The Hunger Games sets itself apart. It is a calling for all of us to be on a higher plane. We’re trained to flinch at the word “moral” because we’re told from Sesame Street and primary school onward that it is synonymous with “judgmental” and “moralizing” — but of course it isn’t. The word moral comes from the Latin word for societal conventions (O, tempora! O, mores!) and just means our understanding of right and wrong. You’ve got good guys and bad guys, as a rule, in stories, and the moral of the story is predictably that what the bad guy does is wrong — don’t do that! — and what the good guy does is right and we should follow his or her example.
Even anti-moralizing stories, consequently, are necessarily moral and moralizing. The real trick in understanding story morality is that it is the very rare story that tries to teach us anything that we do not already accept as a core value. Our historical period or ‘Age’ has its defining beliefs just like every other historical period; our principles and blind-spots may be different, excuse me, certainly are different, than those of the Elizabethans and Victorians but we are just like them in having an Age-defining set of shared beliefs. The morality of every successful postmodern story is the same. In brief it goes like this: There is a big, bad cultural belief, call it the “defining myth’ or, my favorite, the ‘the common reasoning”. This story faces down what everyone in the culture believes about the world they live in and Two groups meet in a defining mental reality: the Chosen Ones and the Others. The story tells us that the Chosen Ones are good by nature and that the Others, in not being Chosen Ones, are necessarily bad. Chosen Ones, consequently, enjoy powers and privileges while Others occupy the Public Square periphery, are powerless, and serve the Chosen Ones.
I could bore you silly here and make this already too long post much longer than it need be by explaining how Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games (did I mention Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?) are all stories conforming to this type. There is also the message that no one and nothing are what you think they are (blinded as you are by preconception and prejudice) and that the only route to freedom is sacrificial love’s choice to confront the powerful and liberate the oppressed. Katniss’ almost continuous surprise at turns in the story-line by people turning out to be more or less than she thought and her anger at being prisoner in a story she isn’t writing is a snap-shot of the postmodern rise to consciousness and freedom-through-self-actualizing- choice.
The marketing of the trailer alone hides key secrets. If you have not read the book I won’t spoil it for you. Needless to say t
The key moments of self awareness and actualization are led by Blacks. The key push in the moment is a self actualization which seems to be but dying embers in our people. The strive to do better and bring better. The struggle has muffled us and cause us to fall asleep and into the rhythm and routine of “The Capitol”. That is the challenge truly within the story. Just how far have you been lulled into “sleep”, accepting that life is as it is and there nothing you can do. Are you in the arena playing your part until death?
Here are challenges posed by the movie and book.
1- Are you willing to accept the status quo because it’s too hard to fight?
2- Have you really tried to change your role in the game of life?
3- Do you believe that choices for you are limited?
We want to hear from you. Have you read the book? What do you think? Has it inspired you to change things?