The Hunger Games, and “Being the Change”….part 1 of 3

Ben and I saw The Hunger Games recently. I’d resisted the national obsession with reading the books. Partly because, call me a snob, I didn’t want to read “kids’ books” with my precious, limited reading time. I’m a grownup, and I want grownup challenges from my cerebral functions. Partly because I feel terribly guilty if I read fiction—even on vacation, I invariably read one or more nutrition / health books.

But I was enthralled by the movie. Disturbing premise, but I was moved and fascinated by the two protagonists’ ability to navigate an unthinkably inhumane situation, with humanity and grace and compassion.

I was fascinated by the obvious reflections on our culture—hedonism, haute fashion, reality TV, grand disparities between rich and poor, movement towards government control and away from freedom—I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So I went home and took the first two books in the trilogy on our trip to Cancun, devoured them. If you’ve not read them or seen the movie, be warned. They are about a reality-TV series where a nation’s Capitol requires its outlying districts to select a boy and a girl by lottery, to go into an arena and fight, with a total of 24 children, to the death.

Right after I finished the first book, I received an email from one of my closest friends from college. Tryn and I were very studious, oldest-child-from-big-Mormon-families English majors. Both of us have continued as writers, and each raised four children—but she has been a homemaker.

The email attached her critique and analysis of The Hunger Games. The story is a dystopia, she says, Panem being of course a desperate, distorted, futuristic North America after much destruction, the capitol reorganized in the Rocky Mountains.

Of course it is. (I confess I’d never heard the word dystopia, but recognize in the Latin prefix that it means the opposite of a Utopia. What else besides a society that’s your worst nightmare, would choose children from a lottery to murder each other in an arena, for everyone’s television entertainment?)

How far are we from Panem’s Capitol’s nauseating excesses are we, really? We certainly have brutal, inhumane reality TV shows.

The cosmetic surgeries, pills, potions, obsession with spa treatments, fashion excesses of the Capitol—think Lady GaGa, and Madonna, Tryn points out.

And food! A society on the decline, Tryn states, is marked by its obsession with gourmet food. Look at our proliferation of restaurants. People eat in them more than they eat at home with their families now.

There is a heavy preoccupation with food in The Hunger Games trilogy—constant feasts for the “tributes” (those who are being prepared for the reality-show competition, to remind the districts that the Capitol will destroy any rebellion).  Even while most of the nation’s districts under the thumb of the totalitarian regime are starving to death.

More this week.

6 thoughts on “The Hunger Games, and “Being the Change”….part 1 of 3

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  1. I loved the books and the movie. Clearly points out the path of our nation to me. It is hard to look at it when you realize how real it is even now. We are starving our population with a diet that is poison. The poor can feed themselves with more calories on fast food for much less money than fresh produce. Even many who can afford good food choose to eat what is the poison. We are so far removed from health we no longer even recognize disease when we are experiencing it until we have a “professional” tell us we have cancer or heart disease. We send our children to schools that serve them carcinogenic imitation food. Communities have laws against growing vegetables in your front yard because it is not aesthetically pleasing?! In The Hunger Games hunting for food was illegal also.

  2. I am loving the books. I’m kind of one of these people who don’t jump on every bandwagon that comes around so I resisted but it was futile. The thing with food is you can control people when you take away the basic necessities of life. My husband served a mission in the Dominican Republic where he had to fast for about 2-3 days sometimes not always because he wanted to but because there just was not any food to eat. You are not allowed to store more than a certain amount of food there. In some places you never know when the electricity is even going to go on. He tried to throw some ice away once when he first got there and one guy that was nearby wanted to trade him for it because ice is a treat. Crazy stuff and I don’t think for a minute that this could not happen here in America. The government is already getting their hands into our food supply any way they can.

  3. Not with you on this one. I felt traumatized by this movie. The entire experience left me feeling assaulted. I’m not just saying it wasn’t a feel-good movie. I’m saying I found the premise of The Hunger Games unnecessarily barbaric, and the movie so deeply disturbing and nauseating to watch. Yes I know all the themes, I understand the point. But how is it that our society has become so desensitized to violence that watching a movie about children slaughtering children for sport is considered an awesome way to spend our time? To me, there is nothing to love about this movie or these books.

  4. I’ve just recently completed the series as well, similarly driven by the need to understand the disturbingly familiar message that haunted me after seeing the movie. I’m a strong believer that “truth” can be found in fiction, and the Hunger Games rings truer than anything I’ve read in a long time.

    Especially after I put it away and turned my attention to my anthropology assignment based on the article “Why Can’t People Feed Themselves”… (link if you’re interested: )

    As I read this article, I found myself feeling a strange synchronization with the message of the Hunger Games. When you realize that our “western civilized world” has been built at the expense of the undeveloped, poor and hungry places of the world you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.

    We’re not just “like” the grotesque, indulgent, voyeuristic citizens of the Capitol… We ARE them. The Hunger Games has merely exaggerated for dramatic effect… and not by much when you think about it.

  5. I have been hesitant about seeing this movie because I understand the political side of what it really is and because I feel like it heads in the place that we are becoming. For those of you that have seen it go to and look up Agenda 21 and tell me if you saw similarity in the movie. I am sure I will end up seeing it with my 14 yr old son and hubby and as a Mom it will be sad to watch children being hurt and killed. So, good to see you all understand whats going on.

  6. Randy, I TOTALLY get where you are coming from and what you are saying. You speak of “desensitization” and you know where it’s coming from. It’s all around society and our kids. Television, games, movies, school indoctrination, celebrities , etc. I know what the movie is about and the undertone of it, a lot of it is based on what really happening if you are awke to see it. This is one of the reasons I have not wanted to see it but I am sure I will end up anyways because I want my son to have a better world and I do not want him to grow up with his eyes shut. Remember the movie running man?

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