I haven’t read the Hunger Games books, I haven’t seen the movies — not on principle, I hasten to add; but the target demographic is a bit younger than I am. What I have heard of the story line, I’ve liked.
But alas, many of my fellow Lefties are quite disappointed. For all kinds of fascinating reasons. The Original Old Trot Wet Hen, Louis Proyect, has been passing along devasting Leftie critiques of the franchise, when he’s had a chance to catch his breath from cheerleading the Saudi/Israeli initiatives in Syria.
(I don’t know how he does it. Louis’ opera-omnia are going to be at least as voluminous as the Boswell Papers, if not quite so much fun to read.)
Lefties, it seems, are not immune to the impulse to fall into the story, and respond as if they were high-school students encountering the characters in the cafeteria line. This is a not unamiable trait, and shows a certain likable childlike unguardedness on the part of people whose hyper-adult conversation on other topics consists mostly of abstract nouns.
Alas, the guardedness comes back once the lights come up and the blog post is composed. It takes the form of political critique. The childlike response — bless it — provides the impulse; but it appears muffled in a kind of stiff hazmat suit, inflexible at the knees and elbows, and comically robotic in its general demeanor. Danger, Will Robinson!
Here are a few such items my man Louis passed along:
The heroine Katniss (um, what’s up with that name?) lives in a poverty stricken, mountainous American rural mining town – it’s obviously meant to represent Appalachia. The people who live in that town appear to be predominantly God-fearing white country folk. If they lived in present day America they would be members of the extreme Christian right. But alas, Katniss must desert this tough yet wholesome country life and travel to a big city that somewhat resembles the Emerald City of Oz, except everyone who lives there appears to be homosexual, or at least ‘homosexualized’.
Imagine if you could make a film that pandered to the worst prejudices and false grievances of the most ignorant, privileged and socially paranoid….
The film begins in a poor, overwhelmingly white rural town, which feels disturbingly like the US Bible Belt….
Unfortunately, insane delusions about the sacrificing of innocents by cultural outsiders are nothing new. If anything they’re sadly familiar.
Indeed, a newspaper article claiming that Jews were killing Christian children to use their blood for Passover rituals sparked the Kishinev Pogrom of 1903, an infamous massacre of some 50 Jews in the Bessarabia province of the former Russian Empire.
If theatrical release of Catching Fire leads to pogroms in Williamsburg, I for one will be surprised, but no doubt anything is possible.
I have always loved these what-if narratives about fictional characters. As a parlor game, it’s great fun: What’s Becky Sharp’s favorite flavor of ice cream? (Rum raisin, I think). The ability to play this game depends on real imaginative engagement with the text. But as with any game, it’s important to remember that it is, well, a game.
The ludic character is rather lost once you start to make up an imaginary biography for Katniss in Wolfe County, Kentucky — home of my own ancestors, by the way — and enroll her in a snake-handling Proddie cult and provide her with a tortured self-hating closeted gay pastor and so on.
At that point you have started writing your own screenplay, and I wish you the best of luck getting it produced.