Blogs by MidAmerica Nazarene University staff and faculty.
The Sociology of the Hunger Games
The Hunger Games are a current set of popular books recently released as a movie. Many students have commented on the sociological content. One of my students, Frank Holleman, wrote a fantastic Facebook post, describing the sociology lessons he saw in it. I asked his permission to share a portion of it.
Since MNU is having a "Hunger Gamble" meal this week, where students will simulate world circumstances by being put into "districts" to eat, and since we are bringing back our Sociology of Film class this Summer, I thought this was a timely post. Here are one sociology student's thoughts on the Hunger Games:
The whole movie starts off with this sense of poverty. Shooting a deer... to sell it and survive. The children are then assembled and two are chosen to participate in the Hunger Games and get the "privilege" of visiting the capitol. You immediately see the difference of cultures. Peter and Katniss travel in a high luxury train, with baked goodies and the best of best provided for them. The capitol is a display of money, excess and "fashion". While the people of district 12 dress in a very modest and traditional way, the people here look rather ridiculous. Big, fancy, complicated, exaggerated dresses and gender independent make-up that perfectly matches the dresses in its stupidity. Peter and Katniss come out of a world of hunger and through a train ride they arrive in this world of un-necessity and overflow.
The first comparison a lot of people draw to the movie is ancient Rome. An empire where the suffering slaves were brought together in the Colosseum for the enjoyment of the rich. You want to know why I had tears after this movie? It's because I realized, that this story doesn't only compare to ancient Rome, but perfectly compares to our world today.
Of course, we don't actually let people kill each other for our enjoyment. Or do we? Obviously, we don't dress as stupid as those people in the movie. Heck yeah, we do! Why are there super models? Why is there Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana? It is because our society has decided on the norms of how we look. Society might have just decided that it's normal to look like this. The movie might show an extreme exaggeration of fashion, but when you ask yourself if wearing a dress and make up contributes anything to a better world you will hopefully answer with a "no."
The comparison between the actual games and today's world is less obvious, but also not hard to miss. We worship our Athletes and movie stars. We spend huge amounts of money on our entertainment instead of improving district 12 and frankly, stop at nothing to maintain our luxurious privileges that seem so essential to us. Politics will do nothing without the gain of a benefit, and it will do everything (including killing) if it sees the opportunity for a benefit.
I wanted to share this realization with you. The realization that we have a certain power and therefore duty to give other people a chance to also enjoy life and be happy. I think the ending of the movie is very beautiful. I don't have all the answers to the universe, but I do know this: If we just start to live a life of love, we can change a lot! I think this love should start with our friends, our families and also neighboring strangers, eventually reaching out to our enemies and to "district 12."
A challenging and thoughtful reflection, no?