“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” asks if you want a Revolution

Summary:  Today we have a guest post by film critic Locke Peterseim, a review of “Catching Fire” that uses it as a mirror to our culture — a reflection showing how we want to see ourselves. It expresses my own view, more clearly and deeply than I could. Including the disorientation I feel when looking out at our world. Share your thoughts about this in the comments.

Catching Fire poster

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
You Say You Want a Revolution?

By Locke Peterseim

Posted at the film blog of Open Letters Monthly
10 December 2013

Reposted here with his generous permission

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There are times — and they come at me more frequently these days — when I feel out of step with everything and everyone. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into full sobbing mental breakdown right here in the first paragraph — I’ll save that for later.

But when I see the movie-going public go ga-ga for a dull, corporate puppet show like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, I shake my head and wander out of the theater (two and a half hours later, thanks) and into the wild.

You know what’s so great about Catching Fire? It’s tolerably watchable. That’s it. It’s not a good film. It’s not good entertainment.

And contrary to what has now, in less than a month, become Conventional Wisdom, parroted by fans and critics alike, it’s certainly not better than last year’s relatively subtle first Hunger Games movie. Catching Fire is a piece of smoothly assembled and blisteringly marketed product that doesn’t absolutely suck.

(I find myself often saying this about big franchise action movies like Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Thor, and yes even the Twilight films: The studios have their system down pat. Unless the Powers That Be have a momentary lapse of insanity or inebriation and hire some sort of weirdo actual creative artist to make these films, the cinematic outcome — the assembly line McDonalds product — is going to turn out… eh, okay. Tolerable. Watchable. Mostly edible.)

The first Hunger Games movie was helmed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit) and, as I wrote last year, I found it surprisingly nuanced and naturalistic. With a little second-unit help from Steven Soderbergh, that first film in the franchise felt like it was breathing, like it cared about its characters. It was a little washed out, a little hand held, and very often it was that most blessed and rare of cinematic things these days: Quiet.

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Catching Fire poster

Well, by god, that will be quite enough of that. Despite the debut film’s box-office success, Ross was soon shown to the curb of the arena, replaced for the rest of the Hunger Games franchise by Francis Lawrence, the utterly competent, completely bland Austrian director behind such “literary” adaptations as I Am Legend and Water for Elephants.

Both those movies are clean, safe, dull bits of hackery that manage to make beautiful people such as Will Smith and Robert Pattinson look good while enduring unimaginably horrific situations like a vampire-zombie apocalypse or having to touch Reese Witherspoon.

That makes Lawrence a perfect fit for what The Hunger Games franchise needed to become: A Series of Unfortunate (But Exciting!) Events Happening to Really Good-Looking People. After all, what are the film versions of Suzanne Collins’ YA novels (often praised as better written than the Twilight series — which is like saying leprosy is better than Ebola because it takes longer for all your parts to fall off) but studies in aggressively un-self-aware irony?

Here’s a franchise about the horrors of young people being forced to fight to the death, and we are all flocking to see it because we really do want to watch young people fight to the death.

(Albeit, off-camera — The Hunger Games movies rarely show violent on-screen deaths because, well there’s that lucrative PG-13 rating to be preserved, and also death isn’t supposed to be a visceral, shattering event in these films, it’s just a plot device to juice up the real story: Teenagers in love.)

Catching Fire: Jennifer Lawrence & Josh Hutcherson

Since the plot of Catching Fire is for all practical purposes exactly the same as The Hunger Games, when you ask people why they think sequel is superior to the first film a lot of them will tell you, “the action scenes are better.” There you have it.

We load up the kids in the car, hump it out to the Cineplex, plop down our cash, and watch a bunch of attractive young actors prance around in fancy flaming clothes and then slip into future-sexy wetsuits to try and kill each other. And then, when the popcorn bucket is down to the kernels and the Icee sugar-buzz has worn off, we get back in the car and wring our hands all the way home about the “fictional” tragedy of young people being forced to kill each other for the entertainment of lazy, oblivious elites, and how terrible it is that all that sanctioned slaughter keeps getting in the way of Katniss finding True Love with the Right Guy.

By the way, can someone explain to me, without using the phrase “because they’re totes in love,” exactly why Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are locked into this pointless, dysfunctional, delusional, down-right psychotic martyr-fest in which all either seems to want from the relationship is to sacrifice their life to save the other for no good reason?

Catching-fire: Peeta Katniss

What I love most about the character of Peeta in the books and now the films is what an obviously horrible mistake he was. Collins clearly felt she had to have a love triangle in her little dystopia dosey doe, but you can almost hear her, by the end of the first book, thinking, “Oh ffs, what have I done? This dead-weight Peeta character is more useless than a slab of processed and flash-frozen McRib meat. I wonder if I can have him be eaten by a T-rex at the start of the next book?”

Not that Katniss is much better. Sure we all love Jennifer Lawrence, she of the now-a-little-too-calculated “honesty” on the press tours — there’s no doubt she’s a genuine acting talent.

But Katniss is little more than a dead-eyed lump of whining myopia.  She wants to protect her sister and shoot wildlife, not necessarily in that order. She has no larger vision of society, no desire to help overthrow the Capitol, and certainly no real romantic interest in either Peeta or Gale (Liam Hemsworth).

Catching Fire: Josh Hutcherson & Jennifer Lawrence

She’s praised as being a more active, independent heroine than say Bella Swan in Twilight, but Katniss has be literally be dragged kicking and screaming into doing anything proactive. (And those who have read all three of Collins novels know that when all is said and done, her emotional fate is… well, we’ll just have to see how the film version gussies it up for feel-good consumption.)

Not that all that makes Katniss a bad literary heroine — she’s anti-social and dark and more than a little damaged, even dead inside. That’s all good stuff for a complex character, but of course it’s not the right stuff for a teen movie franchise. As a result, with both Katniss and the larger rebellion she’s reluctantly sucked into, The Hunger Games movies end up struggling with deeper, more complicated themes than they can neatly package for a mainstream franchise audience.

Catching Fire: Donald Sutherland

The movies don’t just do a disservice to the notions of a flawed and unreliable protagonist and desperate social inequality and political oppression, but in glossing over them and re-branding them for mass consumption, corrupt those elements, distorting them into part of the very problems they were supposed to be exposing.

The next two Mockingjay films (yes, of course they’re splitting the last book in half — money, money, money…) will give us ample opportunity to discuss The Hunger Games’ take on actual revolution later, so for now let’s look at a much smaller, more trivial, and therefore more insidious example.

Katniss is a poacher from the impoverished coal-mining District 12 (not far from West By God Virginia). She and her family wear hand-crafted clothes, use the whole buffalo, struggle and scrape to survive. But of course thanks to the Hunger Games, Katniss ends up in the Capitol with its filthy rich Fellini-esque cast of neon-pastel-damaged fashion victims, represented front and flighty center by Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket, a chittery Versailles explosion of powdered-wig style over substance.

Catching Fire: Liam Hemsworth

Ross’ first film had no great love for that garish Capitol fashion, glaring at it with a squinted, disgusted eye that echoed Katniss’ contempt. That, of course, simply will not do.

For Catching Fire, Lionsgate Studio signed promotional deals with Covergirl and the luxury designer Net-a-Porter to produce a line of Capitol- and Hunger Games-inspired make up and clothing. Yes, stop for a moment and soak in the crass obliviousness.

That right there, as we say in football, is your dagger. Game over. Jig up. Once the studio signed those deals, it officially punted away any pretense of these films being about what they pretend to be about. They are not about how a desperate, clawing fight to overthrow an inhumane, decadent dictatorship destroys lives and souls; they are about selling to teenagers (and grownup teenagers) the dream of being part of an inhumane, decadent dictatorship; joining the ultimate “in crowd.”

Catching Fire: Stanley Tucci & Jennifer Lawrence

Take for example what many are calling Catching Fire’s “best moment”: When Katniss and her head stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) sabotage the Games’ tyrannical propaganda by having her appear on a promotional TV show in a white faux wedding dress that twirls and burns into a coal-black mockingjay piece, complete with spread wings of freedom. (Katniss’ mockingjay pin has become the rallying symbol of the growing uprising.)

The idea in the book is that Cinna and Katniss use style as subversion, sending their message out by way of the Capitol’s most effective media: fashion and television.

But in the film Catching Fire, the moment becomes not about Katniss on stage as The Dark Angel of Death, but a visual treat: How Pretty Katniss/Lawrence Looks in an Gorgeous Dress. The revolution gets lost on the red carpet, swallowed up and defeated by the shallow impulses it’s supposed to be exploiting.

So does the entire film and the franchise. I say let it all burn.

See Peterseim’s review of the first in the series:
The Hunger Games: How a Real Film Emerged from the Deadly Arena of Young-Adult Movie Franchises

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About the author

Locke Peterseim writes the Hammer and Thump film blog at Open Letters Monthly, an online arts and literature magazine. A film critic whose work has appeared on Redbox, WGN Radio, and in the Magill’s Cinema Annual, he also serves on the board of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

These days he still enjoys films on their artistic and entertainment merits, but also finds himself as much if not more interested in them as cultural mirrors; artifacts of how we want to see ourselves–and how mainstream studios want to sell those desires back to us.

A few of his other reviews:

  1. Ender’s Game: Playing at Shock and Awe
  2. Transformers 4 is the Greatest Film Ever Made About 21st Century America
  3. 300: Rise of an Empire: The Half-Truths and Bloody Fog of Cartoon War
  4. The Wolf of Wall Street: What’s So Funny About Greed, Ludes, and Unchecked Capitalism?
  5. The Hunger Games: How a Real Film Emerged from the Deadly Arena of Young-Adult Movie Franchises

For More Information

(a)  Another interesting review: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” by Jonathan McCalmont, VideoVista, March 2014

(b)  See all posts about:

  1. Book and film reviews
  2. Art, myth, and literature

(c)  About films:

  1. Does the Tea Party movement remind you of the movie “Meet John Doe”? , 27 January 2010
  2. About the movie “Fight Club”, 28 March 2010
  3. Robocop is not a good role model for the youth of Detroit, 12 March 2011
  4. We want heroes, not leaders. When that changes it will become possible to reform America., 11 January 2013
  5. Loki helps us to see our true selves, 15 May 2013
  6. My movie recommendation for 2010: Vitual JFK (the book is also great), 30 June 2013
  7. Hollywood’s dream machine gives us the Leader we yearn for, 30 June 2013
  8. Rollerball shows us one aspect of America, and a possible future, 13 August 2013
  9. In “Network”, Howard Beale asks us to get mad and do something. He’s still waiting., 19 October 2013
  10. Are our film heroes leading us to the future, or signaling despair?, 28 October 2013
  11. “Ender’s Game” is a horror movie, showing us our dark side. No worries; we’ll forget faster than we eat the popcorn., 2 November 2013
  12. We love “Transformers: Age of Extinction” because it shows us what we don’t want to see (Spoilers!), 5 July 2014

The Trailer

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14 thoughts on ““The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” asks if you want a Revolution

  1. “[T]hey are about selling to teenagers (and grownup teenagers) the dream of being part of an inhumane, decadent dictatorship; joining the ultimate ‘in crowd.’”

    Laura Miller said something similar about the books in The New Yorker four years ago, which explained why they don’t make sense from the standpoint of adult views of dystopia. Here’s the some of I quoted in my blog post about The Hunger Games and Divergent earlier this year.

    “‘The Hunger Games’ could be taken as an indictment of reality TV, but only someone insensitive to the emotional tenor of the story could regard social criticism as the real point of Collins’s novel. “The Hunger Games” is not an argument. It operates like a fable or a myth, a story in which outlandish and extravagant figures and events serve as conduits for universal experiences. Dystopian fiction may be the only genre written for children that’s routinely less didactic than its adult counterpart. It’s not about persuading the reader to stop something terrible from happening—it’s about what’s happening, right this minute, in the stormy psyche of the adolescent reader. “The success of ‘Uglies,’ ” Westerfeld once wrote in his blog, “is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia.”

    If…you consider the games as a fever-dream allegory of the adolescent social experience, they become perfectly intelligible. Adults dump teen-agers into the viper pit of high school, spouting a lot of sentimental drivel about what a wonderful stage of life it’s supposed to be. The rules are arbitrary, unfathomable, and subject to sudden change. A brutal social hierarchy prevails, with the rich, the good-looking, and the athletic lording their advantages over everyone else. To survive you have to be totally fake. Adults don’t seem to understand how high the stakes are; your whole life could be over, and they act like it’s just some “phase”! Everyone’s always watching you, scrutinizing your clothes or your friends and obsessing over whether you’re having sex or taking drugs or getting good enough grades, but no one cares who you really are or how you really feel about anything.”

    http://crazyeddiethemotie.blogspot.com/2014/03/divergent-and-other-teen-dystopias.html

    1. Isn’t it interesting, though, that teenage dystopian fiction has emerged as such an oeuvre in recent years? Granted, it’s been nearly thirty years since I was a teenager but my memory is generally reckoned to be well above average — and I don’t recall seeing anything remotely like this when I was a teenager back in the 80’s. After all, we faced many of the very same issues — social hierarchy, arbitrary rules, the sensation of being under constant scrutiny, the fear of being marginalized for superficial reasons, the pressure to conform against our inclination (although in all fairness, most of us didn’t face the threat of school shootings unless we were living in the inner city and none of us had to deal with the possibility of something such as a sexual assault being filmed with a mobile phone camera and posted online).

      If it is true (as FM frequently and convincingly suggests) that the myths and fables of any given culture say something about who the people who live there are and what they are like — as well as representing a kind of wish-fulfillment in that our stories frequently represent what we want to happen instead of what has happened, is happening, or is likely to happen — then the rising popularity of dystopian fiction would seem to suggest that a lot of young people in this country don’t perceive as much reason to hope for the future as we did when I was a teenager — and I’m saying this as someone who attended high school during the Reagan administration when Russia was the “Evil Empire”, when our ultimate fear was an all-out nuclear war resulting in the functional if not total annihilation of human civilization (whether or not that was actually likely to happen). As much as I hate to point this out, when I see a country in which it is increasingly apparent that there are two sets of rules — one for the wealthy and a much stricter one for everyone else — and in which each succeeding generation now seems forced to set its sights a little lower than the one which preceded it (since college graduates are no longer assured of being able to find jobs which pay enough to live on and which justify their increasingly expensive educations), I find myself thinking that perhaps I had the better part of the deal. Which fate would really be worse, I wonder…to be potentially robbed of a future by a hydrogen bomb or to live in the face of growing evidence suggesting that your generation in this so-called “land of opportunity” will not be able to aspire to a better life like your parents did?

    2. Bluestocking,

      “then the rising popularity of dystopian fiction would seem to suggest that a lot of young people in this country don’t perceive as much reason to hope for the future as we did when I was a teenager”

      That’s a powerful and interesting observation. Why is this happening? What does it mean? Young adult fiction was usually quite optimistic.

  2. For yet another critical review see: “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” by Jonathan McCalmont, VideoVista, March 2014

    The viewpoint is a bit different from the aforementioned reviews, but complements them. Thus:

    “The reason that people respond to works like The Hunger Games is the same reason they cower in the shadow of their parents and feel empowered by mass-market therapy sessions written for a teen demographic: we are subject to a culture that encourages us to view ourselves as creatures that are as passive and as powerless as children.”

    1. I tried to read the first book after it was recommended to me (before the movies). Found it really creepy in a child-abuse kind of way and didn’t enjoy it or finish it.

  3. I found a review essay that contrasted Hunger Games and Harry Potter to be enlightening. It is behind a pay-wall, so I shall quote at length:

    The moral universe of Harry Potter might best be summed up by a quote from the movie version of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. In that movie, one of the characters say that some believe “it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I’ve found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness, and love.”

    Harry Potter repeatedly echoes this theme, contrasting the acts of love between friends with the ineptitude of the state. It’s not only Voldemort’s desire for dominance and immortality that gives power a bad name; it’s also the way people in authority hinder or fight the good that the main characters are trying to do. From beginning to end the Ministry of Magic—the political authority in the wizarding world—stands in the way of the good guys, first by denying that Lord Voldemort—presumed dead at the start of the series—could come back, then by placing a tyrannical bureaucrat in charge of the school in which much of the series takes place, then by responding overzealously and ineffectively to Voldemort’s return, and finally by capitulating to Voldemort. All the good that is done in the series, all the important victories against evil, are won in spite of the bumbling Ministry.

    The political system is broken in Harry Potter, and only by working as renegades outside it can our heroes ultimately save it. But revolution or rebellion is never seriously considered; the state isn’t the enemy to be fought as much as it is an impediment to achieving righteous goals. Despite the obstacles the Ministry puts up throughout the series, Voldemort is from first to last the real enemy and in fighting him the characters are on their own. Once they realize the government won’t help them, what Harry and his friends want is for adults in power to get out of their way.

    Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the Potter series, shows this perfectly: Harry and his friends form a group to train themselves in magical self-defense, and the Ministry comes to believe that this group is a kind of revolutionary force that aims to overthrow it. But the group was precisely the opposite: a society in which Hogwarts students could learn the skills they need to defeat the evil loose in the world, since the state refused to teach them. The group is an attempt to make up for the state failing in its educational duties. It’s the extra-political acts of loyalty, friendship and love—filling in for the absent state—that motivates the students, not political revolution…..

    In the end, Harry Potter dispatched its villain in a way that coheres with the general moral sense of the book: in a duel, without the good guy ever once having uttered the usual spell that wizards use to kill each other. Years later, we are treated to an epilogue in which Harry and his friends are living comfortable, normal lives, and all seems to be well in the Wizarding world.

    With the Hunger Games, we’re in a much darker and more complicated universe. Harry Potter features scenes of torture and death, but in the Hunger Games the violence has systematic, state backing from beginning to end. The state isn’t just hidebound and inefficient; rather, it’s the very actor that sets up and sustains structures of violence (the eponymous “hunger games,” deadly contests in which children are forced to fight to the death in order to remind defeated rebels of the government’s power).

    We might say that in Harry Potter, socio-political authority in the hands of officious bureaucrats is often represented as a distraction. There is a kind of disillusionment with authoritative institutions, but not a very intense one. We are given hope in Harry Potter that a good government is possible after Voldemort is defeated. But in the Hunger Games, the state is the enemy; it needs to be destroyed, not ignored or fixed. As characters throughout Catching Fire repeatedly tell the heroine: “Remember who the real enemy is.”

    In the larger context of the series, the real enemy isn’t just one particular tyrant, but political authority in general. Near the end of the third book, a group of rebels determined to overthrow the government responsible for the hunger games fight their way to the capital. As they engage in the final pitched battle for control of the city, Katniss witnesses a plane bomb a group of children who have been placed around the presidential palace as a human shield. When the bombing stops, several first responders rush to the area to tend to the wounded. And then the plane drops a second load of bombs on them. In the military realm, this is a tactic known as “double-tap bombing”, and many claim the United States has engaged in it during the course of the drone war. Whether true or not, mere reports of that could undermine some Americans’ belief in their own institutions.

    Katniss comes to believe that the rebel leader (President Coin) ordered these bombings. At the very end of the third book in the series, after the rebels have emerged victorious and Coin put in power, Coin orders Katniss to kill the defeated tyrant in a public, state-sponsored execution. Instead, disgusted by the bombings, she kills the leader of the rebel party. The ultimate fate of the society is never really made clear, and we are left with a sense of unease as Katniss tries to pick up the shattered pieces of her life.

    It’s one thing for Ronald Reagan to quip, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” This is the sentiment often embodied in the Harry Potter series, even if Rowling does occasionally venture into darker territory. It’s quite another when the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street and other populist movements express what in certain cases can only be described as rage both toward the dominant political-economic system and to the failure of their movements to achieve any of their real goals.

    Peter Blair, “Remember Who the Real Enemy Is,” The American Interest (December 2013).

  4. From an artistic stand point, I afraid I would have to agree with the above critique. In today’s society capitalism has gotten in the way of generating quality works of art; as the artist has been transformed from a dedicated diligent craftsman, into a regurgitating printer who’s works are vomited up in short amounts of time to ensure the greatest possible profit.

    However, if one were to view this story from a political perspective I have trouble seeing the FM complaint.

    Young girl sacrifices herself (perhaps foolishly) for younger sibling, then stands up against the all oppressive government which sparks some type of revolution in the impoverished districts.

    The theme seems to carry the antithesis of many of the issues with citizens in this country this site so frequently addresses?

    So other then not being very well thought out, and a product of Hollywood and therefore highly exaggerated and idealized; I think its popularity a promising show of peoples dissatisfaction with the ideas presented.

    Or they just like the coliseum style killing…

    1. I realize it is a gust post (we are none of us as clairvoyant as FM, but we aren’t all daft :) perhaps I was jumping of a cliff in my assumption that FM agreed with what was written?

      On this same road (a recurring confusion with FM opinion) I will make another assumption (or cliff dive). I began visiting this site to explore modern day political dialogue, and though you have offered me great insights on how to deal with this, I am left feeling as if military peoples don’t form opinions but rather report information? I need (fictional) you to form opinions, would I be out of line in this creation?

    2. kannet,

      (1) “perhaps I was jumping of a cliff in my assumption that FM agreed with what was written?”

      Most of it is fascinating imo, but not anything I’m competent to evaluate. I agree with the author’s evaluation of the characters Peta and Katniss.

      (2) “I am left feeling as if military peoples”

      I’ve never served in the military.

      (3) “don’t form opinions but rather report information? I need (fictional) you to form opinions”

      That’s an acute observation. The Internet is awash with people spitting out opinions. Why would anyone care? My observations suggest that shooting out opinions into the Internet provides a few with fodder for their confirmation bias engines, and some with bland entertainment. Life is too short for such work.

      I give data and analysis. Mostly structured arrays of data forming pictures, in hope that readers will form conclusions. So far as I can tell, that’s a vain hope.

      I also give recommendations. As in the series Reforming America: steps to political change. And the posts about our wars, our torture, and climate change.

  5. The popularity of both the “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” series is somewhat ironic to say the least considering the fact that both are about a nation of people (eventually) taking on its brutal and dictatorial government and winning…and yet very little of that spirit is being applied to our own situation. We’re allowing a system which is gradually becoming more and more like Panem’s Capitol — already very shallow, already very greedy, slowly growing more inhumane, slowly growing more brutal (although mostly overseas at present), and showing hints here and there of potential tyranny in future — present a story like this as entertainment (which you can argue is a distraction from the problems at hand).

    That being said, if we go further and extrapolate Panem into an allegory for the planet, it’s not too hard at all to see who the Capitol really is. The Capitol is the United States, because we only make up 5% of the world’s population but consume as much as 30% of its resources. The majority of Americans have little or no clue what life is really like for people in most of the rest of the world, where as many as one-third of all human beings survive on the equivalent of less than three dollars a day — at least some of whom at the same time manufacture goods for Western consumption which they will never be able to afford themselves (goods which will probably simply be thrown into the garbage and end up in a landfill somewhere when they are no longer useful). The truth is that even many of the poorest people here live lives of comparative luxury and extravagant waste compared to many poor people in other countries (although given that poor people in this country are beginning to be denied access to something as basic as water, it’s hard to say with absolute certainty that this advantage will last).

    No, we here in the United States do not force children to literally fight to the death for our entertainment — but we do watch a hell of a lot of movies and television programs in which simulated violence is a feature of our entertainment, so much so that it’s estimated the average American child has witnessed over 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders before the age of 18. In this sense, given that “The Hunger Games” features violence and murder, this merely adds another layer of irony — a shallow and materialistic culture which uses simulated acts of violence to entertain itself watching a story in which a shallow and materialistic culture which uses literal acts of violence to entertain itself is portrayed as evil. The only possible reaction to this is…WTF?????????

    The further irony that “The Hunger Games” films were used as inspiration for more than one new series of makeup colors was not lost on me (the author may not be aware that the first film was used to market a new series of nail enamel colors from China Glaze, a cosmetic company less of a recognized name than Cover Girl because it makes nothing other than manicure products). Yes, a lot of Hollywood films are (to my consternation and disgust) used as an excuse to launch new makeup colors — but the fact that glamour and marketing are strictly within the purview of the shallow and bloodthirsty Capitol in that particular universe transforms the irony into a kind of “up yours” gesture (and the tragic part of it is that not only did it go over the heads of most fans of “The Hunger Games”, it probably went over the heads of most the people responsible for it as well).

    However, one of the lessons of “Catching Fire” is that even the people of the Capitol can wake up if they so choose — the decision to reap the tributes for the 75th Hunger Games/Third Quarter Quell from among the previous victors is not accepted with quite the same mindless complacency as before. This is evidenced in the movie by the fact that some of the people in the audience at the interview show are booing instead of applauding, with the result that Caesar is forced to bring his show to an abrupt and clumsy finish. The audience is not booing the tributes, but rather the system which has blatantly broken the promise it made to these people — and who does that sound like?? how many promises have we broken?? — who are admired by people in the Capitol and who are competing against their will. Even Effie Trinket, over the course of the story, evolves from someone who embraces what the Capitol stands for to someone who supports the rebellion against President Snow. People can change if they have sufficient reason to do so.

    1. Bluestocking,

      “and yet very little of that spirit is being applied to our own situation.”

      Peasants often have fantasies of rising up. The Great Day will Come When We Smite Our Oppressors. Just dreams. That’s what makes them peasants.

      When pushed to far they stage wild, poorly organized protests — sometimes even rebellions. Like Occupy Wall Street. That’s what makes them peasants.

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