How Squid Game’s Second Episode Made the Show Blow Up In Popularity

This may sound like a hot take, but I do feel like Squid Game blew up because of its second episode. I haven’t finished watching the show yet, but I can confidently stick to that opinion.

For those who are living under a rock, Squid Game quickly became one of Netflix’s popular shows this year. It’s filled with gorgeous visuals, future TikTok trends, and many more reasons one might say the show became a hit.

Some wonder exactly why its popularity blew up like it did, and it’s because of the second episode.  Why? Because the episode includes a lot of internal conflicts. How does that relate to a show blowing up? To answer that, we need to look to brain science.

There are two types of conflict in stories: external conflict and internal conflict. External conflict is defined as a struggle between a character and an outside force. In Squid Game, the external conflict is the players against the games themselves. If those players lose, then they will die, but why does that matter to the players if they die? Why are they even choosing to participate in these deadly games anyways? If they are participating in either getting rich or being dead, then why do they not get a job and get the money that way without having to worry about being dead?

I’m not trying to say external conflict is bad; it is important to have external conflict in your story to increase the tension surrounding it. But without any internal conflict, the audience doesn’t care about the characters and the story seems boring to them. Sure, it may be exciting to see characters facing challenging games or—in other stories—spaceship battles, wizardry duels, and giant monsters. But those things don’t make us care about the characters. If only external conflict is used, then your characters will feel like the punching bag for the plot; they are smacked with external conflict and more external conflict without any meaning to it. That’s not how a really good story is supposed to go; a really good story has the characters reacting meaningfully with the plot. That’s how most really good Disney movies go: almost every obstacle Moana or Hercules face is important to them—not to the world. So how did Squid Game create a really good story? By making every action matter to the characters. And how did they do that?

The answer comes in the form of internal conflict. Internal conflict is the type of conflict that happens inside of the character’s head—whether mental or emotional. Each one of us—whether we think of it or not—has some form of internal conflict. We each have a goal, or desire, we are trying to reach. However, there is a reason we may not fulfill that desire: fear. This fear is what makes us unable to achieve our goals. But this desire still matters to us, and if you share it with people then it might matter to them since they relate to you.

The same thing goes into watching movies and reading books; we relate and care about the characters who have a desire and a fear because we human beings also have internal conflict. Because of that, something magical happens when a protagonist shows off their internal conflict to the audience: the audience holds the character’s values close to them, and they pay close attention to the character’s actions. Author Abbie Emmons summarized this better than I could ever have: “Internal conflict is the secret ingredient to capturing your reader’s attention. When we know why it matters to the characters, we know why it matters to us. And when something matters to us we pay close attention to it.” That’s why Moana and Hercules caught our attention: when we know what they are doing matters to them, then it matters to us.

So how does this fit into Squid Game? In episode two, we learn about the internal conflict (both desire and fear) of each of the main characters. We learn why they are participating in these games that kill people. We learn that each of them is in extreme poverty and wants to get out of it (that’s the desire). Unfortunately, they have been faced with some fears that prevent them from reaching their goals: a greedy boss, struggles of moving, surgery of a loved one, a poor pregnant woman, the list goes on. These are the things that make us care about the characters; the writers are taking their time to introduce the main cast so they can show their desire clashing with fear and—more importantly—make us care about the characters and keep us hooked on what is going to happen.

But wait! There’s more. Another form of internal conflict is called “pain vs. pain”. It is when one type of problem a character is facing (the first “pain”) becomes more painful than another problem (the second “pain”). In the case of Squid Game, the reality of poverty is more painful than dying in a battle royale. As the audience can see, each character, in this case, suffers this sort of internal conflict—thus the audience cares about each of them.

The rest of the story is a tense series of events because the writers took the time to make us care about the characters. And that is why Squid Game blew up. Sure social media and the actual concept of Red Light, Green Light had some impact. But critically, it was the internal conflict that did it all.

— Billy Wikol

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Demon Press Review: The Silent Patient

I’ve never really been too into the Mystery and Thriller genre. Sure—I’ve seen the typical plot twist and murder mystery, but I was not ready for the mystery of The Silent Patient. And it blew me away.

Alicia Berenson is a famous painter who lived a seemingly perfect life—until one night when she shot her husband five times. Afterwards, she never spoke another word—not even to the court! Drawn to her story, psychotherapist Theo Faber tries to help Alicia speak again; and it proves to be more difficult and dangerous than Theo could have imagined.

Many readers—myself included—praised the “final twist” of the novel, and for good reason. I knew where the twist was and noticed some of the foreshadowing of where the twist is going to go, but I wasn’t prepared for how amazing the twist was. Spoiler Alert! I felt like the twist got me hard because of how the novel plays with tense. Since it’s all in the past tense, it made me picture that all the events happening are happening chronologically; I was wrong.

I give this book a 9/10. If you’re looking for a story to make you think like a detective, this is your read!

— Billy Wikol

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Demon Press Review: Annarasumanara

Surreal and beautiful, charming and philosophical, the story of Annarasumanara draws the reader in with just one question: “Do you believe in magic?”

Questionable magic is the core of this 2014 webcomic by Ilkwon Ha, which invites its audience to an abandoned amusement park, where they will meet a mysterious magician who adamantly claims that his magic is real. The story unfolds as this unusual man offers magic lessons to local high schooler Yun Ai. At first, she and her classmates are greatly suspicious of him—reasonably so, considering that he is alone, unemployed, and living near the location of several rumored kidnappings. As the chapters go by, the reader and the characters both come to trust the man. Yet, upon more deeply considering his catchphrase—“Do you believe in magic?”—the reader and protagonist alike are forced to ask: Is this mysterious man a real magician? Or is he simply delusional?

The author does an incredible job of keeping the reader guessing until the end, and the end is a satisfying, memorable, and, perhaps, magical finale to the enchanting read. Annarasumanara is gripping and immersive–and very difficult to put down (Exhibit A: me, writing this review at three in the morning, having just finished it). For me, coming to know and understand the characters was a delight, and the final chapters broke my heart only to repair it again. The art style is like nothing I have ever seen. It can be surreal, with real-life photos of objects included among the illustrations. It is not afraid to be abstract, with some characters having bizarre appearances to match their mental states. And, most importantly, it perfectly sells the magical atmosphere of the abandoned amusement park, contrasting it with the dreary reality of Yun Ai’s life in poverty.

Photos from the webcomic by Ilkwon Ha, published by WEBTOON

Annarasumanara explores, like so much popular Korean media seems to, a devastating class divide, with Ai working numerous jobs and being the sole caretaker of her younger sister. It also explores mental illness in high schoolers with heartbreaking insight and maturity. It weighs the importance of our passions with that of our responsibilities, and Ai’s struggle to balance her school work with her growing love for learning magic is somehow very relatable–magic cleanly standing in for any interest thrown away in favor of our studies. In the case of one character, the story shows the damage unmanaged stress can have on the psyche of even the most successful students.

Despite having finished it just an hour ago, I can say with absolute certainty that Annarasumanara will stick with me for a long time. My only complaint is that it took me so long to discover. Why does WEBTOON seem to hide away their best publications? It’s hard to believe they so rarely promote such a masterpiece. I encourage you to immerse yourself in the dubious magic of Annarasumanara if you ever feel a bit worn down by the responsibilities of regular life…

— Quinn Hammon

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Demon Press Review: Our Dreams at Dusk

In honor of National Coming Out Day being on Monday, October 11, this week’s featured comic is Our Dreams at Dusk, illustrated and written by Yuhki Kamatani. The story centers around a public lounge located at the bottom of a large cliff in a coastal town. This cliff, in the opening chapter, is the location of our main character Kaname’s intended suicide. Having been outed as gay at school, he feels unable to continue living. However, as he peers off the edge, Kaname witnesses a woman jump from a nearby window and watches her soar through the air towards the buildings below. He hurries safely to the base of the cliff in an effort to help her. There, he discovers that the woman is the owner of a small public lounge and, shockingly, that she is unharmed.

This mysterious woman’s name is simply Someone, and she, through her catchphrase, “You can tell me anything, but I’m not gonna ask,” is a perfect personification of the story’s theme, which advocates acceptance even without a full understanding. Someone accepts anyone into her lounge, and, before long, Kaname begins to visit regularly. Through him, we get to know all of the other regulars, most of which are LGBT+. The cast of characters is memorable and diverse enough that, if you are a member of the LGBT community yourself, you are likely to find yourself represented among them. Our Dreams at Dusk is a coming-of-age story that will almost certainly strike a chord with its LGBT audience but also serves as a great resource for allies as it explores how one can best support their friends without pushing them away.

The regulars at Someone’s lounge face a number of personal challenges. From Kaname’s struggle with self-loathing to middle-school student Misora’s hesitance to find a label for themself to Miss Daichi and Miss Saki’s difficulties in getting married, the characters each face their own unique conflicts and arcs of self-discovery and growth. The lounge regulars form something of a found family. They find both allies and foes in unexpected places, but perhaps most importantly, the comic touches on the harm that can be created by well-intended supporters. Several of the characters are outed against their will or treated with belittling pity; one kind but overbearing woman refers to a trans character’s identity as a disorder and compares it to a disease—which is incredibly hurtful, even if she does not realize it. Even Kaname himself makes well-intended but harmful comments about his cross-dressing friend Misora. Our Dreams at Dusk does not exempt LGBT characters from being flawed and, at times, even homophobic. It emphasizes growth and shows, especially through Kaname and his friends from school, the importance of having an open mind, though it may not come easily to everyone.

Kaname guides us towards the moral of the story through his own trial and error as he becomes a better ally to his friends. In the end, he realizes that Someone’s philosophy of listening—but not questioning—had been the best means of support all along. The comic’s message is best expressed through Kaname’s words: “Even if we can’t understand each other, I want to live in a world where we don’t have to understand each other.” The comic asks the reader to accept others without trying to pick apart the why and how of who they are; it is able to highlight this theme by showing how uncomfortable some of the characters are having to label and explain themselves.

Despite pushing this message, Our Dreams at Dusk never comes off as pandering or political. In part, this is because the well-developed story and characters can be enjoyed even ignoring the deeper themes. Readers will undoubtedly find one or many characters to root for. Additionally, the creator of the comic is transgender, making the story seem all the more genuine and insightful in that it comes from an individual who is able to pull from personal experience.

Some readers criticize this story for its ending, in which the mystery of Someone’s cloudy past and ability to fly is left generally unanswered. But, in the end, finding a solution to this mystery would have betrayed the comic’s own themes. Despite Kaname’s desire to understand Someone, he is satisfied to accept the person in front of him rather than prying into her past or putting a label on her. Thus, the story does not end with the solution to the mystery as a conventional comic would; rather, it ends with Kaname maturing enough not to need an answer.

Of course, aside from the story, the art also clearly had a lot of thought and detail put into it. The whimsical illustrations of Someone skipping through the air and the cozy drawings of the lounge create a comforting atmosphere. Despite being black and white, the pages seem very bright. The style was more realistic than one would usually see in comics, which definitely suited the mostly realistic story.

I suggest you read Our Dreams at Dusk if you consider yourself a member or ally of the LGBT community, or if you would like to learn how best to be respectful. The comic isn’t all just informative, though; the story and art are engaging by their own merit, so if you like dramas or coming-of-age stories in general, I also recommend it to you. Happy belated National Coming Out Day!

— Quin Hammon

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Student Spotlight: Junior Class President and Vice President

Over the past two years, Britney Sedano and Abby Adelman have both been successful in their positions as class president and vice president. They ran and were elected again in their junior year, making this their third year in these positions. Here’s a little more about how they have helped their class and plan on doing so again this year.

What are your plans this year for your class?

AA: I think collectively, our main goal is to raise money for prom, to lower the cost of tickets so that it can be an event that everyone can attend. We do this through fundraising of all kinds: nights at restaurants, selling shirts, homecoming tickets, etc. We have also always had a general goal of unifying our class and making sure everyone feels included and proud to be in the class of 2023.

BS: High school can definitely be a hard time especially in our day and age, so it’s our job as class officers to try to bring everyone within our class together.

How did fundraising go during the pandemic? Were you able to raise as much money as you hoped?

AA: Yes! Even with the pandemic ruining some plans, our class did a great job by showing up and supporting us by participating in the more creative fundraisers we adopted. Selling Krispy Kreme donuts, hosting a night at La Verona, and [holding] a car wash were some of the most successful fundraisers of our year, and we were able to meet our goal.

BS: Coming up with ideas for fundraising was definitely a challenge, but fortunately we have very creative officers who were able to come up with great ideas that made our year of fundraising very successful.

Would you say that your class officers work well together?

AA: Definitely. Although certain positions have changed over the years, everyone who has become an officer cares a lot about our class, which makes working with them easy. Also, it’s always just a great group of people, and we feel very comfortable with each other.

BS: Class office is undoubtedly a huge commitment. We are constantly staying after school to work on things and meet during our lunches to plan events. I can proudly say that each officer has no problem with this, given that we want to make each and every year better and better for every student within our class.

Juniors! Have ideas or questions for your president and vice president? Let them know!

Britney Sedano (President):

Abby Adelman (Vice President):

— Lina Liu

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History of Labor Day

Illustration of the first American Labor Day parade on September 5, 1882, in New York City.

Although this holiday has long passed, it is always enjoyable to learn about the origins of one. So without further ado, let’s get into the history of Labor Day.

As most Americans know, Labor Day is celebrated every September 6th, and it honors the contributions of hard-working blue-collar Americans. During the Industrial Revolution, workers in the U.S. were usually poor, worked in unsafe conditions, and were often even children below the age of 10. During the 19th century, workers grew increasingly frustrated by their conditions, and various rallies, strikes, and protests often occurred.

Thanks to this, workers were eventually able to gain the respect they deserved. But on September 5, 1882, the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history was held as over 10,000 workers went to the streets of New York. While many state legislatures did recognize the holiday, it would not become a national holiday until 12 years later. This was again caused by the mass unrest of those subject to harsh working conditions. It wouldn’t be until June 28, 1894, when President Grover Cleveland would sign the holiday into law. The true creator of Labor Day remains unknown, however, some do suspect that Peter J. McGuire—who was cofounder of the American Federation of Labor—was the first to propose the idea.

Nowadays families gather across the United States in hosting barbecues, conducting parades, and the usual fireworks displays. For most, the holiday signifies the end of summer and start of the back-to-school season. In the end, workers in America will forever appreciate the early efforts of change to make their jobs easier and safer.

— Maya Ross

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How Timeboxing Can Help You as a Student

If you’re one of the types of people who always drifts back onto your phone after 5 minutes of work then, you are not alone. It has been estimated that 90-95 percent of college students have caught themselves in some form of procrastination, and I’m no different. One of the reasons we drift back to our phones to finish that Netflix episode is because we don’t know what to do during that time. If your to-do list is full of tasks, then you’ll do them—eventually. Probably at the last minute. But what the to-do list doesn’t say is when to do those tasks. If there is no “when,” then you’ll go back to the habit of scrolling through Instagram.

Fortunately, I have a solution: Timeboxing. How it works is that you create blocks of time concentrating on one thing. You are creating an appointment where you just work on your chosen task. By doing this, you no longer need to think twice about when to do that homework assignment. All you need to do is to follow your plan and let that be the guide to doing your work.

Now I know what you are thinking: “But what if my plan changes?” That’s true. Plans change all of the time. Sometimes an unexpected event or task gets in the way. Yet—like anything else—if your plan changes, then you just need to adapt. Create a new plan or calendar. It’s as simple as that.

Some of the best ways to start timeboxing are to use some apps. I use Google Calendar, but there are many others out there. If apps don’t strike your fancy, then you can use the classic pen-and-paper. But no matter which method you choose, you’ll get a productive timeboxing experience.

— Billy Wikol

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Letter from the Editor: Autumn 2021

Hey Blue Demons!

Hoping that you each had a wonderful summer, I and the rest of the Kennett High School journalism team now welcome you back to a new school year!

Here at Kennett Journalism, we work hard to bring you coverage of school, local, and world events, and we’re so excited to bring you more this year! From school sports to national events to popular media reviews and everything in between, this is your spot.

This will be our second year—our first full one—since our digital relaunch, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait. Given everything that the Fates threw at us last year, Demon Press and KTV rolled with the punches and did a great job; that said, this year is going to be even better! KTV will hopefully be able to bring back many of the segments we all missed, and Demon Press will have tons of new articles and content for you!

A moment of shameless self-promotion: Writers and photographers interested in joining the staff of Demon Press, please contact me! All are welcome, and we’d love to have you!

Best of luck this year,

Rhiannon Stewart


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A Typical Summer Sunday at Noon

The slapping of flip flops on hot pavement

Adjacent to the driveway, a sprinkler squirts water droplets

Flying through the humid air,

Landing peacefully on what remains of the morning due

On the brick stoop, Mom sits replanting her orchids

Feeding them

Encouraging them to grow strong

Maybe with multiple flowers

As if they were her own children

The door swings open, and my youngest sister walks out

She is holding a lidded water bottle

Almost empty

One drop away from becoming a pile of shattered glass

Approaching Mom, she fails to notice

The soiled mess

The grime soaking in between her toes

She perches like some sort of exotic bird

Watching Mom’s craftsmanship

Two figures walk out from the backside of the house

A girl wearing gardening gloves

A slight dusting of dirt

Covering her forearms

She is holding a basket of assorted produce

Lettuce and kale

Dad is beside her

He removes his earbuds

And wipes sweat clean from his brow

A look of exhaustion settled in

Inhaling the pungent

Scent of cut grass

We all gather around Mom

Watching her

Small yet productive

Soil-filled fingers work

From a glance in the kitchen window

I realize the time

What’s for lunch— I ask,

Everyone looks toward me

In unison, they reply,

Well, what are you making?

— Paige Smagala

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History of Youtube

YouTube has been at the top of the list as one of the most influential social media platforms for quite some time. Last year alone, the site had over 30 million users. For better or worse, YouTube has given people a space to create and share their content. This couldn’t have been possible without Steve Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, who all once worked at PayPal. Soon enough, the idea of sharing home videos was in full effect.

A little over 16 years ago, the first-ever YouTube video was posted, entitled Me at the zoo, on April 23, 2005. At the time this article was written, it had 168,440,960 views and 7.9 million likes. After this video was posted, the website’s popularity exploded, and by May 2005, it had over 30,000 visitors a day. When it officially launched, the site had over two million more views.

However, due to this influx of people, the company had to buy more equipment and had to set aside large amounts of money towards litigations as many videos contained copyright materials. Because of this, the company had to search for a buyer; Google would soon take over and remove the tens of thousands of copyright videos. In November of 2008, the company agreed to broadcast some of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc.’s (MGM) movies with ads. Surely, based on the number of users, the world wouldn’t be quite the same without Youtube.

— Maya Ross


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