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These real-life similarities make us wonder if The Hunger Games could really happen
We love The Hunger Games every bit as much as the next superfan, but these recent news stories have us wondering if we're headed toward a dystopian future similar to the one lived by Katniss and all her kin.
Hungry children aren't fiction
District 12 is one of Panem's poorest, but it's not the only district where children go hungry. Katniss and Peeta, as the movie's protagonists, are very sensitive to the imbalances they witness while on their Victory Tour, whereas citizens in the Capitol seem oblivious to the fact that people are starving and suffering in other districts.
It may not get a lot of focus in the movie, but in the book, the Games come about as the result of warring that happened after a loss of natural resources due to global warming. In Book 1, when Katniss narrates the reaping, she tells us that the mayor of District 12:
"...tells the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens."
While we're not seeing mass food shortages in the States yet, we are seeing higher prices for certain items at the grocery store, and we could see some of our favorite items disappearing from our grocery shelves completely. For instance, drought-stricken California grows 95 percent of America's avocados, but some farmers are letting their farms go dry due to exorbitant water prices. The Golden State is also seeing lower numbers of salmon because of the drought.
Don't care about salmon or avocados? What about chocolate? Yep, chocolate is on the endangered list, too.
Coal mines are really, really dangerous
Katniss' district is responsible for all of the coal mining in Panem. The workers toil in underequipped mine shafts that occasionally blow up, trapping and even sometimes killing everyone inside. But that couldn't happen in the States, right?
NPR just ran an in-depth news report on the insane lack of regulations on coal mines in the States. Turns out, a total of 2,700 mining company owners have failed to pay nearly $70 million in delinquent penalties over the past 20 years.
These mining companies get fined for safety violations, but there aren't enforcements in place to make them actually pay the fines, much less fix the violations. So the millionaires and billionaires operating the mines can continue to reap profits off the backs of their underpaid employees. And we mean literal backs — one of the miners NPR interviewed spent two hours pinned under a slab of rock, hitting the panic button on his radio between blackouts, before someone finally came to rescue him.
Am I the only one who thinks the The Hunger Games' rabid press tours look a little too much like the rabid press tours that are roundly criticized in the movie? The entire franchise centers around Panem's obsession with riches, fame and artifice, the whole doing it's best to point out just how frivolous and destructive such grotesque displays of grandiosity are, and yet The Hunger Games is still a movie. It still needs to be promoted, to be premiered, to sell tickets! Which puts it the film in the super awkward position of needing to engage in its own promotional frenzy, contradicting the very themes the movies are built on.
Some of the headlines we can't wait to click on out here in the real world could be pulled directly from the Capitol's news. Can't you hear Caesar Flickerman inviting you to check out Jennifer Lawrence's new dress or learn Elizabeth Banks' makeup tricks? That's because Hollywood is a circus... and, just like the Capitol circus in the film, Hollywood distracts us from the fact that:
NPR recently reported that, according to a new study published by Oxfam, just 1 percent of the world's population controls nearly half of the planet's wealth.
And if that statistic doesn't make you want to punch a banker, these stats will:
- The world's 85 richest people own as much as the poorest 50 percent of humanity.
- In the U.S., where the gap between rich and poor has grown at a faster rate than any other developed country, the top 1 percent captured 95 percent of post-recession growth (since 2009), while 90 percent of Americans became poorer.
So, although we may not see wealthy Americans wearing white pancake makeup with hand-cut paper butterfly eyelashes on their lids walking around in head-to-toe purple roses and professionally coiffed blue wigs, we're not really that far off.
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