Thanos, Squid Game And The Problem With The World; Parallelism Between Fiction And Reality:

Movies are representations of our realities. As in the case of 'Thanos' in 'the avengers' and 'squid game', both of which amassed immense followership when they were premiered, goes to show how movies depict the ills, injustices and hypocrisies inherent in the world we live in. This article focuses on pointing out the themes and hidden messages in Thanos' character and squid game, that the reader may have been oblivious to while watching both movies, and how they relate to the power structure in today's world.

The fictional character portrayed in Marvel cinematic universe in the avengers, Thanos, encapsulates a villain cum warlord who is obsessed with the idea that 'wiping out half of life at every point in time would bring stability to the universe' (MCU wiki, icuniverse.fandom.com). 

His ideology is perfectly summed up in his analysis of the fall of the titans: 

"Titan was like most planets: too many mouths, not enough to go round. When we faced extinction, I offered a solution; Genocide. But random. Dispassionate, fair to rich and poor alike. They called me a madman. And what I predicted came to pass".

On face value and moral grounds, it would be unthinkable and delusional for anyone to argue that depopulation was the solution to the world's immense problems; hunger, poverty, inequalities, e.t.c. However, as lovers of knowledge and inquisitive minds, it is only ideal that we test the practicability and applicability of Thanos' theory and its place in today's world. 

Before we get to that, I have had WhatsApp conversations with a few movie freaks on Thanos' ideology, and surprisingly enough, some of them seem to agree with him! well, not exactly as in his extremist views; their arguments revolved around the idea that the explosion of the world's population and the inability of governments around the world to meet the needs of the population is engendering crime, suffering and ultimately, death. Hence, the need to control the birthrates causes overpopulation.

Similarly, Thanos saw depopulation, the extermination of a section of the universe's inhabitants, as a solution to the impending extinction the universe would face if its (depopulation) wasn't carried out. While the targeted populace of Thanos' genocide remains unclear, it would seem that his proposed extermination was directed at the impoverished, who he believed added no value to the universe but were taken from its 'limited' resources. 

His idea would suggest sacrificing the poor to sustain the rich. 

This point of view is reechoed in the south Korean Netflix series squid game'. However, in quite a different perspective. The movie depicts a 'do or die game,' literally, played by 456 persons who were head and shoulders deep in financial debt for a chance to win 38 million dollars (Wikipedia.org). Although petrified by the consequences of failing in the game, the players still participate in it. They envisaged that the consequences of failing in the game were the same as not being able to meet their financial needs in the outside world. 

The movie is aptly described by Francesca Newton in her assessment of the success of the movie around the world:

'Squid game has been described as an allegory for capitalism more generally, but these masked VIPs suggest it refers to a particular kind of capitalism. The VIPs represented aren't just capitalists appropriating the surplus-value of our labor: they are sadists enacting brutality made possible by a totally hegemonic global system.' 

(Francesca Newton, 'the squid game trap,' tribunemag.co.uk.)

For the benefit of readers, who have no prior knowledge of capitalism, I'd try to give a brief but succinct explanation of it. 'Capitalism' refers to an economic system where the control of economic resources, industries, land, money, information, and technology are concentrated in the hands of a few privileged people in the society. The defect of capitalism is its tendency to take the labor rewards of the poor workers to the rich through organized legal, economic, and political systems. 

For instance, the employees of Tesla cannot make, in terms of earnings, one percent of Elon Musk's total wealth in their lifetime while working in Tesla, even though much of the success of the company is dependent on their skills, knowledge, and efforts. Similarly, the devastating effects of the covid-19 pandemic are still felt by a majority of the world's population as a lot of families have been left in a state of dystopia, lives have been lost, livelihoods and small scale businesses have been drastically affected with some not able to recover till today. Poverty and hunger have skyrocketed around the world, with governments still grappling with the effects of the pandemic on their nation's economies.

However, despite all of these, the world's wealthiest were doubling, or in some cases, tripling their wealth. According to the charity organization Oxfam, reported by BBC in January 2022: 

'The pandemic has made the world's wealthiest far richer but has led to more people living in poverty (BBC.com).

Sounds similar to Thanos' ideology, doesn't it? 

Coupled with this is the fact that the majority of people around the world have to pay exorbitant prices for basic social amenities like water, electricity, health care, education, and even ambulance services!

This has made an overwhelming number of people fall into unpayable debts, heinous crimes, terrorism, or all other forms of social vices as an alternative to satisfy their existential needs amidst the realities of unemployment, inequality, and widespread poverty that are predominant in our world today. 

However, law enforcement agents soon round them up for 'illegality,' and they are subjected to prosecution, persecution, and often torture. So, in essence, life becomes a rigged game designed to eliminate their very existence, like in the movie squid game'. 

This quagmire doesn't just stop at the domestic scene; even in international politics, the 'big' countries, those with buoyant economies and military strength, are always willing to exploit and decide the fates of weaker countries. A good reference is a conflict between the U.S led NATO and Russia over the control of Ukraine, which has resulted in the destruction of lives and properties. With the poor and powerless being the major victims. 

The parallelism drawn here is that both the character Thanos'in the avengers and the movie squid game' point largely to a major defect in the fundamentals of our world. Where the rich and powerful have established systems that continue to enrich their pockets even if the rest of the world burned to the ground. On the other hand, the poor have limited options but to keep servicing the infinite greed of the rich while he remains impoverished. 

At this point, it is imperative to conclude with the words of Hwang Dong-hyuk, the writer and producer of the squid game series, speaking to CNN on the success of the movie around the world; he was quoted to have said: 

'The show's narrative reflects the competitive society we live in today. This is a story about losers...those who struggle through the challenges of everyday life and get left behind while the winners level up' (CNN Film school, cnn.com). 

If we agree that movies are microcosms of reality, then we may assert that the world is dangerously unequal and subservient to the enrichment of a few 'VIPs.'

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