Written for The Argo by Claire Stauffer
The South Korean Netflix series “Squid Game” has broken streaming records across the globe.
The show was released on September 17th, 2021 and it has become the #1 streamed series on Netflix in 94 countries in merely a month. But why is this show in particular so appealing to a worldwide audience?
The blatant message of the show is subtle anti-capitalist commentary. The heart of the show is a social commentary that is relevant to a large number of people across the globe. The plot features characters who are practically in financial ruin, being manipulated to join a game with deadly consequences. During the recruitment process for the game, the characters meet with a mysterious man at a train station.
This man offers to play a game, and if you lose the
game, the man repeatedly slaps you across the face. The result of winning this game is that he hands you 100,000 won
(approximately $84 USD) in addition to a business card to enroll in the following games. They recruit people who are in dismal financial situations, desperate for a chance to pay their debt. The game promises each of the 456 players “one last chance” to fix their financial situations. Players that succeed in all 6 childrens games are rewarded with 45.6 billion won (approximately $38.5 million USD).
The show is trying to make it clear that in a capitalistic society, money is a deeply motivating factor that is worth killing over. Money has the power to control every aspect of someone’s life.
The players in the game lack the money needed in their lives to properly take care of themselves and their families.
Money changes people, when given their last chance the characters will do anything, even if it conflicts their personal beliefs, to win the prize money. The show is produced in such a way to shed light on the cruel social effects of capitalism. How capitalism gives power to a select few, often leaving less fortunate citizens to fend for themselves. Even without dealing with crippling debt, many people openly can acknowledge the fact money has a hold over their life.