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Wed Apr 4, 2012, 10:19 PM

The Hunger Games and the Death of Winner-Take-All Capitalism

Granted, all Capitalism is "winner-take-all" in the end, but I this article highlights aspects of The Hunger Games that aren't getting talked about a lot.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-c-smith/hunger-games-capitalism_b_1395338.html



<snip>

While the cinematic version of The Hunger Games may be more politically ambiguous than the novels, the time period in which the books were published is anything but ambiguous. America's rude economic awakening had as much to do with being overextended in ongoing wars paid for on imaginary unlimited capital, as it does with large segments of the population getting by on overextended credit and never suspecting the other shoe was about to drop, and land right on top of their houses.

With some economic forecasters predicting that a full recovery may not happen until 2018, America's younger workers are witnessing their future economic infrastructure collapse around them. One could view the ritualized "killing as entertainment" of the tributes in The Hunger Games as an allegory about cashing in on the next generation's future hopes and dreams. Add our deteriorating education system to the ongoing financial hard times, and we have a perfect storm of social and economic problems that could easily tip the balance toward social unrest on a scale not seen since the late 1960s. Without a healthy economy where a more all-inclusive segment of the population can depend upon a livable wage, we all lose, since everyone lives in and depends upon the same unstable system. And the powers that be can't keep expecting people to accept an economically unbalanced system that's simply no longer sustainable.

<snip>



I've read the books and saw the movie today. I've been thinking that some of the success of the film could be in part because of Occupy. In the Capital (if you aren't familiar with the story) a cosmopolitan elite live like nobility while the proles in the District work in guarded and enclosed territories.

Not only do they work to provide resources for the Capital, each year the Districts are required to send in two youths between 12-18 year old to fight to the death, televised with the same smarmy human interest angles that populate daytime TV. The heroine causes political unrest, but I don't want to post spoilers. Check out the books if you haven't already.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 10:41 AM

1. I haven't read the books or seen the movie.........

so tell me... Starry, is the theme of the books (and movie) about the system itself? If so, it's at least progress because this IS a big budget project and probably a continuing one.

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 12:24 PM

2. To me, they spoke more about the nature of the system

but I'm not sure it is the theme. The treatment of the second book in film will be the decider, that's where the political struggle ramps up. It's hard to separate my impressions of the book from the film.

In the book, there was this explicit awareness of the District 12 children of the overwhelming richness of Capital life and the contrast with their live of want and starvation in the District. When watching the film, I had that textual memory, so when those scenes came up, I was watching them with that in mind. I'd love to know the impressions of someone who watches the movie without reading the books.

On the other hand, right wing blogs have been writing a few broadsides about the anti-capitalist nature of the story, so perhaps it is more explicit than I'm cautiously giving credit for.

Willamette Reds has a good review, but there are spoilers, so I will just link: http://willamettereds.blogspot.com/2012/04/hunger-games-capitalism-run-amok.html One part I can quote without giving anything away, I think:



Is it right for a small percentage of the population to utterly control access to wealth and power? Is it exploitative when we watch as members of a lower socioeconomic class scramble and fight over scraps of money and potential fame, as they do on many real reality shows and, indeed, in many real televised sports? The gladiatorial Games are a metaphor for the high-stakes games that poor people must play in America to merely survive.

And these days, they’re also not a metaphor. They’re just a mild exaggeration of a culture where one of the only ways for its least privileged citizens to escape their circumstances seems to be risking public pain and humiliation as cameras record their every move.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #2)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 03:50 AM

7. Interesting review. I haven't read the books but I was intrigued by the premise and have them

 

on reserve at the library.

Regarding the reviewer's final comment about the direction the author takes in the second book --
can you think of any satisfying utopian novel, where the utopia is not ultimately a dystopia, or else is portrayed so unrealistically you can't believe in it (I'm thinking of stuff like 'Looking Backward' here -- though maybe it seemed realistic to earlier audiences, being as it was pretty popular).

I can't think of any, but there should be something.

Also, do you (or others) find anything troubling in the popularity of dystopian fiction among young people? I seem to recall there have been a couple of fairly popular YA dystopian works in the last few years but I can't recall the titles.

Does it signify something about either kids or writers?

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Response to socialist_n_TN (Reply #1)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 04:32 PM

3. I think the theme pretty much does go to system -

and also a clever comment on reality tv. I thought it was very well done until the end.

SPOILER following below -


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I loved the book until I got to the end. When you get to that point she is sort of spent. Family members and friends have been killed or written out and she sort of ends up with one of her love interests but there is no wrap up other than "they get married, have children, and live happily ever after". There really is no indication about what sort of system they have going forward after the 2 competing rulers have been killed, except that they are back farming the land. Almost seems like a libertarian ending to me.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Original post)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 05:40 PM

4. My twelve year old great grandson is reading the books - I wonder if they are getting the same

message as we are? I think he wants to see the movie because of the fight between the children. Just interested in knowing if this book/movie will finally get the children to think about the impact of capitalism?

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Response to jwirr (Reply #4)

Thu Apr 5, 2012, 06:48 PM

5. I wonder that too, jwirr

I'm probably the wrong one to ask, since I didn't think about the impact of capitalism until I was nearly 40. Hopefully today's youth are more aware than I was. It is certainly getting read at very high numbers, and it has a distinct political tone that I don't recall from anything I read as a teen that would have been popular in the '80's.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #5)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 12:27 AM

6. At least in our family I think he is getting some of it because he listens to what we are talking

about. I had to laugh - went to Mirror, Mirror with my one of my little girls and was shocked at the political message in that story. But I don't think she saw it at that age of 10. However, even if they do not get it immediately I think it stays with them and acts as a filter for what they are seeing around them. My little lady has not been treated well by her mother and I got the feeling she saw the wicked step mother in that light. So they may be learning more than we think. Hopefully.

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