Unpacking Squid Games

On the surface, the Squid Game is a sustained critique of class and ultimately the egregious excesses of contemporary capitalism. Akin to the highly successful Hunger Games franchise, poor contestants are pitted against each other by the wealthy, and the audience invariably identifies with the few proletarian protagonists who display some moral compass amid a primitive “dog-eat-dog world” at once contrived and sensational and yet a direct mirror of contemporary society. Below the surface, however, and in addition to what some critics may see as mere “pretense at social commentary,” the Squid Game succeeds at offering incisive organizational commentary, and particularly at illuminating the terrifying efficiencies of state-sponsored and organizational violence. Indeed, for the psychosocially-informed viewer, the series has many easily observed organizational linkages, most notably elements of the Nazi era, but also much of the history of mercantilism, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and ill-conceived but common organizational change dynamics such as downsizing resident in the plot.