Published by November 12 2013
Did consumer culture miss the point of The Hunger Games?
The Hunger Games book series is a satire on the entertainment industry and its consumer culture; clothes and make-up in the story can mean the difference between life and death in the arena, and the richest members of Panem flaunt their wealth and organize the youth to fight to the death in a magnificent real-time television experience. The prize? Riches, leisure, and fame for the rest of your days, of course! You just have to look prettier than, and brutally murder, the competition for the entire world to see. Facebook much?
If the critique is about when entertainment becomes dangerous and exploitative, especially when masked in the gaudiest fashions possible, then it also becomes disturbing when the very industry the critique was aimed at is milking The Hunger Games for all its monetary worth.
First of all, the Panem Capitol’s over-the-top and outrageously expensive fashions, while the other districts are drenched in poverty, are being mimicked for sale in America in two dimensions: clothes and make-up. Capitol Couture and CoverGirl’s Capitol Collection make it possible to look like your favorite Capitol character. You know, the ones that the districts fought a war to liberate themselves from? (Spoiler alert!) Katniss’ ability to get sponsors for the 74th and 75th Hunger Games was because of her designer Cinna’s intelligent way of presenting her in a way that would create a striking image. Clothes and make-up are used to make an impression and outwardly express to the world what value the character has on the inside. To a world obsessed with fashion, this made all the difference to her survival.
But Capitol Couture and CoverGirl Capitol Collection aren’t about survival or forwarding a cause. Instead, they are about showmanship and displaying personal fashion to the world, as relation to the newest and most popular book-gone-movie series in a while.
However, the most disturbing of these Hollywood money makers is the rumor that the executive producer of The Hunger Games movies is considering building a theme park. Yes, let’s bring our young men and women, ages twelve to eighteen, to be reaped of their money for a theme park experience that is patterned after a world where those very children would be forced to murder each other for fame, fortune, and entertainment. Yes. I believe this is a brilliant idea!
This has to be the biggest “missing the point” idea I have ever heard.
The book depicts a hatred for a culture of entertainment and consumerism that surrounds children killing each other, but what is truly unnerving is the moment we realize that this book was written for us. We are on the edge of our seats to see how Katniss survives, and our hearts are pounding during the bloody fight scenes. The Hollywood Hunger Games industry aside, we the audience are the Capitol.
So, Capitol, let’s ask the hard question: have we missed the entire point of the novels?