It might seem like a stretch to suggest that the world is currently embroiled in The Hunger Games, but bear with us for a second.
Have a think about the rise of populist politics around the world: the election of Donald Trump, the calls for Brexit in the US, everything One Nation says here (and the battle over regional Queensland in the Australian election)… there’s a shared narrative in place.
And that narrative is this: that there are “real” people outside of the cities, and there are the elitists in the ivory-towered cities who are at best out of touch with the reality of modern life – and at worst part of a sinister cabal of perverted, corrupt monsters, most likely engaged in some vast conspiracy against the salt-of-the-Earth populace.
Sound familiar? Like, both in the sense that it sums the strain of populist (and often openly racist and anti-intellectual) politics around the world, and also in that it’s the setting of a certain popular young adult book and film series about a near-future dystopia?
This idea was touched upon in an article in Cracked. Or, more accurately, a pretty meme:
And that seemed a stretch, until you consider the timeline.
The Hunger Games was first published in 2006, but the film came out in 2012 and was a sensation. Three years and three sequels later Donald Trump announces his presidential run.
The following year he gets the presidential nomination, the UK narrowly votes to leave the European Union, and One Nation win four seats in the Australian senate.
Of course, there’s a small problem with this The World Is Now Hunger Games theory, in that this narrative is all over the place.
Star Wars. Mr Smith Goes To Washington. Ready Player One. It’s a classic for a reason: it lets the audience go “sure, I might not know stuff but that doesn’t matter; being pure of heart is more important than all that effete book-learnin’.”
Meanwhile even enormously well-paid media types and politicians who live in multi-million dollar properties try to present themselves as honest Joes who can see through the cheap lies of… um, the Bureau of Meteorology?
(Then again, that stereotype is equally offensive in reverse – and there was a spate of suspense and horror films which posited that the world outside cities was terrifying and weird, from splatter flicks like The Hills Have Eyes to acclaimined classics like Deliverance and one of the most acclaimed Australian films ever, Wake In Fright.)
So yes, correlation doesn’t equal causation and given if it wasn’t The Hunger Games it’d probably be something else.
That said, if Trump starts demanding young people engage in formal bloodsports in the coming months…