I finally gotten around to watching most of the Hunger Games (I’ve seen up through Mocking Jay Pt 1), and I am perplexed.
I am perplexed by my generation’s capacity for double-think that allows for The Hunger Games to be one of the most popular and iconic science fiction sagas of the decade while at the same time millennials are consistently polled as being one of the most progressive and pro-government generations in the last hundred years.
Dystopian science fiction is one of the most popular genres among young adult readers. The biggest hits today are stories about youth who are suffering under the thumb of an oppressive statist system and rise up against the authoritarian status quo to save the day. But going by what the web-papers are telling me, youth today are ready to line up behind whatever cradle-to-graver they think will give them free-stuff and a safe-space where they don’t have to worry about free speech. How can this be?
Well, take a look at one of the prime and popular examples of double-think today:
-The police are out of control; the racist American police state is murdering young black men in the streets and no one is safe.
-Only police should be allowed to have guns, because they are the only ones responsible enough to have and use them.
But about the Hunger Games…
Now, I can’t say with any certainty what the political leanings were of the Capitol storm troopers who shot that old man in the face in Catching Fire, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t minarchist/libertarian.
Panem in the Hunger Games is explicitly a redistributive state communist system in which the specialized economic output of each district is seized by an authoritarian central government, and what does not go to benefit the ruling political class in the Capitol is redistributed back to the various districts. Everyone outside of the Capitol is hungry, and their labor is not their own. Meanwhile, the Capitol is flush with all of the resources that it has charged itself with redistributing. The ruling class and working class are hopelessly disconnected, and everyone in the Capitol is part of the machinery of this non-voluntary redistribution of labor and resources, the Beating Heart, as President Snow describes it.
I really wish I could see some sort of political Venn diagram of Hunger Games fans, because I may just be talking out of my ass here. But you’d think that a generation obsessed with stories about how youth fight against totalitarian regimes would not also be the ones clamoring for statism. Then again, back in my punk rock days, I was around plenty of folks who thought that Anarchy meant “The government gives me free stuff while no one arrests me for destruction of private property”.
If anything, the message of the Hunger Games is that it’s time to burn Washington to the ground and string up the political ruling class. No more redistribution of the Districts’ Labor! No more politicians getting wealthy off the backs of private citizens! No more fear of speaking one’s mind lest political hacks and apparatchiks destroy you! No more playing regional political and economic interests against one another (as embodied in the games themselves) to keep them subservient to a vampiric Federal government!
I’m not saying that folks should be willing to rise up and give their lives to violently throw off the yoke of an all-powerful oppressive government, but I get the impression that Suzanne Collins is!