My review will be posted Monday, but in the meantime, I have collected some of the most thought-provoking analyses of “The Hunger Games” to hit the web this weekend.
From the left:
The shortest gloss on the movie’s plot is that twenty-four children take part in a televised spectacle in which they are made to kill each other until only one is left. That sounds, at first glance, either like a grown-up riff on decadence and the extremes of reality shows, or something so brutal that no child should see it. The first of those isn’t quite right; the second is just wrong. And both miss the central point and problem of “The Hunger Games” trilogy: it is a story about a long counterinsurgency campaign, the costs it exacts, its moral traps, and the political use of violence.
A vision of present-day America is summoned up, its citizenry glutted with fast food and distracted by reality TV. How is the population expected to accept the violent sacrifice of 24 young lives a year? How many have died in our recent wars?
“The Hunger Games,” meanwhile, is an occasionally eye-watering narrative arc about economic inequality and social unrest, in which the hero finds herself fighting to survive between the cruel, cartoonish extravagance of an overbearing ultra-capitalist state and the murky machinations of the neo-Stalinist rebels.
The coming decades, as climate change accelerates due to the exponential growth of fossil-fuel burning, will make the recent extreme floods, fires, droughts, and storms of the early 21st century a fond memory. But the authoritarian, apocalyptic world of the Hunger Games is avoidable — if its generation of readers makes wiser choices than those who now control the wealth of the world and are deciding to let it burn.
From the right:
Occupy-Wall-Street liberals are loving the way the film portrays an extraordinary gap between the rich and poor as simply an innate evil. It’s a black-and-white view in which there’s no allowance that the rich might have earned their wealth — they’re portrayed simply as lazy and overly indulged oppressors. The poor are shown as the industrious ones.
On its face the book reveals the oppressive cruelty that is big government. Indeed, while the global political class and their enablers in the media to this day try to explain away droughts and the resulting famines from an “Act of God” point of view, the simple truth is that economically free countries don’t suffer them.
[W]hat’s truly startling about the movie, then, is its implicit politics: Ordinary folks are good, government is bad–really bad. There are no evil corporations in this movie; the bad guys are bureaucrats and TV hosts.