Thursday, 09 January 2014 00:00 By Sarah Page, Truthout | Op-Ed
(Photo: Matthew Allard / Flickr)As “The Hunger Games” trilogy gains popularity in bookstores and the box office, its themes of extreme class inequality, poverty, class warfare, and oppression gain prominence in reality across the globe.
With the release of Catching Fire, the film based on the second novel in The Hunger Games trilogy, it seems like a good time to discuss the relevance of this “young adult” series to real life. For anyone who hasn’t read the books, they center on Katniss Everdeen, a teenage girl who inspires a revolutionary uprising among the 12 districts of Panem (a future dystopic North America), where rural people are oppressed and kept in poverty while an elite section of the population live in “The Capitol” and lead pampered lives fueled by the labor and resources of the outlying districts.
Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins has indicated that she wanted to write “an updated version of the Roman gladiator games.” Her inspiration came from watching television that seemed to blur the differences between young people competing in reality TV shows and fighting in actual war. Her own father fought in Vietnam.
Opinions about The Hunger Games abound. It is accused of being unrealistic, frivolous, just for teens, etc. Others hope that its revolutionary nature will have a positive social impact. Actor Donald Sutherland, who plays the dictatorial President Snow in Catching Fire, said he hopes The Hunger Games stirs up a real revolution. In an interview for British newspaper The Guardian (currently embroiled in a scandal regarding its publication of articles about US spying via the NSA), Sutherland says, “It just puts things out in the light and lets you have a look at it. And if you take from it what I hope you will take from it, it will make you think a little more pungently about the political environment you live in and not be complacent.”