Squid Game: A Spoiler-Free Philosophical Analysis

By: Elle Buth, For The Clock

ebuth@plymouth.edu

Squid Game has recently become a phrase that we constantly hear whether that be from friends recommending the show or the plenty the Internet has to say about it. We all have heard of Squid Game, a South Korean drama that has quickly become one of Netflix’s most watched shows.  But to the ones who have not seen it, the frequent references to it can be especially baffling.  To help, I will be going into depth on what drives Squid Game without any spoilers.   

Something important to note about the show is that it has postmodern influences. Brian Duignan in Encyclopedia Britannica Online says that postmodernism is “…characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.”  Recurring themes within the series involve economic power and its relationship to political power, including a hopeless view on change for the better.  The characters are taught to be skeptical of everything around them in order to simply survive the violent challenges they endure throughout the plot. 

To further this, the show is set in a dystopian society and explores how far people must go to escape poverty. This being said, the show contains harsh commentary on the huge divide between the upper and lower classes and how inescapable poverty can be, further bringing in the theory of economic determinism.  As stated yet again in Encyclopedia Britannica Online, one of the primary thoughts in the theory of economic determinism is how “…social differentiation and class conflict resulted from economic factors.”  Squid Game emphasizes economic determinism in its commentary on the huge gap between the rich and poor in the show’s dystopian society, and how conflict can occur between and inside both the rich and poor classes over monetary power. 

The two elements of postmodernism and economic determinism are prominent in Squid Game, and if you choose to watch it be sure to keep them in mind.  Additionally, know that the show is riddled with violence, gore, and aspects of horror.  If you are not comfortable with violence and bloodshed in movies and shows, be careful when watching. 

Works Cited:

Duignan, Brian. “Postmodernism.” Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, www.britannica.com/     topic/postmodernism-philosophy. Accessed 14 Oct. 2021.  

Faris, Robert E.L. “Sociology: Economic Determinism.” Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online,     www.britannica.com/topic/economic-determinism. Accessed 14 Oct. 2021.