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YouTuber’s Squid Game Reenactment Is Not a Win for the “Creator Economy” & It’s Ludicrous to Claim So

YouTuber MrBeast poses in front of a crowd of people dressed in green jumpsuits like characters from Squid Game

Netflix announced recently that Squid Game is the most popular show to ever air on the platform and now YouTuber MrBeast has launched his own massive hit in meticulously recreating a non-lethal but still technically impressive version of the Korean show.

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MrBeast spent months recreating all the sets of the original and brought in 456 people to compete to win $456,000, less than the $4.56 billion in the show but still a substantial amount. What he made is visually impressive but comes with all sorts of questions in terms of the content.

As Motherboard’s Gita Jackson writes:

As a feat of production, it’s not just admirable, but enviable in how perfectly Mr. Beast recreated the sets of the show. As a piece of media, it’s perverse. This doesn’t just badly misunderstand the anti-capitalist message of Squid Game, it’s a literal recreation of the villain’s ultimate desire to watch desperate people compete for money purely for his amusement.

Still, the video has been wildly successful. A few days after it dropped, as of this writing, it’s hovering around 115 million views.

For a YouTuber recreating a piece of media, that’s impressive. Things took a turn, though, when YouTube executive Jon Youshaei praised MrBeast and in doing so, suggested that this YouTube recreation had eclipsed the importance and accomplishments of the original.

“More views, less time, fewer gatekeepers. That’s the promise of the creator economy,” Youshaei writes in a staggering display of Missing So Many Points. The phrasing here seems to imply that MrBeast’s video is more impressive than the original series but are we really supposed to be impressed that a YouTube video took fewer resources than a full television series, or surprised that there are more people willing to invest 25 minutes in watching that video (on a free platform pretty much everyone has access to on their phone) than there are who will spend eight hours watching a hyper-violent non-English language series on a paid platform?

Also, Squid Game took more than a decade to get made because as a super violent, anti-capitalist series, it was a hard sell! MrBeast’s video was a very easy sell, including to audiences, because the show it was based on was massively popular.

It is beyond ridiculous to praise the success and efficiency of this YouTube recreation compared with the stats of the thing it’s recreating without acknowledging that it literally could not exist without the original. And then to take it all a step further and imply that the YouTubers who recreate other forms of media are the real “creators” is just incomprehensible.

(via Twitter, Motherboard, image: screengrab)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.

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