A utopia common in hell

Farwa Naqvi


October 24, 2021


NOTE: This article might comprise minor spoilers.

Unless you spent the final month in hibernation or below a rock, you’ll have heard about Squid Game, the extensively standard Korean present that has change into all the fashion over the previous few weeks. The nine-episode lengthy dystopian drama is the most-watched in each nation the place Netflix gives its companies and has already change into the streaming platform’s greatest authentic present ever, beating Bridgerton.

The plot revolves round seven people who’re amongst 456 individuals who agree to participate in kids’s video games to win staggering money prizes to repay crippling money owed. The catch? The losers die.

It is difficult to pinpoint the precise purpose behind the huge recognition of Squid Game. Fans of Korean motion pictures and reveals can be accustomed to the stellar solid, which incorporates veteran actor Lee Jung-jae and well-known mannequin Jung Ho-yeon, however not all of Squid Game’s viewers are acquainted with Korean leisure trade.

The storyline is partaking, actors are convincing and the manufacturing is top-notch. There is loads of gore, motion, homicide and suspense – all of the elements that make up a enjoyable dystopian watch. But the premise of gathering determined individuals in a single place to deliver out their animalistic instincts will not be totally new. The social dilemmas that the story highlights – class inequality, crippling money owed that maintain piling up and the horrors of capitalism – have additionally been handled by a number of reveals and flicks together with two different extremely profitable Netflix reveals Money Heist and Lupin.

And but, Squid Game feels recent due to the “simplicity” of its approach. According to the present’s director, the present grew to become so standard as a result of “people are attracted by the irony that hopeless grownups risk their lives to win a kids’ game”. There isn’t any alternate universe, totalitarian authorities or conflict on this story. It takes place in a ‘normal’ world and the gamers are strange residents. Each contestant is so suffering from the shortage of alternatives and incapacity to repay their money owed that they’re keen to take any likelihood that will rid them of their troubles even when it means homicide and demise.

The competitors contains of six kids’s video games – easy and harmless in nature that might show to be extremely rewarding or lethal for the gamers, relying on their efficiency.

One of the attributes that units the present aside is its aesthetically pleasing units which can be in stark distinction to the darkish storyline. The dormitory partitions embellished with murals, colourful staircases that result in enormous playgrounds seem like the within of a main faculty. Until the bloodshed begins.

There is greater than colourful units that set Squid Game aside from the opposite reveals of the style. It doesn’t shove empathy down the viewers’ throats, for one. The depiction of the characters is unapologetically uncooked and straight-forward; all gamers come from the dregs of society and barring just a few, they’re all deeply flawed and unlikeable.

The major character Seong Gi-Hun, for instance, is a chauffeur who steals cash from his previous and ailing mom simply to gamble all of it away. He will not be a star father both. To prime all of it off, he owes a staggering sum of money to a bunch of individuals which, for sure, he’s unable to return. Does that imply he needs to be whisked away to a distant island, made to take part in a kids’s recreation and get killed? That is a query that the present desires the viewers to reply.

A good world

“Equality. Everyone is equal in these games […] These people suffered from inequality and discrimination out in the world and we offer them one last chance to fight on equal footing and win.”

In its critique on society, Squid Game additionally feedback on the deep-rooted inequality and injustice that results in the ‘othering’ of sure teams. Though the criticism is directed at South Korea, it stands true for almost each society within the modern world. The capitalist system rewards these with essentially the most assets, isolating those that have already got restricted entry to alternatives. The result’s a category divide that retains on widening.

The characters within the present belong to these marginalized sections. True, a lot of them made the mistaken decisions, like Sang Woo, a enterprise graduate who went on to embezzle cash. But they’re provided no likelihood of redemption, and are left with no selection however to search for methods to flee.

Even those that play by the e-book face the implications of social inequality like Ali, a Pakistani immigrant, who works arduous to assist his household however is disadvantaged of cost. Similarly, Kang Sae Byeok is a North Korean defector who got here to South Korea along with her household as a result of she “thought it’d be better here”, solely to be separated from her brother and mom.

In one scene, a determined Gi-Hun lashes out when he’s provided cash in alternate for promising to avoid his daughter, saying, ‘Do you think money solves everything?’

The sincere reply to that query is sure. In a society that tilts in the direction of the rich, if something can grant these gamers a good shot on this planet, it’s cash. Gi-Hun would be capable to repay his money owed with out having to promote his organs, get correct medical look after his mom and proceed to be a part of his daughter’s life provided that he has cash. That is why he agreed to be a part of the competition didn’t he?

The declare that the video games supply a stage taking part in discipline to each participant additionally falls aside as a result of the whole function of the competitors is to “weed out the weaklings” in order that the fittest can survive. One of essentially the most brutal and graphic scenes of the present depicts a struggle that was intentionally provoked by organizers.

It can be an ironic declare to make, contemplating that video games are meant for leisure. The gamers are positively not having enjoyable, however certainly somebody is having fun with their ordeal? Would somebody, whose supply of leisure is bloodshed, actually care about equality and equity?

Like one of many minions level out, “it is just a game”.

The phantasm of selection

One of the numerous ironies depicted within the present is the phantasm that individuals are free to make their very own decisions. On their arrival, the gamers are made to signal a consent kind that accommodates three situations which appear actually easy and harmless on paper. None of the gamers have any clue in regards to the penalties of constructing the selection to take part within the competitors.

Even the selection to register for the competitors was not a free one. Each one of many gamers was focused earlier than being invited to play the video games. All of the contestants had been coaxed into turning into a part of the competitors and had been informed that taking part in the sport was the one option to clear up their issues. None of them was informed they could find yourself dying. One of the gamers makes this level when an organizer paints the brutal murders as an “opportunity”:

“You make us play a children’s game and then kill us. How is this an opportunity?”

This manipulation of the thoughts will not be novel to the Squid Game contest. It is a device utilized by our system, the place individuals are supplied with selective data earlier than being informed that the selection can be theirs alone. It will not be within the curiosity of the system that advantages from exploitation of segments of society to present out sincere data that will really assist individuals make a rational selection as an alternative of taking a call out of desperation.

Death of humanity?

Unlike others within the style, Squid Game doesn’t current an altogether bleak image of humanity. Even because it depicts the evils of the society we reside in, the present asserts that individuals can nonetheless discover it inside themselves to be sort and empathetic no matter their circumstances.

Gi-Hun, for instance, manages to make mates in a spot the place killing or letting different individuals die is a supply of revenue. Similarly, Ali shows kindness to those that can discover it inside themselves to stab him within the again if a possibility arrives.

This slight optimism and perception in humanity differentiates Squid Game from related reveals and flicks that reiterate the idea that people are born sinful. Squid Game begs to vary. No one is inherently dangerous or evil. Even in essentially the most opposed circumstances, individuals can reach being sort and humane even when they’ve all the pieces to lose.

Squid Game has loads of violent scenes which can be extremely grotesque however they don’t seem to be merely meant to shock viewers however to painting the horror of cold-blooded homicide. This level is made not simply via dialogue however via course and enhancing as nicely. In one of the crucial well-known scenes of the present, gamers are killed off like bugs whereas a jazz track performs within the background.

Another killing spree takes place in a darkish room with blinking lights. It is a horrifying scene the place gamers lash out blindly, not caring in the event that they damage a good friend or foe, whereas the mysterious ‘front man’ sits and watches the bloodshed from his room. It’s additionally not secure to look at for individuals with epilepsy.

With a well-rounded plot, well-executed motion scenes, enticing units and good performing, Squid Game delivers on just about all fronts. Its huge recognition might have come as a shock however it will be unfair to name it overhyped.

Squid Game is at the moment streaming on Netflix.

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