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Is "The Hunger Games" Anti-Capitalist Cinema for the 99%? Or Anti-Gov't Agit-Prop?

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by Anthony Kaufman
March 16, 2012 9:58 AM
4 Comments
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While I'm loathe to promote a pop cultural event such as "The Hunger Games," it'll be interesting to see where the culture wars take positions on the new teen fantasy franchise, which according to early reviews, is going to be seen by lots and lots and lots of people. I'm not familiar with the books, and my only interest in the film is its politics, not its entertainment value, but the very premise suggests an attack on much of what our infantile culture worships: reality TV, celebrity, fame and material wealth. And sure, this baby is all about making money for studio Lionsgate and the other investors in the film, but I do believe it is possible--though rare--for a corporate film to have its capitalistic cake and choke on it, too. See "V For Vendetta" or "FIght Club."

Early reviews suggest that the film is inherently political--another example, perhaps, of mainstream cinema with themes that might resonate with the Occupy Wall Street movement. One blogger sees "several inherent criticisms of the world we live in; most clearly, of capitalism, and using people in other countries to do labour for us to support our lifestyle, and of the media, using violence as entertainment."

As a contributor to the liberal website Daily Kos notes, the books include the explicit "theme of class warfare and imperialism.... Throw in media control, massive government spying, police state, and the exploitation of the periphery districts by the Capitol district and the themes of this modern novel should provide more than enough material for a discussion of the problems of modern society."

I could also see this content interpreted as anti-government. You can easily hear the argument that the evil central Capitol and its nefarious President are indicative of the problems we face when the government gets too much power.

Now I'm sure all this stuff is pretty watered down--the movie is, after all, made by the team behind "Seabiscuit." As Variety's Justin Chang writes, "Any real sense of risk has been carefully ironed out: The PG-13 rating that ensures the film's suitability for its target audience also blunts the impact of the teen-on-teen bloodshed."

Chang isn't all that confident in the film's ability to make a statement, either. "The questions raised here, regarding the morality of violence as entertainment and the brutality of pitting children against each other, have been addressed before, and to more potent effect, in films like 'Series 7: The Contenders' and the shockingly violent Japanese actioner 'Battle Royale.'"

But just wait until the Fox News team gets a hold of it. It will surely be politicized to no end.

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4 Comments

  • Diana Takata | March 27, 2012 7:44 PMReply

    For additional socio-economic and cultural perspective, I recommend reading DR Thompson's blog post from nextPix ...

    http://solpixblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/the-hunger-games/

  • LaMorte | March 25, 2012 1:35 AMReply

    Go on amazon right now-- almost every book on the Revolutionary War and founders is selling out. If this movie helps to wake up more people to the dangers we face-- then bring on the sequels. We are on the edge of this reality with NDAA, Patriot Act, TSA, Homeland Security, to name just a few nudges toward the cliff. This film (book) series is 1984, the Handmaid's Tale, and Brave New World for the Facebook generation.

  • Anti-what? | March 20, 2012 3:42 PMReply

    What tragedies occur that weren't a result of government oppression? Your blogger is clearly blinded by bias. In the Hunger Games it was not capitalism making people work in other countries, but the Capital (government). It was the Capital who constantly destroyed empathy and stifled freedom. The only capitalism that occurred was when they traded at the Hob, which was illegal. The story is clearly and obviously anti-state and anti-war throughout.

  • moses ssozi | March 17, 2012 10:26 AMReply

    M N FILMS AFRICA

    mosessozi@yahoo.com

    Tel: +256774012779

    Dear sir / Madam

    Am called Ssozi Moses from an African country called Uganda, am film director, actor, editor, story maker etc, So far I have directed five films which is on market now and acted in them as film a star,and others just as a actor, I was on the net searching for friends who deals in films and wanted to get more ideas and of course I want to start a school in Uganda for film making ,

    And because Uganda is good country and many youth and older people wants acting in film but they just need education and help to produce good film and my self want to put my country on the map by acting films and showing things happening in my country.

    These films we made are still in our local language which is luganda and soon will start using international language,

    I will be happy if u put my points into consideration thanks

    NB my film clips are in on face book and YouTube,

    These are the titles of my films

    SIDE DISH

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    M N FILMS AFRICA

    +256774012779

    mosessozi@yahoo.com

    Kampala Uganda

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