Netflix creates IRL Squid Game because media literacy is dead

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Netflix’s dystopian Korean Drama Squid Game was a surprise hit last year. The tale of poor businessman Seong Gi-hun surviving a deadly game show for the entertainment of the rich was beloved by millions around the globe.

While many have criticised Netflix’s almost-impressive over-merchandising of the show, as well as its plans for multiple spin-offs, none expected them to recreate the game show for real. Of course, Netflix being Netflix, they have.

Netflix creates Squid Game: The Challenge

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Revealed in a press release, Squid Game: The Challenge is a new game show that takes the core concept of the series’ deadly games and recreate them, sans actual death. Netflix has claimed that “in this game the worst fate is going home empty-handed.”

In the game show adaptation, “456 real players will enter the game in pursuit of a life-changing reward of $4.56 million.” Participants will also have to face games inspired by the original show — which intentionally pits the poor against each other for the entertainment of the rich — as well as new challenges.

Netflix has not explained what these new challenges will be, but they are designed to test competitors’ “their strategies, alliances, and character”. Just like the show, they will be forced to stay on one room to form alliances so we can all see the drama unfold.

It’s not known just how far Netflix is willing to go in order to replicate the horrendous conditions of the show. Will contestants be shoved by guards? Is there going to be very limited food? Are bathroom breaks restricted? Hopefully, none of that will happen, because that would be horrific.

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The death of the cautionary tale

Of course, Squid Game becoming a huge franchise was not intended. The story, which was in development for over a decade, was a criticism of the hoops that rich people make the poor go through in order to survive.

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At the end of the series — spoilers — it’s very clear that the fictional game show Squid Game was bad and that poor people should be supported instead of left to fend for themselves. In fact, this is expressly shown to the viewer when Gi-Han waits to see if anyone helps a homeless person.

However, we live in a time where media literacy is seemingly dying off. After all, it only took a couple of months for YouTuber Mr Beast to turn Squid Game into a real competition, why shouldn’t Netflix do it?

It’s not like the idea of a cautionary tale like Squid Game being ignored is new. In 1992, sci-fi author Neal Stephenson wrote Snow Crash, a cautionary tale of a virtual Metaverse ruled by corporations. Not only are companies now actively making Metaverses, but Neal Stephenson himself is also jumping on the trend.