'Squid Game' Halloween Costumes Are Missing the Point

Express the brutal logic of debt as murder with a bootleg-looking shirt, available now on Amazon.
October 27, 2021, 3:47pm
A screenshot of the many bootleg squid game costumes on amazon.
Image Source: Amazon

Squid Game costumes have seamlessly slotted into this year's selection of Halloween costumes, to the point that at least one school district has banned them. Given the show's popularity, this was inevitable. It's still a little weird.

Squid Game is Netflix's most popular show by far, and it's very clearly about the evils of capitalism. Set in South Korea, which has deep and widespread economic disparities, it concerns an impoverished group of people who are coerced into playing children's games for the chance to win a life-changing amount of money. The only trick is that if you lose these games you will die, often quite gruesomely. 

At the end of the first episode, dozens of people are mowed down by a motion-sensing robot in a deadly game of Red Light Green Light. The critique of capitalism as a brutal and arbitrary system is so on the surface that it barely needs to be mentioned. Nevertheless, Hwang Dong-hyuk, who first wrote the show 10 years ago, has confirmed that it is intentionally a critique of that economic system. This makes browsing through the many, many bootleg Squid Game costumes on Amazon and Walmart's website bizarre.

Squid Game's strong art direction and fanciful sets and costumes are part of its appeal and do make for great Halloween fodder. It's almost too easy to be one of the many anonymous guards of Squid Game, who wear pink jumpsuits and masks, for Halloween. While Party City doesn't sell that costume specifically, if you look at the items frequently bought with this red jumpsuit for their Among Us costume you'll see that people often pair it with a black mask and gloves, like the guards in Squid Game.

On the one hand, this makes sense: I don't blame anyone for wanting to dress up like a character in a show they like, because that's basically the point of Halloween. It's disturbing, though, exactly how rapidly a show that is an explicit critique of capitalism becomes commodified by it. Amazon and Walmart's website are both selling dozens of unofficial Squid Game costumes through third-party sellers, a practice that Amazon mostly uses to line its own profits. These companies may (like Netflix) be the targets of Squid Game's criticism, but that ultimately doesn't matter. Hate away; Jeff Bezos will still make a buck, and mow you down if he gets a chance.