Netflix’s recent survival K-drama series Squid Game aims to address our qualms for equality. While Squid Game is an exciting survival series, what I love about it most is the political commentary behind its fascinating premise.
Our world today is bombarded with inequality. Everywhere we go, we see inequality. And it sucks. We see that the world is a tall pyramid where very few enjoy the wonderous unlimited abundance the world could offer while the majority is living by scrap day by day. The wealth distribution in the world is at its worst, with people like Jeff Bezos and his elite investors are monopolizing everyone else’s income capacity.
Hence, there is a huge clamor for equality. Activists and patrons alike want more equality in the world now. But can absolute equality be achieved? Netflix’s Squid Game helped me untangle that question.
Squid Game Synopsis
Squid Game’s story starts with the telling of protagonist Seong Gi-Hun’s miserable life. He got divorced, doesn’t have a stable job, and still lives with his mother. On top of that, he owes a lot of money to a gang, perhaps because of his gambling problem–until a day comes when he is presented with an opportunity to pay back everything he owes and live a comfortable life.
He enters into a secret game arena to find out that everyone targeted in the game has a lot of debts. The players then enter into a survival game. The losers per game level are killed, and the prize money depends on how many gamers have expired.
The Seven Games
The games are based on South Korea’s child games, like the Dalgona Candy Challenge, Tug of War, Red Light, Green Light, to name a few. Many of these games are even common outside of Korea. The crucial thing is that each game tests the players’ skills, abilities, attitudes, determinations and exposes their authentic selves and dark interiors.
Red Light, Green Light
Like usual kids’ games, the first game Red Light, Green Light, is very basic, but it was shocking because it was when the players found out that the losers are swept away from the world.
The game also paved the way for the majority to decide if they would fight for the gold or stay in their real lives full of debt.
The Dalgona Candy challenge was stressful and mainly depended on luck if one couldn’t analyze a strategy for the game. It was in this game where one of the main characters, Sang Woo’s survival mode has opened up. Even if he knew what the game was about, he kept it a secret to his companions, despite promising each other to support and help out one another.
The Midnight Fight
The Midnight Fight wasn’t supposed to be a game in itself, but a test. It took place in the players’ dorm room. The gamemaster only gave one egg for supper to each of the players. That gesture gave rise to each person’s selfishness, and even the cruelest of them all killed one person during mealtime. To their surprise, however, that person’s death accumulated prize money for them. Hence, that single night turned out to be a deathmatch, with only a few ones surviving.
Tug of War
Like the child’s game itself, the Tug of War mostly depends on each player’s abilities if they don’t have a strategic advantage behind your team. It was the first game where the players’ loyalty was tested.
Marbles, The Glass Stepping Stones, and Squid Game
The players get to choose their partners and rules for the game of marbles. This game has endangered each of the players more than the other games. It showed each players’ sordidness and the quest for survival, but at the same time, it also showed their kindness and the willingness to sacrifice their lives.
The Squid Game Review: Political and Social Commentary
If you’ve read a lot of write-ups about the Squid Game, you’ll notice that a lot of it is about Capitalism. I agree, but they keep the fact that the series is also about the dangers of perceived “equality.” This part of the review will discuss both the apparent dangers of Capitalism and Communism–inequality in the guise of equality.
Squid Game: The Evil that is Capitalism and Corruption
Much of what I’ll discuss in this part is Capitalism’s apparent evil, which is already a given.
In the game of the Glass Stepping Stones, the game master and elite investors were introduced. The audience then realizes how evil it is that a few people can play with other people like toys. The series showed the audacity of each human being to treat others as second-rate and worse than piles of mud, which they can step on anytime they want.
Yes, the Netflix series is mainly about the few rich hoarding all the wealth in the world and using it whatever they want. Still, apart from being a commentary against the elite few, it also says a lot about their gatekeepers, pink soldiers, and corruption.
In the middle of the series, a few of the pink soldiers got themselves a side hustle. They assigned one of the players, a doctor, to extract the dead players’ body parts so that they could sell them on the black market. In exchange, they informed the doctor of the following games so that he could cheat.
As per every story, however, this fishy deed got all of the proponents dead. The gamemaster informed them that it’s the biggest sin they could do to the game: inequality for the players.
Squid Game: Inequality in the Guise of Equality
Ironically, these elite assholes who treat people as if they are muds dare to speak about inequality. These days, we want to achieve equality in any way we can, but I’m pretty sure that we cannot achieve it, especially with the upper elites controlling each of us.
The best way to steal from all humanity is to make it seem like we are on our way towards equality, when in fact, it is the other way around. The Squid Game tells us that yes, Capitalism is evil, but so is “Equality,” in the form of Communism or Socialism.
Don’t get me wrong. I was, and am still for Socialism. Let’s go back to the scene in Squid Game where each of the players was only given one egg for their supper. What happened? They killed one another.
I don’t despise absolute equality for the world, but I will only succumb to it if the wealth of all the 1% elite will also be distributed to all of humanity. However, I don’t see that coming at all. What I see is these elites will only sell “equality” for their benefit. They might help the poor, but they could also steal from the middle class, which is unfair.
And don’t get me started with Freedom. If everything we own is taken away from us, then we lose our freedom. Perceived “equality” also means Fascism. In political systems wherein “equality” plays a huge part, people will forget to grow and thrive. They will have little ability to choose which careers to take or which foods to eat. Almost everything will be dictated to them.
In certain Communist countries like North Korea, it would seem like the people there are happy. And maybe they are, ‘coz they got used to the simple life, and that’s a great thing. However, many of them are also hungry. Worst of all, the truth is, North Korea, while being widely known as Communism, is just Capitalism in disguise. In fact, there are influential families there whose lifestyles are like Hollywood’s rich and famous, all while keeping most of the country hungry.
Squid Game and the Nemesis of Equality
Hwang Dong-hyuk, The Squid Game creator, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Squid Game is “very realistic for people [now] compared to a decade ago.” I agree with him. These days, every country is in its economic downfall, and worldwide debts are at their highest. It is by no mistake that Hwang used debtors as the players. While he was also in debt at some point in his life, it is a real thing that many people in the world are in debt nowadays, and I’m not just talking about millennials’ staggering student loans.
The Squid game is real. We are all players in this cruel world. If you’re into positivity stuff, you’ll say that we people thrive, but these days when we are in a pandemic and our economies are at their lowest, we only have to survive. Like the players in the Squid Game, there are a lot of things we are fighting for in our lives.
Upon reading the title of this review, one might think that the nemesis of Equality is Capitalism. Yes, at some point it is, but it’s not, and a lot of hard-working individuals would agree with me.
As I’ve said, I was into Socialism at some point in my life. However, since I’ve also been investigating its cruelties and the reality of human nature, I believe that real Socialism or Communism is so hard to achieve unless the elites and the politicians under them use force, manipulation through propaganda, and perhaps brutality to make it happen.
Attaining More Fairness in the World
So how do we achieve fairness in the world? The word fair is always forgotten when we talk about equality and inequality. I think that fairness is more important than equality. People who have a dark agenda seem to forget the importance of being fair.
Fairness is a subjective thing, and most of the time, it can’t be measured. How do we get close to attaining it? Let’s take some positive sides of humanity–generosity–being able to give and sacrifice even if there is less, thinking that the world is abundant, even if it may seem like it’s not.
The elites have everything, and yes, they get bored, but that’s not just it. It’s impossible for them to feel any empathy towards others. Even if they pride themselves on all the billions they give as a charity, it won’t make up for their lack of empathy and generosity that could make the world a better place.
Many cynics out there might just laugh at me, but remember the Squid Game character Yoo Mi? She’s the whole embodiment of a cynic and nihilist. She totally revoked the meaning of life, and in doing so, she saved a life, which is very paradoxical.
What is the antidote to the greed of Capitalism and hypocrisy of Socialism/Communism? It’s Nihilism and Generosity–when working hand-in-hand, they may produce better results.
We can’t control everything in the world, and even if we do so, they will eventually work against us. The evil elites–they’re already manipulating us, but have faith. A lot of people in the world are waking up; thanks to series like the Squid Game.