Squid game and the critique of contemporary capitalism
Written by: Maria Luísa Richter
From: Recife, Brazil
Edited by: Anna Kissajikian
Over a year ago, the South Korean entertainment industry gained prominence with the Oscar-winning feature film Parasite. The film exposes economic inequality and worker exploitation, demystifying one of the capitalist principles that hard work will bring social ascension. Notwithstanding the new global success, Squid Game also focuses on how we will always be on the sidelines and dehumanized in the current production system.
Squid Game or Round 6 - is about a group of 456 people with serious debts who enter a competition with children's games, to win a prize of 45.6 billion won (equivalent to more than 200 million reais), in which the elimination, in addition to increasing the value of money, costs a life. Meanwhile, the elite watches everything and enjoys the suffering of the players and their attempts to survive, showing that the drama of those in a socially vulnerable situation has become entertainment for those who own the capital.
Another point that draws attention is how players, despite having their stories and archetypes, are identified by numbers, turning them into nothing more than mere competitors, to the point where they don't hesitate to destroy each other. The series' aesthetic, referring to childhood, only makes us think that we were taught that way since childhood.
Although it is a series with South Korean resonances, Squid Game is very close to us and one of the aspects that the producers were most keen to highlight is what we don't notice in everyday life: contemporary capitalism makes us mere competitors, as well as the characters. The false idea of prosperity sold by this system enables us to dehumanize ourselves as an attempt to survive and search for dignity. The reality in the lives of those who don't enter the statistics is much more frightening and violent than what is shown in the series and only serves to confirm that the capitalist myth has deeper and deeper cracks.