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Squid Game: A Capitalist Allegory for Our Society

I am an English Language Linguistics and Literature student at University of York and a Primary Education student at Aristotle University

What is "Squid Game"?

“Squid Game” is a dystopian Korean drama series that was written and directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk and hit the Netflix screen in September 2021, quickly becoming its biggest hit. The series proved its success by winning one Golden Globe, one People’s Choice and one Gotham award. It is considered to be for mature audiences only, since it includes various intense scenes of violence, as well as sexual encounters and nudity. Overall, it is regarded as an allegorical TV series, as it showcases how capitalism takes over modern society.

Netflix's "Squid Game" (2021)

Netflix's "Squid Game" (2021)

The main plot of "Squid Game"

The series is centered around Gi-hun, who is played by Lee Jung-jae, a gambling addict and insolvent divorced father. After an unusual encounter with a suited man, he gets thrown into a peculiar building along with 456 people, each one with different backgrounds. The cinematography, at this point, is immaculate as different shots of the vibrant coloured building, filled with geometric shapes are shown, aiming to contrast the dark dystopian plot theme. Their duty is simple: to compete in a total of 6 children’s games in order to win the huge prize, which is 45.6 billion won. The main matter is that there is only one winner. The people who lose? They die. While competing, Gi-hun meets other people such as Sang-woo, Sae-byeok, Il-nam and Ali Abdul who, all of them, have increased economical debt or personal issues and are in need of money. They, all together, create an alliance while also forming emotional connections, simultaneously. However, when money is at stake, these alliances are put to the test.

The deeper meaning of the series

The meaning of this one season Netflix series is much deeper than it seems. Jalen (2021) claims: “The series' underlying messaging is about how capitalism divides citizens with its "everyone for themselves" mentality, and the actors convey it by hitting every mark.” It successfully aims to exhibit the main source of complications concerning our society, which is capitalism. The fictional characters create a parallel between common people, who tend to act in the interests of themselves. Doyle (2021) states that “Squid Game” became well-known for its gloomy and, sometimes, touching or creepy ambience. The main message it wants to convey is that “money is survival”. Indeed, the plot of the series is that to win the money, you have to survive. This statement is valid in the outside world where people have to work every day in an effort to make a living and take care of themselves and people around them.

Personal Opinion

All in all, I would say that “Squid Game” is a series which spreads a powerful message to people who watch it and makes them rethink their life choices as well as their most important values. I believe that it is rare to see someone create a series, with various social and moral lessons, as Hwang Dong-hyuk did. The actor’s performances, as well as the cinematography, are impeccable and truly brilliant. It is a series which is highly worth watching!

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"Squid Game's" impeccable cinematography

"Squid Game's" impeccable cinematography

Reference List

Jalen, M. (2021). Squid Game. National edition. Back Stage, 62 (35), New York: BackStage LLC., pp.30–30.

Doyle, J. (2021). Squid Game is a parable of capitalist exploitation; OPINION. Toronto, Ont: CNW Group Ltd. - Globe & Mailp.A13.

© 2022 Danae Konnafi

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