It has been a while since the second installment of “The Hunger Games” was released, but Katniss Everdeen and the rest of the characters are ever-present in the media, and of course, in my mind.
The movies are fantastic, but as is usually the case, the books are even better. After reading “The Hunger Games” series, I couldn’t help but feel like the books are a giant metaphor for how messed up our world is today.
Granted, these stories take place far off in the future, but it seems that their world isn’t all that different from how ours is today. In fact, everything that is terrible about Katniss’ world is extremely relatable to reality.
Take the actual Hunger Games into consideration:
The competition is a direct criticism of us putting young men and women in harm's way on battlefields.
Yes, the Hunger Games are much more horrific because the Capitol puts kids as young and adorable as Roo in a controlled arena to fight to the death all while watching from the comforts of their lavish homes.
Agreed, war is not the same as watching real acts of murder as a form of entertainment, but what’s the major difference? The audience? The fact that we haven’t made war a reality game show on which we can vote?
We are still sending our “kids” to fight other “kids” to protect our country. The Hunger Games are a way to intimidate and to exemplify how people will do all that they can — including commit murder — just to be on top, or rather, alive.
However, in this day and age, survival of the fittest is not a valid excuse for the death and destruction of others. We have the means to support ourselves and others in ways we were not able to do in the past. However, there is a problem in our distribution: We are not dividing it properly and we continue to have the few on top outliving and out-earning those on the bottom.
I’m not arguing to eradicate the pursuit of wealth, but I do feel that we have become such selfish people and there will be much collateral damage.
In the 12 districts of Katniss’ world, there is endless poverty and devastation outside of the Capitol. They maintain this disproportionate power on purpose. In our world, some sociologists argue that poverty exists because the wealthy few allow it to exist. This inequality is one of the ways that those at the top continue to hold their position.
Besides perpetuating this state of imbalance, the wealthy few at the top have their own set of faults: hyper-consumerism and over-consumption.
In the Capitol, most of the people have nutty and ridiculous hairstyles full of flamboyant colors and sparkly trinkets. Their makeup is over-done in an almost clown-like fashion, they wear eccentric clothes and shoes that morph their bodies and some even undergo surgical procedures to change their faces. When I read the books, I pictured something along the lines of Lady Gaga — but real.
Cosmetics and plastic surgery are taken to an extreme, but the message is clear:
Humans have an obsession with appearance and vanity. Both the people in the Capitol and the people in our world strive to satisfy a specific image, whether you call it beauty and perfection or just a way to evoke shock and get attention.
The extremes of appearances in the Hunger Games exemplify our need to constantly change our natural look to the point of looking almost non-human. To us, it seems crazy, but to them, it’s normal.
People are constantly trying to create and re-create themselves to look like beings that they simply aren’t. I am sure that people only a few generations back think that the types of surgeries and alterations people undergo are as ridiculous and obscene as the way we feel about the characters of “The Hunger Games.”
Despite all the negative aspects that the series brings to life, it is a fantastic and thrilling adventure in which to take part. Whether you read the books or watch the movies, it’s hard not to let Katniss’ journey engulf you.
As a brilliant writer and storyteller, Suzanne Collins depicted a future that parallels our present while simultaneously transporting us away from it. But, when we take a moment to stop and think beyond the pages of the series, we find that we are not so far removed, after all.
We tend to accept the way that things are in our world because, “that’s just the way it is.” Maybe this is our chance to write a different story.
Photo via Hunger Games