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Canberra Today 17°/21° | Monday, December 6, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

‘Squid Game’: How about execrable, vile, putrid and racist? 

“Squid Game”… Each contestant is in debt, but the prize on offer is vastly more than they owe. It’s just greed gone mad.

“Just imagine if the victims shot to death were not Asians but white Australians. The phone calls of protest would melt the copper wires of the NBN,” writes columnist ROBERT MACKLIN.

SO, it’s come to this: a big slice of First World humanity is so tickled by the prospect of watching hundreds of desperate Koreans being shot to death that the screening of it is valued at more than a billion dollars.

Robert Macklin.

And we call it “entertainment”.

Yes, I know the victims don’t really die. They are actors in “Squid Game” and when the director calls, “Cut!” they get up from the sand and head for the showers. But we don’t see that on the TV screen. 

On the contrary, we’re treated to gouts of very real-looking blood as the bullets strike and, in the aftermath, the masked killers prowl the arena finishing off the merely wounded with handguns. In close-up.

Next episode the survivors return to compete in a new game with another slaughter.

Volunteering for such a terrible ordeal, you might think they would have to be motivated by some great cause – the saving of humanity, world peace, maybe even defeating the Morrison government at the next election. But no, it’s just personal venality. 

Each contestant is in debt, but the prize on offer is vastly more than they owe, singly or in sum. It’s just greed gone mad.

We call it “entertainment”.

The “games” are all drawn from the Korean children’s playground and most seem to have their counterparts in other countries. Perhaps that’s part of the reason it’s spread so quickly around the First World. 

But there must be more than that to explain why the show, which cost only $20 million to produce, has gathered up to 150 million viewers, topped the ratings in the US and increased the share value of the giant Netflix investor and distributor by a full seven per cent.

In Australia, it’s No. 1 among Netflix viewers and its iconic images have found their way into newspaper cartoons and comedians’ throwaway lines. 

It’s such a financial bonanza that even the richest man in the world, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos calls it “impressive and inspiring”; and his Prime Video is a Netflix competitor!

Wow. Inspiring. Others – your columnist among them – might have a different take on it. How about execrable? How about vile and demeaning? How about putrid and racist? 

For example, just imagine if the victims shot to death were not Asians but white Australians or New Zealanders. The phone calls of protest would melt the copper wires of the Abbott/Turnbull NBN. Or what if they were Jews? Well, that doesn’t bear thinking about. But because they’re Koreans does that really make it “inspiring”?

Or “entertainment”?

Maybe it’s the inevitable extension of the trend that began with the murder mysteries of Agatha Christie/Sherlock Holmes; or the police procedurals of “Midsomer Murders”/”Silent Witness”. Transferred to an American producer/distributor such as Netflix, the blood and gore just keeps on mounting until it gushes like Stanley Kubrick’s scarlet waterfall in “The Shining”.

And we call it “entertainment”.

The result is a kind of scouring of the psyche that rips away the compassion and empathy learned at our mother’s knee; and adds to that the hard-won knowledge that death is forever, not some crossing to another plane of existence so beloved of religionists and Army chaplains. 

Rather, it deserves the kind of respect that our Aboriginal compatriots accorded it – a grieving process and a complex ritual that took months to fulfil.

Maybe they knew a thing or two about human values that’s been lost in transmission – like the difference between death and entertainment.

Lose this macabre ‘Game’, the penalty is death 

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Robert Macklin

Robert Macklin

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3 Responses to ‘Squid Game’: How about execrable, vile, putrid and racist? 

Matt Watts says: November 2, 2021 at 7:33 am

It is a South Korean production, and the story makes viewers emotionally invested in certain characters; I hardly think there is racism. Sadly, to suggest there is racism afoot perhaps displays the columnist’s inability to get into the story for all the Asians running about onscreen.

As for an equivalent dystopian show on Australian TV, I doubt there would be many complaints – don’t forget, we love the Mad Max movies!

If people are too squeamish for Squid Game, fine. Let’s leave it at that.

Matthew says: November 2, 2021 at 4:35 pm

Matt Watts – I agree with your point. The popularity of Squid Game in ‘First World’ countries is probably more that it is different to the entertainment scourge that has been given to us called ‘Reality TV’. Has Robert Macklin not seen the popularity of ‘The Hunger Games’? That depicts white people partaking in a death game for entertainment. Or is it that it doesn’t fit the narrative.

deeplyamused says: November 2, 2021 at 7:31 pm

Hilarious review! Is this satire? This guy doesn’t need to be cancelled by the internet… he’s committed to doing it himself!


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