Too Close To Home
I CAVED! I binge watched Squid games! Not because I have any prior interest in international thrillers (if I’m completely honest I am a big scaredy cat so I don’t watch horrors or thrillers by choice) but because I was sick of seeing it being referenced everywhere and I had no idea what they were talking about. So, here are my thoughts; that no one asked for, about the Squid Games series currently streaming on Netflix.
by Ria Reigns I 13 November 2021
Seong Gi-Hun or Greg?
I started by watching the series with the English voiceovers but by the middle of episode two I had to switch to the original Korean version with English subtitles – I’m glad I did because the voice overs were mafu. I mean if I watched it with my eyes closed, I would’ve sworn that they were palagi actors, and it doesn’t quite have the same effect.
It wasn’t long before I realised that there were some subliminal themes depicted in the episodes parallel to our real society, here are a few that stood out for me.
I found myself comparing the mother – son relationships depicted in the series to the parent – child relationships experienced as a Pasifika son/daughter. Sometimes it feels like you’re living a double life because you love your parents and you want to look after them and make them proud but some of your decisions don’t align with the expectation to succeed that is put on you so you keep a lot from them. While you try to dig yourself out of trouble for the right reasons, you end up getting into a worse situation!
Every man for himself!
I lost count of the number of times I screamed “Ya basket” at the TV every time someone was back stabbed, or someone went back on their promise, or deceived someone else. But isn’t this what really happens in real life on the daily? But why do people do this? Greed? Desperation? Self-preservation? After seeing many people eliminated (aka killed) the remaining players get scared and decide they want to leave the games, but before they vote to leave the big carrot is dangled in front of them … the prize money – well all of a sudden people aren’t so confident about backing out! This theme of every man for himself shows up all throughout the series and although it’s done on a more extreme scale the underlying theme doesn’t go amiss.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, because of the overall nature of the series – but the episode pertaining to this literally had me in tears! In Episode 6 we see the elderly player #001 slipping into states of dementia which was then used against him by his playing partner. I think this hit me because I thought about my own grandmother and how broken I would be if anyone had taken advantage of her like that. I lived with my grandmother from the age of two until the day she passed when I was 30yrs old. She didn’t speak English so I went with her everywhere, because I was aware that due to the language barrier and her age that it would be very easy for people to take advantage of her. As Pacific Islanders we are raised to respect and look after our elders which I believe the vast majority of Pasifika do really well, but an “international study reports that 3%-10% of older people experience abuse or neglect each year” and 42% of the victims live with their abuser! For me it was the elder abuse that stood out but of course it could be depicting how those with disability, disorders or the vulnerable in general are abused/taken advantage of in society also.
The Power of the Haves
Towards the end we find out the meaning behind all the games and realise it the common story of societies “haves” having power over the “have nots” to the point where the have nots (who lets not forget are people too) are being used simply for entertainment purposes, and all I can say is … YUCK for lack of a better term. I honestly can’t say much about this because I am somewhat angry at the thought of it .. why .. because it happens right! How many times do you see people with money buying themselves out of trouble and still get to keep their mansions and yet the average Joe on the ground working their hardest every day just to get by and support their family is always kept down by one thing or another! Sorry I’m going to leave it at that because it just gets me mad.
Overall, this series made me think how much easier life was when I was a young kid when my eyes weren’t opened to what really happens in society. I can’t enjoy watching a series for just being a vision of fiction because the themes behind it ring too true. Don’t you just wish you could go back and savour the days we were young; when life was easier and games were just games? Now as adults in the game of life it can sometimes seem like a series of battles and there is only one end – death.
I have never done a review before but in case you are still reading and wanted to know my magic number I think that if you don’t wince at gory stuff, and using the subtitles then its probably a 9/10 but for me (who is not a fan of horrors at all) it is an 8/10 – so still pretty good.