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Travis Rowley: Lessons From The Hunger Games

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have to admit, I’m a fan of the series. The Hunger Games is a sequence of books that is famous for appealing to young girls – and is now being transitioned to film.

After having been dragged to the first film, I discovered that – despite having an annoyingly unlikely heroine named “Katniss” as its protagonist – the story’s overarching setting and theme are that of a highly imaginable tyranny. Soft, at first. Then, much more ruthless.

Right up this Tea Partier’s alley.

The Hunger Games highlights cunning government propaganda aimed at mitigating the anxiety of Panem’s (the name of the fictional country) oppressed citizens, and an out-of-touch aristocracy cavorting within “the Capitol” – an elite population formed and protected by governmental power.

The most elaborate effort to manipulate the masses is the annual Hunger Games, in which two young “tributes” from each of the nation’s twelve districts are randomly selected to compete in a morally twisted contest of survival – compelled to slaughter the other 23 contestants while also charged with enduring an unforgivable wilderness.

Aired across the country as some sort of reality-TV show, nobody seems to appreciate the Hunger Games – except for those residing within the Capitol.

No Democrats In The Districts

Having had the chance to view an advanced screening of the second film on Thursday (and having rented the first film on Wednesday in order to re-familiarize myself with the entire narrative), I suddenly discovered something that bothered me about The Hunger Games series – that is, its historically unsupported portrayal of a unified people, all of one mind when it comes to an outlook on the Capitol, the ruling class, and the brutal President Snow.

There is a complete absence of individuals who have been influenced by all the government lies; no Capitol supporters; no people who answer the phone and respond that they actually approve of President Snow’s job performance.

The Panem government is lying extravagantly to the people. But nobody is buying it.

Wouldn’t that be nice, I thought.

But tyranny has always had its enablers, irrespective of economic class – Those who are either afraid of rebellion, comfortable in their designated place, benefitting from government benevolence, or in actual agreement with the concept of collectivism.

Yet, no Democrats could be found within Panem’s twelve oppressed districts.

An Educated and Vigilant Citizenry

Samuel Adams was once too polite to the liberals of his day, telling anyone who “love[d] wealth better than liberty [or] the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom” to “go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

Adams was addressing those colonists who sympathized with the King when he argued, "To be a subject of Great Britain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest member of any civil society in the known world."

Whether it be King George III or Saddam Hussein, the tyrants always seem to have plenty of suckers by the ears.

The Hunger Games flicks make it easy to disdain Panem’s government agents, which translates to a failure on the films’ part to explain why – in real life – a movement against government hubris is so difficult to mobilize. The best the films do in this regard is suggest that a rebellious uprising has been made impossible because the people seem to be without their own firearms. But what occurred up until that point?
I found it wholly unrealistic for the films to suggest that a significant portion of Panem’s population – perhaps even a majority – wouldn’t have remained in support of their despotic government.

You know who I’m talking about: That unshakable “40%” (or somewhere always around there) who labor extensively to find ways to “approve” of Barack Obama’s job performance – despite his epic failures, exposed lies, mounting scandals, and utter incompetence.

These dolts were not written into the Hunger Games script. Yet, at the end of the day, they are the gravest threat to a free nation – which seems to be of serious concern to the screenwriters.

Political Reality

In front of a crowd at the University of Denver in 2010, conservative commentator Dennis Prager was asked to identify the “single threat to the future of our country…above all the others.” Conservatives in the crowd answered for him: Obama!

Prager responded, “No, it’s not Obama. It’s not. If, God forbid, President Obama came down with an illness, nothing would change. Nothing. I believe the greatest threat facing America…is that we have not passed on what it means to be American to this generation…The average American who deeply loves this country, and even has conservative values, cannot articulate what those values are.”

That a Democratic presidential candidate can inadvisably admit that he believes “spreading the wealth around” would be his plan for economic prosperity – and then win the election – is a red flag of cultural surrender.

Obama isn’t the problem. Americans are the problem. The Democratic Party is merely what happens to people when they allow themselves to be lied to.

That’s not to say that the GOP has been a perfect instrument of liberty. But the only people unsurprised by the Obamacare debacle were Fox News viewers and talk-radio listeners – people who were called “racist” while issuing their warnings.

But in The Hunger Games, not one character is demeaned when he scowls at the antics of President Snow.

How Dare They?

America’s cultural erosion away from liberty has had a disastrous consequence: More than ever, our enemies are our relatives and neighbors – at least for anyone who takes this nation seriously.

We are no longer facing pockets of stealth communist front groups, who are on the run from patriots such as Hoover, JFK, and McCarthy. Today we’re confronted by totalitarian offspring called “progressives” and “liberals” – who have learned to make their message more palatable; who now actually make sense to millions of otherwise freedom-loving Americans.

Is a friend who votes to strip you of your possessions truly a friend at all?

Today, we face a critical mass of people whose hearts swell with pride when they hear the words “land of the free” sung during our national anthem, but then contort their minds in a way that allows them to vote for people who viciously establish barriers of speech, enslave minorities within failing public schools, force people to fund unions and programs that violate their conscience, and force people to purchase private health insurance – just to name a few policies and regulations that run afoul to basic freedom, federalism, and classical liberalism.

Having spent this week in the State of New Hampshire, I was able to observe the locals driving down their roadways with their state slogan, Live Free or Die, stamped to their license plates – only to realize that perhaps more than half of these people agree wholeheartedly with Democrats when they call the Tea Party movement “extreme.” And why? For merely pressing Congress to balance the federal budget; and merely for demanding that their representatives honor the document that was to ensure that they could always “live free.”

How dare all of them?

But this is the inexplicable mind of man – completely fallible, self-serving, and dishonest.

There are some great lessons to be taken from the Hunger Games films. I only wish there was a character that represents the Enabler of history’s despots – someone to shame at the end for siding with the federal tyrants.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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