BHAWNA ATMARAM

The phenomenal global success of Netflix’s Squid Game has not left fellow Mauritians indifferent. Currently, this dystopian Korean series is trending at the much coveted number one spot on Netflix both locally and internationally. With its dark, macabre background of childhood games pitting 456 desperately cash-strapped people against each other, survival is key to winning and walking out with life-changing prize-money.

In this ruthless, bloodied arena, humans have become mere numbers. Individuality has been compromised as the players are herded like cattle to the slaughter-house. The deepest basic survival instincts are aroused while the doors of doom slowly close on them. Despite being given the opportunity to walk away from the games, most players choose to return after a brief spell in the real world. Why do they willingly come back to this death snare? Is hope an illusion? Ironically, for once in their lives, the rules of the games are fair for everybody in this gory theatre of horrors. Those who do not subscribe to the principle of equality are promptly eliminated.

The seemingly innocent games in the bright and colourful settings are strongly juxtaposed with the bitter and unforgiving circumstances of the characters’ own lives and struggles. A chance at life but at what cost? Are we any different from these characters and their inner demons? Desperate times call for desperate measures. While we might try to convince ourselves that we will not risk our lives for the sake of money, facts speak otherwise on a daily basis. Truth is that we are evolving in an ultra capitalist era where money rules supreme. The elites have been maintaining an iron grip on the handles of exploitation of the common man who is treated like a plaything to be toyed with. Added to the fact that the rich and powerful have the knack of getting away, literally with murder and no one bats an eye.

The diurnal patterns of corruption and nepotism which go unpunished speak volumes of how Squid Game mirrors our existence. The petty chocolate or litchi thief in Mauritius is guaranteed to be convicted instead of those who have conspired to loot millions of rupees due to their exclusive connections. There is almost always a lack of evidence when those pulling the strings at the top are pinpointed. Since they are the rule-makers, the rules of the game do not apply to them. As the creators of oppression, they have an unrivalled edge over the rest of the plebeians. The chess pawns in their grasp are the ones to be sent to the sacrificial fire. The players and their families are the disposables of their gruesome creation as the oppressors sit back and relish in their downfall, piece by piece. The burning question is: Till when?