interest. 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7608028/


Furthermore there is a historical trend, proposed by film theorists for haunted house movies doing good business in times in which there is economic hardship, as sub consciously it is believed that people feel their house or investment is turning against them due to evil forces outside their understanding, see The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, Sinister, etc.

As bad as the real estate industry is however and it is disgustingly bad, when I think of the movie industry “people who live in glass houses” comes to mind ( all I can say is that rentierism exists everywhere ).


 

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2 hours ago, Freki said:

I pointed out the other day to friends that in Madrid and Paris, basements are for storage, in London you have people living below road level.

And building a swimming pool gym and TV room below road level.  

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On 05/02/2020 at 14:36, Dean said:

There is actually a little bit of a trend for this in low budget movies over the last few years so art is imitating life as usual. Horror tends to be where you will see reality reflected most (I have a horse in the race as I sometimes dabble in independent filmmaking on the side and am attracted to such projects).

Specific titles that come to mind recently.

Freehold is about somebody getting vengeance on an estate agent in various nasty ways for costing him and his girlfriend their house.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5532370/

Dream Home is about the desperation of a young lady trying to buy a place in the Hong Kong market escalating into murder.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1407972/

The open house, which is about an open house which creates the wrong kind of interest. 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7608028/


Furthermore there is a historical trend, proposed by film theorists for haunted house movies doing good business in times in which there is economic hardship, as sub consciously it is believed that people feel their house or investment is turning against them due to evil forces outside their understanding, see The Conjuring, Paranormal Activity, Sinister, etc.

As bad as the real estate industry is however and it is disgustingly bad, when I think of the movie industry “people who live in glass houses” comes to mind ( all I can say is that rentierism exists everywhere ).


 

Thanks you obviously know your films...I will have a look at the ones you reference above.  Any thoughts on how high cost of shelter, HPI and all implications of this is represented in visual arts,  plays, music or books...?

 

This is interesting...we need more if this...

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/entertainment-arts-45669550

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18 hours ago, Wayward said:

Thanks you obviously know your films...I will have a look at the ones you reference above.  Any thoughts on how high cost of shelter, HPI and all implications of this is represented in visual arts,  plays, music or books...?

 

This is interesting...we need more if this...

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/entertainment-arts-45669550

Hi,

Outside of Asian movies, I can’t think of specific representation, but In terms of implications I can think of many examples, on the independent scene I would say a good 80 percent of low budget stuff is now “contained thrillers”, which is where the entire plot is set in more or less a single location, this is due to locations being ludicrously expensive.

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On 05/02/2020 at 15:09, Freki said:

I pointed out the other day to friends that in Madrid and Paris, basements are for storage, in London you have people living below road level.

Been thinking back over this as the film. Won the best picture Oscar. I think this was part of my problem with it, the family didn't strike me as 'poor' they were distinctly middle class to me. Perhaps, as you are suggesting, that's says more about the UK than about the film. Bear In mind in live in Edinburgh and I'll argue most of the owners living centrally in tenements are middle class, and most other renters are Students or young people from largely middle class backgrounds. 

The family in the film are poor because... 

They live in a basement flat - call these garden flats in Edinburgh. Quite desirable. Even a Basement flat without windows isn't seen as 'bad' better to be in a basement flat walking distance from town than a flat 15 miles away in Livingston or similar

Their toilet is in an odd position on a windowsill - in Edinburgh the tenements were built before indoor toilets so it's quite common for toilets to be in raised rooms, cupboards, partitioned off from bedrooms by stud walls. I visited one flat with a bedroom sized room with a toilet plumbed in in the centre of the room on its own. No bath, shower, nothing. 

People urinate in the street outside their home - happens all the time in central Edinburgh, particularly if your main tenement door doesn't lock. When I lived In London near Goldsmiths I even remember special 'festival style' street urinals being introduced at night. 

They can't get a mobile signal in their home - pretty common in heavy sandstone tenements. I know renters who struggle to work from home because ethey can't get a short term broadband contract, and can't get 4g at home. 

They steal their neighbours WiFi - again this is pretty common. I've known people who've relied on WiFi enabled buses or trams to go past their flat to check their email. 

They get flooded by extreme weather. - switch on the news this Morning! 

When I watched the film none of these things event romotely suggested to me that this was a family in poverty - i assumed that this was a down on their luck middle class family. 

Edited by regprentice
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@regprentice

At the end of the Korean war South Korea was one of the world's poorest countries.  Seems what you are saying is that the housing conditions in Seoul today used in the film to represent dismal poverty are normal in middle class Edinburgh?

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1 hour ago, Wayward said:

@regprentice

At the end of the Korean war South Korea was one of the world's poorest countries.  Seems what you are saying is that the housing conditions in Seoul today used in the film to represent dismal poverty are normal in middle class Edinburgh?

Pretty much. But who is ever going to knock down the buildings as they are part of the city centre. Most Scottish cities have similar, but Aberdeen in particular has 1000s of 2 room tenements made of granite that are really bedsits at best and slum housing at worst but which I don't ever see being knocked down. 

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28 minutes ago, regprentice said:

Pretty much. But who is ever going to knock down the buildings as they are part of the city centre. Most Scottish cities have similar, but Aberdeen in particular has 1000s of 2 room tenements made of granite that are really bedsits at best and slum housing at worst but which I don't ever see being knocked down. 

Anything wrong with the buildings, or just how they're being used and looked after? It was the same with terraces. Most of the back to backs would've been fine knocked through into one house instead of back to back, and with decent amenities added (which wouldn't have been impossible) - nothing particularly wrong with the buildings, just how they were used and looked after (the Luftwaffe dropping bombs on some of them didn't help but I think it's reasonable to not expect houses to be literally bombproof).

The (couple of) Edinburgh tenements I've been in have struck me as pretty decent housing.

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