squid game VIPs

We Need To Talk About Those Annoying White People in Squid Game

The nearly perfect Netflix series has white people problems.

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***SPOILER ALERT: This post spoils the final episodes of Squid Game, you’ve been warned.***

Netflix’s Korean survival drama Squid Game has become a pop culture phenomenon. The massively successful Korean series is now one of the most streamed shows in Netflix history, with a global reach that rivals beloved series like Stranger Things and The Witcher. And it’s easy to see why: Hwang Dong-hyuk’s series offer compelling human drama, terrific performances, stunning production design, and one of the most tense viewing experiences in recent memory. The series is simply damn good television.

No doubt this Halloween will see plenty of people dressed as players, guards, and even that little girl killer robot. But while Squid Game is an absolute thrill, there is one glaring issue within the series that I struggle with. Namely, it’s white people.

White people have a long history of ruining things we all love, from the macro (the environment, democracy) to the micro (cornrows, Chinese food). As a white woman myself, I can attest that we have an extraordinary talent for fucking up a good thing.

So it’s hardly a surprise that the second some white people show up on Squid Game Island, the series takes a turn for the dumb. As the game moves to its final rounds, a flock of VIPs descend on the island, their identities shielded by metallic animal masks. Sidebar: aren’t those masks heavy to wear? And how do they drink from a glass without spilling all over themselves? the VIP section is filled with sumptuous couches and body-painted servants, but no straws? Is the Host eco-conscious or just psychotic?

These VIPs are meant to be titans of industry, the wealthiest one percent who are bored with earthly pleasures and luxury. Now, the only way they can get their rocks off is by betting on players in the game. It’s a trope we’ve seen in countless “death game” films, from the powdered wig set of The Hunger Games series to Roman emperors presiding over gladiator battles.

But THESE guys?! Ugh. I don’t know where they found these actors (presumably American tourists wandering the streets of Seoul), but their line deliveries are so arch and over the top it ruins the experience. The VIPs also engage in endless exposition, parroting information viewers already have. For example, when five people remain in the game, you’d hear this kind of forced banter:

VIP 1: Only five remaining players.

VIP 2: And then there were five!

VIP 3: 451 down, five to go (maniacal laugh).

VIP 4: At least number 69 is still there! (everyone laughs at a 69 joke).

BITCH, WE KNOW. We have eyes and we are watching the same show! What are you adding to the proceedings?!? Not a damn thing. Squid Game, a clear allegory for capitalism and wealth inequality, doesn’t need these jabronies harping on, especially when their dialogue adds absolutely nothing and is deeply cringeworthy. Everything they say feels like a bad studio note.

Yes, billionaires are immoral, but do they have to be so boring? Fellow masked bad guys like the guards and the Front Man cut a malevolent figure, making them strong, threatening villains. But these VIPs are neither frightening nor intimidating, just simply exhausting. And every time the show cuts back to their banter, it took me right out of the series.

The concept of VIPs I have no problem with, but the execution of their scenes leave something to be desired. All in all, their presence would have been so much stronger had they remained silent and mysterious.

What did you think of the VIPs in Squid Game?

(image: screencap/Netflix)

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Author
Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.