dThe “Jurassic Park” director made the culturally “ignorant” remarks during a Producers Guild of America Awards panel last weekend, while he was giving kudos to Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos, who was a member of the audience.
“Squid Game comes along and changes the math entirely for all of us. Thank you, Ted,” he said while discussing how the streaming platform changed the game when it came to casting little known stars and drawing in large audiences.
Squid Game became Netflix’s number one show of all time, with more than 1.65 billion views in the first month of streaming. The violent South Korean survival drama debuted 2.6 higher than previous record-holder Bridgerton.
“A long time ago it was domestic stars that brought the audience into movies,” Spielberg remarked. “Today, it’s interesting, unknown people can star [in an] entire miniseries, can be in movies.”
In the show, 456 financially desperate people compete in deadly children’s games until the last one standing takes home a grand prize of $3.8 million, but the actors are far from unknown in their native South Korea.
Lead actor Lee Jung-Jae has been in the business for 30 years and won the country’s equivalent to two Academy Awards. Second fiddle Park Hae-Soo headlined his last two movies and a popular TV show, while female lead HoYeon Jung is a top fashion model with 23 million Instagram followers.
The West Side Story producer was panned by social media for calling the foreign actors unknown, when really they’re just unknown to Americans.
“Argggg more ethnocentrism courtesy of Americans who can’t see past their own borders,” one person tweeted. “What series like Squid Game illustrate is exactly the opposite: that people around the world are satisfied with content other than English/white/US entertainment.”
“Folks, today’s whitest take, brought to you by Mr. Steven Spielberg and the LITERAL all-star cast of Squid Game,” wrote another.
“Americans always think the world doesn’t exist outside of America. They think everyone worships us when in reality they laugh at us. Actors, singers, politicians, scientists, doctors, lawyers, CEOs all exist in other countries. Stop being so ignorant,” someone else remarked.