Jack is an undergraduate student at Fordham University in New York City studying political science with a minor in film.
VIP? Yes! You!
You may be wondering why I am labeling you as the VIP, allow me to explain. I believe that this show is a cultural commentary on the desires of our generation, our inexplicable craving for entertainment. Not only entertainment, but that of a frighteningly gruesome nature. Lets dive into the show
The recent Netflix hit Squid Game has taken the world by storm. (Just a heads up there will be spoilers below, so if you haven't watched it yet, I recommend checking ou this article AFTER the fact.) Written by Jung Jae-il, who pitched this idea back in 2009, it portrays the story of 456 Seoulites who are all tremendously in debt. Due to the poor economic system, excessive gambling habits, or pure bad luck, these 456 people find themselves offered a chance to make enough money to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. This means no more loans, begging for money, or fear of gangs trying to harvest their organs. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right? Unfortunately, they realize all too late that they have only transitioned to a new form of gambling, gambling with their lives. They are forced to play (relatively) simple children's games, but if they fail in any way, their lives are taken by the mysterious men in pink jackets. It is a captivating series which keeps the viewer hooked on every episode.
The Intent of Squid Game
I believe that among other things, this show is made not just to comment on the poor economic standing of Seoul and it's citizens who are going to take such desperate measures to escape their debt, but also on its viewers as well. In the later episodes the fictional viewers of this game are revealed. They are known simply as the VIPs, they wear elaborate gold face masks resembling animals which are encrusted with diamonds. The identity of these masked mysteries is kept a secret, all we know is that they are paying an exorbitant amount of money to watch 455 human lives be taken in some of the most inhumane ways possible. Now upon watching the show, you might be appalled at the actions and words of these infamous masked men, but as I mentioned above I believe that these men are meant to represent you and me, the viewers. As you read on, I will be asking questions of the show's moral implications, but let me be clear that this should in NO way take away from the phenomenal writing, directing, editing, and performances of all those involved.
The VIP Complex
Why is it that the entire world is so entranced by watching men and women kill one another in their beds? Why have we glorified this show in particular? Perhaps it speaks to the same animal instinct in each of us (thus explaining the animal face masks). Perhaps it is the same reasons the ancient Romans enjoyed watching christians be eaten alive by lions and tigers in the colosseum. The same reason that we enjoy watching graphic death scenes in action movies. The reason the local news focuses on the dangerous and the violent stories. It is because these all appeal to us. Either there is a sadistic sense of pleasure we receive from watching it, or (the more likely option), we enjoy watching these things happen simply because we have an insatiable craving for entertainment, and it takes such the most extreme form of human suffering to quench it. And once it is over, we can appreciate our comfy plush lives a little bit more. Regardless of the reason, there is some dark part in all of us that is both horrified and entranced by watching these people fight to the death. And we can do this from the comfort of our beds, very similarly to how the VIPs are seated in elaborate couches surrounded by food and luxury. We are hidden from the rest of the world, and we pay $8.99 a month, so we can watch these abominable acts be committed.
Collecting The Dead
So... What Now?
This view on the story is probably not noticed by many. The show has gained global acclaim, and all that people are probably thinking about is how they will dress up as one of the pink suited murderers for Halloween. Regardless of that, it is important we stay alert and analyze why we enjoy this show so much. Step out of the haze of passive entertainment and actively engage in trying to understand why this show has received such praise. This series is saying so much more than it lets on, and I believe the hidden message underneath it's captivating facade, is that there is a problem with our society when we are so entranced by such gruesome games.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 06, 2021: