“How could she stand the smell? Haven’t you noticed? They have a particular smell, these Paravans.”Baby Kochamma, God of Small Things
“No, no, it’s not that. What is it? Like an old radish. No. You know when you boil a rag? It smells like that.”Park Dong-ik, Parasite
*spoilers* GOST reminded me of many works of art, including Parasite, one of my favorite movies. Both works put smell at the center of tensions between classes.
This use of smell is very striking in both stories. Even though it’s one of our most powerful scenses, smell tends to be sidetracked in movies and books.
Class might visually or audibly present itself differently in different cultures. Scent is the most universally recognized measure of class; no matter where in the world you live, it requires privilege to have access to perfume, running water, and soap, and to live in an area that isn’t heavily polluted or have a job that doesn’t include interactions with trash/chemicals.
The effects of orientalism are also present in Parasite. I haven’t seen the movie for a while, but a detail I remember is that one character, Ki-jung, uses the fake name “Jessica” and claims to have studied in America when she tries to become the Park family’s art therapist. She seems more qualified to the Park family because of her English name and American education.
There are more similarities between the two stories. Both are about relations between families of different classes, and all families involved in these stories are destroyed because of these relationships. If you haven’t seen Parasite, I highly recommend it. Like GOST, it is as thrilling as it is thought-provoking.