Are Real ‘Hunger Games’ In Our Future?
Just in case you do not own a television set, haven't been to the movies since they stopped showing cartoons before the feature presentation or don't read much, "The Hunger Games" has become the Harry Potter franchise of the twenty-first century. The wildly popular book series written for the young adult market by Suzanne Collins spins a post-apocalyptic yarn around sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen.
The stories take place in the nation of Panem where the countries of North America once existed. The Capital is a technologically advanced city that exercises totalitarian control over the twelve impoverished districts surrounding it. Each year one boy and one girl from each of those districts compete in The Hunger Games. The contestants must be twelve to eighteen years of age and are chosen by lottery. The games are a televised outdoor battle to the finish with only one winner.
I almost always enjoy post-apocalyptic books and films. It's fascinating to see how they have evolved as different threats, real or imagined, confront humanity. "Planet of the Apes" envisioned a future where humans destroyed the Earth with nukes and another species took over. "Soylent Green" focused on a society brought to the brink of extinction by over-population and pollution. "Mad Max" pointed to the kind of anarchy that might replace law and order in the wake of a societal breakdown. "The Host" tells a tale of Aliens taking over the Earth and seeking human vessels to house their souls.
I think it would be fair to say that George Orwell's book "Nineteen Eighty-Four" should be considered the father of many of these tales and certainly a forerunner of "The Hunger Games." That's because his book also envisions a dark future where large mega-nations replace individual countries and totalitarian regimes control everyone. Although Eric Arthur Blair writing under his "George Orwell" pen name authored the book in 1949, there can be little doubt that he had his finger on the pulse of where humanity was heading. He impressively predicted some political realities we all live with today.
Orwell's nightmarish world of opposites includes an elite ruling class that promises prosperity while destroying the economy and offers freedom through individual, political and social oppression. The Big Brother regime tightly controls its citizens by using various specialized agencies including the Ministry of Truth which oversees propaganda and historical revision (lies), the Ministry of Love which is all about brainwashing and torture (hate), and the Ministry of Peace which conducts foreign policy (war).
The oppressive Orwellian world found in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" also includes things like video screens that simultaneously propagandize and spy on citizens, the Newspeak language that easily foreshadows politically-correct speech, a recognizable form of political-correctness known as Doublethink and the Thought Police who are always ready to pounce on any freethinkers. While it's easy for readers to recognize the many contradictions found in the political system described in "Nineteen Eighty-Four," it is not as easy for the citizens of Oceania to tell the good guys from the bad or the right from the wrong after years of being spoon fed half-truths and outright lies.
I look at "The Hunger Games" as being much more basic and less complicated than "Nineteen Eighty-Four." Considering the dumbing-down of society, that would be a must for any author who wanted to sell books to young people these days. That comment is not a criticism of the book series, just a fair sociological observation. Despite its simplicity and characters that are attractive to a younger audience, "The Hunger Games" offers a warning (whether intentional or not) that is similar to the one found in Orwell's book and often repeated elsewhere: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Those words were first uttered by Sir John Dalberg-Acton, a British historian, politician and writer.
I cannot speak for other nations, but here in America the loss of rights and freedoms is an on-going, candy-coated process that has been fueled by a misguided attempt to eliminate possible threats by limiting individual liberties. As in Orwell's fictional world of opposites, we are informed that in order to properly protect ourselves from evildoers and be good citizens we must allow the government to have more control over our lives. At the same time we are also told that we must give those likely to do us the most harm the benefit of the doubt; that the rights of those who hate and are trying to kill us must be protected while our own liberties are restricted or taken away entirely.
The insane political landscape described in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is quickly becoming a normal part of everyday life in twenty-first century America. I just wonder how long it will be before the self-serving ideological clones that are running democracy into the ground in the USA and elsewhere find a way to bring some reality-television hell like "The Hunger Games" to life in order to forward their own agendas? I would tell you to use your vote to change things, but I believe that time is past. The powers that be are in complete control and I am sorry to say that they are running the lives of average Americans right into the ground.