The Hunger Games, now completing its onscreen presence with Mockingjay – Part 2, has been a tour de force in modern cinema, transforming sceptics into fans and dismantling barriers in order to create an accessible and overtly thought-provoking political commentary. Far removed from so many throwaway Hollywood films, the series has maintained its status as an unrivalled presence, appealing not only to its expected teenage demographic, but adults alike.
Ironically, its perception as a ‘teenage phenomenon’ does not hinder its political relevance as one of the few that openly discusses 21st century power structures, the corrupting influence of the media and the contradictory regression of technological innovation. Whilst this may be testimony to the fact that, as a society, we are influenced to believe that whatever teenagers like is ultimately unworthy, these very notions enforce the overriding messages of the franchise.
It can be said that for most of the privileged world, life is purely about entertainment and indulgence. Work is an inconvenience – something to be resorted to only when we’ve finished catching up with The Apprentice. This is an age of extreme autonomy for the privileged few; a time in history when we can do whatever we please without even having to leave the house. Such ideals are cinematically represented by the Capitol, a dystopia disguised as a utopia in which advancement leads instead to medieval regression: imagine blood sports, genocide, tyranny and indoctrination.
For the Capitol’s pampered elite who exist within the veneer of entertainment, the Hunger Games are a wanted distraction from reality. While the adoration associated with the games mirrors modern preoccupations with car-crash television alongside society’s desensitisation to violence, the act of killing for pleasure questions if – despite appearances – the modern age has really advanced given the extent to which we concern ourselves with pretence.
In relation to desensitisation, the first thing which may strike an audience is the portrayal of brutality. Indeed, few adolescent films present violence in such an uncompromising manner, regardless of its status as a common truth permeating our daily lives. In an age when the horror of reality is just a click away, the franchise’s ability to shock is a reminder of how infrequently entertainment aims to challenge societal norms.
As this may suggest that modern media has made a commodity of the human race, the character of Katniss refuses to prescribe to the ideal of the woman, instead encouraging both her peers and her audience to engage in well-intentioned anarchy against prevailing autocracy. Battling the oppression of central government, the female led rebellion indicates the commonplace undermining of differentiation, particularly amongst women. Ultimately, The Hunger Games is a brilliant and bold discourse illuminating the powers and dangers of developing civilisation.
Image: Kendra Miller, flickr.com