I’ve had this post in the back of my mind for years now. But this week’s mid-terms have brought it to the forefront of my thinking.
There are very few movie experiences I’ve had in my life that rival the first time I watched The Hunger Games. So much of my reaction was due to where I was at the time and how, frankly, shitty my life was then.
It ranks for me right up there with seeing the Death Star blow up (age 10), to being rendered speechless for an hour after watching Full Metal Jacket (age 19) to sobbing uncontrollably for 40 minutes after a midnight showing of Schindler’s List (age 25).
I watched The Hunger Games for the first time while flat on my back broke in late 2012 by myself in the post-midnight dark, metaphorically and physically.
For 2+ hours I sat there in horror clutching a pillow because all I could see was my daughter needing a protector and knowing at that moment I wasn’t that person.
But as raw as my reaction to it was that night, it was the exact thing I needed at that moment to pick myself and keep going.
So, the cynics in the audience can forgive me if they think me an old softy for falling so hard for a piece of what I can honestly look at as thinly-conceived allegory.
Sometimes timing is everything.
When I put my economist’s hat back on, Suzanne Collins’ world is not well thought out. It doesn’t hold up to deep scrutiny. Most stories like this don’t and, honestly, they aren’t supposed to.
As a writer, however, I’m still bowled over with her daring to write the books in first-person, present tense. Between a story metaphorically so very true and this bit of technical prowess I have nothing but immense respect, one professional to another.
But as allegory, especially political allegory, The Hunger Games is uniquely powerful, addressing the fundamental evil of our society using our children as emotional blackmail to coerce our compliance to a system that is truly monstrous.
And this brings me to the mid-term elections.
This is our biannual Hunger Games and we all volunteer to be Tributes thinking our votes can change the system, rather than simply reinforce it by participating, even if only vicariously.
Now that the steal is in full swing and the Senate falling to the Democrats, they will run the table on their full agenda — end the filibuster, pack the court, UBI, Climate Change, on-demand abortions of 7-day old babies and gun control.
But the steal, which is real, is also equally supported by a broken and traumatized population so gaslit into believing things which are simply not true that it is easy to mask what’s happening.
This gaslighting has rendered our threat detectors so hyperactive that they’ve been honed razor sharp.
And on this knife edge rests all of our political calculus.
We’re now dealing with people supporting the Democrats because “they can’t even…” bring themselves to vote for Republicans over the ungrounded fear that one step back from the Progressive madness of Critical Rage Theory and/or pushing back against the normalization of child sexualization is tantamount to embracing Nazism.
But, sadly, this is where we are.
To the true believers, we still haven’t gone far enough. But, they aren’t enough to move the needle as far as it did to give the Democrats a chance this election cycle.
What should scare you more is the ones in the middle, the so-called independents. Their fear has them cowed into abdicating their civil responsibility by prioritizing decadence over protecting their children.
In an environment this stressful too many have chosen fear of backsliding even an inch because that may lead to an over-correction.
The fear over Roe v. Wade going away has too many people immediately thinking all abortions will be banned everywhere, when that’s simply not happened nor will it.
Their arguments have devolved into allowing drag queens to twerk in a ball sack in front of eight-year-olds on the public dime lest one gay guy get harassed in a bar in rural Texas.
It is perverse in the extreme.
And that brings me back to The Hunger Games.
The punishment for the violence of the past was an original sin never to be wiped clean. The outlying districts sacrifice their children to reinforce the Capitol’s control.
All capital is sucked into The Capitol draining the Districts of not only their vitality but their dignity through the ritualistic humiliation of thinking one of them has a chance at winning the annual event.
But the districts farthest from The Capitol never win. It’s a once-in-a-generation event. Here Collins gets the economics of fiat currency correct. Those closest to the money printing get the lion’s share of the spoils.
And this ritualistic theft fuels a contempt for the unwashed as real as the deaths in the arena and a sympathy for them as fake as the capital which supports their empty lives. The decadence of The Capitol is a reflection of the giant wealth vacuum the entire society is designed around.
Which brings me back to the mid-terms.
With each election cycle the disparity between the rural and the urban centers grows wider. But it’s not just a disparity of ‘capital’ or wealth. It’s a disparity of morality.
Those in the cities voting for more funds from the public till believe they are entitled, ultimately, to the Tribute from the rural areas. But, without those rural communities producing the food and energy there is no urban center.
There are no gay rights or abortion debates.
There’s just the jungle.
And that’s what really drives the fear of the urbanites who voted blue even though they tell themselves red is even worse. They know that letting their collective boot off the neck of those they’ve tyrannized through the fake power of a corrupt democratic process leads to a future without them.
So, they expect everyone to show up for work, pay Tribute to the Capitol and shut their deplorable mouth-breathing pie-holes while they deny they’re stealing your voice, a voice you aren’t entitled to because well, they’re your betters.
Or, at least, that’s what I keep hearing on Twitter.
And that’s why Katniss’ story is our story, the example of one girl strong enough to understand the rules of the game so intuitively that when their fake story of a fake romance for a fake catharsis to feed the emotional infancy of a bunch of entitled fakers plays out to its Shakespearean end…
… the Capitol blinks and the illusion of its control falls away. And everyone knows it, fueling an anger, long seething which soon catches fire. I warned everyone don’t turn the silent majority into The Fremen.
Now there’s no turning back from it happening.
And I don’t think the odds will be in favor of the real enemies of the people.
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Great article Tom! Wisdom speaks…not only to the flesh but also, the spiritual side in your writings. Thank you and God Bless
I must be on a different planet. I have no clue what Hunger Games has to do with today’s world and I never did understand Dune or Fremen a year ago. All I see is Bizarro World where down is up and up is down. Right is wrong and wrong is right. And most importantly, good is evil and evil is good. What good is a market report in this world where there are no markets, free or fair, only manipulation by dark forces who have sold their souls to the devil in order to build their power centers in their utopian dreamworld?
I once had a very good boss, not the corporate politicking type, but the rarer type who gave employees truth, transparency and a clear set of goals and objectives. When a colleague of mine came to work one day and declared that his wife had just given birth to a son, this supervisor said: “Now we have you!”. There is so much conveyed in those 4 words I don’t even know where to begin to start unpacking the significance, but they are the basis of Tom’s Hunger Games allegory.
What I found interesting about Tom’s post is that assuming the responsibility for a child (as opposed to just having one) and a family is probably the most primordial moderating force a society can experience. My above-mentioned boss, understood that he would have to do absolutely nothing out of the ordinary to secure my colleague’s loyalty, the child did that.
Given that natural propensity, I am surprised that this generation’s crop of Western leaders seems to be working against this moderating force. And it raises several questions about the trajectories of societies with:
1] Many childless males
2] Many childless couples
3] Couples with only one child
4] Single parent families
5] Delaying having children until mid-thirties
My guess is that the phenomenon has a lot to do with the slow disintegration of the fabric of Western society. No doubt that might offer some short-term gains, but it will be interesting to see the G7/WEF leaders try to enforce a system of global governance without cohesive industrialized societies.
If de-industrialization was the key to power, Stalin & Mao would not have killed millions trying to industrialize. If diversity were indeed a strength, Hitler would never have put millions of civil servants in uniform.
Everything the West is now doing seems to be running contrary to historical reality and human nature. (sigh)
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