The extremely popular action/drama Hunger Games is yet another depiction of a Dystopian society in which the working class revolts against the ruling elite. A la “V for Vendetta” an old white man is penned as the enemy– serving as the symbol of a patriarchal dominant society being ruled without balance.
Although, it would appear your typical underdog narrative, I will examine the story from a cynical eye, and perhaps the story isn’t so much what it is presumed to be.
Enter the Mockingjay. The pervading symbol and theme of the plebeian throughout the film. It is the representative of freedom, choice, and harmony– for the Mocking jay sings in harmonious unison with its peers.
But is freedom truly what they are fighting for?
Or is it simply the lesser of two evils that they are fighting for?
A duality is presented in the film. Dualities always provide a unique phenomenon to the human experience because on some level the mind automatically antagonizes the two sides against each other. The conscious mind would assume that they are opposing sides just because the two are juxtaposed. Yet these “opposing sides” within the film are more alike than dissimilar.
The phrase “Anyone can be replaced” is uttered by a prominent character within the plebeian hierarchy–Plutarch Heavensbee. This phrase alone implicates so much. It informs the viewer that we too are a machine and every cog in the machine is disposable and replaceable. Just because we are rebelling against a corrupt system we too are a system. We too have power that we will exercise and infringe upon the individual one way or another.
Thus, the outer shell of each system of rule may be slightly different, but the brain inside the monsters are eerily similar. The brain of the current system is headed by President Snow– who represents the patriarchal dominant elite. The brain of the system seeking to usurp the current system is Plutarch Heavensbee– which coincidence enough was once a prominent figure within the old system. They both use similar tactics and have similar mindsets. They both are obsessed with Katniss and want to use her as a means to further their cause. They both are heavy into using images as a means to manipulating public opinion. They both understand the strength Of symbols and use them to further their cause.
They both realize the power of the superficial — the show and showmanship if you will, and what affect it has on the human psyche: presentation is everything. What happens on the surface inspires that which is below. As above so below is the principle that is utilized much throughout the film. Both sides seek to destroy the superficial in aims of securing what’s underneath, and this is done through the many psychological and emotional ploys used during the film.
Fear seemed to be the most prominent control mechanism used during the film. Both sides utilized it. The ruling party used fear to secure and maintain the status quo and to dissuade the rebellious. The rebels used fear to inspire said rebellion and to make “a statement” in the face of the ruling party.
An interesting point that the film highlighted were the challenges of detaching from the comfort of the norm and starting over–leaving all the comfort and amenities to start fresh and with nothing. The personal greed of the individual provides the foundation of class structured societies. Nobody wants to “lose” what they have in order to help the next man. They would much rather sacrifice the next man for their own sustainability. This transitionary period creates the most disdain. The period between leaving the old and beginning again is the hardship many do not want to bare. This can be paralleled with any class structured society, because the capturers provide enough reason for the captured to love being captive.
It is interesting enough that the rebels are quelling one system of bureaucracy to replace it with another. Propaganda is a strong tool utilized by both sides. Strict edicts are an effective tool utilized by both sides. Minus the hope and justified inspiration is one side anymore right? Ironically enough with the nature of power and the nature of systems the ultimate outcome will have an inevitable end.
The axiom that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely may always hold true when leadership is held by the unrighteous. The same class structures will persist. The same inequalities will find themselves manifesting and the monster simply will be rebirthing herself anew!
The monster will have a new exterior but the core makeup of the monster of the system has not changed at all. As above so below, and she will inevitably show her true nature.
So the question remains: how do we attain true freedom?
Or is this a natural order of things? For man to destroy themselves in a cyclical manner. Man grows too big, man knocks itself down, man grows too big and the cycle continues. Is this just some sort of balance or natural order we innately maintain to keep some semblance of order upon the planet. We “can’t” be too big in a sense and the conquering spirit of man will not allow us to be too small either.
This film leaves me with more questions than answers. It does examine the pitfalls of big government. It is more than apparent that in order for a large government to work the freedoms of the majority must be sacrificed. And to trade freedoms for comforts is not what a true individual wants, but I can understand why very few choose to leave the comfort of passivity.
One thing for sure is that this film awakens a rebellious seed within all of us. It may never be brought to fruition for the majority of onlookers, but the fact that this film is grossly popular is proof that it does indeed exist.