Given the hype of Squid Game, I couldn’t be behind the curve, so I gave in to the propaganda and clicked play.
I sat to watch the first episodes and became mortified as Red Light/Green Light turned into mass murder. I suspected something of the sort. I am savvy enough to know no one offers strangers money for easy, peasy games.
Shocked by the horror, not only of that episode but the following episodes, I fast forwarded through the majority of those scenes. I did slow for the other scenes, what I would call the important ones – the relationship building, the psychology behind playing the games, but that was slow to come, hard to understand with the dubbing, and lack of real emotion in the actors or the voice-overs.
Besides being horrified that Netflix would buy such a series, I’m sad for our society. We, in literature, know this to be a fact: Literature affects society and society affects literature. Literature, in this case, includes media. It’s the consumption of entertainment.
When Julia Roberts appeared in Pretty Woman and was driven away by her prince charming in a white limo, thousands of girls across the country ran away from home thinking their hero would come in the form of a john.
When Gatsby was re-released, a flood of inspired fashions, jewelry, and Roaring 20’s parties came to the market and was still going strong before the pandemic.
Our society, right now, is in trouble. The shootings, road rage, assaults, and airline passenger incidents have increased dramatically. The mental stress of the threats to home and family from the pandemic, the lockdown, as well as the continued confusing and changing informational messages create anxiety for people already stretched to their limits.
Our society does not need a series about murder games. Our society needs healing.
After 9/11, the media sold the red, white, and blue. Products, shows, and news stations – American Pride elevated. In addition, shows and movies about angels and healing were released. Our country slowly healed.
We have choices in what to watch, but I see more negative than positive available across the streaming channels. While we have some comedies, some sci-fi, the vast majority of available shows and movies seem to involve guns and violence.
Hulu canceled Dash and Lily, a sweet show. Netflix did away with Love – a show about relationships. Shows which might offer a reprieve from the violence and horror are done away with while companies use our dollars to buy content they then convince us to watch. I would have never watched Squid Games – it’s not that good! – had it not been for the hype.
Perhaps, right now, media is reflecting society. But media also has the power to offer and influence our society with more wholesome, more loving, and productive content.
I’ve sworn off my crime and mystery shows for the time being. I’ve sworn off any show with guns and violence. If I want that, I’ll watch the news.
Our society needs healing and media has the power, and perhaps the responsibility, to give us more of those choices.