Recently, I came across this thrilling movie “Level 16.” The movie revolves around young girls in a prison-like boarding school, who throughout the film uncover dark truths behind their captivity. As the suspense of “Level 16” builds, viewers are confronted with the film’s two key values: male domination and undervalued humanity.

After grappling with the core ideas of “Level 16,” I was forced to contemplate what it would be like to have my own life fully controlled by a dominating figure, and to have to go about my daily life without knowing what to expect next. Growing up in a sheltered household, this wasn’t far off the mark from my prior experience, but imagining a life with all my basic rights stripped away just sounded inhumane. 

As Vivian and Sophia, the two leading characters, attempt to stay awake all night to search the premises, they soon find out that they get sedated daily through their medications, and will never get the opportunity to search unless they skip them. Again, with their lives continuously monitored by cameras, skipping their medications is out of the question. 

The combination of female exploitation and cruelty is played out, as the movie concludes with Vivian and Sophia uncovering they have been living not in a boarding school, but on a farm. When the girls reach “level 16,” they are skinned to death and their beauty is harvested as a means for the owner to turn a profit by implanting it in older women. 

Surviving an indoctrinated society in itself is a breach to human liberty. Impulsively, one can imagine that throughout our college career, we can enter with a fresh mindset and explore new courses that later develop into passions and drive our ambitions for our future careers. However, this pathway isn’t for everyone, and if it were forced on all members of society, we would consider it unethical. But consider a scenario like the one depicted in the hit Netflix series “Squid Game.” 

In “Squid Game,” the players are unaware of the games they will be playing and, at least initially, the repercussions of losing. It becomes apparent that those who could possibly guess the next game would receive a survival advantage. What does this mean on a larger scale? The more we are able to plan out our future, the more likely we will succeed? Questions like these strike me as I see a continuous pattern — when the leading character or a supporting role is able to figure out what they can expect, they subsequently find their “aha” moment and conclude the movie. Learning to perceive something to a greater degree allows us as humans to plan and tackle our situations. While the idea of oppression and having all your rights stripped away remains unthinkable, we can learn something about how we can work better in an oppressive world through characters who face these tribulations and grow to understand the mechanisms that bind them. 

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