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‘Squid Game’? ‘Parasite’? Here’s Why They Find a Global Audience

Clarence Page, Tribune Content Agency on

Yet the entertainment value is solid, if you can stomach the violence, particularly in “Squid Game.”

The themes of economic insecurity and despair in a land where the more fortunate are doing better than ever easily resonated with me after our recent presidential campaigns.

For example, our national political conversations have been so focused on racial divides, in different ways by each party, that we give too little attention in my view, to the economic divides that we all need to patch up.

Racism is a real issue, of course. But of the nearly 700 counties that twice sent Obama to the White House, an impressive one-third flipped to support Trump in 2016, according to The Associated Press. Trump also won 194 of the 207 counties that voted for Obama either in 2008 or 2012.

Obviously, a lot of Trump supporters were moved by something more than race. But too often both of our political parties treat race like a red herring to draw attention away from thornier problems of income inequality and economic development shared by all Americans.

As an avenue to vent the barely-suppressed rage in our population, as in South Korea’s, “Parasite” and “Squid Game” offer a medium and message that can transcend borders and cultures.

But who is offering some hope? I can’t help but wonder as I talk to my son and other millennials who often express a very similar cynicism about their futures.

 

For their generation, the vigorous supply of low-skilled, well-paying industrial jobs that my generation enjoyed before, say, the 1970s and ‘80s have dried up. Same for reasonably priced college tuitions.

The birthrates for young adults have been in decline, experts say, because of economic barriers to a goal that we used to take for granted: starting a family.

All of which, I believe, contributes to the popularity of movies here and overseas that offer a cynical dog-eat-dog, hustle-whatever-you-can view of life. Perhaps watching such struggles play out on a movie or TV screen can help him to cope with them better in real life, where we can’t rely on every story to end happily ever after.

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(E-mail Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.)

©2021 Clarence Page. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(c) 2021 CLARENCE PAGE DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
 

 

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