“The Hunger Games”… Fiction or Non-Fiction?
A few days ago, I received a call from a family member. She had just seen The Hunger Games movie, and was quite upset. During the movie she fought an urge to stand and scream, “How dare we be entertained by the slaughter of children?!” Although I too feel shocked, perturbed, and incredulous about the storyline, I am also enthusiastic precisely because of the response it evokes! I believe that Suzanne Collins, author of the trilogy, is trying to create a tumult. I expect that the series will insert a figurative thorn in our sides. In order to remove it, we will have to look in the mirror. I hope that an understanding of what The Hunger Games says about us will leave behind a few splinters of awareness, humility and compassion.
I believe, I expect, and I hope.
The Hunger Games is set in Panem, a post-American society divided into twelve districts and the capitol. People of the capitol are youth-centric, cosmetically-altered, and consumption-focused. Convenience and luxury decorate daily activity. Extravagance is status quo. Sedation of spirit characterizes interactions. While connection to nature is lacking, genetically-modified creatures and entitlement-fostering technology abound. Even in Panem, consumption and luxury have a cost, a burden that is outsourced to the oppressed districts. The labor of starving families in the districts makes an ostentatious lifestyle possible for the people of the capitol. Capitol-ites squander resources while the communities that provide them answer to the authority of “peacemakers”. Obsessed with violent entertainment, wealthy spectators of the hunger games only sponsor starving combatants when their dramatic appetites are satiated. Do these descriptions sound familiar? In the case that your answer is “no”, I’ll give an additional clue that should really turn the knob for all of us: The district featured in this story is the community that provides energy (coal) to the power-monger. I am hereby ushered to pose the question: Is The Hunger Games purely a work of fiction?
Over-consumption in the United States affects the entire planet. In Weather of the Future, Heidi Cullen writes about the semi-arid Sahel region of Africa, an area especially vulnerable to climate change, “[…] more than 80 percent of the people make their living growing crops and grazing livestock. June through September is known simply as the hunger season […]” Scanning the globe for the regions that are both vulnerable to climate change and starving, we find a siren call in a characteristically troubled area: from the Sahel of Africa to the Middle East. The section of the planet that provides the United States with the energy needed to consume at such unprecedented levels is immediately threatened by symptoms of climate change: desertification and starvation.
With extraordinary access to cheap energy and a cultural acceptance of obscene levels of consumption, the United States runs up an iniquitous climate change tab. Who pays the bill? Have the leaders in consumption paid heed to the connection between over-consumptive behavior and the climate change horrors that are currently shaping the lives of our neighbors? I cannot believe that we have. North America, known for its ringing bells of freedom, must understand the destruction with which its habits are associated. At the very least, we need to understand.
I believe, expect, and hope!
While Suzanne Collins amplifies each variable of the equation by illustrating an extreme scenario, might she be hovering a magnifying glass over our current state of global affairs?
Here’s a little sip of data. I recommend drinking it slowly, as it’s still burning my tongue (Source: Mindfully.org):
- Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy.
- On average, one American consumes as much energy as 370 Ethiopians
- The average individual daily consumption of water is 159 gallons, while more than half the world’s population lives on 25 gallons.
We will not get away with outsourcing the consequences of our behavior for much longer. Suzanne Collins is brilliant in her personification of painful messages. She breaks through our barriers, enforcing a response. She targets a cohort that may see hunger games animated closer to home, as the consequences of over-consumption extend into our intimate space, affecting our descendants. Founder of Green School, Bali describes his shattered expectations of retirement, “My wife took me to a movie, and I really didn’t want to go to this movie… and Mr. Gore ruined my life. I have four kids and even if a portion of what he says in the Inconvenient Truth is true, those kids are not going to have the free ride that we’ve had.” (Source: John Hardy presentation) As we continue birthing children, might it be our responsibility to at least listen up? I say so! I believe, hope and I expect so.
I’d like to conclude by directly addressing the people who felt shocked, perturbed, incredulous, and disgusted while reading or watching The Hunger Games… the people who wanted to stage a cultural intervention from their theater chair. Embrace what you felt. You should be infused with emotion. Sure, we should feel this for Katniss, Peeta and Rue. Moreover, we should feel it for children alive today, vulnerable to our behavioral choices. As we choose how much energy and water to use, and what to eat, purchase, and teach our children… I believe, hope and expect that we will think of The Hunger Games!
Heidi Cullen, “The Weather of the Future”. HarperCollins Publishers, 2010.
Thank you for reading Biocadence! If you enjoyed this post, you will also enjoy the movie review by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. Please support Biocadence by subscribing to this blog, “sharing” my content using the one-click buttons below, following the Biocadence Facebook page, by “liking” it, and by strutting your sustainable self and showing the world that living more sustainably is the way to go!
Quicklink to previous posts: