The Global Village and Its Others
pdf
html

Abstract views: 305
Galleys Downloads: 768 Galleys Downloads: 63

Keywords

Squid Game
Marshall Mcluhan
Global Village
Subaltern
Media Economy
Libidinal Economy

How to Cite

Stekl, M. (2022). The Global Village and Its Others. Galactica Media: Journal of Media Studies, 4(4), 17-29. https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v4i4.261

Abstract

This paper opens a dialogue between Marshall McLuhan and Squid Game, the hit 2021 Netflix series. I argue that Squid Game both exposes and reproduces the repressed libidinal economy that underwrites media studies’ understandings of political economy and of the global circulation of media. Many media theorists after McLuhan have extended his “global village” thesis, according to which globalization has birthed a nascent universal consciousness. What are we to make, then, of McLuhan’s affirmation that “it is no longer possible to adopt the aloof and dissociated role of the literate Westerner” when, roughly six decades later, “we” in the West are witnessing a decidedly “aloof and dissociated” VIP audience spectate, alongside us, the suffering of South Korean subalterns (4)? My paper critically questions McLuhan’s “global village” by reflecting on the contradictions inherent in Squid Game’s anti-capitalist desire to expose the suffering of subaltern masses for the pleasure of bourgeois voyeurs, given that the show’s own audience is composed of many such Western bourgeois voyeurs. If “we,” like “Gganbu” in Squid Game, seek pleasure and above all fun as we consume the violent objectification of the Other, perhaps the “global village” is not so peaceful after all. After considering how the show may be read both through and against McLuhan’s analysis of violent “retribalization” in “our” (post)modern electric age, I conclude that the political economy of the global village runs on a hidden structure of desire that only produces an elite few (VIPs) as full human subjects by brutally reducing subaltern masses to objects. It is this libidinal economy that Squid Game forcefully brings into view, so forcefully that its own mass appeal may feed the violent desires of Netflix audiences rather than vanquish them. The question, ultimately, will be: can subaltern media(lity) speak?

https://doi.org/10.46539/gmd.v4i4.261
pdf
html

References

Beck, U. (2011). Cosmopolitanism as Imagined Communities of Global Risk. American Behavioral Scientist, 55(10), 1346–1361. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764211409739

Britton, B. (2021, November 3). Squid game’ crypto collapse pushes investors to cry scam. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/squid-game-crypto-collapse-pushes-investors-cry-scam-rcna4399

Gaines, J. (1986). White Privilege and Looking Relations: Race and Gender in Feminist Film Theory. Cultural Critique, 4, 59. https://doi.org/10.2307/1354334

Hale, M. (2021, October 11). Haven’t Watched ‘Squid Game’? Here’s What You’re Not Missing. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/11/arts/television/squid-game-violence.html

Hartman, S. V. (2010). Scenes of subjection: Terror, slavery, and self-making in nineteenth-century America. Oxford University Press.

Hirwani, P. (2021, October 13). Squid Game is officially Netflix’s biggest launch ever. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/squid-game-netflix-most-watched-bridgerton-b1937363.html

Hwang Dong-hyuk (Director). (2021). Squid Game. Whole series. Netflix.

Ihde, D. (1996). Technology and the Lifeworld: From Garden to Earth. Indiana University Press.

Kim, E. T. (2021, October 20). “Squid Game”’s Capitalist Parables. https://www.thenation.com/article/culture/squid-game-review/

Klein, C. (2008). Why American Studies Needs to Think about Korean Cinema, or, Transnational Genres in the Films of Bong Joon-ho. American Quarterly, 60(4), 871–898. https://doi.org/10.1353/aq.0.0041

Kwon, J. (2021, October 21). South Korean workers channel “Squid Game” to protest their real-life economic woes. CBS News. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/south-korea-squid-game-labor-union-protest/

McLuhan, M. (1977). Violence as a Quest for Identity. Marshall McLuhan Speaks Special Collection. http://www.marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/interview/1977-violence-as-a-quest-for-identity/

McLuhan, M. (1997). Playboy Interview: A Candid Conversation with the High Priest of Popcult and Metaphysician of Media. In Essential McLuhan (pp. 239–275). Routledge.

McLuhan, M. (2001). Understanding media. Routledge.

Mistry, R. (2021, October 18). Squid Game: No winners under capitalism. In Defence of Marxism. https://www.marxist.com/squid-game-no-winners-under-capitalism.htm

Mulvey, L., Braudy, L., & Cohen, M. (1999). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. In Film Theory and Criticism: Introductory Readings (pp. 833–844). Oxford UP. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781474473224-009

Muñoz, J. (2009). Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity. NYU Press.

Musil, S. (2021, October 20). Netflix strikes softer tone ahead of worker walkout over Dave Chappelle’s anti-trans comments. CNET. https://www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/netflix-strikes-softer-tone-ahead-of-worker-walkout-over-dave-chappelles-anti-trans-comments/

Rosaldo, R. (1989). Imperialist Nostalgia. Representations, 26, 107–122. https://doi.org/10.2307/2928525

Shaw, L. (2021, October 17). Netflix Estimates ‘Squid Game’ Will Be Worth Almost $900 Million. Bloomberg.Com. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-10-17/squid-game-season-2-series-worth-900-million-to-netflix-so-far

Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (pp. 271–313). Macmillan Education UK-London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-19059-1_20

Wilderson, F. B. (2010). Red, White & Black: Cinema and the structure of U.S. antagonisms. Duke University Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv11cw61k

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.