In Christian theology, the Ten Commandments are not set up as a system of rules and regulations by which people obtain passage into Heaven. Instead, the Apostle Paul tells us they are meant as a mirror to reflect upon. The Law is to show us our humanity, our frailty, our faults, and our beauty. See, the law isn’t just, “don’t do this.” In fact, Jesus Himself summed them all up in two basic principles: 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
This mirror doesn’t have to show us just the bad. People do have good qualities. We are capable of selfless acts of kindness. People “volunteer as tribute” all the time around us.
So what does this have to do with the Hunger Games movie? I think great stories, whether in literature or in movies (I’ve read all the books in the series), also act as a mirror. Maybe not as perfectly as The Law, but I think they show manifestations of the same principle. I really believe that what the Hunger Games represents is not a cautionary tale about our future selves. It’s a mirror of who we are right now.
I’m not saying I’m expecting the next version of Survivor to contain adolescent bloodshed in the name of the Republic. I think by us not seeing those who are downtrodden, less fortunate on our TVs once and awhile and feeling moved to act, we’re no better than the people in the Capitol in some ways.
We don’t want pictures of casualties of wars we started, ours or others’, shown to us. I think that fact alone makes us no better than a city televising an arena death match for sport. By not seeing, we become aloof to the same problems of inequitabilily and hardship.
There’s a scene that convinced me that in some ways the Hunger Games, particularly the film, is meant to be a mirror. There is a talk given at the end with the two victors. The audience is seated in rows, just like a movie theater. In fact, it’s almost exactly like the finale to a reality series. My wife says The Bachelor comes to mind when she thinks of it.
“Are you not entertained?”
Both audiences have seen the same thing. One feels entertained and the other feels a sinking feeling in their stomach. Was it thrilling? Sure, but it was also sickening to watch what the post-America has become. Do we feel the same sick feeling when we learn how much of the world’s population lives on less than a dollar a day? Or learn of another soldier coming back to be buried?
Katniss isn’t a hero because she won the games (sorry if that’s a spoiler). She’s a hero because she refused to play by the rules of the game. The game is rigged. The odds aren’t ever in the favor of the weak. I guess the question I’m asking is: what will you see when you step in front of that mirror? When you see the rules of the game favor the many over the few? These are things I’m still wrestling with myself. I have a few ideas of how I intend to make a few rule-changes myself. If they work, maybe I’ll post them here.
But what about you, Dear Reader? Are you willing to play a game of changing your mind regarding things society would have you forget? As Collins wrote so well, “there are far worse games to play.”