I check out the world’s news via the Internet several times a week. Through that medium, it’s easier than ever to keep up with the world’s latest developments. Much like the younger generation today, I don’t have any channels on my television. Instead, I “surf the net.”
One morning I read in many media outlets that Netflix just reported its most successful series in history. It’s a fiction series called Squid Game. Usually, I wouldn’t pay much attention to it, but since it was such prominent news across the media, I looked it up. To say that I was in a state of shock would be an understatement. I do not live in a Christian bubble, so I consider myself quite aware of the evils and injustices of our world. This time, however, I was speechless.
The South Korean show Squid Game is fiction. It portrays 456 people who find themselves at the bottom of society and financially broke. They compete in various games for over 40 million dollars, paid for by wealthy individuals who enjoy watching the losers die. There will be only one winner at the end. The losers must die a cruel death. As the episodes progress, fewer and fewer people are left alive, the rest being executed in various graphic ways.
Why would such a show become a hit? I couldn’t understand it, so I started reading the viewers’ reviews. There I learned that the show excels at exceptional brutality, letting the viewer watch gruesome killings with unsurpassed realism and closeness. This is the very reason why the show became a hit. The creators of the show couldn’t believe its success themselves and never dreamed that the very brutality and horrific images of death would attract millions.
Here are a few of the viewers’ comments:
“I usually never leave reviews on shows/movies I watch either, so me leaving one for this show speaks volumes to just how much I enjoyed Squid Game… EVERYTHING was just absolutely amazing … It has enough blood scenes for suspense/thrill lovers to enjoy. I really cannot explain enough just how much I love this show.”
“I can’t wait till season two and big credits have to go to the creators of this awesome show.”
“Korean content continues to set the standards, this time with a riveting, deliciously dark thriller series on Netflix called Squid Game.”
“I LOVE this show. I personally think that it is one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever watched. It is very intense and interesting it may be disturbing but it is one of those shows where u just CAN’T look away.”
The above are just four reactions out of thousands of Google reviews, all giving kudos to the show. A civilized and sensible person, regardless of religious conviction, must ask How can people possibly be so thirsty for violence and blood, the more gruesome the better? Have people always been so violent? Or is it a phenomenon of our time? Where is any display of humanity, respect for life, reverence for the words of the American Declaration of Independence that state that everyone is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not to mention the scriptures that declare the sacredness of human life?
While we possess more knowledge and light than humanity has ever had, it is a paradox that human society has never been so morally corrupt. Not only that, we are talking about an intense desire to kill—or at the least, to witness killing.
I have asked these questions of several acquaintances who watched the show. They looked at me surprised. “It’s fiction” was the most common answer. So your thirst for violence is fiction? Books have been written on the effects of such material on the human psyche. When we consume such content, our brain circuits don’t distinguish whether it’s fiction or real. The damage is the same.
If you have friends who watch dramatic presentations in any form, please consider advising them of the counsel we are given based on 1 Corinthians 3:18:
“Men put God out of their knowledge and worshiped the creatures of their own imagination; and as the result, they became more and more debased. The psalmist describes the effect produced upon the worshiper by the adoration of idols. He says, ‘They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.’ Psalm 115:8. It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed. Man will rise no higher than his conceptions of truth, purity, and holiness. If the mind is never exalted above the level of humanity, if it is not uplifted by faith to contemplate infinite wisdom and love, the man will be constantly sinking lower and lower. The worshipers of false gods clothed their deities with human attributes and passions, and thus their standard of character was degraded to the likeness of sinful humanity. They were defiled in consequence. ‘God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. … The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence.’ God had given men His commandments as a rule of life, but His law was transgressed, and every conceivable sin was the result. The wickedness of men was open and daring, justice was trampled in the dust, and the cries of the oppressed reached unto heaven.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 91 [Emphasis supplied.]
I’m an optimist. Yet as I look toward the future, I worry about what is coming once the viewers’ dark cravings are unleashed. We find several places in the Bible, such as Luke 21:12, where persecution of God’s people are prophesied: “But before all these things [disasters], they will lay their hands on you and persecute you.” It seems the Bible writers didn’t even have words for the unprecedented brutality human beings are capable of. Never have past generations normalized violence and cruelty as has the present one, whether real or fiction.
Yet, even in the world’s most turbulent storms, the Scriptures assure us of God’s protective hand:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, He who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
The Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
He will watch over your life;
The Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.