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Squid Game Director: “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory about modern capitalist society”

Squid Game Director: “I wanted to write a story that was an allegory about modern capitalist society”

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This man is not very subtle with his metaphors. I was reading up on why Gi-Hun dyed his hair red at the end of the show and I was expecting some real deep cultural reason and the director flat out said that the red represented Gi-Hun being angry now. lol EDIT: Here's the [source](https://www.ladbible.com/entertainment/tv-and-film-squid-game-director-explains-why-character-dyed-his-hair-red-20211009). And the director's quote: Here's the quote: >Speaking to Zapzee, the show's director Hwang Dong-hyuk explained: "I thought about this intuitively." >"Thinking about how Gi Hun should change his hair in a hair salon. I imagined being him and thought to myself, 'what is the colour that you would never choose to dye your hair?' >"Then I came to the conclusion that Gi Hun would never dye his hair red. It would be the craziest thing for him to do. So I chose the colour and I thought it really showed his inner anger."


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FickleSmark

It was a pretty strange way to show his anger too. Like the scene plays out in a way where it just looks like he sees a picture of hair he likes and goes for it. I feel if you wanted to show his anger you'd at least have a character in the game with red hair that had a temper issue so when we see the salon picture we can be on the same wavelength as him.


DifficultMinute

I assumed that it was an anime thing. "The protagonist cut his hair, dyed it red, and is now ready to fight!" is very anime.


Qwarked

This is why all analysis of art is bullshit


WhiteWolf3117

Art can have meaning without intent


[deleted]

That was my main takeaway haha.


AcreaRising4

Here’s one specific example of that being true=true for all art.


the_pedigree

Yep, everytime I hear the director speak I like the show a little less.


wrathfulgrape

SK is really good at this genre because SK has really rich ultra wealthy people and super poor countryside subsistence farming-level poor people or people who are barely getting by in the cities. Some cinematic examples: * Parasite (heck--anything by Bong Joon Ho. I recommend "Memories of Murder." Also--"Snowpiercer" for another literal train-as-metaphor of modern capitalism have and have-nots) * The Housemaid (the 2010 remake. Features Lee Jung Jae from Squid Game in the lead male role in all his full muscular hunky glory. I also recommend The President's Last Bang by the same director, Im Sang Soo) * Burning (heck--anything Lee Chang Dong. I recommend "Oasis" which I think is a magical minor masterpiece)


crashfrog

What country do you think *doesn't* have high-income professionals concentrated in urban centers and rural subsistence farmers in super-low-density areas? Even North Korea has lawyers and doctors, and they live in Pyongyang.


Naritai

Farming in America, Canada, and much of the western world is not considered to be subsistence. Subsistence farming is defined as where you only grow enough to feed yourself, not to sell your crop for money. Now, I have no idea if there really is a lot of subsistence farming in Korea, but at least now you understand where they’re coming from.


jackp0t789

>Farming in America, Canada, and much of the western world is not considered to be subsistence Ironically, farmers in the US are heavily subsidized to keep prices steady and profitable for the whole of US agriculture. In practice that sometimes means that entire classes of farmers are paid to ***not plant or cultivate*** their crops for a season to keep those prices sustainable. This comes at the expense of other countries in North America which have trade deals with the US that explicitly forbid those governments from subsidizing their own agriculture like the US does, this has led to tens of thousands of farmers in Mexico and points further south losing their farms and being forced into the cities to look for scantly available jobs there, or in many cases venturing further north and crossing the border looking for sustainable jobs in the US.


BlinkReanimated

>This comes at the expense of other countries in North America which have trade deals with the US that explicitly forbid those governments from subsidizing their own agriculture like the US does The best part is that Canada does the same with Dairy, but it became a massive stink when NAFTA was being renegotiated. US produce farmers can be subsidized, but Canadian dairy is a big no-no apparently.


Naritai

Indeed! America is remarkably socialist when it comes to its rural population.


jackp0t789

And another striking example of American hypocrisy is the people living in the agricultural regions of the nation consistently being misled to vote against increasing the social safety nets available to the rest of the country while receiving so much aid themselves.


Naritai

Actually, that hypocrisy was more or less resolved with Trumpism. Trump was explicitly in favor of socialism (albeit under another name) for white, rural Americans, while being explicitly against socialism for everyone else. So it's not fair to call them hypocritical anymore, although several other unkind names are indeed appropriate.


jackp0t789

I can accept this summation of events


teamweird

Some farms - like animal ag and cash crops. Those subsidies don’t go to many, many crop types such as many produce-for-human-consumption farms. Worldwide 3/4 of the farms that feed the planet are still small farms who do not see subsidies. (I am a small farm in North America, zero support or subsidies available so fully self-funded and definitely not profitable).


fabrar

Canadian here, and we absolutely very much have wealth inequality here, especially moreso after the pandemic. The gap is growing wider everyday. All my Canadian friends who watched SG loved it because a lot of it is so relatable. The themes go beyond just South Korea. It's damn near universal.


Ashmizen

The US farmers may be rural and less educated, but they aren’t poorer than average. Partly this is due to scale - there is just so few people, and so much farmable land, that farm size is too large for the people to be destitute. Yes I’m aware of farm bankruptcies - but they are like small businesses failing, but farmers have normal lifestyles of owning trucks, house, and tractors. The poorest communities in the US are inner cities, which is very very unusual compared with Asian countries, where inner cities are highly desired and the rural areas are highly populated with farmers with tiny plots of farmland, who are truly destitute, and cannot afford things like cars or even tractors.


mcwobby

Even the elite (professional class) do go and “volunteer” in the fields during harvest time. Last time I was there, I was speaking to a pilot who had just spent the summer on a farm doing labour, and all my tour guides said they do it too. They spun it as a duty they were “proud to do for their country”.


normal_ized

I have koreans friend and I have never heard that but there is a big difference between doing manual labor for fun as a change of pace and literally existing off it for decades and being poor.


thedaveness

That’s what I was thinking… “I’ll be here just long enough to not get permanent damage.”


AftyOfTheUK

>SK is really good at this genre because SK has really rich ultra wealthy people and super poor countryside subsistence farming-level poor people or people who are barely getting by in the citie This explanation doesn't make much sense at all. The Gini Coefficient for South Korea is 31.6 - this is considerably lower than other producers of major international content, and a majority of other countries. If societal wealth inequality was an influence, it would make Squid Game considerably LESS likely to be produced in South Korea, and more likely to be produced in the US (41.4) or just about any major country outside the EU. ​ [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List\_of\_countries\_by\_income\_equality](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality)


darkkn1te

Oasis is magnificent and horribly uncomfortable. It made me feel so many different feelings.


aquaband

Most countries are like that. Like 90 percent.


[deleted]

>SK is really good at this genre because SK has really rich ultra wealthy people and super poor countryside subsistence farming-level poor people or people who are barely getting by in the cities. India is the prime example of this IMO. 3rd highest number of billionaires in the world and a per capita income comparable to backward African countries.


KirillKaprizov

why'd you look at per capita income but didn't look at billionaires per capita? India has the third highest number of billionaires cause it has four times the population of the US. if you look at billionaires per million people, India is about half the world average and more comparable with those African countries.


Its_Nitsua

Why look at it that way? Why not look at it as accumulation of wealth? Willing to bet the sum of wealth from billionaires in India is magnitudes greater than the sum of wealth from billionaires in countries that are on par ‘per capita’ with India.


AftyOfTheUK

>3rd highest number of billionaires in the world and a per capita income comparable to backward African countries. When comparing stats you should use per capita for neither or both, or your comparison is worthless.


curiosityrover4477

Either use both number in total or both per capita


kochachi1

Also The Handmaiden (2016) By Park Chan-Wook. Fair warning its a little weird and definitely not family friendly but its a great movie.


mobeejune69

>SK is really good at this genre because SK has really rich ultra wealthy people and super poor countryside subsistence farming-level poor people or people who are barely getting by in the cities. >Some cinematic examples: Did you just describe my country ? Btw I'm from Burma.


Zeeshmee

I read the story *Barn Burning* and have no idea how they managed to make an adaption. Not a hell of a lot happens in the story, haha. I loved it and everything else in the collection. I should really give the adaption a try.


nammaru

Of the developed countries, South Korea has relatively lower income inequality (meaning better distribution of wealth) compared to the US and UK but it’s certainly high. https://data.oecd.org/inequality/income-inequality.htm Having lived there, the dominant social narrative is a progressive one and the locals are very sensitive to social equality ranging from income, gender, etc., I always assumed that Koreans were conservative based on perception but their policies were anything but. The US democrats would easily be the right wing in that country. The media content they produce, in my opinion, is simply a reflection of what people want.


taquito-burrito

Lol we know, wasn’t exactly subtle


GlenCoco701

That's what I thought, but when I pointed it out to people they seemed surprised.


LegacyLemur

And Ive seen people have the exact opposite take away from this, somehow


IMovedYourCheese

You'd be surprised. I had a friend go "why was that guy being so weird at the end? He won the game. He should have been living like a baller with his prize money." Like, way to completely miss the point of the show.


Frexxia

To be fair, you have to have a very high IQ to understand Squid Game.


swill128

Snowpiercer is the movie to watch for high concept sci fi allegory. It has meaning on so many levels. Like, the rich live in luxury while the poor suffer, it's really true even today if you think about it. I like movies like that. Really makes you think.


Gunpla55

If you like deep movies might I recommend Boondock Saints?


swill128

I like blindside. It really shows how great it is to help people. Mel Gibson movies too, it's subtle but if you watch closely, there's some really deep messaging about self sacrifice to the greater good. But also individual liberty?


Bypes

I loved Apocalypto's message of not talking to strangers, which is what the bad guys did by staying to welcome the ship of Conquistadors, while the good guy ran the fuck away into the jungle like a child from a van.


Bypes

Don't forget that the poor in Snowpiercer live at the back of the train and the rich at the front, showing the great divide between classes in a physical distance! It even parallels historically sitting at the back of the bus for the less privileged, holy shit.


Chemical_Noise_3847

To be faaaaaaaaaaaair


[deleted]

To be faaaaiiirrrr….


Qwarked

Too bee faaaaaair


ThinkingInSpirals

You don’t need to be a genius you just have to not be completely naive to the violence keeping society running. In the show it’s like a few rich dudes directly making people kill each other for the opportunity to get out of debt. In reality rich dudes pay middle managers and politicians who themselves force you to compete in the labour market for survival (actual survival, if I don’t make enough money to pay for my medication I die), and you never really meet the people who lose the game, so it’s not as obvious that you’re participating in a blood circus. I don’t blame people for not getting it, it’s so insane it’s hard to accept.


Frexxia

It's a reference to a Rick and Morty copypasta


ThinkingInSpirals

Oh I know I just thought I’d say something because there are actually a lot of people missing the message and I like talking. I don’t think it has anything to do with IQ, it’s probably more about if you’re already familiar with/accepting of class analogy.


HOTP1

But the guy you’re responding to agrees with you already… that’s the point of the copypasta, it’s used to make fun of people that think certain things are more intellectual and esoteric than they actually are


TheDood715

Sir this is Reddit, unless you have something pessimistic, sardonic, or sarcastic to say, move along.


ThinkingInSpirals

Lol fair enough. I was hoping to bait somebody into a genuine conversation but my fatal mistake was replying to the most widely known copypasta on the internet.


TheDood715

Good sport. Mine is also a joke, mostly, I do find when you don't match what people are trying to "do" on Reddit you're pretty much forgotten about. Good conversation is rare here unfortunately.


ThinkingInSpirals

For sure I’m trying to deprogram myself from caring about upvotes


Thoughts_on_

So true!!


Kenmore1414

Plenty of people don't understand it and just see it as Korean Saw.


StanleyChamberlin

Yeah, being subtle is good for demonstrating artistry. If you’re trying to broadly communicate an idea, you need to beat people over the head with it for an appreciable number to take anything away from it.


incrediblemink

Saw? There are dozens of other movies / shows / anime’s that most people consider this show to take inspiration from before Saw.


FunWelcome

>anime There are a lot of people who just see anime as Japanese cartoons kids watch.


Flemz

You’d be amazed at how many people interpreted it as an attack on the “moral degeneracy” of the poor


sudevsen

Every generation gets its Battle Royale dealing with the current economic and political anxieties There will be another Squid Game in 2030 and it'll be about trying to win a house that stands on the only piece of land not submerged under water ir consumed by forest fires


Citizen51

2030 does not sound 9 years away. That's like way into the future.


Bypes

It's not, it's less than 8½ years away now.


spyson

I really enjoyed the social commentary, but it's getting annoying that so many people are being so sensitive as if capitalism is infallible to criticism.


MonsieurGideon

Any and all criticism of capitalism is now just labeled communism/socialism and ignored.


prettylieswillperish

Yeah i used to be one of these super libertarian types and then the realisation occurred that there is objectively shit thjngs about capitalism we just go along with because people think a system absent of any kind of morality clause and about promotion of greed and making money via rent seeking or exploitation of others is gonna be pain free. I think capitalism of the merchant localism cities style or on small levels is great just like different economic systems are good on small level but I'm more moving towards a Scandinavian type of thinking now (Singapore works as a authoritarian capitalist economy. Japan has market solutions for social problems places like the UK don't even bother giving a fuck about) Just make everything pretty damn good rather than anything spectacular and give international mobility if you want to make your riches elsewhere And ofcourse communism and Marxism and all of those thing implemented are terrible due to corruption Central planning purges denouncements and the like. But the right do pretend like places like kerala don't exist


_Foy

It works on a small scale because there's a sense of community. It fails on a large scale because people start seeing other people as cogs, not as fellow humans. Theoretically, and ideally, capitalism could work if all the damages that were caused by corporations could be properly, cheaply, and effectively litigated in court. For example a town could file a class action lawsuit against the companies that poisoned the water supply with their waste. However, in practice, there are a million and one ways to dodge that responsibility. The clever use of structuring shell companies, playing shell games with the books so at the end of the day they make a tidy profit, get out with it, and never have to face responsibility for the damages caused by their activities. So the only real way to make it "right", as far as I can tell, is to have a really aggressive taxing scheme and redistributive program so that people are *less* incentivized to make as much money as physically possible (so there is less incentive to play those kinds of shell games, for instance) and that the people and the communities who typically bear the brunt of the damage get their slice of the pie. But tHaT'S soCIaLisM!


str8grizzlee

I’ve realized that a lot of people (especially Americans) have a worldview that places themselves at the center. Capitalism must be working because they’re doing well. Anyone who isn’t doing as well must be lazy. Racism doesn’t exist because they’ve never seen it. It’s an incredibly selfish way to see the world.


sicklyslick

Pretty easy when they're propagandized at birth to believe anything but capitalism is bad.


bootyboixD

Yup. Deprogramming the capitalist-centric worldview takes a ton of time, intellectual curiosity, and open-mindedness. Many of us in the USA don’t have any of these characteristics, let alone all three


Tehni

A significant fraction of America screeches "do your own research" while parroting any YouTube or Facebook article that confirms their opinion when someone tells them they listen to the experts of a certain topic That should tell everyone in the world how intellectually curious some Americans are lol


_vi5in_

I'm from Kerala. And I often bring it up in conversations with libertarians. This is the first time I'm seeing someone else bring it up!


prettylieswillperish

Haha I only learned more about it this year I'm British born Indian and was watching some YouTube channel by this Finnish girl that moved to Kerala to be with her Indian husband and they talked about the economic situation there and also education, how they support mothers and so on and it was just very impressive to me. Looks like a beautiful place and I've had relatives from our part of India visit Kerala and really loved it.


frostedRoots

I’ve heard a few things about kerala, but I don’t know much about it. Could you give me a brief summary?


_vi5in_

Multiple democratically elected communist governments since the 50s. It's a state in India. Their policies in practice have largely been moderately socialist. Kerala has HDI higher than the rest of India and on par with certain European nations. However the communist governments' policies are not without criticism. Kerala has pretty poor industry and unemployment led to a people migrating and the formation of a remittance economy.


dgeimz

Which is hilarious because (and I know this is a television sub but I’m from a gamer space) so many of the greatest game plots are about greed, overwhelming consumerism, class strife, etc. The dystopian capitalist cyberpunk hell. People eat that up without realizing it’s often a critique on human behavior and the systems in which we live.


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pirac

There's a difference between criticizing capitalism, as in squid game, and having and anticapitalism view. Maybe thats why you think its "performing" anticapitalism, because its not an anticapitalist series.


gigaloads

> but it's getting annoying that so many people are being so sensitive as if capitalism is infallible to criticism. huh? the internet criticizes capitalism all day long. wtf are you talking about


frostedRoots

Some of the internet does, some of the rest of the internet threatens those people with “free helicopter rides” and Right Wing Death Squads.


NikkMakesVideos

Fox News and the like have convinced a large population of people that anything that criticizes capitalism is socialism, which is the same as communism in their eyes.


sudevsen

Its completely bipartisan. NYT and MSNBC carry water for capitalism and Americanism as much as their conservative counterparts.


iTomes

I mean, if we're talking about America/anglosphere discourse in general critics of capitalism keep calling themselves socialists. Not exactly making it hard for Fox News there to the point where I don't really see how you can even put the blame on them. And as far as socialism being the same as communism goes... I mean, yeah, it is. Socialism is by definition a partial implementation of communism and seen as the stepping stone towards it in basic Marxist theory. It's not everybody elses fault that some people who espouse center left views have decided to brand themselves as socialists despite not actually advocating for socialism and are now shocked to find that their decision to do so makes people reject them.


Darktyde

At least in America, that sensitivity is a gut-level reaction due to the indoctrination we receive as school children.


sudevsen

Cause there are multiple generations trained from birth to be defensive of capitalism or unable to think of a world without capitalism or just simply dismiss even the mildest critique as "Yet you use an iPhone,Curious!"


_Foy

I tried pointing out that Squid Game was a scathing indictment of capitalism right after it came out and I got a *lot* of downvotes... but it fucking *is*. The problem is that political discourse in the mainstream has been totally polluted. Ever since the cold war you couldn't have an honest conversation about economic policy... it was always "ooh, the red scare!" and that mindset still exists. Try to suggest that health care should be paid by the state (for example, as is the case in the vast majority of developed nations) and people in the U.S. lose their goddam minds like you're suggesting a full-blown communist revolution. There's a huge spectrum of possibility between anarchist capitalism (AnCap) and full on Communism. Our *current* society is already way more socialist than a purely capitalist one would be, but it needs to be *more* socialist. People in the media need to stop treating socialism like it's a slur or an insult... but, of course, most of the people pushing this ridiculous "socialism is evil" narrative are those that stand to gain the most from a borderline AnCap society (read: *other* humans are just cogs to be crushed and exploited for their cheap labour). The most ridiculous thing I've been seeing lately is calling socialism "fascism" and it's just muddying the waters even further... I honestly believe the whole right-wing media's goal is to simply destroy their base's ability to even communicate effectively on the entire subject. It's almost an 1984 "newspeak" kind of thing... communism is fascism, progress is regress, profits are up but you're being laid off, up is down, blame the immigrants... Ugh.


The_Powers

That's just people, everyone is sensitive as shit these days.


L_I_L_B_O_A_T_4_2_0

> but it's getting annoying that so many people are being so sensitive as if capitalism is infallible to criticism. uh what? capitalism is criticized constantly from every angle in every medium the criticisms naturally get called out if they're shitty. which this show, as far as an "allegory about modern capitalist society" definitely fits that bill


RKU69

Why do you think that?


djuiced

Because the criticism boils down to 'rich people are evil cartoon villains who use poor people as entertainment.' And poor people are portrayed as poor sheep devoid of any control of their lives. It doesn't say anything profound about capitalism or the class divide. It barely says anything. You can have criticism that goes into nuances of capitalism - like how the lower entry and lower paying jobs are soul crushing and time consuming, how it's easy to fall victim to over-consumption, and how it's hard to escape that life, especially if you throw having a family into the mix. You can enter a rut that slowly grinds away years of your life. But no, rich people bad. Poor people only bad because rich people left them no other choice.


ThisIsANewAccnt

> and how it's hard to escape that life, especially if you throw having a family into the mix. You can enter a rut that slowly grinds away years of your life. Literally the point of the show. Why do you think the contestants chose to keep playing?


Axeraider623

“Easy to fall victim to over-consumption” Ahh yes, every poor person is poor because of their own fault and lack of willpower, def not due to systemic causes that plague society at large


djuiced

I didn't mean it like that. It is a systemic issue as consumption is promoted as one of the ideals of capitalist society. But to your point, everyone holds personal accountability in the situation they find themselves in. The system isn't always at fault for every issue in your life.


AGoatPizza

>The system isn't always at fault for every issue in your life. Ever been to an ER in America? Get sick and can't pay? Good luck getting housing or a loan ever again fucker, your credit is in the toilet. Ever work 40 hours a week in a minimum wage position? You know, the "bare minimum" in order to survive? Better get a roommate quick, because you can never support yourself. It's funny that you bring up cartoon villains as an example, because that's what billionaires - the social elite who keep the system this way - are. Elon musk went to space for fun and got rich off of daddies slavery money. Disney literally owns a fucking news channel. People make shitty choices all the time, I agree. But when you're doing what society has told you to do to survive and you just cant? Then you have to look at your system and determine that it might be keeping people down more than you think.


RKU69

Do you have any examples of anti-capitalist shows/movies that you think do a good job


poloppoyop

> Because the criticism boils down to 'rich people are evil cartoon villains who use poor people as entertainment.' I think the real criticism of capitalism is more meta: the guy took the plot of [Kaiji](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiji_(manga\)), watered it down and still made bank thanks to Netflix.


kwantsu-dudes

What I find irritating is criticizing "capitalism" rather than any specific actions taken within the system. It's like attacking democracy anytime you disagree with the majority. Are you really upset at the system, or simply that such didn't go your way in any specific instance? It's often devoid of conversation in favor of prophesying. Where you can speak of a utopia, but not truly explain how such is achieved. Many critiques don't acknowledge the potential negative consequences of certain changes and why there may exist a "balance". You can of course challenge that balance, but may simply dismiss it.


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crashfrog

I don't even understand what the criticism even is, anymore, or what the proposed alternative is. South Korea has universal healthcare and a full social safety net because it's *not the United States.* Does anyone think life in Seoul is worse than it is 50 miles north, where they don't have capitalism? Yes, I know you're not saying "reforming capitalism doesn't mean we become North Korea." You're saying we should have universal healthcare and a generous social safety net. *All of which South Korea already has*, but there they are, "critiquing capitalism" still so I guess somehow it's not sufficient? So what would be?


qikink

That the safety net be made more generous. Proposals like UBI and free education continue the ever expanding scope of what we consider providing to everyone. 100 years ago (US centric now) we have no Social Security, no Medicaid, precious little in the way of any kind of social safety net. So 100 years from now, it's anyone's guess what will be guaranteed.


forever87

*squid game* is an allegory, emphasis on gory.


royalewithcheesecake

emphasis on Al Gore


shrlytmpl

emphasis on Le.


sudevsen

*le me epic redditor*


AdmiralSpunky

Allegory? Squid Game is - and I don't use this word often, but here it's actually appropriate - *literally* about capitalism. I'll give Hwang Dong-hyuk the benefit of the doubt here and assume that his interview was mistranslated.


[deleted]

Literally cannot think of a non-allegorical South Korean film.


Bypes

What's Oldboy an allegory of?


iwhitt567

...noooooooo... ...*really?!*


JokersRWildStudios

We live in a society


provocatrixless

And that was done better in the previous entries of this specific genres. I. The usual formula has characters bound by debt to the badguys so they never get to vote and walk away. I.e. you don't get to simply opt out of being exploited by the wealthy. Making it just a game for rich sickos weakens the theme and leads to kind of silly results. Think of the final game, you're a billionaire cool with murder kidnapping and child soldiers, and THAT finale was the ultimate thrill you paid millions for? The show is carried by the strong performances but the themes are undercooked.


cantonic

I have to agree. I thought it would be weirder, more sinister, but each reveal was meh. Gi-hun and Sang-woo were incredibly compelling characters (and their companions too) but the most genuinely surprising thing about *Squid Game* is that squid game is a real game kids used to play. I also would have much preferred the last shot end before Gi-hun makes a decision. That type of cliffhanger would highlight the moral ambivalence he and the audience should be struggling with.


sylpher250

> Think of the final game, you're a billionaire cool with murder kidnapping and child soldiers, and THAT finale was the ultimate thrill you paid millions for? But the games have obviously gone for decades long and at multiple countries too. I don't think they care that one of them had an anti-climatic end.


10ebbor10

> The usual formula has characters bound by debt to the badguys so they never get to vote and walk away I'd argue that would make it weaker. Because at that point you've reduced your message to "bad guys are evil and do bad stuff", whereas now you have "the system is evil and makes people do bad stuff". As a critique of capitalism, and not a handful of capitalists, the latter works better than the former.


Ezzme

You're 100% correct, the voting to leave part was crucial in this messaging. Literally the person who is the deciding vote is the rich guy, he does so because he knows many of them will return. It's a false dilemma that is present in every day life. It's why surprise surprise, poverty tends to birth people who also end up in poverty or why criminals tend to be repeat offenders. Choice is never really an option for the poor, sometimes every option is bad and you can only try to pick the best one.


The4thSniper

It really is a case of the mysteries being more compelling than the reveals. I loved the premise of the games being completely voluntary and egalitarian for everyone involved. The show was at its absolute strongest when it leaned into what such an environment would do to normal, albeit desperate, people -- the creeping paranoia, the moral decay, the backstabbing and outright murder. I felt like any time it departed from that formula of "a bunch of desperate people in a game run by faceless soldiers" it detracted from the overall show. The organ farm sideplot, the entire detective sideplot, the VIPs, the final reveal... none of them worked for me and left the core story feeling a little weaker as a result. They felt like the usual Netflix modus of inflating a story to draw it out into 10 episodes' worth of material.


MrGiggletits82

Title is a little click baity. I’m not gonna lie if anyone watching this show doesn’t realize it’s about the folly of capitalism and class divide then I’m not sure what your understanding of the show is. I don’t think we need any clarity from the writer/director lol. Great show though.


Ieatleadchips

Bruh pretty sure this series is a commentary on every society history has ever had. The have’s and the have not’s exist no matter your economic system


Foghate

And it works very well in that regard, which is why it was genius to include a North Korea refugee who made it clear shit was even worse, which was why South Korea for all its problems was still the better shot even when her life was on the line.


RKU69

Not sure if this is quite a correct interpretation - I very much remember that one part, during the conversation between Sae-Byeok and Ji-Yeong during the marbles episode, where Ji-Yeong asks her whether its better here than North Korea, and she very tellingly does not answer. Which means its an open question whether, for people like Sae-Byeok, it actually is better to be in the South vs. the North.


A_Sinclaire

Though you can see it from both sides. By that point they were aleady deep in the game with a 50% chance of dying within minutes - and at that point she could not decide whether that was better or worse than NK. I'd see that more as a dig against NK.


ThatTallAwkwardGuy

I mean they weren't talking about the game at that point but just living in SK which pushed her to the game. Like this is the level of sympathy you're allowed to get away with for the North in SK without the censors coming and ruining your career


prettylieswillperish

The reality is though it is objectively better than north Korea Really, by all forms and means its better. Just watch the documentary by the Russian filmmaker who runs "the people" YouTube channel


NightBard

She doesn't answer as she's in the squid game about to face death. So on that measure it's quite comparable and possibly equal. For regular every day people... clearly the south is a better life than the north.


aquaband

Omg it’s not better in the North even if you’re poor. She didn’t answer probably bc her life didn’t change much but then lost her family to add to all that.


frostedRoots

She didn’t answer because SK censors anything that looks like support for NK


SyrupBuccaneer

The entire series is secondary to her and Ji-Yeong talking for like, 10 minutes. But all the characters were very well done. I just hope this opens up a sort of renaissance about that topic.


ThatTallAwkwardGuy

The biggest character moment for her was refusing to answer if things were better in the south which is pretty much as far as you can go in regards to sympathy for the North in SK due to censorship


Idk_Very_Much

Wow, there’s no way we could have guessed that.


keefykush

Sounds about right


FrosttheVII

I haven't even seen it and I got that vibe from how people described it to me


Bumpi_Boi

I just assumed the government was running the games. The logistics of how it would even be profitable or break even make no sense. Plus the main guy is a degenerate gambler that steals from his family. Which not only ruins his life by going into massive debt but he also steals from his mother who now can’t afford to not work because she has to support her bum son.


DarkEvilHedgehog

>The logistics of how it would even be profitable or break even make no sense Not like they go that deeply into that side of their operations. Just assume that every trillionaire in the world and every other billionaire are watching the game through some kind of darkweb Twitch channel, and throw millions at it non-stop.


The4thSniper

> I just assumed the government was running the games. I thought that was where the plotline with the detective was going, right up until the final scene on the island. He reports it in, he gets the "Keep your nose out of it, kid" from his boss or whatever, realises that the conspiracy potentially goes all the way to the top. Maybe that would have been a little corny in its own right though.


NightBard

I saw it more as an indictment on the dangers of gambling and throwing away your morals instead of facing the reality of the situation you have created (or situation that is simply beyond your control). We saw very few innocent victims participate in the games. The only one there really was the machinist with the damaged hand but they went ahead and took him down a dark path... and then allowed him to abandon his family when he could have simply left with them.


JagerSalt

When analyzing the situations people find themselves in, it’s important to ask yourself *why* they’re in that situation. Do you think people who have nothing would gamble just for the hell of it? Most of the time it’s because there’s no other avenue to make the money they need in the amount time that they need it. And why are they so poor? How can people that work for Amazon, a trillion dollar company, be poor when they have the capacity to pay their employees so much more? Because they aren’t being paid a fair wage for what their labour provides to the company. Under Capitalism, you want yo work the least amount of hours and make the most amount of money, but your boss wants you to work the most amount you of hours and make the least amount of money. SG is about the people at the top exploiting the desperation and need for money that the people at the bottom have, and the society they live under is so crushing for poor people that they’re willing to literally kill each other to finally get the means they have to climb out of poverty.


NightBard

Except the poverty here is nearly all self inflicted. That's the Why. We have one character who has a situation where his boss just stopped paying his employees completely... while the boss sits at his computer gambling. Even that one story centers on gambling. Even the rich are obsessed with gambling with the whole SG. SG doesn't show normal people wanting to escape poverty... which is why it kind of fails at being any kind of indictment against capitalism. It harps over and over again on the dangers of gambling and the lengths people will go to survive as well as be entertained by it. Even the main character, on his kids birthday, gets some money to buy her a special meal and despite losing much money ends up with enough to buy her some food and a gift. He doesn't buy her a gift, instead he relies on gambling at the claw machine... getting her something that shows zero love and then only has enough to buy her some very cheap food (not even what she wanted).


JagerSalt

The fact that you think it’s nearly all self inflicted shown what you think of poor people. The rich gamble because they have so much they can throw away. The poor gamble so that they can make enough to treat their kids when it’s their birthday. Ali worked at a job that wouldn’t pay him because that’s the unfortunate reality of some people living as undocumented immigrants. He has to stick it out when it gets tough because he has no guarantee that he can get work elsewhere. Sang-woo gambled on stock futures because in a capitalist society, exponential growth is expected of companies and hedge funds. Sae-byeok gambled on crossing the border and private investigators and got screwed over by people exploiting her desperation to find her mother. SG is a very good criticism of capitalism as it showcases the horrible situations and decisions that it forces people into, and the disparity that wealth inequality breeds.


PraiseGod_BareBone

It is nearly all self inflicted. The main character is shown to be poor because of shortcomings in his personality and gambling. Even the rich guy who graduated from SMU is shown to be in debt because of moral failings of his own. The poor aren't poor because they aren't paid enough. They're poor because of the lifestyles they lead. That much is pretty abundantly clear in the series. About the only one you can say is a traditional exploited laborer is the North Korean.


Ezzme

Did you watch the show? The main characters life went to shit because he took part of a large strike at his workplace, surprise because it had horrible work conditions feeding into the anti capitalism message. He was from the context a prominent member of it all which led to him not being able to get back on his feet and in combination from his friend dying led to him spiraling. Gi-Hun throughout the show is a very principled person who has a solid moral compass how you can say he his shortcomings led to his downfall is insane. He quickly goes to help the old man when he could, he organizes the group together to stay safe from the aggressive team, he tries to help the girl even when the game was down to just the 3 of them and even tries to end the game when he had a guaranteed win. Gi-Hun isn't perfect, but he's the perfect example of millions of people living in poverty who are solid hard working people who will never get out of poverty. It's not some coincidence that poverty becomes a generational issue in this world.


MagicRedStar

>The main character is shown to be poor because of shortcomings in his personality and gambling Late reply here but that's false, they told the main character's actual backstory in the show. He was a factory worker who got fired in a mass layoff just as his wife is about to give birth. He and several of his coworkers then striked and occupied the factory for their wages, but the factory owners break the strike by calling in the SK police. This incident also kills his friend, which gave him PTSD. Later, he tried to start a business, twice, and failed both times, which gave him massive crippling debt. He is currently working as a chauffeur, which couldn't possibly pay him enough to eliminate his debt, so he tries to resort to gambling for a chance to get money quick. He doesn't just gamble because of his shortcomings in personality or whatever, he was pushed into gambling by the circumstances in his life. Just to be clear, I'm not defending gambling here, or him stealing his mother's money for that matter, just that nothing happens in a vacuum and it's more complicated than that.


JagerSalt

Did you read what I explained about the others or just cut right to reaffirming that they’re morally bad? It’s not just exploited labour, but the expectations that a capitalist society places on people as well. People with addictions are sick and need help, gambling is no example. But the people who are rich can do it without threatening their financial security, while the people that are poor don’t have the time or money to get the help they need.


Dragmire800

>But the people who are rich can do it without threatening their financial security. Except Cho Sang-Woo* was rich, or at the very least well paid, and lost everything through insider trading and the the like.


Ricky_Boby

Yeah Sang-Woo was in trouble for embezzling millions of dollars from the company he worked for and then gambling it on stock futures. He's more akin to the Wolf of Wallstreet than some dude just trying to get by.


JagerSalt

The cop who was investigating? I think you’re confused. If you’re referring to Sang-Woo, he was in a position where the expectations placed on him pushed him to make bad investment decisions because capitalism is all about profit. He got charged with fraud because playing the stock markets is literally gambling and his didn’t pay off, so he ran.


NightBard

Except he embezzled his clients money, put liens against him Mom's home and business, and then used that money to try and make a huge profit on the side before putting back what he took. Dude wasn't trying to make profits for clients, he was trying to skim some off the top. Had he simply been investing in the market with a regular firm running a hedge fund or whatever... those losses wouldn't fall on his shoulders to pay back and it would have only been a small fraction of the money that got invested from each client while the rest was well diversified in other investments.


Dragmire800

Yeah I meant Cho Sang-woo


Ezzme

His scenario was part of the message against capitalism as well though. It's a comment on capitalisms never ending need for more. The man lived a good life but went on to risk it all to earn more despite it. What he does, in many different ways, is done by businesses/rich people around the world ALL THE TIME he just so happened to be caught. The whole point for his story is to show that the system is not only bad for the poor but for even those on top because it leads to them chasing profit at all cost.


PraiseGod_BareBone

The rich guy in this show not only 'threatens his financial security', but he also is going to get thrown in jail for gambling - he has gambled his clients money just as the main character gambled away the money that should have gone towards providing for his daughter/family. Making excuses for the poor not knowing that gambling is a bad thing doesn't make much sense IRL.


JagerSalt

You’re clearly not understanding the nuance to the situation. Why did he gamble his client’s money? Because capitalism is all about big profits and nothing else. He did what he thought was a good idea and it fell through. And do you think poor people don’t know that gambling is bad? It’s an addiction. Knowing it’s bad doesn’t fix the problem. Getting help does. You’re just self reporting your feelings on poor people at this point.


PraiseGod_BareBone

LOL. So which is it? Capitalism made the rich guy gamble because... what is it again? Profits at all costs? That literally makes no sense. And poor people don't gamble because of capitalism and profit at all costs but because they can't help themselves and need a large state to tell them what to do and a state large enough to find all gambling outlets and crush them, right?


JagerSalt

Do you understand what nuance is?


NightBard

Sae-byeok escaping North Korea with her brother... what were they escaping again? It wasn't capitalism. Instead of trying to get a job she opted to put her brother in an orphanage and join a gang to rob people.. and then flipped to steal as an independent. None of her problems were due to capitalism... they were due to the situation and her desperation to get her mother and willingness to deal with a crooked broker to handle the deal with those providing the illegal service. Ali's situation is the only one remotely identifiable with because he remains a decent person... and it might match up with undocumented workers from south of the border here in the States... but is not even a common situation for those that get deep into the country. Maybe this is a big problem in South Korea? Still it's not capitalism that created the issues. It's everyone wanting to leave a bad situation and gamble somewhere better. Hence the one family opting to move to the USA... and a lot of Koreans opting to leave the country for Canada, USA, and elsewhere. It was an entertaining tv show but they flubbed the ending so they could leave the door open to continue it. And really if you think about the main character... the dude was a completely asshole because he chose to be. Even the last wishes of Sae-byeok and the other guy... he waited a year to do anything about them and then abandoned the kid with a stranger that didn't even know his sister.


JagerSalt

The capitalism indictment in Sae-byeok’s story was the private investigators that took her money and ran. Bad business l to make money and when they couldn’t deliver, they weren’t gonna give it back. So they ran.


Ricky_Boby

That's not Capitalism that's just straight up theft/fraud, which has happened in every society and economic system ever and why every society has laws to punish it (even if people sometimes get away with it due to the difficulties in catching them and proving it).


NightBard

Yeah exactly that… it’s not like the broker was handling some legit service… he was connecting her with smugglers to do the job. There’s a game called “Bury Me My Love” that I played recently that covers the life of a refugee on the road trying to get to a safe country and dealing with smugglers is part of it. It’s based heavily in reality.


HunterXHunter_Is_Bad

Completely agree. I enjoy Squid Game but it's challenge against capitalism is terrible. As you said it portrays many of the players of being somewhat deserving of their position, and the VIPs are cartoonishly evil to the point where the argument isn't "having vast amounts of money is bad" so much as "evil people who have vast amounts of money are bad". And even Disney movies can say that much.


NightBard

The VIPs are James Bond villain level of evil. Completely unrealistic, which is fine for entertainment... but not for teaching lessons. Maybe this is one of the parts of the show that is just a bit lost in translation because of how hamfisted the approach to make the point.


AsyncOverflow

The first episode introduces the main character as a mid-40 year old man who refuses to work, steals from his impoverished mother on top of mooching off her, refuses to pay child support or even try, borrows money to blow, steals his mom's handout intended to feed his daughter, and furthermore barely makes an effort to see her despite having unlimited free time. He's a black hole to everyone in his life, bringing absolute misfortune to whoever he meets and does so purposefully as well as maliciously. He knowingly hurts people for gain. Under no economic system in the history of the world would this man have succeeded in any meaningful way whatsoever. He even chooses to kill his partner by cheating in the marbles game and then condemns Sang-Woo for doing the exact same thing in the next game. Maybe pick a better context to make your argument. Squid Game is a great show but if your political/economic opinions change because entertainment media, you're a moron. Best case scenario, it makes you curious to consume the near-infinite economic practice, theory, and history resources available to us in the form of actual education material.


JagerSalt

Tell me you don’t understand crushing societal expectations, anxiety, or guilt without telling me you don’t understand these things. There’s a lot the leads to people making bad choices. It’s not as easy as “just decide to do the right thing” all the time. The show is commenting on the lengths that people will go to when money and their lives are on the line. Under a capitalist society, your money *is* your life. Modern societies have the potential to take care of everyone but they they don’t because of profit motives and historical hangups. And SG didn’t change my political or economic affiliations, just reaffirm them. If you can’t understand why main cast aren’t actually bad people, but people that need help, you should take a step back and re-evaluate your sense of empathy.


NightBard

I think what may be missing here is that for a lot of us, we don't have crushing societal expectations thrust upon us. Maybe some families push this, but it's not common. My parents, for instance, just wanted me to do something would allow me to live a good life and be self supporting. No pressure towards status or a specific profession t and it's not common to hear people go around bragging about one kid from an area that did good... most people do pretty well and even those that opt not to try .. they live better lives than those depicted in the show unless they get into drugs, gambling, or one of the other plagues on all society. Our society (talking where I live in the USA... in one of the poorest states) does have a lot of programs, charities, and what not to take care of those that end up in bad situations (financial, abusive, ..etc). Everything from housing, to help finding jobs, to food banks, addiction recovery, and even financial support. The only thing you need is a willingness to work to do better and to ask. So to see people willing to kill for money... seems pretty cut and dry bad. To see the main character act like a user and abuser to his own Mother ... see him neglect his own kid at every turn... and to be hanging on to 10 years of anger over being laid off from a job... that's hard to identify with. So the intent may be to attack capitalism but it kind of only works for the parts of the world where this is how things are... for the rest of us... we have better systems. For instance the main character's mom would have options for free healthcare even in the USA for her diabetes. On a whole what this made me think less of the life people must live in South Korea... even though it doesn't seem possible the normal life for most people. If it is, then change needs to happen within the country to fix the systemic issues.


Tornado492

And he did so brilliantly


SweetDank

It's amazing and ironic how well anti-capitalism ideas sell in this world. Katamari Damacy's creator was inspired by capitalism and mass-consumption then it got really popular and they started selling millions of copies and were basically forced into making multiple releases of the game for every console every generation. Now let's watch 'Squid Game' sell out and make crap tons of money recycling the same (awesome) idea 10 times over a decade! Rage Against the Machine is still pretending (behind a huge pile of money) to hate modern Capitalism too!


CricketNo3253

The story is mostly a re-hash of the anime Kaiji.


88Kench

Kaiji is actually really fun and strategic though


CricketNo3253

It's also incredibly depressing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ3Qqn27Mnc


BlancoDelRio

Capitalism = bad is hardly an original concept


BlueTeamRuless

Your comment is hardly an original concept


BillieJoe420

Because thats never been done before


Quarkasian

Everything you will ever do will be unoriginal


Kenmore1414

Notice how this narrative is being downplayed by most media outlets. No surprise really.


incrediblemink

It’s being downplayed because it’s obvious as hell and no one needs to do any real analysis of it.


inthetownwhere

Being obvious never stopped anyone from making an "ending EXPLAINED" thinkpiece


keksmuzh

Honestly would love to see a thinkpiece try to justify the shockingly underwhelming last episode.


inthetownwhere

Yeah it was surprisingly bad, I loved the series as a whole but that twist just kills the marbles episode in hindsight


keksmuzh

The twist was…yeah not great, and I have other issues with the resolution of Gi-hun’s character within the context of the story. However, there are a *bunch* of other issues in hindsight. Why is The Frontman given just enough detail to not just come off as a menacing face for the machine of the game, but not enough focus to make the narrative built around him and the cop satisfying? Does the twist not somewhat invalidate the “fairness” of the game so heavily emphasized earlier on? Why have the organ harvesting subplot if it only serves as a narrative dead end and flimsy allegory?


inthetownwhere

The game was never fair though? That was the point, is a parallel to how we are told that anyone can succeed in the market, but its clearly a rigged game. I kind of agree with your other points but idk, I'm ok with the messy plot because I really loved the characters


keksmuzh

Sure, the game wasn’t really fair, but then why bother killing and stringing up the doctor and organ harvesting crew? They were fine with the scheme up to a point. The issue is the show is built on pretty simple themes and driven by layered character, *but* then these extraneous elements start to interrupt and undermine the stronger aspects. I really enjoyed the characters, and appreciated that all of them were flawed or broken in some way. When the show honed in on that it was very strong, and why episode 6 is so good in particular.


JuniorBobsled

The doctor & crew are still, in the end, part of the lower class. They perform a certain service for the upper class (obtaining black market organs) which allows the Front Man to look the other way. But once they are caught and threaten the image of the system, they are publicly made examples of as a way to declare the system fair, even if it isn't truly. However, the twist shows that for the truly wealthy, the rules don't apply. The system will protect them even when they have lost. I will agree that it's a bit clunky, but I do think it had a larger narrative purpose.


keksmuzh

It does serve a narrative purpose, but it also has several unintended knock-on effects. The most obvious is undercutting the relationship he had with Gi-hun. The entire scene also had an incredibly obvious problem: *Gi-hun didn’t go down to help the drunk guy either*. For all his hatred towards the game & how he was treated as a plaything (to the point where it informs the cliffhanger ending), he’s no better than Il in that moment. He’s risking that man’s life to get answers. It’s thematically confused.


inthetownwhere

I don't think the billionaires betting on the outcome appreciated that kind of cheating but I get the sense that insider cheating was fine


keksmuzh

Perhaps, but the later games were better insulated from prior knowledge being as big an advantage. The marbles game was rather free form & picking a weak partner only went so far (since both parties had to agree). The glass bridge game had some advantages for your starting #, but apart from the early numbers being near-certain death it’s fairly volatile. The final game was basically a death match and the players were specifically armed in an equal manner. Not sure the doctor would’ve made it much further, and the donors wouldn’t have been able to detect the cheating.


Cliqey

Yup, the illusion of fairness. The front man tells himself he cares about fairness, when all he really wants is for the winner to suffer as he suffered.


djuiced

I hate this type of social commentary, because it doesn't say anything profound, or noteworthy, or examines the situation in any new way. Rich people are portrayed as literal cartoon villains, and poor people are portrayed as helpless sheep who have no say about their lives. Satire as a genre sucks. It's like that movie Platform, the concept is eye-roll inducing, it's like a teenager came up with it. The show starts off promising in that regard though, because it examines the greed that pushes people to do fucked up shit. And greed is common across different classes, races, ages, countries, and systems - which is why I do appreciate them including the North Korean character, shows how messed up things must be up there. However, it quickly dissolves into aforementioned cartoony divide between the rich and the poor. The show is carried on the shoulders of the characters, and the situations they're put into. In that regard, it's great. But its social commentary is simplistic as hell.


lurkerfp

It’s not that simplistic if you are not liberal. If you look at the games in another way, they basically agreed to a contract where the game runner promises his hard earned money to the winner - you get a chance to win, what’s there to complain about? He could have donated sure. But what gives them the right to have his money for free? This is still a relevant question for many who lean conservative or see the POV.


crashfrog

> But what gives them the right to have his money for free? The diminishing marginal value of money. We actually make money *more useful* by confiscatory redistribution.


Unusual_Wheel_9315

With the shit I’ve seen on the internet, I would’ve thought it was based on a true story. Believe it or not the VIP episode where they’re using naked women for tables. This shit happens, public billionaires do this. They rape and kill little girls for fun.


DarkEvilHedgehog

>Believe it or not the VIP episode where they’re using naked women for tables. This shit happens, public billionaires do this You don't have to be a billionaire to engage in that. It was rather trendy in the 80s, I think. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nyotaimori


Ezzme

So many top comments talk about how it's not subtle, but then you see just as many comments that clearly missed the messaging and who are boot licking capitalist ideals. So sure the message was clear to many, but there are definitely people who still don't get it.


[deleted]

Kinda sad they botched the English subtitles though. Takes away much of the sociopolitical commentary.


[deleted]

[удалено]


rabid_J

Maybe don't take loans to pay for your horse betting habit also.


JuniorBobsled

His bank loans were stated as 250 million won ($250K USD) ,which were due to his two failed businesses. I assume his gambling debts were a desperation attempt to right the ship.


Quarkasian

Most poor people bet on horses? Betting companies make 60% of their income from 5% of customers - but hey what would an ignorant idiot like you know?


Bumpi_Boi

And steal all of your moms savings.


crashfrog

Naw, man, it's *capitalism*, it makes you steal from your family rather than develop useful skills because otherwise how are you supposed to support them without being a good person?