Movie Monday: The Hunger Games

December 5th, 2011

“Wesley, you have to read this book! It makes me hate the government so much!!” -my roommate

I’m weird. Like really weird. My tastes and interests seem to lack any measure of coherence at times. Here I am blogging almost daily about the evils of central banking and inflationary monetary policy, something that many of my friends consider pretty heavy reading, and then I go and shock them with my absolute love for books and movies like Twilight– which it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that many of my friends consider pretty shallow reading. I disagree with them.

But it’s my bizarre range of interests that make my current living arrangement absolutely ideal. I live in Colorado with my best friend (who I’ve known since fourth grade) and his wife who has also been my best friend for the better part of a decade now. Today is actually their “year-and-a-half” anniversary, as the cat chewing on roses in the dining room while I write this can happily attest.

Bear with me… I’m getting to The Hunger Games

My best childhood friend and I can discuss politics for hours on end. We have a running joke about an “Ayn Rand” jar that we have to contribute $.50 to every time one of us mentions Ayn Rand– like a cussing jar. I’m not sure which I do more of, mentioning Ayn Rand or cussing. I do both a lot. While my best friend and I watch presidential debates together, his wife watches Vampire Diaries on Netflix in the other room. She’s not apathetic, she’s just not neurotically-obsessed. By contrast, he can’t stand the recent Twilight craze and its various imitations. His wife (and I) are both neurotically-obsessed with that. He stayed home when she and I went to the midnight premiere of the most recent Twilight movie.

That’s why The Hunger Games caught my attention. It’s a book series that both my roommates have been urging me to read. I haven’t yet, but I’m going to try to get around to it soon. (Free time? What’s that?) He says I could write a great book review on it for my blog. She says I would love it because it makes her hate the government so much. And that’s what strikes me as positively magical about this story: it’s a dystopian, anti-government, antiwar narrative that appeals to libertarian politicos as well as the Twilight crowd. That’s a special thing, because most people just aren’t freaks like me who enjoy both. Anything that can fire up a visceral distrust of centralized power in the heart and mind of my Twilight-adoring friend, any inherently political message that can captivate her… that’s something special. This movie is taking libertarianism into the world of pop culture.

Every movie we go and see together– all three of us– is usually a compromise. One of my roommates is tolerating it, the other is loving it, and I’m always happy (except for that one time they dragged me to see the Green Lantern which I just knew was going to suck– it sucked). The Hunger Games (IMDB), which debuts in March 2012, is one film all three of us will love.  Here’s IMDB’s synopsis:

“In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’ young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.”

As you can imagine from the synopsis above, the film carries a very unabashedly antiwar message to the big screen. Here in the real world, governments really are sending children to fight and kill each other. They’ve been doing it for centuries. The book series’ author Suzanne Collins describes her inspiration for The Hunger Games in a way that raises the hairs on my neck:

Collins says the idea for the brutal nation of Panem came one evening when she was channel-surfing between a reality show competition and war coverage. “I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way.” She also cites the Greek myth of Theseus, in which the city of Athens was forced to send 14 young men and women into the labyrinth in Crete to face the Minotaur. “Even as a kid, I could appreciate how ruthless this was,” Collins recalled. “Crete was sending a very clear message: ‘Mess with us and we’ll do something worse than kill you. We’ll kill your children.’ ”

The line about reality TV competition and war coverage blurring… that’s chilling. I may or may not read the books. I’m definitely going to see the film in theaters.

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About the Author: Wes

Wesley Messamore, 24, is an independent journalist and political activist who believes in the Founding Father's vision of a free, enlightened, and moral America. He also blogs at