I interrupt your regular schedule of Moviepilot awesomeness to write something a little different - but even more important. It's real, it's happening right now in the world - and it's related to the movie you recognize and love. This is a look at some real-life movements and how they're identifying with the Hunger Games to combat injustice in their lives.
We know the Hunger Games. We love the story and its heroes. We support the fight against the corrupt Capitol, and know that Katniss stands for justice and an end to government-sponsored brutality. What you might not know, depending on the news you have or haven't been watching, is that the story of the Hunger Games is more real than many people know, and is having an effect on the real-life struggles for revolution and safety in our world.
There's a reason dystopian literature is so huge right now - it strikes a chord. For many people in the United States and worldwide, the Hunger Games don’t come close to the horror they experience every day. The horrors of the Capitol are very real, state-sponsored violence, oppression and injustice are alive and well, both in fiction and real life.
If you need proof of the Hunger Games' effect on the struggles against injustice in the world, let's start with Thailand. The film Mockingjay: Part One has been banned by the Thai military and government because it might incite or encourage real life revolutions - and the three-finger salute is currently illegal.
At the Thailand premiere, as a form of protest against a militaristic coup of the country's government, student activists flashed the three-finger salute - and were arrested by plainclothes police officers.
In the cinema’s lobby, university student Nachacha Kongudom posed while saluting with three fingers in front of the movie’s huge poster, and allowed herself to be photographed by the media before she was taken away by police. Near the Siam Paragon theater, police detained two other protesters who raised the salute, which Thai dissidents deliberately appropriated from the films as their own symbol of defiance. (The movies depict a motley collection of ragtag rebels rising up against a well-heeled authoritarian government led by a despotic president.)
“The ‘Mockingjay’ movie reflects what’s happening in our society,” Ms. Nachacha, 21, told The Associated Press before being arrested. “When people have been suppressed for some time, they would want to resist and fight for their rights.”
The protests in Thailand and movements around the world are being covered by organization Odds In Our Favor. On the effect the Hunger Games have had on real-life activism, they write:
There’s a reason the Hunger Games series has resonated so deeply with audiences, and it’s not just because of the charms of its stars: There is a lot within the narrative of the Hunger Games that reminds us of our own stories, even if it’s dressed up as a dystopian fiction.
Comparing The Hunger Games to our world has never been much of a stretch. Though emphasized by the dystopic premise, everything hits too close to home: a severe disparity between the upper and lower class, poverty-stricken families driven to desperate measures, deeply harmful policies and practices from a corrupt government. The list goes on.
Odds In Our Favor has encouraged Twitter users to speak out on their own experiences of injustice, particularly the disparity of financial wealth and concentration of money and power among the wealthy upper-class.
These tweets hit hard, and the hashtag #MyHungerGames is full of people expressing their experiences with economic inequality:
Another movement you might have heard about are the protests in Ferguson, MO (and growing in number around the United States). If you've heard about it, you'll be hearing about the riots, and not the peaceful protests that make up the vast majority of the response.
The protests are following the lack of an indictment against police officer Darren Wilson after his shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown. The unrest is not simply about this isolated case, but a long history of police brutality and disproportionate treatment of people of color, particularly African Americans. The police response has been staggering, from the use of tear gas and tasers to rubber bullets and arrests.
The symbol of the movement is "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." Hunger Games fans, you will recognize the power of gesture, and I hope the parallels at work here.
And further, what you might not know is that like in Thailand, protestors are calling forth words and symbolism from the books and movies to make their voices heard.
Many are trying to make their voices heard peacefully after outbreaks of violence over the past few months. Graffiti has cropped up in the Shaw neighbourhood of St. Louis, Missouri from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and Suzanne Collins’ novel: “If we burn, you burn with us.”
I know this was an intense and probably uncomfortable article to read. But think on it, before we go back to our regular programming of cool movie news and fanart. I always thank you for reading my articles, but this was an important one. If you read this far, thank you.
And let me just say that I know there are readers who don’t like things I just said. You don’t think real-life “politics" has a place on Moviepilot, no matter how entwined with entertainment, art and expression it is. I know what the response to these movements, and maybe even the comments on this article will be.
This isn't an invitation for debate. It's to draw attention to the growing parallels between a story we know and love - and the action taking place in the real world. The oppression is real. But the heroes are real too, and they are holding up hands and three fingers on our very streets.
There are real-life Mockingjays the world over - I know more than a few. And they’re making their voices heard. We might be in the midst of a revolution - even if that revolution has not been televised - but books are written about the toppling of unjust regimes. I hope and pray we’ll see the same come to pass in our lifetimes.