Some Philosophical Musings From 'The Hunger Games'

I hope that movie patrons won’t just get caught up in the love story or the action of the movie. I hope they’ll notice how closely this fictional society paralleled our own...

I just saw "The Hunger Games” and thought that it was pretty good as movies go. I actually hope that everyone goes to see it. But not because it was a good movie, but because of the obvious and excellent social commentary shared with the viewers by the author. Personally, I prefer movies that make us stop and think about ourselves, our lives and our role while we’re here on this planet.

I hope that movie patrons won’t just get caught up in the love story or the action of the movie. I hope they’ll notice how closely this fictional society paralleled our own – the big one I mean. Our society called the entire human race. Much of our race certainly lives in the squalor as portrayed in “The Hunger Games.” And yes, there absolutely is a portion of our race that lives in such extreme extravagance too.

At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to a society that is split into two distinct groups. The overwhelming majority of the society is severely impoverished. Little food, extremely poor living conditions, hard manual labor required to survive, etc. These people have nothing. The second part of the society lives truly extravagant lives, wanting for absolutely nothing. This part of the society is much smaller than the other, probably much less than 1 percent of the whole.

This second part of this fictional society is stunning in its excesses as demonstrated by their absurdly "over the top" clothing, excessive attention to incidentals like colored hair, designer eyelashes and fingernails and technological conveniences. The food available to these people was not only excessive in terms of quantity, but excessive in terms of the resources that were being poured into producing food that was only there for pure pleasure. Not a drop of nutritional value in the least. The producers of this movie did an excellent job of detailing the excesses of that society – and showing that all of that extravagance was absolutely at the expense of the vast majority.

None of this could ever happen in our society, right? For we, as a people, would never allow such a circumstance to occur, would we? Well, we might not be as far off as we think.

Let’s take a look at our track record so far. And remember, I’m speaking about “our society” as the entire human race, not just America. Here’s some stats on how we stack up to the fictional society from the “Hunger Games”:

  • Every year, 15 million children die of hunger (that’s just the children).
  • 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US $2/day.
  • It is estimated that some 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, about 100 times as many as those who actually die from it each year.
  • The assets of the world's three richest men are more than the combined GNP of all the least developed countries on the planet.
  • For the price of one missile, a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years.
  • To satisfy the world's sanitation and food requirements would cost only US$13 billion –what the people of the United States and the European Union spend on perfume each year.

These statistics were taken from a website called http://library.thinkquest.org. People could, and certainly will, argue about the exact numbers, but the message is indisputable: starvation and extreme poverty are avoidable on our world. The more industrialized nations of the world wouldn’t even need to change their lifestyles all that much to accomplish it.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I was born into a very rich society. I am thankful everyday for all the abundance I have in my life. I don’t believe for an instant that we should all live in squalor just because much of the world’s population does. But I do believe we should do whatever we can – and choose to go without, if it means a substantially better life for many others across our planet.

For those of you that would like to start doing something but aren’t sure how to start, try: http://cleanwaterfortheworld.org/



Erik Blazynski March 27, 2012 at 02:09 PM
This movie was terrible, a story that could have been told in 40 minutes stretched out to 2 hours and 7 minutes. It was very predictable, you know from the moment that they met that the "tension turned love afair" formula was coming.. I think that "In Time" was a better reflection of our current political situation, although 25 cities have made it illegal to give food to homeless people so I guess maybe we have our own little hunger games going on.
Valorie Hollister March 27, 2012 at 08:34 PM
If you read the book the 'love affair' you refer to really wasn't much of one at all. And unfortunately, while I believe they tried to remain true to the book in this regard, the complexity of Katniss and Peeta's relationship was hard to pick up on. Katniss was, at least in part, playing for the cameras (and potential sponsors) as a part of the game in order to survive when she appeared to couple up w/Peeta. In the book she felt a confusing mixture of feelings about Peeta - gratitude because he saved her family from hunger at one point - resentment for that same act - a bond with him of being from the same district - but distance because they did not have the same circumstances in their day to day lives as Peeta's family always had food. She also felt the loss of Rue profoundly -- who reminded her so much of her sister Prim -- and ran to Peeta in part to not feel so alone it what was a pretty horrific situation. Katniss never really thought much about romance, she thought about survival and protecting the people she loved -- primarily her sister, her mother and her friend Gale.
Andrew Ziemba March 27, 2012 at 10:05 PM
How could this movie this bad possibly generate this much hype? Stupid people in large numbers. THIS movie was on par with "The Dark Knight" for tickets sold on its opening weekend? That's what I heard anyway. Everything is super predictable and nothing made sense...remember the three dogs in the end? please, how can you out run that? It was like a CLONE of Harry Potter with new faces set in a lord of the rings environment. You know what happens when you make a "R" rated movie that can be seen by kids? You get movies like this. Watered down in all the wrong places. Did the main character do ANYTHING besides be a victim the WHOLE TIME in this movie? I think she got rescued by someone else from certain death like.... 6 times. YAWN
Ameila April 02, 2012 at 03:09 AM
I found the book/ movie to be an excellent social comentary on our times. Several themes abound. 1st...the extreme distinction between the "haves" and the " have nots"; i.e. the Capitol population vs the population of District 12. Relate this to the Wall Street fat cats...and me, living paycheck to paycheck. Then there is the obvious... How much is too much that had sprung up from reality TV. "Send 24 kids to fight to the death in an arena?" we don't even blink. AND IT'S RATED PG-13! It's Survivor on steroids Now, don't get me wrong- I adored the book and the movie. It's nice to see a strong female heroine who can kiss ass and survive. Jennifer Lawrence is brilliant, and I'm heartily sick of Twilight. I'm very glad the movie fix the book justice
Kim Zimmermann May 09, 2012 at 11:52 AM
Remember, this is the first book in a trilogy. There is much more to the story than the first book reveals and the books are much more interesting than the movie. It's amazing that we (human societies) never learn and repeat the same mistakes.


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