Posts Tagged ‘Hunger Games’

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Black Friday has apparently become a spectator sport for the leisure class, who look forward to watching videos of shoppers brawling for discounted items from the safety of their own homes. A reality-show Hunger Games, if you will.

But this year Black Friday, like Mockingjay Part 1, was a disappointment, as sales were apparently way down.

That’s no surprise. As you can see above, real median household income, which reached a recent peak of $56,436 in 2007 (which was below the overall peak of $56,895 in 1999), has fallen to $51,939 (in 2013 dollars).

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Or, looked at differently (in terms of the average real income of the bottom 90 percent), incomes have fallen from $34,815.58 in 2007 to $30,438.59 in 2012.

The real madness was to presume that either the third installment of the Hunger Games (which was nothing more than a placeholder until the real finale is released) or Black Friday (in the midst of an economy that generates depressed incomes for all but a tiny minority at the top) would be a success.

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The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion

I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. I’ve just watched the two movies: The Hunger Games (2102) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013).

My immediate reaction was, we’re not watching some post-apocalyptic view of the future. It’s a well-crafted allegory of what is happening here and now.

Apparently, Miles Kimball and I agree on that much. But we then go in very different directions. Whereas Kimball sees the Capitol as representing the “rich nations of the world” and the Districts as the “poor nations of the world,” I see something very different: a post-apocalyptic nation divided into haves and have-nots. Or, if you prefer, a Capitol representing the top 1 percent and the Districts everyone else.

And that seems to be how fans of the books/movies see it (as, for example, here)—not in terms of divisions between nations but as different segments within a single nation.

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Now, it’s true, the residents of the different Districts are engaged in various pursuits—for example, Katniss Everdeen’s father was a coalminer, as are most people in District 12, while the residents of District 1 specialize in producing luxury items such as jewelry, and they are better off than the workers in other Districts. But the residents of all twelve Districts produce in order to enrich, and are forced to send fighters into the Hunger Games at the behest of, the conspicuously consuming residents of the Capitol and their Peacekeepers.

For me, that’s a pretty clear example of class-divided nation (referred to as Panem, in the books and films), in which most citizens survive on a meager ration of bread and are required to participate in circuses for the entertainment of the tiny minority at the top.

Until, of course, they rebel. . .

[ht: sm]

I’ll admit I haven’t read the books. And I did enjoy the first Hunger Games more than the second. Not to mention the fact that the filmmakers haven’t quite decided between representing class inequality (of conspicuous consumption at the top and working for a living at the bottom) or a relation of domination between the center of the empire (replete with a coliseum, chariots, and fascist insignia) and the periphery (12 districts, based on various occupations and industries). In either case, the goal of those at the top is to distract the masses from seeing what is actually going on.

But it was interesting watching Hunger Games: Catching Fire in a packed theater and listening to the audience (mostly groups of teenagers) erupt in cheers as the Capitol was being challenged, perhaps for the first time in 75 years, by the Districts.