To follow up on my recent review of The Hunger Games, I wanted to point out a handful of articles that touch on some of the issues that I juggled about, concerning specifically the politics of the novel, Katniss’ place in society and her role in sparking political upheval, and the likelihood of an event like the Hunger Games ever becoming an reality.
The first of the articles is called “The Missing Hunger Games Line” and concerns a single line of dialogue that was left out of the film adaptation, a line that the author, Marcy Kennedy, feels is important to the overarching themes of the series:
Even though I loved The Hunger Games movie that released Friday, I couldn’t help but notice that the screenwriters left out one of the most important lines in the book.
The night before the Games begin, Katniss finds Peeta on the roof of their hotel, watching the Capitol celebrate.
Peeta tells her, “I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.”
This makes no sense to Katniss.
Katniss didn’t set out to change the world. She just did what was right and change followed. She had no idea of the chain of events her seemingly small actions would cause.
It works the same way in real life.
When I was twelve, the boy who sat behind me in class would ask me to explain all our school work to him. I dreaded feeling that pesky tap-tap on my shoulder. When I finally lost my temper, he confessed—he couldn’t read. Somehow he’d slipped through the cracks, dismissed as either stupid or lazy, when he wasn’t either.
So I taught him (and felt guilty about snapping at him). At the time, I didn’t think it was anything important, but a couple years later, I overheard him telling a teacher how much I’d helped him and how much it meant to him.
I treasure that memory.
Kennedy examines what makes Katniss a catalyst for change in her world and has me thinking about some of my concerns regarding her passive role in the novel, and whether she’s not something of an unreliable narrator who unintentionally plays down her role in events or is just plainly blind to the effect she has on other people. The ideas presented by Kennedy have me reconsidering many of the opinions I originally formed after reading the novel.
The second article, from which the title of this post was taken, is called “Could The Hunger Games Really Happen?“ Nancy Lambert explores the themes and worldbuilding of The Hunger Games, the current state of entertainment and reality television and whether the Hunger Games could ever really happen.
Let’s face it, as a species, we don’t exactly have a stellar track record when it comes to treating human life with tenderness and care. In ancient Rome, watching gladiators, prisoners, and slaves battle wild animals, and each other, to the (often gruesome) death was a popular, accepted, and often celebrated form of entertainment. Back in Medieval times (the era, not the dinner theater), nothing drew a crowd like a good ol’ execution—many of which were all-day affairs involving nearly unimaginable forms of torture.
Of course, the premise behind The Hunger Games is much closer to gladiatorial events than public executions. However, the latter does prove that until rather recently, Americans were still cool with getting together to watch other people die. As a society, could we go back to that mindset again?
So, does any of this mean we’re headed straight for Panem ourselves? Truthfully, I don’t think so. I’d like to believe that some of our gains as a society (and as a species) are permanent and that any attempt at creating a real-life Hunger Games would never be allowed. But, then again, perhaps future-me will be rereading this post on my iBrain 3 (Apple, call me!) with a touch of bitter irony as I prepare for battle in the 2060 GeriGames (“Social Security, You Have to Earn It…Again”). Either way, may the odds be ever in your favor.
One of my major criticisms of The Hunger Games was that I did not feel that Collins did not adequately justify how the government, society and economy in The Hunger Games could last for so long without crumbling under its own hedonism. Lambert and I tred similar ground by hoping that “some of our gains as a society (and as a species) are permanent,” which was a basis for my argument in my review. She explores these ideas by tackling such testaments to humanity as Toddlers in Tiaras and some of the Internet’s greatest bullshit and, in general, presents some ideas that I hadn’t originally connected to the transformation of our society to the one portrayed in The Hunger Games.
In addition to these, The New Yorker recently ran an article called “Keeping The Hunger Games Kid Stuff” that also touches on some of these elements and looks at how the film was attempted to make the often brutal novel accessible to a young audience.
These articles, along with the discussion in the comments section of my review, have had me thinking about The Hunger Games and my reevaluating both my opinion and relationship with it. The authors often have contrary opinions to my own, and I hope that you will find something of value in there to chew on for the weekend.