Discussion: Life and Art

A discussion between P.E. and Mari.

P.E.: I read this article about Thailand and The Hunger Games. In it, people are using the salute from Mockingjay to call for their own freedom. First, do you have any thoughts or initial reactions on this?

Mari: I'm a strong believer in peace and democracy. It's sad that the people of Thailand have to ask for what should be their fundamental rights. I don't know much about the situation in Thailand but I wish them all the best. As for the three finger sign, I think it's fascinating. It shows the power that literature has. This can't be the first time people have taken things from literature and brought them to life. Heck, some argue the cellphone was made from the ideas in Star Wars. Lastly, I think of the power of gestures. One of the most modern examples being the Nazi salute, which has such a negative connotation that doing it is illegal in Germany.

P.E.: When I read the article, I was blown away. You're right that literature has power, but I think that applies to art in general. And the thought that I can read a book like The Hunger Games for fun; I can be emotionally invested in the characters and their battles, yet oblivious to people fighting their own battles in real life... it's scary. How do people look at Western society and not remember the Capitol? The social criticism in The Hunger Games is so astute.

Mari: Definitely, I was too narrow in my wording. Art is culture. Can you elaborate on "The social criticism in The Hunger Games is so astute". Why do you think that?

P.E.: It's mostly when I think of the Capitol. They are obsessed with fun and are out of touch with reality. They see horrible things and fake sorrows because they have trouble believing that other people are actually suffering. They mean well, but they are so lost and oblivious, and their very existence is one of overindulgence that hurts other people. The Hunger Games is a book with a message, but when you look at the Subway partnerships and the merchandise, it is proving its relevance by the way people treat it. It has gone corporate. People watch The Hunger Games and feel sad, but then go on with their lives, utterly ignorant to a lot of the conflict in the world. If anyone has ever blamed the Capitol for the little they do to help the districts, what does that say about the West?

Mari: Quite thought provoking and a little political. I think the reason the Capitol is such a democratic disaster for us is because the districts are its citizens yet they are treated like slaves. The Capitol isn't planning on helping the districts because they are the ones imposing the hurt. I wouldn't compare it so much to the Western effort in the "rest" of the world. In fact that idea is wrong. There is no West and the rest; there needn't be. We Westerners will work to provide the best society possible for ourselves and the future generations but at the same time we have several initiatives going towards helping other countries without interfering in their sovereignty. Unlike the Capitol the West is not the government. Sure there are people who are completely oblivious to the going ons in other parts of the world but its up to them and their priorities. Millions of people will never leave the place they were born in and that's ok. Not everyone has a worldwide view on life.

P.E.: But that's only if you take the criticism worldwide (& I disagree because I do think there is a West, but I don't think this is place to argue that :P) which you could, but it is equally applicable domestically. There are a lot of issues in Canada and the US due to  income inequality. Some people have very little and some people have a lot, and we can't say that is due to the people themselves. Why are there still children hungry in some of the richest countries in the world? Why is racism *still* an issue? I think the criticism of The Hunger Games is that of a society so focused on fun and games that it ignores all its issues, and I think that's a pretty good description of our society.

Art, in general has that capacity, and that's why books about revolutions like The Hunger Games are so relevant. They can open our eyes to the world and systems we live in by making us reconsider what is true and not. After reading The Hunger Games, I started thinking a lot about how distractions and games are used to mask deeper issues in societies, and this is an idea I believe in quite strongly because it has been developed through a book.

Art can do that sometimes, and I feel like any one using Katniss' salute is sending a very powerful message.


  1. "After reading The Hunger Games, I started thinking a lot about how distractions and games are used to mask deeper issues in societies" -- Such an astute observation! And precisely what Collins was going for, I think.

    This is a great discussion overall. We love thinking about the larger implications art, and how it can have ripple effects through culture and history. The Thailand example is amazing.

    As for the irony in how The Hunger Games marketing has come to embody the very criticisms within the story itself... Yeah. Sigh. Dunno what to say about that, really. The makeup, the sandwiches... What about "The Hanging Tree" being remixed and played on pop radio??

    Anyway, thanks for sharing your take on things! You gals are always so smart and thoughtful!

    1. Yeah, I guess even in noticing that it's hard to know what to do about it besides be aware? And I didn't know about The Hanging Tree being remixed and played on pop radio... that makes me sad. Thanks for always visiting! :)



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