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The Hunger Games Social Impact

Updated on October 20, 2014

Inequality between Generations

The Hunger Games opened to huge ticket sales, speaking to a young generation about issues such as inequality, oppression, independence and class warfare. The fact that it is such a huge hit means it resonates with the target audience in an emotional manner that goes beyond just entertainment. In fact, this movie could be a signal of a new mood for our young people searching for expression in a world that seems more and more out of balance.

It is impossible to tell if The Hunger Games will become the Easy Rider of a new generation, where today’s youth start to question the authority of things around them; of why they are forced to bind their future into decades of servitude to pay back student loans which fund an inflated education system; or forced into a future of lower class service jobs as the middle class shrinks and the 1% amuse themselves observing the rest of us compete in reality Hunger Games for less opportunities and higher taxes than any generation. Will these kids accept their debtor’s inheritance in order to support “The Capital” in a lifestyle of charmed plenty surrounded by a desert of starving masses?

The Hunger Games Trailer

Author Suzanne Collins has stated her book is about ecology and the environment we leave behind for new generations

Energy is a major reason we fight wars and ask our young to sacrifice their youth and courage.
Energy is a major reason we fight wars and ask our young to sacrifice their youth and courage.

Big crowd in theater but not Happy Campers

It was a somber crowd leaving the theater after this movie, even though they were young. The Hunger Games is a depressing movie, with an ending that confirms the theme of courage and survival but does not deliver anything close to triumph. It is popular because it strikes a chord, a dissonant chord for troubled times. For young people, they were unusually quiet while watching this movie, as they watched kids kill each other for the amusement of a huge televised audience. One wonders what they take with them as they leave the theater and talk about with their peers afterwards. Do they make the connection between generations and the legacy we leave behind for our children?

What are you willing to sacrifice your life for?

Would you die to pay for losing a war 75 years ago?

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The Story is a nation's payment for rebellion by proxy, their youth offered for sacrifice

The initial text explains the setting of The Hunger Games, a world recovering from civil war by forcing the rebel territories to sacrifice one male and one female each year to compete against each other in a match to the death. Only one will survive, and the odds are terrible.

This year, the 74th year of the games, finds our heroine Katniss Everdeen (played with restrained dignity by Jennifer Lawrence) becoming the first volunteer for the deadly games after her younger sister is picked from the glass bowl to be the sacrificial tribute for District 12. Katniss has been the family hunter, as food is scarce. She is good with a bow and at home in the wild, along with her boyfriend Gale (who is a dreamer, posing “what if” questions all the time) instead of dealing with the dismal reality of living in a mining district just one notch up from a slave labor camp.

After much angst about separating from family and friends, and battling with her co-tribute partner Peeta (a baker’s son who has one strong survival skill from hefting 100 pound bags of flour). Soon, they are in the Hunger Games, battling to survive and perhaps falling in love to get sponsors who parachute supplies into the game at moments of great desperation.

The ending finds our heroine alive but facing an uncertain future in three more movies, battling the evil central Capital, personified by white-haired Donald Sutherland as President Snow. It is Snow who frames the games as an opiate of hope and fear for the rebel districts, more effective than just taking 24 people and executing them every year. The Hunger Games is a way to keep underdogs at bay, and we all know that will not end well for the top dogs eventually (by #4 in this series).

Box office franchise in the Making

The Hunger Games audience did not cheer, fist pump in the air or sigh in teen lust like during Twilight whenever some guy took his shirt off. This movie created a somber mood of hope and fear, courage and sacrifice. The odds seem horrible for our heroine but terrific for Lions Gate Studios and the box office hunger for more.

This is a successful franchise in the making, using Hollywood’s movie machine while satirizing it at the same time. It is not a leap to see the Hunger Games show as the Oscars, the battle for sponsors as ruthless as ever and creating fake love stories to build interest and raise the stakes, all for the audience’s delight. At least, Stanley Tucci as the host of the 74th Hunger Games wasn’t as grotesque as Billy Crystal hosting the 84th Academy Awards.

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