Philosophical Musings On 'Hunger Games'

I hope that movie patrons won’t just get caught up in the love story or the action of the movie. I hope they’ll notice how closely this fictional society paralleled our own.


I just saw "The Hunger Games” and thought that it was pretty good as movies go. I actually hope that everyone goes to see it. But not because it was a good movie, but because of the obvious and excellent social commentary shared with the viewers by the author. Personally, I prefer movies that make us stop and think about ourselves, our lives and our role while we’re here on this planet.

I hope that movie patrons won’t just get caught up in the love story or the action of the movie. I hope they’ll notice how closely this fictional society paralleled our own — the big one I mean. Our society called the entire human race. Much of our race certainly lives in the squalor as portrayed in “The Hunger Games.” And yes, there absolutely is a portion of our race that lives in such extreme extravagance too.

At the beginning of the movie, we are introduced to a society that is split into two distinct groups. The overwhelming majority of the society is severely impoverished. Little food, extremely poor living conditions, hard manual labor required to survive, etc. These people have nothing. The second part of the society lives truly extravagant lives, wanting for absolutely nothing. This part of the society is much smaller than the other, probably much less than 1 percent of the whole.

This second part of this fictional society is stunning in its excesses as demonstrated by their absurdly "over the top" clothing, excessive attention to incidentals like colored hair, designer eyelashes and fingernails and technological conveniences. The food available to these people was not only excessive in terms of quantity, but excessive in terms of the resources that were being poured into producing food that was only there for pure pleasure. Not a drop of nutritional value in the least. The producers of this movie did an excellent job of detailing the excesses of that society — and showing that all of that extravagance was absolutely at the expense of the vast majority.

None of this could ever happen in our society, right? For we, as a people, would never allow such a circumstance to occur, would we? Well, we might not be as far off as we think.

Let’s take a look at our track record so far. And remember, I’m speaking about “our society” as the entire human race, not just America. Here’s some stats on how we stack up to the fictional society from the “Hunger Games”:

  • Every year, 15 million children die of hunger (that’s just the children).
  • 3 billion people in the world today struggle to survive on US $2/day.
  • It is estimated that some 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition, about 100 times as many as those who actually die from it each year.
  • The assets of the world's three richest men are more than the combined GNP of all the least developed countries on the planet.
  • For the price of one missile, a school full of hungry children could eat lunch every day for 5 years.
  • To satisfy the world's sanitation and food requirements would cost only US$13 billion — what the people of the United States and the European Union spend on perfume each year.

These statistics were taken from a website called http://library.thinkquest.org. People could, and certainly will, argue about the exact numbers, but the message is indisputable: starvation and extreme poverty are avoidable on our world. The more industrialized nations of the world wouldn’t even need to change their lifestyles all that much to accomplish it.

I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I was born into a very rich society. I am thankful everyday for all the abundance I have in my life. I don’t believe for an instant that we should all live in squalor just because much of the world’s population does. But I do believe we should do whatever we can — and choose to go without, if it means a substantially better life for many others across our planet.

For those of you that would like to start doing something but aren’t sure how to start, try: http://cleanwaterfortheworld.org/



wyatt March 28, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I am also thankful that I live in the country that does more for the worlds poor than all the other countries of the world combined. I am also thankful that while we are the biggest consumer of energy, we use much of it to grow crops which not only feed our people but the people of the world. I am also thankful that we have the biggest and best equipped military in the world (with those expensive missles), because if we didn't, there would be many less children to feed.
Mike Butler March 29, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Well said, Wyatt. I am thankful too, and proud to live in this country which is the beacon of freedom for the world and the country that people are willing to risk their lives to enter. And we must remember that this movie is just a movie, and a story that seems to echo the #Occupy Wall Street mentality, which is ironic considering that film actors are "1%-ers" living in the kind of lavish splendor that the #OWS crowd denounces.
Picha K. June 10, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Wyatt, I have to agree with the author. We have basketball players who sign contracts for $80,000,000, while others live in cardboard boxes. Talk show hosts who are billionaires, while others lose their homes after two weeks of illness in hospital. The people with the most superficial jobs (acting, sports, modeling) often earn far more than medical researchers and farmers who feed us all. I don't want communism, I don't want dictatorships, I don't want a lack of free speech (also attacked in the hunger games). But sometimes democracies bring out the worst in us all. We vote for ourselves, ourselves, ourselves, often not considering the needs of the whole. Small countries with benevolent monarchies may do the best job. Or democracies with proportional representation, as in the Netherlands, which force cooperation between parties and prevent an imbalance of power.


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