It’s inevitable that any movie as high-profile as “The Hunger Games” would be grabbed for political advocacy by all sides. My friend Rebecca Cusey writes in Patheos:
It seems “The Hunger Games” is a bit of a Rorschach test for people politically. Do the districts represent #Occupy protesters? Ayn Rand workers oppressed by their government? Fodder for meaningless wars? Or something more?
Some will argue that the rebellion against the totalitarian state in “The Hunger Games” trilogy is an allegory for conservative principles in favor of limiting the role of government. Others will argue that it is an allegory for progressives fighting for the rights of the oppressed. That’s part of the strength and the appeal of fiction. The same thing happens with many powerful films. People are still arguing about whether the original “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” was an allegory of the fight against communism or the fight against McCarthyism.
It makes me sad to see the increasing efforts to impose reductionist templates Procrustean-style, making everything into “us” or “them.” The good thing is that the more both sides claim ownership, the clearer it is that fiction transcends such pettiness.
Speaking of pettiness, there were also some unfortunate problems with idiotic tweets from fans of the book who were disappointed that some characters were played by black actors. Hunger Games Tweets on Tumblr has a selection along with some funny responses. My favorite was “I hear that Donald Trump is trying to prove that Rue wasn’t even born in Panem.” Rue was my favorite character in the book. She was my favorite character in the movie. Amanadla Stenberg was perfect for the role. It is a tribute to the power of these books that some people project their own ideas of what the characters look like (in some cases disregarding the author’s descriptions) and are unable to accept the reality of the movie version. But it is unfortunate that these projections can reflect conscious or unconscious bigotry and even more unfortunate that they have the bad judgment to make it public.