• Saira D.

Let's Talk about "Squid Game" (ft. spoilers)

So we’re here… a month after it’s release but let’s delve into the 2021 South Korean series by Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game. Keeping it brief because hey, this show was deep enough and it’s not like attention spans are any longer than this one season series (as is so common in k-dramas). Touching base on how I started the series, it’s blatant theme and message, and why I’m not so sure such graphics really translate its message well enough, our second contender for Spooky Month (purely because of its suspense, gore, and timely fashion) is Squid Game!

First things first, I started Squid Game on episode six… yes you read that right. I literally watched episode six first by mistake as it was already being viewed by someone else on the Netflix account and I clearly wasn’t paying attention. I found myself so confused when they kept talking about how they were in the fourth game, and there was no backstory or context as to how the players seem to know each other so well in their partner pairings for the marble game. Like why did the show creators decide to just throw the audience into the thick of it all, and have us try and decipher everything as we went along? That’s work and I just want to sit back, relax (lol), and watch a new series – albeit an extremely popular one. I figured hey, it must be like Star Wars then where you're thrown into the galaxy and roll along through the film, learning as you go. Alas, episode six ended, the next episode loaded, and my screen says “ 7 – VIPS”. OOPS! So after episode six I watched it from episode one to seven like a normal person, but the perspective gained from watching episode six and then episode one was incredibly interesting and highlight messages the series is trying to convey in a different way. The best examples are: Sae-byeok telling her partner that she wants to visit Jeju Island in episode six – fast forward (or shall I say rewind…) to episode one and you learn they are literally on the island already. Damn. Another example is seeing how Sang-Woo f*cks over Ali in episode six. Rewind to episode one and you witness Ali saving Gi-Hun’s life during the first game “Red Light, Green Light”, which spoke tremendously to his character and the type of human being he is… which made witnessing his death and how he goes that much more heart-wrenching – especially as the bonds between the main characters in that team continue to grow as each episode progresses, but leaves a bitter aftertaste in your mouth because you already saw how each of them end up dying…

Moving onto Squid Game’s message and its reason for inception, as I said in the intro its blatantly clear the creator is trying to portray to humanity the lengths and horrors people will go to, for money (even if the English subtitle translations didn’t fully cover the messages embedded in the script, which obviously is unfortunate). The initiation game of getting slapped across the face if you can't pay your debt to your opponent for the envelope flipping game, is the first tell. When Gi-Hun finally wins and wants to slap his opponent, we see how completely oblivious he had become to the actual reason he was playing this game – to win money. People get lost in their greed that they don’t even remember what they're playing for, and that’s how you fall down a dangerous rabbit hole – all whilst serving up your dignity on a silver platter… pitiful. Initiation game aside, Squid Game showcases the terrible and cruel lengths people will go to for money, and how the rich get off on the stupidity and greed of those who have nothing, all whilst they’ve become bored with having too much. There truly is no middle ground in this series, you get the bottom barrel of the heap and the very top of the heap, and both ends of this garbage pile are literally garbage. I’d usually say “both ends of the spectrum”, but the characters this series has created don’t even deserve that saying but very much deserve the garbage analogy! And of course, not every person in the game is a bad person, they might have been decent people in which bad things have happened to them, but let’s remember they all participated in the above-mentioned distasteful initiation game wholeheartedly and willingly, so what does that tell you. Examples aside as the entire series is examples of this message that humanity and human beings are awful creatures, the only real monsters of the world, let’s talk about why this series almost works against its own motive.

So Squid Game has very obviously exposed the dark side of humanity – a side that is probably used more often than any humans good side – but in doing that, it already tells us that the creator of the show, the cast and even the viewers, have chosen to exist within the dark side of humanity, as well. This series is so incredibly dark and gory that I found it difficult to watch, and I only continued because new story lines and plot twists were created almost each episode, so at least there was more to the show than pure violence. But man, is Squid Game violent and I did not enjoy having to witness the atrocities committed episode after episode, which only got worse and worse each episode! It’s funny to think that to showcase humanities dark side you need to exist in the dark side and funnily enough, drag all of humanity (who have access to Netflix) to the dark side as well. Like… what? You’re trying to tell me the world sucks, people are awful, money makes people do unimaginable things, all whilst literally doing all this yourself and forcing us to partake in your evil endeavours too… okay... Contradictory much? Could there really not have been a way to convey Squid Game’s message without literally doing everything you're trying to tell people not to do? The world although full of idiots, also contains some very intelligent human beings who are imaginative and think outside the box, so it’s impossible to assume there was no other way to teach the lesson you’re trying to teach humanity, by creating Squid Game.

Overall, Squid Game is a good series because of its plot twists, interesting and twisted story lines, and the lesson it teaches, but it’s awful in the sense that you're already telling me a lesson everyone already knows… this theme isn't new, we already learnt this lesson from World Wars and current modern-day warfare, financial crises, most of politics… the list goes on. So was it necessary to highlight so much twisted violence to teach lessons that have existed for centuries? No. So is Squid Game truly as “amazing” or “good” as social media and people seemed to have taken it for? Not at all. And were it not for the timely fashion of it fitting into my blogs Spooky Month and having not written on a series for a while whilst it’s still “hot”, I never would have watched it.

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