Episode 556 - That's What She Said!

Nov 8, 2021

The other day Tantz Aerine wrote a newspost about an article critical of Squid Game. The crux of things was that the Squid Game creator had said their message was anti-capitalist, while this critic was saying that the author's message with the Squid Game was an anti communist critique and not a very good one at that. The issue here is that isn't how you do criticism. At all. You can give an interesting reading of something and tell us why YOU think it's anti-Communist, or tell us how it looks through the lens of post-colonialism or new wave feminism etc, but you can't say that is what the author is saying or what the work means, especially if the author explicitly says WHAT they are saying. This may seem like a small distinction but it's actually very, very important. Bad criticism often tells us what the creator is saying. Don't do that. Don't be that person.

Topics and Show Notes

When you have a creative work to look at, you can't tell us what it means or what the author means, only the creator can do that. You CAN tell us what it means to you though. You can tell us about the commonly agreed meanings of various tropes and symbols too as well as their meanings within different cultural frameworks and contexts, but not why the creator used them, that's up to the creator.

The Squid Game is based on the deathmatch trope from anime and manga using all the clichés from that form including poor ordinary people caught up in something dangerous that they don't fully understand, a callous attitude to life, normally innocuous games turned deadly, twists and turns with who's really behind the whole thing, betrayal and so on. We can say that for a certainty because it's provably true. Why did the author co-opt the deathmatch trope? We can't say, but we can theorise they used it because it's popular in Korea and Japan. We can also talk about the history of the deathmatch trope, different examples of it like Running Man, Deathrace 2000, Gantz, Btooom, Danganronpa, Deadman Wonderland, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, and many more which all follow the same pattern. We can use those examples to talk about why the elements of those tropes exist but we can NOT talk about their use in Squid Game in isolation. That would be like talking about the use of the word “and” in the English language without talking about the use of similar words in other languages and the origins of the word in German.

It's important to remember that things do not exist in a vacuum but also that intent is up to the creator to define, not the critic.

This week Gunwallace ha given us the theme to Secrets Of Uncrom - Secrets, hidden knowledge, secret cult meetings in guttering candlelight, murder most foul, and plots thickening! This atmospheric electronic tune has layer upon layer of interesting and disparate sounds, suggesting mystery, darkness and hidden things.

Topics and shownotes

Links

Tantz's newspost on conflicting with the author intentions - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/oct/22/flipping-off-the-author/

Featured comic:
Sapling - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2021/nov/02/featured-comic-sapling/

Featured music:
Secrets Of Uncrom - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Secrets_of_Uncrom_The_Balance_of_Life_and_Death_/ - by Secretsofuncrom, rated M.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/

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