Moral panic over Netflix hit Squid Game misses the point - Anthony Clavane

The time has come for me to put on my green tracksuit and white tennis shoes and get down with the kids at next month’s Squid Rave at Sheffield.

Or perhaps something less ravey?

What about the Leeds Squid Game at Hyde Park, which features six rounds of fun games?

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Also, I should let you know that in place of a traditional spooky costume, I have been toying with the notion of putting on a soldier jumpsuit from

the hit Netflix series to attend a Halloween event on October 31.

No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses. I am simply a huge fan of Squid Game, the streaming company’s most popular TV show of all time. Incredibly, more than 140 million people have watched the nine-part series since it launched last month.

The South Korean drama is not, as has been misleadingly stated, a dystopian thriller.

It actually takes place in present-day Seoul and highlights the poverty which pushes hundreds of debt-ridden participants into playing a set of children’s games as part of a survival competition.

Think Hunger Games crossed with Lord of the Flies.

There is, as I’ve mentioned, a horror thriller twist. To avoid spoilers, please look away now. The winner takes home a huge cash prize – but the losers are “eliminated” (killed) by masked guards.

Which is why there has been a bit of a backlash against a global phenomenon which has inspired South Yorkshire raves, Halloween parties, memes and Saturday Night Live parodies.

It might have become a pop culture sensation, but many viewers have recoiled at its graphic content. Most problematically, there is the issue of children watching the show.

A school in East Yorkshire has sent out guidance to parents after discovering the series was being viewed by its pupils.

Central Bedfordshire Council put out an email warning parents and guardians: “We strongly advise that children should not watch Squid Game. The show is quite graphic with a lot of violent content.”

Every now and then there is a moral panic about this kind of thing.

From the video nasties in the 1970s and 80s to the Killer Clown sightings of 2016, hysteria is generated by an exaggerated fear of a supposed evil threatening society, corrupting the morals of our youth.

Of course, children should not watch the show. Which is why it has a 15 rating.

With older kids, parents should sit down with them to discuss screen violence.

This is part of a much bigger issue of children having smartphones and being exposed to disturbing content. Netflix has parental guidance warnings and, from what I’ve read on this, there is no conclusive evidence on TV series and movies being responsible for violent behaviour.

Besides which, it could be argued that schools alerting students to the show in letters, emails and assemblies ends up being, in fact, counter-productive.

As one parent pointed out in a tweet: “Our primary school sent a letter to parents telling us not to let kids watch Squid Game. And held an all-school assembly telling the kids not to watch Squid Game. Result? Children who really want to watch Squid Game.”

Such scaremongering really misses the point about this surprise hit. Yes, it is grisly and is not for the squeamish. It is an emotional rollercoaster which shines a light on human behaviour – good and bad – when faced with extreme adversity.

There is no escaping the fact that it is a bit on the gory side. So, if you are not a fan of gore, this is not a show for you.

But it does exactly what it says on the tin. If you are not into this type of series – and by now the whole world knows that Squid Game contains scenes of horror-tinged violence – you can simply choose not to watch.