Impacts of Squid Game in Popular Culture
Squid Game is now the most-watched series in all of Netflix history. According to Psychology Today, “In the first 28 days since its release, the show was watched by viewers from more than 142 million households,” which makes the show more than seven times more popular than the most-watched episode of Game of Thrones. There is no doubt that Squid Game is a smashing hit, but what impacts does Squid Game have on our culture and the way we understand human nature?
Squid Game is a thriller drama made in Korea about 456 greatly impoverished individuals who compete in a series of children’s games for a massive cash prize. The contrast between the innocence of children’s games to the gruesome executions within the game serves as a shocking commentary of the effects of capitalism on human nature. Even after the players decide to halt the game, most of the players still end up coming back even after witnessing the mass execution of the first round. This overwhelming burden of debt causes humans to do unthinkable things, such as murdering friends, lying, and stealing. These players are so desperate at the hope of solving their debilitating money problems that they are willing to die for the slim chance of winning. This state of society as presented in Squid Game hits very close to home, as the wealth inequality present in today’s society is the greatest it has ever been, with 1% of the world’s richest being richer than 6.9 billion people.
Squid Game also inadvertently served to help introduce Korean culture to people around the world. People began recreating the Squid Game challenges which were Korean children’s games on social media sites like TikTok. Dalgona candy-making kits became extremely popular, with people attempting the Squid Game challenge of cutting a shape out of the candy. The world is currently experiencing a rapidly growing awareness of Korean culture through Korean pop such as BTS, movies such as Parasite, and now Squid Game.
Indeed, a factor in Squid Game’s impact is how well crafted and effective it is at portraying the state of society. However, the most important factor in its fiery influence around the world is how embedded it has become into media culture. Squid Game is a monumental Netflix success, but its success goes even beyond that. Content about Squid Game has become trendy on various popular social media sites including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Squid Game became the hottest topic for more than a month. People could often not even hold conversations with friends without having watched Squid Game. Squid Game Halloween costumes became the hot costume this spooky season. Squid Game, simply put, has been able to become deeply imbued in media culture itself, and has captured the hearts of Gen Z and Millennials around the world.
Written By: Megan Yi