Steven Spielberg has been called out for his ignorance after saying that the Netflix Original series Squid Game proves that shows can be massive successes despite casting “unknown actors”.
Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, the 2021 dystopian survival thriller series sees a group of 456 participants being compelled to partake in a series of brutal games to win prize money of 45.6 billion Korean Won.
The series went on to become the biggest hit on Netflix last year. They made repeated history, with veteran actor O Yeong-su being the first-ever Korean actor to win a Golden Globe. Actors Lee Jung-jae and Jung Ho-yeon had similar achievements at the Screen Actors Guild awards.
The series is a scathing commentary on power imbalance, greed, capitalism, class hierarchy and financial crisis in a dystopian version of modern-day Korea. It is frankly unsettling with copious blood, gore, conflicts and claustrophobic tension.
On March 19th, 2022, veteran filmmaker Steven Spielberg was a part of the PGA Awards panel and congratulated the streaming service for taking the risk on this series that had no “known stars”.
The West Side Story director said, “A long time ago, it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies. Today, it’s interesting, unknown people can star in entire miniseries, can be in movies.”
He thanked the co-CEO of Netflix, Ted Sarandos and said, “Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us.” However, the director seems to be highly misinformed and has been criticised on social media, given how many of the actors on the show have been a part of the Korean film industry for quite some time.
This legion of well-known Korean names includes Lee Jung-jae, one of the biggest South Korean stars, and veteran actor O Yeong-su, who began his acting career in 1967.
Western ignorance and exclusivity come into play again as a veteran filmmaker makes such sad observations without basing his statements on factual evidence. While some of the actors might be relatively unknown to the western audience, he made a grave mistake of calling them “unknown” across a global domain.