Dystopia or Utopia: Are you willing to participate in the Squid Game?

Curator's Note

The premise of Squid Game has been rejected by investors for over 10 years because it was too preposterous. However, filmmaker Hwang Dong-hyuk claims that the horrific tale is no longer a stretch of the imagination. The world exploded in a frenzy with the release of Squid Game, as if to prove it. Later, the memeification of Korean children’s schoolyard games resulted in hundreds of viral videos. Now, many people would often ask whether they would participate in a real-life Squid game.

Eventually, a well-known YouTuber, ‘MrBeast’, has recreated the real-life version of Squid Game. 456 players have joined the game for a chance to win $456,000. Two months after the upload, the video had received more than 2 billion views. Certainly, losing a real-life Squid Game will not result in one’s death. However, there is a more intriguing aspect to the phenomenon.

Squid Game is frequently referred to as a dystopian drama or "death game." In many aspects, nevertheless, it deviates from the classic 'death game' genre. The game's host appeals to the players by using words like ‘opportunity’ and ‘equality’ to entice them to play. These concepts have a very utopian vibe to them. On the other hand, Korean schoolyard games with a fantasy-like atmosphere depict a utopian state for the players. In addition, unlike a typical death game, fair competition with rigorous restrictions appears to give participants a sense of justice.

The Squid Game series might argue that the game world, which is dominated by strict rules, could be even more humanitarian and fairer than in real life. Finally, in Squid Game, neither strategists nor heroes can play better. Instead, the victories are either the result of teamwork or pure luck. This depicts some satirical elements of meritocracy. In fact, the narrative setting of dystopian reality and utopian gaming space dramatizes the loss of humanity that is constantly contained and threatened by the grimness of capital and competition.

After all, both the victory and frustration of a person is not determined by his or her abilities. It demonstrates that the meritocracy to which we have consented does not necessarily lead to the utopian fantasy. As such, Squid Game is the Utopia-embellished Dystopia in this aspect.

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