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Santaluces High School

The Tribe

Santaluces High School

The Tribe

“Squid Game: The Challenge” The Real World’s Hunger Games

Gabrielle O’Brien
“Squid Game: The Challenge” as it appears on the Top 10 shows on Netflix.

In 2021, the South Korean drama show hit the world stage as a culture-influencing piece of media, with about 467,000,000 results on Google in less than a minute. So when Netflix announced there would be a reality game show based on the premise months ago I met it with skepticism; that skepticism has returned.

Because of the general course of life, I forgot all about the drama-inspired game show but once released on Netflix it was catapulted into my mind once again. Over the past few days, I have watched the entire show and I found it immensely entertaining. Reality shows in the past 10 years have mostly been romance-based, especially with the rise of social media and the reality contestant-to-influencer pipeline so to have such a polarizing show of course I found it entertaining, just like everyone else, until the tears started flowing.

Multiple contestants, from the stress and pressure, cried on camera with red puffy faces trying their best to compose themselves and I felt an immense amount of guilt. How could I enjoy seeing someone in such emotional pain, just for their fellow contestants to brush them off and show contempt toward them? Of course, to play devil’s advocate, these people did voluntarily sign up for the show. But why would someone do something like this, especially when the show is based on such strife? It’s out of desperation.

Many people on the internet have said sentiments akin to the point of people doing these extremes out of need. No one is trying to take the kids to Disney World or take a nice vacation to Europe; people have serious situations that need to be remedied: student loans, mortgages, and wanting to provide a better life for their children. On Google’s review section of the show, it is rated at 2.1. Many comments list the favoritism of contestants with interesting stories getting the spotlights for episodes just for a new crop of “main characters” to crop up once those people are eliminated. However, one reviewer Stephan Jehle had a very fair criticism: “But, every single person selected to participate that was developed through interviews is absolutely insufferable and downright cringe-worthy. Some were clearly Hollywood-wannabes just over the moon to have their 15 mins of fame, some had no clear explanation as to why they were there, and (spoiler) one even admits he dropped out of college just to attend (shocker: he gets eliminated very early on).” This isn’t your typical game show where you go on to gain followers: this is a life-changing amount of money and while this may seem mean, some people should evaluate if they really deserve to have it if you’re just going on to have a chance at influencer-ship. 

Onto other glaring issues, however, is what VOX described as “light human rights abuse.” Because of the NDAs Netflix created–like every other game show–any criticism of the show by participators must be anonymous. Long hours, nerve damage, and freezing temperatures are just the tip of the iceberg. “But the players told [Rolling Stone] that the game took half a day or so to film, and they had to hold poses for some 30 minutes at a time.” I don’t think it needs to be said how uncomfortable and difficult just the thought of that is and it’s just for one game! Terrible food, long hours, and uncomfortable living quarters are also listed by Screen Rant as similar issues. 

Moving on though, I didn’t make my title polarizing for the fun of it, it was a genuine thought I had while watching. It was in episode 5 when contestants had to pick a jack-in-the-box and it would either be an advantage, immediate elimination, or you pick players to eliminate. My first thought was “Huh, that kind of reminds me of when Haymitch sent Katniss a gift” or “This is like the time Katniss and Peeta had to pick who had to die so there could be one victor.” Instead of 12 tributes, there are 465 contestants; instead of the evil Capitol, it’s stifling and overwhelming capitalism, and so forth. Suzanne Collins even says her inspiration for the first book was the juxtaposition of a game show and footage of the Iraq War on adjacent TV channels. I cannot possibly be the only one who has trouble thinking about how simulation killings show were still greenlit among multiple wars and public shootings. 

Now after the release of the final episode of the first season, multiple news outlets have told the news: Season 2 is greenlit. Casting is officially open and will most likely be flooded. Of course, there is no way that the Netflix executives could’ve known about how viewers would react to the ethical and moral issues of the show, but I truly do hope that they learn before another season is approved, because I have a bad feeling it will be. 

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About the Contributor
Gabrielle O’Brien, Staff Writer
Hello! I'm a Senior at Santaluces and a first-year Tribe member. I'm an officer in our chorus, the Singing Chiefs. I love experiencing and doing all forms of art; I'm very excited to share my last year of high school with the Tribe!

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