Posted on: October 29, 2021 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Netflix

By Ethan Holesha, Managing Editor

Gore and competition are the driving forces behind Netflix’s biggest show ever: “Squid Game.” As humans, why are we so intrigued by these concepts? Should we be concerned that a show like this has become so popular?

Netflix describes the show, a more bloody version of “Hunger Games,” this way: “Hundreds of cash-strapped players accept a strange invitation to compete in children’s games. Inside, a tempting prize awaits — with deadly high stakes.”

The Korean series attracted more than 142 million member households during its first four weeks.

Moraine Valley psychology professor Laura Lauzen-Collins gave her reasoning on why a show with such savage concepts has fascinated millions of people. “I think that there are two things that draw us as humans toward gory violence. First, we have an instinct to pay attention to negative life-threatening events. Think about the traffic bottlenecks that are caused by people straining to see what happened in a nearby car accident. Everybody is trying to catch a glimpse of the carnage.”

Lauzen-Collins went on saying, “Second, horror and suspense-based media gives us an opportunity to be scared or horrified in a safe environment. We can experience at least a part of the adrenaline thrill of the action and mayhem we are watching while safely seated on our comfortable couch. We seek this same chemical high within the bounds of safety when we ride roller coasters and visit haunted houses.”

Some writers have found that the younger generations have tended to gravitate more and more toward “extremes” for entertainment. In a New York Times editorial, Frank Bruni explains, “I canvassed young people I know: ‘I couldn’t look away,’ ‘insane premise that I was captivated by,’ ‘very few shows have its wow factor.'”

Bruni later explained, “but the fact that they’re not repelled by the incessant bloodletting and by many characters’ flamboyant cruelty to one another says something weird and disturbing about modern sensibilities. ‘We’re entertained by extremes,’ a 23-year-old who zoomed through ‘Squid Game’ in two days told me.”

While this view is true for a lot of the younger crowd, Moraine students gave their own reasons for being so enticed by the show.

“I liked how the concept of the show was simple yet not predictable,” said freshman business major Josh Fernandez. “Just about every time it seemed predictable, a crazy event would always throw the storyline in a different direction.”

“I think it’s so popular because of how easy it is to understand. Also because of how different it is. There’s never been a show like it.”

Though the show is entertaining for adults, some people are concerned about its effects on children.

For Halloween, schools across the country banned “Squid Game” costumes due to students recreating games from the show during recess. According to EducationWeek, a letter sent to parents this week from principals of elementary schools in New York said “Squid Game” costumes do “not meet our school costume guidelines due to the potential violent message aligned with the costume.”

Photo by Netflix
Netflix’s South Korean blockbuster series “Squid Game” repeated atop Nielsen’s U.S. streaming rankings for the week of September 27-October 3, dominating the Top 10 rankings and becoming only the sixth title to surpass 3 billion minutes viewed in a week’s span. It also marks the best title performance of 2021 in the U.S. rankings.

In addition to violence, the show features sexually charged scenes that could be inappropriate for some viewers.

Sophomore exercise science major Ethan Campagna said, “Towards the end, there were some creepy scenes with the sponsors of the squid games. That was the only part I didn’t like about the series.”

In the Deadline article “‘Squid Game’ Halloween Costumes Banned At NY-Area Schools…” author Tom Tapp states, “Netflix rates the show for Mature Audiences, meaning it ‘may not be suitable for ages 17 and under,’ according to the streamer’s ratings classification page. The content warning at the beginning of the show’s first episode warns of ‘language, violence, sex, nudity, suicide, smoking.’ In other words, probably not for kids.”

Sophomore computer engineering major Jon Arredondo reiterates this point saying, “I think that ‘Squid Game’ definitely could have a negative effect on kids due to the fact there is so much violence that kids probably really shouldn’t and most likely haven’t seen at all.”

However, when asked about the societal effects of a show like this, his opinions differed.

“I personally do not think that shows can cause people to act out with violence. I believe that people do things they want to do and shows do not cause them to act the way they do.”

Unlike Arredondo, professor Lauzen-Collins did express some concern with the way society could potentially digest the contents of “Squid Game.” She said, “I think what makes ‘Squid Game’ more compelling than other shows is the reflection of inequity from our own society and, for me, this is a greater concern than the violence because it is a reminder of the extreme inequity within our society and within most societies in the world right now.”

“There is a desperation among those throughout the world who deeply feel that they have not been treated fairly and I think this series clearly reflects that level of desperation. The fact that this inequity exists and continues to grow is much more concerning to me than the violence the series uses to convey its message.”

This show first premiered in September, so its still too early to tell what long lasting effects it will have on society.