MrBeast’s ‘Squid Game’ recreation under fire for romanticizing class issues

December 03rd, 2021

Squid Game has definitely become one of the most popular shows of the year — from Halloween costumes to attempts at recreating the games on the show, many are hooked on the South Korean series. YouTuber MrBeast also tried his hand at recreating Squid Game, and so far it seems that his recreation of the show is the best one that people have seen. 

MrBeast, real name Jimmy Donaldson, is a popular YouTuber, having amassed over 76 million subscribers on his channel. Donaldson is known for creating stunts that cost a fortune, with some stunts including prize money participants. He announced on TikTok that he would try his hand at recreating Squid Game if his video gets 10 million likes. His TikTok video ended up getting way more than 10 million likes, and so he set out to recreate the games on the show. 

For his recreation of the game, Donaldson invited 456 contestants to participate, though he did not elaborate on how the contestants were chosen, only mentioning that they were “random.” Like the South Korean show, his recreation also has prize money. The winner would be awarded $456,000 in prize money. But unlike the original show, losing in the games doesn’t result in death. Instead, there were foam pits positioned underneath the glass bridge, while contestants’ tracksuits were equipped with dye packs that would explode, which created a gunshot effect and stained their clothes as an indicator that they had been eliminated from the game. 

Donaldson’s recreation of Squid Game was quite the expensive production. The YouTuber revealed that producing the whole thing cost him around $3.5 million — $2 million went into set-building and production, while $1.5 million went into the game prizes. He collaborated with mobile gaming company Brawl Stars for the project. 

While some were thrilled by Donaldson’s take on recreating Squid Game, others have criticized the YouTuber and his video, saying that Donaldson had missed the point of the show, which was to highlight the level of personal debt that people in South Korea go through. 

In the story of the South Korean series Squid Game, the contestants were debt-ridden and determined to play to the death to get a shot at winning 45.6 billion South Korean won. Some netizens think that through Donaldson’s recreation of the game, the YouTuber is in some way romanticizing class issues. But that isn’t necessarily the case. 

Donaldson is a multimillionaire, having amassed a $25 million fortune, which he uses to produce his videos on YouTube, some of which are stunts wherein contestants can win prize money, so his recreation of Squid Game is not the first instance wherein he gives away money. He’s had a video before wherein contestants have to carry $1 million in cash, and if they can carry the money without dropping a single bill, they can keep the money. 

MrBeast Squid Game

He isn’t romanticizing class issues, nor is he using the game to flaunt his wealth. He had created the video for fun and threw in some prize money for the contestants while he was at it. In recreating Squid Game in real life, Donaldson had also created an opportunity for people to get lots of cash while having fun with the games. In contrast to other recreations of the show, the contestants were quite diverse — consisting of people who were actually in need of the prize. MrBeast even offered money to eliminated players so they still got to walk away with some profit.

Through the stunts that he produces on his channel, he actually gives away money, and in his previous stunts and videos he has actually been generous. And specifically in the case of Squid Game, even though the winner won a hefty $456,000, producing the whole stunt cost way more than that. Donaldson spent a whopping $3.5 million to make the recreation happen, and it’s hard to say if he can earn all of that back. 

According to Hubspot, the higher-end cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) can range between $7 and $10. The CPM rate measures average earnings for every 1,000 views. Donaldson’s Squid Game recreation has around 136 million views as of writing, so assuming that Hubspot’s estimations are correct, the video’s earnings can range from $952,000 to $1.36 million from ad content, not including paid promotions and sponsorships. That is a lot of money, but it’s still not the same as the $3.5 million that Donaldson put into producing the stunt. 

Based on that estimation, Donaldson might not even earn much from his Squid Game stunt. Plenty of his videos probably cost a mini fortune each, so the money he gets from the Squid Game recreation would most likely go into his production funds. 

 

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