The Hunger Games and the 99%

Hunger Games and the 99%

“Gossip Girl” celebrity Penn Badgley sees parallels between the Hunger Games and the Occupy Wall Street Movement according to the Huffington Post. The movie (alas, I have not read the books) definitely explores the many of the dichotomies that OWS challenges: rich v. poor, the in-power v. the relatively powerless, the normalcy v. extravagance. Are the books and movies really an allegory for the OWS movement?

Yes and no. The class struggle is obvious. The disparity between the affluent and flamboyant capital and the impoverished District 11 are undeniable. The website Film School Rejects discusses the possibility of a parallel but decides that overall, the film does not support a particular movement. Rather, it channels the age-old theme in literature of the underdog standing up against opposition.

Film School Rejects states that “The signs [of anti-government and anti-centralization] are all there, easily perceived on the surface, but what’s interesting is that those messages seem to be malleable depending on what your viewpoint already tends to be. From Occupy to the Tea Party to plain old classic revolution, there’s something for everyone.”

In fact, the movie is more reminiscent of two short stories, The Most Dangerous Game and “The Lottery” than the OWS movement. Again Film School Rejects comes through, mentioning a Salon article that relates “What came before ‘The Hunger Games'”. This article by Andrew O’Hehir mentions the Most Dangerous Game among other literature as precursors to the popular book and movie series. The humans-hunting-humans for some sick enjoyment being present in Most Dangerous Game and The Hunger Games. I also liken the movie to “The Lottery,” the short story by Shirley Jackson in which the winner of the lottery (whoever picks the paper with the black dot) is stoned to death by their neighbors and family.  Sounds pretty similar to the system that decides the tributes for the hunger games. “The Most Dangerous Game” was published in 1924 and “The Lottery” in 1848. In other words, these ideas have been around in literature for a long time.

So, The Hunger Games may not be a direct allegory to the OWS movement; But, it does engender some of the themes that OWS supports, including equity, civic justice, and standing up against the government; just as much literature has done before it.  In fact, the first book upon which the movie is based was published in 2007, three years before the beginning of the OWS movement. It just so happens that the movie premiered after OWS began.

Fight the man
Evelyn the Grey


3 responses to “The Hunger Games and the 99%

  1. I know this was already discussed in class, but this is a very interesting approach! I have not seen the movie (or read the books) – is it possible that the producers of the movie incorporated elements of OWS, even though the books came out earlier? Or that the screenplay writers did, or have the actors made any statements drawing those parallels? Information about that might affect how direct the potential allegory is in the movie, versus in the book/basic story. On that subject – if you haven’t read the books it might be safer to leave mentions of them out of your analysis once you’ve made that disclaimer. Film adaptations are very rarely perfect!

  2. evelyneleanor

    I did look for actors, producers etc comments, however I was unable to find any reliable material on their thoughts. The article from film school rejects did mention that the author of the Hunger Games, Suzzane Collins, has given a very long list of literary influences.
    In my opinion, nothing about the movie was overtly OWS besides the themes explored. In fact, the only political reference I found from a member of the movie production was that Collins has mentioned television footage from the Iraq War as inspiration for the book – though this says little of the movies themselves. (This is via the Salon article).
    I understand your concern about the book v. movie debate. This is why my entire analysis is based on the movies (besides the quick note about the publishing date). This is also why I did not mention the previous information about Collins’s influences in the post, because she is the author and not the director or screenwriter. I caught a place where I put “novels” instead of “movie” accidentally. That is now fixed.

    • Perhaps those involved with the film are keeping mum in order to maintain the film’s Rorschach quality (and therefore the money coming in)? *g* This is an informative post – and now I want to go find “The Lottery” and read it. Well done.

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