Blog Project Day 85: The Hunger Games—fiction or fact?

The Hunger Games‘ Katniss Everdeen as drawn by Katherine Marshall

After seeing The Hunger Games (and reading the trilogy), I can’t help but wonder how many people see the movie or read the novels as pure fiction. “Why that could never happen today,” or “Well, that couldn’t happen here.” True, as far as I know, that exact series of events has not happened, at least not yet. But all the pieces are there. State lawmakers that are offering up increasingly totalitarian legislation here in U.S. The ever-growing chasm between the middle class and the wealthy, not to mention those who are living at or near the poverty line. The exponential glamorization of violence without consequence. And not to mention that there are places in the world where being a child soldier is an absolute reality. My friend Stephanie brought up the fact that the people of the Capitol went along with the government’s “solution” to quelling any future rebellions just as easy as the majority of Germans went along with Hitler’s final solution. I don’t think the Germans lined up to cheer the concentration camp transports the way the Capitol crowds cheered for the arriving tributes, but doing nothing was just as much an approval of the Reich’s plan.

As for whether or not we would publicly cheer executions, well, we’ve been doing that for centuries. Ever heard of the Romans and their gladiators? It’s interesting that in movies, these gladiators are often portrayed as men of 30 or 40, but I can’t help but wonder—given the typical life expectancy and ideas at the time of when children became adults—how many of those gladiators were barely out of their teens or in their early 20s? If you want to get a little closer to contemporary times then consider the lynching of blacks a mere six decades or so ago, when families would gather to watch, take pictures with the corpses, and even send lynching postcards to their friends. While these were not competitions per se, there was an element of sport to many of them, as victims were chased before they were trussed up and mutilated.

It’s not explicit in the movie, but in the novels, you learn that the eligible young people of the districts can sign up for tesserae, which earns them extra food but also multiplies the number of times the teen’s name is in the tribute drawing. I can’t help but think of all of the disadvantaged young people of all races who sign up for the military as a way to feed their families, make a better life for themselves, get on the other side of poverty. We’ve been at war for a long, long time now, which means, at least for the past decade, anyone who enlisted had a good chance of not only being sent to an active war zone but being sent there multiple times.

This is not a call for you to build a bomb shelter and go off the grid. Nor is it necessarily a call for you to drop everything and join the Occupy movement. It is a call, however, to stop thinking that something like the Hunger Games can’t happen. That’s exactly how it always starts.

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Posted on March 25, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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