Hunger Games: A Satire on Entertainment and the Ultimate Form of Consumerism

Missy and I watched the Hunger Games. What stood out to us most was what we saw as a satire on American entertainment and the ultimate form of consumerism. In the Hunger Games, the dominant culture has basically enslaved their subjects into 12 districts. Those 12 districts provide raw materials to their overlords and entertainment via the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a mandatory event where each district sends two of their teens to compete in a battle to the death called the Hunger Games. What is more, society watches the battle and is entertained by the violence, bloodshed and drama they see.

In their world, there is no value to human life except what that life can provide for others in the form of raw materials to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the dominant culture and entertainment. There is a conversation in the movie where the president of that country has a conversation with Seneca Crane, the “gamemaster.” They talk about hope and how the purpose of the show is to offer a false hope to the workers to keep them going without stripping so much hope that they revolt. The reality was, there really wasn’t any hope at all if people could just see under the hood at the inner workings and attitudes of the Games and their creators. These are the ultimate consumers…they aren’t just consuming goods. They are consuming peoples.

We think people who act like that are confined to extreme groups in history (like the Nazi’s) who see people as having little to no value. But maybe our culture has embraced that far more than we can imagine. It hasn’t resulted in physical murder but in effect, we have murdered our entertainers with our thoughts. This consumerism and underlying value system is a part of Reality Television. We put people on the screen and form an entire industry around the drama in their lives. Often that drama includes their suffering. They typically aren’t valued for anything but the entertainment they provide. If they stop being entertaining (in the movie, death) they stop being of value to society. Missy and I have watched the Bachelor and Bachelorette from time to time. After watching the Hunger Games we have vowed to never watch it again. We do not want to take part of an entire industry that is profiting of the pain of others. People watch it for the drama, but if you dig beneath the surface the show doesn’t exist solely to produce drama. The show exists to produce an industry off the ups and downs of real people. We laugh at things that if they happened to our best friend we might cry over. We make fun of people we don’t even know. We are, in principle, the same audience you will see if you watch the Hunger Games, just not yet to that extreme…the attitude is the same. People exist for our entertainment. That is not godly and is destructive.

Dallas Willard put it this way,

“Love is not the same thing as desire, for I may desire something without even wishing it well, much less willing its good. I might desire a chocolate ice cream cone, for example. But I do not wish it well; I wish to eat it. This is the different between lust (mere desire) and love, as between a man and a woman. Desire and love are, of course, compatible when desire is ruled by love; but most people today would, unfortunately, not even know the difference between them. Hence, in our world, love constantly falls prey to lust. That is a major part of the deep sickness of contemporary life.” (Renovation of the Heart, 131).

Willard’s point is that true love is concerned with the well being of the other person. Lust is only interested in desire and desirability itself without a genuine interest and concern in the well being of the other person involved. The attitude of love is, “What can I do for you to make your life full?” and lust, “What can you do for me at the expense of your self?” I am afraid our country is addicted to the second.

Anyone else get any “aha’s” from this movie?