I read the Hunger Games series over Thanksgiving a few years ago, before cancer took my mum. The first I got as a “try this book you might like it” on my Kindle. I’ve loved science fiction/ fantasy all of my life and the Post-apocalyptic theme is one that has always fascinated writers. I’m one of those writers also and I’ve played in my own version of a destroyed world looking for hope. Mum liked science fiction as well and it was one of the few positive “traditions” my family had. Every Saturday afternoon at 4pm, dad would pop popcorn and we watched Star Trek. We saw Star Wars in the theaters in Albuquerque. That was a big deal for us. It was a long time ago and it is one love I will never lose.
Mum didn’t read all of the books but she did go see the first movie with me. We saw the second as well. She saw the scenes for the third but then pancreatic cancer entered our lives and she did not make the movie. After mum was diagnosed I was away from home a lot and the one thing I had was downloaded movies and wireless. One of the movies that was always available on the Hunger Games.
As odd as it might seem, the Hunger Games became a comfort for me. Don’t ask me to explain how a movie centered around kids fighting to death in an arena became a touchstone to me but it is.
The books, the movies, the ideas are about so much more. They are about a fierce need to protect, first and foremost. A sister who could not abide seeing her little sister harmed, and a fierce need to protect, an empathy that did not stop at a sister. Perhaps I desperately wanted something that would let me protect my mum the way as I have always to protect and serve everyone in my sphere.
It goes beyond the need to protect though. The courage of one person, who just wanted to help others. Her courage blows up at a system that was held together by fear with just a touch of hope. These books and the movies were wildly popular. Think about that. In this story kids are forced to battle to the death for the amusement of the capital and as a way to keep the districts in line in a world devastated by climate change. The lucky few live a life a leisure and excess while the others are starving and forced to work for the gain of the few. It is an exaggeration of the struggles within the country and the world. The end point where Katniss shoots not the President who perpetuated the system but instead shoots the woman who is setting herself up to continue the system, leaving a woman in place who is a simple soldier.
Does it tell us anything about our world today? I think it warns us of the politics of fear and of lies. It warns us of setting up a system of us versus them. The crazy world of Donald Trump, his excesses, his accusations against anyone who is not in his narrow world view are a scary mirror of the capital. If I carry this further I put Hillary Clinton in the world view of the leader who succeeds. She is the person who will not lie to the question have you ever lied; knowing we have all lied at some point. My own book begins with the idea that the United States is taken over by what Bernie would call the oligarchs and Donald Trump would serve as that oligarch. Fiction is just that fiction, but it shows us what people fear or dream of. My own humble view is that we need to set aside the politics of fear, lies, and denial of facts. The way to start that is to vote out those who refuse to acknowledge facts, those who tie and push us toward fear over stability. It starts with Hillary Clinton, and a Congress that is blue and can support her in a government for the people, by the people.