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  • 'Hunger Games' Taps the Desire for Freedom

    *When The Hunger Games movie debuted last year, we published this post about how the novels truly represent the human desire for freedom. Since the second movie in the trilogy was released last weekend, it’s appropriate to spotlight that message again. 

    Why does the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games have more than 3 million fans on Facebook? More than 1,000 showings of the film, which opens tonight at midnight, have already sold out.

    It’s simple: Readers of the book have put themselves in the story.

    It’s a gripping first-person narrative that prods the reader to wonder, “What would I do in this situation?” again and again. And it’s a fight for liberty—personal and collective—that is relatable.

    Like many enduring tales, The Hunger Games features everyday individuals fighting evil against all odds. In their country of Panem, entertainment and oppression have melded into a frightening mutation (or, to use a term coined by author Suzanne Collins, “muttation”). The iron-fisted Capitol keeps the districts (the states of Panem) down by pitting them against each other in a televised annual spectacle, the Hunger Games. Each district must send one male and one female “tribute” between the ages of 12 and 18 to compete in a fight to the death. The winner is lavished with wealth and food, which is scarce for most.

    The Capitol is a gluttonous place where citizens’ needs are more than met, giving them time to fixate on adorning their bodies and seeking entertainment. They are the main audience for the Hunger Games, though the impoverished people in the districts are forced to watch as well.

    While the Capitol could be a metaphor for Americans’ obsession with entertainment, desensitization to violence, and voyeuristic pleasure in “reality” TV, the notion of a government with absolute control—and citizens struggling for their freedom—extends from the American Revolution to the tea parties of recent years.

    “We’re thankfully a very faint shadow of Panem in the United States, but increasingly we live at the mercy of politicians irrespective of party,” writes John Tamny in Forbes. “If this is doubted, try to evade your taxes, and when you get a letter from the IRS asking for them, ignore the letter.”

    Tamny calls the novel “a boisterous comment about the certain horrors of big government.” And though Panem is an overblown caricature, the theme resonates. The government dictates the work citizens are allowed to do, the places they’re allowed to go, and the tribute they must pay to the Capitol. There is little hope because there is no prospect of freedom. There is no opportunity for individual achievement or innovation, and many turn to the black market—the closest thing they have to a free market—just to obtain food.

    Author John Eldredge, who says “We’ve lost the fact that reality is a story,” has written at length about the power of a narrative that draws us in and makes us feel like we are part of a greater cause.

    “In Algebra you can say, ‘I understand that!’ But in a great story you say, ‘I want to live like that,’” Eldredge says.

    This is the reason the story of The Hunger Games inspires—the timeless truth that freedom is worth fighting for.

    Posted in Featured, Front Page, Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to 'Hunger Games' Taps the Desire for Freedom

    1. David P says:

      “We’re thankfully a very faint shadow of Panem in the United States…"

      I suppose this statement is true, but we thought Ayn Rand was engaging in overstatement for effect in Atlas Shrugged when she described a new government law that prohibited a company from moving from Eastern high-tax states to Western low-tax states. And yet she proved to prescient when this administration blocked Boeing from moving operations to a right-to-work state. It seemed incredible at the time that the federal government could wield this type of power, but it has become an unfortunate reality.

      So yes, we may be only faintly like Panem, but certain characteristics of the Capitol–its needs are met at the expense of the needs of the districts and its inhabitants amuse themselves at the people's expense–are already in place. That's why we need to restrain the power and expansiveness of the federal government sooner rather than later.

    2. Janice says:

      This is a movie I want to see.

    3. Bobbie says:

      Very strong message! FREEDOM IS MANS not government DEFINED!

    4. Travs Fell says:

      Another premise underlying the Capitol's Hunger Games regime is the disregard for the value of human life. Our society shares this tragic characteristic the Hunger Games universe, though we are thankfully not yet as far fallen as Panem.

      The Capitol city seems a bizarre amalgamation of Los Angeles and Washington DC, replete with gaudy hubris. The government acts with impunity and the people are distracted by high tech vuyeurism. Overall, the Hunger Games brilliantly acts as a cautionary tale for the West in general and the US in particular: this is the path you are on.

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