Their Beautiful Disaster

Along time ago I read The Hunger Games, okay maybe it was only a handful of years, but it has been awhile, and as the time has stretched on, a couple of things still get repeatedly questioned in my head where it comes to the series. How did the world go from what we all know it to be today, to what Suzanne Collins posited would happen some odd several hundred years from now? We’re all hopefully aware that the earth as we know it is ever-changing, be it geologically, and climate wise– even within the last 50 years the earth’s temperature has increased by 1.5 degrees, which to a layman means very little, but to sea levels, crop growth, arctic animals, and the global water-table, it means a great deal. Panem isn’t a far-fetched idea, I hope we’ve all come to grips with that, and are able to discern that even though it’s a work of fiction it is inspired by us– and that is a warning. What made Panem possible though couldn’t just be the downward spiral of humanity, no– natural disaster obviously had to play a role.

I live in a world that’s surrounded by volcanoes, no– I do not live in Italy, Hawaii, or Iceland– I live in the Pacific north-west (don’t come stalk me, I’m really boring). So when natural disasters are veiled to be part of the reason the world as we know it crumbles, and Panem is a country that rises up from the proverbial ashes, the idea’s frankly not all that strange to me, because I can see two active volcanoes on most days of the week, and know that the metro area I live in is due for a monster sized earthquake that will flatten everything that I know. Is this what happened to the world, to North America? Did the super volcano that is Yellowstone National Park, finally blow and take out the western United States as geologist say is bound to happen? Did the San Andres Fault finally drop San Francisco into the Pacific, as well as most of southern California. Did that monster earthquake created by the fussy subduction zone the Pacific north-west lives on finally snap, buckle, and roll– and allow the ocean to flood the land from the existing coast, past the Cascade Mountain Range, through the valleys, and into the high desert that is central and eastern Washington State, as well as Eastern Oregon and into Idaho? Did Mount Rainer, the giant 500,000 year old volcano that over looks Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington and Seattle, finally belch out that eruption the scientists keep talking about? What happened? Could be any number of things, but I can’t forget the social implications.

Suzanne Collins was inspired to write this series by switching back and forth between Iraq War footage on her TV, as well as footage of reality TV, namely probably the popular CBS series Survivor. It was also inspired by Ancient Greek Mythology, and Ancient Rome. In fact, most of the Capitol characters have Roman names, as well as several Tributes like Cato and Brutus. Rome fell, we all know that, and so did ancient Greece and its infamous city states like Sparta, known for its militaristic ideologies, and forthrightness. It’s no wonder Ms. Collins pared one of the most culturally ripe, and corrupt ages in western history with the looming global natural, and human disasters of contemporary times. It’s all around us, but are we going to do anything about it– meaning, are we going to attempt to not let our world fall like she’s posited?

Not up to me.

Them There Eyes

Advertisements

10 comments

  1. One thing I appreciate about Collin’s writing is that she forces me to think about some of these issues without putting in her oar about how to solve them. No preachiness, in my opinion. She wants readers to wrestle with difficult subjects.

    Unfortunately, the movie seems quite shallow in comparison because watchers get a visual sense of the disparity beteeen District 12 and the Capitol, but not the emotional depth of poverty and hunger and oppression that we find in the books.

    1. Agree that the first movie pretty much left out the “Hunger” part of the Hunger Games. Katniss does say something to Prim in their farewell scene that seems to refer to the tesserae system, but I don’t think anyone would know what she meant without reading the book. The tesserae system makes the poor much more vulnerable to being reaped/killed than the not-so-poor, but this was not included in the movie.

      Also, the movie really cut down on the Rue-Katniss relationship scenes, which I think were important in the book not just because of the personal relationship that develops, but because what Rue’s situation tells us about Panem. Unlike D12, where only adults over age 18 work in the mines, it seems D11 uses child labor extensively, since Rue at age 12 seems to have been working in the orchards for years. The groosling scene, and Rue’s comment about never having a whole leg to herself before, is left out. One of the reasons Katniss is touched by the D11 sponsor gift of bread (also left out of the movie), is because she realizes how poor the people who contributed it were.

      Now, I realize there were time constraints, of course. But the first movie, while touching on the idea of political oppression through force, really didn’t address the socioeconomic disparities in Panem. I hope that CF will focus on that more. Since the “Idiom” casting calls did repeatedly call for very thin extras, that might be a sign that it will. I really hope that the “drink that makes you puke” scene is left in; especially since this seems to be the point when Peeta lets his rebellious side come out.

      1. @Satsuma No, I don´t have an access to “privileged info” :). You just have to read between the lines and connect the dots to come to the conclusion they are amping up the action in the upcoming movie. I don´t like being Negative Nancy, but once they announced the new director my expectations and hopes for the next movie went downhill. Nothing against Francis Lawrence, but he´s not in the same league as Gary Ross. This is not to say I agree with everything Mr Ross did in the first movie. But he is a very good director. He´s an actors´ director, that´s his strength, and it shows in the great performances of all the actors. I´m relieved they have cast awesome actors for CF, but at the same time, there´s only so much an actor can do. What really worries me is the fact the we haven´t heard a peep from Suzanne Collins. Nothing about the cast, the new director, the script. Nada. THAT and the new director is what makes me have a negative attitude overall. Please feel free to tell me what you think

    2. i agree they kind of glossed over the harsh conditions people in the districts had to endure. I know that it might have been partially caused by time constraints, but it could have been easily explained if they had added a sentence or two. When Katniss leaves Prim to go hunting, she could have said she needed to catch something so they could eat. For someone who hadn´t read the books it looked like she went hunting because it was a hobby, not her main source of nourishment. I really hope reports of Catching Fire being more about the action than the story turn out to be unfounded. i would hate for this story to be dumbed down because the powers that be want to play it safe and avoid the more controversial themes in the story and don´t want the regular moviegoer who isn´t a fan of the story to think too much. I want a movie that makes people think, not simple escapism and explosions gallore.

      1. Good point. It didn’t even occur to me that Katniss’ hunting in movie could be interpreted as a hobby, rather than survival. All we can do is hope, although the fact that several actors have commented on the quality of the script gives me encouragement.

      2. Roci: I am curious; where have you heard these reports that the CF movie is “more about the action than the story”? I’ve noticed that, in general, you seem to have a rather negative outlook about the upcoming movie. Is this based on some kind of inside info, or just a general distrust of Hollywood?

  2. I actually hadn’t put much thought into the backstory of how Panem came to be, because the whole “combination of manmade and natural disasters causing the fall of civilization as we know it” idea is hardly unique to THG. SC also seems to hint that Nuclear war may also have occurred. But all sorts of movies and books, from “Waterworld” to the “City of Ember”, not to mention all sorts of Japanese animes and cartoons, such as the “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”, have addressed the idea of a “post-apocalyptic society”.

    While I’m sure SC isn’t blase about environmental issues, I just don’t think that’s what her focus was in THG. She’s said more than once that her focus is getting young people to think about the effects of war. Maybe there’s a lot of backstory SC has in her mind that she’s never devoted to paper, but I think she was more interested in the idea of Panem as a post-modern version of the Roman Empire, and the only way she could make that plausible is by placing it in a post-apocalyptic society. I think she also wanted to address questions about what is permissible in war, when is revolution justified, etc., without tying the questions to contemporary events, because then people let their own political allegiances and such bias them.

    This isn’t to say that she wasn’t inspired by real wars such as Vietnam, Iraq, etc. I just don’t think her work is meant to be a critique of any particular war or administration, even though some people insist that she meant for Snow to represent Bush/Republicans, and Coin to represent Clinton/Democrats. (I admit this is one thing that annoyed me about some of the DVD commentary.)

    I think most writers want their work to be relevant long after the contemporary issues that might have inspired them are relegated to the history books. Tolkien was certainly affected by the two World Wars he lived through, and “The Wizard of Oz” (at least the first book) was apparently meant to be a critique of the gold standard in place in the US at the time Baum wrote it, but obviously, people still enjoy their work even without knowing that context. I hope the same occurs with THG, that people will be reading them long after Bush, Clinton, Obama, Romney, etc., are long dead and are just names in history books.

    1. Satsuma No, I don´t have an access to “privileged info” . You just have to read between the lines and connect the dots to come to the conclusion they are amping up the action in the upcoming movie. I don´t like being Negative Nancy, but once they announced the new director my expectations and hopes for the next movie went downhill. Nothing against Francis Lawrence, but he´s not in the same league as Gary Ross. This is not to say I agree with everything Mr Ross did in the first movie. But he is a very good director. He´s an actors´ director, that´s his strength, and it shows in the great performances of all the actors. I´m relieved they have cast awesome actors for CF, but at the same time, there´s only so much an actor can do. What really worries me is the fact the we haven´t heard a peep from Suzanne Collins. Nothing about the cast, the new director, the script. Nada. THAT and the new director is what makes me have a negative attitude overall. Please feel free to tell me what you think

  3. The old imperial rome was defiantly a main influence on Panem and not Battle Royal as a lot of people say which is just stupid. And it is also believable that North Americas geography changed a lot from natural disasters in 100s of years from now and impacted by wars and nuclear weapons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s