Squid Game: Step Aside Hollywood, You’ve Got Competition

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Hollywood certainly dominates the world’s entertainment industry, orchestrating content consumption in a manner that eerily parallels that of Squid Game’s “V.I.P.s.”

Squid Game has finally relinquished its number one position on Netflix’s Top 10, a spot it had been hoarding without challenge since September 23. Still, the buzz around Squid Game has hardly died down. It is by far and away Netflix’s most popular show of all time, spawning fan pages and knock-off Halloween costumes across the globe.

The Korean thriller series revolves around a group of cash-strapped contestants competing in a series of children’s games for the chance to win 45.6 billion won ($38.1 million USD). The catch? If you lose one of the games, you die.

The somewhat macabre show’s extreme popularity in the United States came as a shock to many. After all, the show was originally produced in Korean. English-speaking viewers have the choice to watch with subtitles or listen to a dubbed-over version of the show, but aren’t typically known to watch foreign language content en masse.

Struggle has no borders, and Squid Game told a great story about the struggles of capitalism that people around the world could relate to.”

— Andrew Nicholson

Hollywood has long been the dominant source of entertainment content, but its influence seems to be waning as the years go on. Critics were shocked when the South Korean film Parasite took home the Best Picture award at the 2020 Oscars. But the rise in popularity of foreign language content makes sense. Globalization has made the world increasingly interdependent, both in terms of essential activities like agriculture trade, and nonessential activities like on-demand entertainment.

“Struggle has no borders, and Squid Game told a great story about the struggles of capitalism that people around the world could relate to,” shares junior Andrew Nicholson.

Squid Game demonstrated to Western audiences that South Korea’s content production capacity is clearly comparable to Hollywood’s. Forward-thinking investors have already begun to buy up any and all Korean entertainment stock they can get their hands on.

Within the first two weeks of the show’s release, “Bucket Studio Co., which holds a stake in the agency representing Squid Game’s lead actor Lee Jung-Jae, surged about 90%,” according to one Bloomberg article.

There’s no denying that Squid Game is a pop-culture phenomenon.

“It’s been a month, and it’s still all over my TikTok,” Andrew Nicholson comments.

The game-based premise of the show encourages audiences to try their own hand at the challenges depicted in the show. The “Dalgona Candy” challenge, for example, is easily replicated at home. Well, it’s supposed to be at least. Check out the video to see my dalgona disaster (spoiler alert: I somehow burnt a hole through a pot and set off my house’s smoke alarm).

Squid Game proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that content with an engaging premise has the potential to be successful worldwide, regardless of its original language. In the words of Parasite director Bong Joon Ho, ““Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”