Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Dilemma of the Hunger Games

The current rage of the Hunger Games (on TV and in book form) is a grim, persuasive version of Suzanne Collin's novel about 24 teenagers who are forced to compete in an annual fight to the death in a projected future of a class society of a few very rich and the mass very poor.

My wife Kristina and I saw the film version Sunday night. We were the only other couple in a large theatre watching a two-hour film. Personally I was troubled by it because of its zero-sum solution by a poverty-striken heroine (Jennifer Lawrence) who struggles to survive in a cruel social order ruled by a wealthy and amoral elite. All but two contestants out of 24 are killed; the two are saved by the redeeming power of love.

Is the Hunger Games a modern version of the gladiators during the Roman Empire? Is it a view of society in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, as characterized to be the 1% and the 99% tally by the Occupy Movement people?

If the answer is 'yes' to the above questions, then we the people of the world (the 99%) must stand up and be counted using moral suasion of wisdom and the creative power of love to change society. The young students in Quebec protesting for free or cheap public education should be supported as heroes. After all, it is the young people who will be our future leaders.

Education is very important to all. Public education should be a human right, not a privilege (otherwise there is a temptation of the free market to place the rich in the drivers seat). This temptation of the stark class conflict needs to be downplayed and a way found nonviolently for all to be beneficaries of the wealth of society.

In our respective parliaments, this means that we need to create a more inclusive governing body representing the wider populous. This means that most world parliaments need major reforms. It also means that the money required for benefiting all would necessitate a change in public spending, including the labelling of militarism and war as a crime against humanity. Probably we will need to  change our priorities drastically!

As we look at the present Conservative government in Canada headed by Stephen Harper, we forsee a lot of reforms. Here is a list:

  1. Change the tone of the discourse from antagonism  to one of cooperation. Get all the elected members to work together as one Parliament. Allow for public debates of issues such as the pipeline. 
  2. Scrap the multibillion dollar F-35 plane purchase and get out of NATO. 
  3. Stop the militarization of our society in favour of a new paradigm of nonkilling, with a innovative  Department  of Peace becoming a major player in peace-making. Remember that Canada's National Defence spending was $21.185 billion in 2009-2010, making Canada's rank 13th highest in the world, and 6th highest among NATO's 28 members, dollar for dollar. This means that Canada's military spending is now higher than it has been in more than 60 years — higher than it was during the Cold War, or indeed any time since the end of the Second World War. This means that the Conservative government's current priorities are for killing rather than for sustainable peace.  
  4. Instead of budget cuts to social programs, bolster the health, the arts, and education and job training capability to provide access to all citizens for an equal opportunity to have good housing, affordable food, a clean environment, innovations in the energy sector, and much more.
What is it that we really want? Are we only interested in entertainment, or do we really desire a drastic change in society? That's the dilemma.

I guess what really bothers me is the violent nature of the Hunger Games. In the film, killing is entertainment for the rich and self-sacrifice for the poor. It sounds and feels like a zero-sum game as I stated above.

Should we recommend this movie to young children? Karyn Gordon, a parenting expert and author, says she wouldn't recommend parents to let their kids see it, regardless of age, because the movie is based on a violent premise. 'When the entire movie...is built around that, I don't think I'd recommend parents to show their kids at all.' (Is the Hunger Games movie too violent for kids?, by Shelly White in The Globe and Mail, March 23, 2012: L4.)

1 comment:

  1. Agreed.
    Hockey especially, and football are also gladiator games for the masses to quench their blood lust.