So last night I went to see The Hunger Games. If you’re wondering what my opinion was, I thought it was a good movie, even great in places, especially toward the beginning.
But I’m not writing this post as a review. Rather I’m writing because there was one moment, one single line of dialogue in the movie that really made me think. The moment I’m talking about is when the president of Pan America meets with the man running the Hunger Games T.V. show. (I don’t remember their names, so if you read the book and you’re screaming at your computer screen right now that their names are Mr. Flompy and the Great High Wimglomer I’m terribly sorry. [Yes, that's right, I saw the movie without reading the book. In my defense I will only say that I tried to read the book and found the style of writing less than appealing]).
The President asks Game Show Host Guy, “Do you ever wonder why we have a winner? If the point of making these kids fight to the death is to keep the Districts in line, then why not round up 24 of them each year and execute them?” And then he goes on with some cliched claptrap about hope and how it’s more powerful than fear and blah blah blah that’s not what I’m talking about.
Instead this is the thing that got the gears going in my head: what if everything about the Hunger Games was the same except for one thing? What if the winner didn’t get honor and riches? What if, after it was all said and done, the last man standing was rounded up and shot?
What would you do?
Let’s make a few stipulations here. First, if you commit suicide, everyone you love gets killed. Second, if 24 hours goes by without a death in the arena all the contestants’ family and loved ones get killed. That way there’s no way out of this, no chance of banding together with your fellow contestants to fight the system.
What would you do?
Would you fight, trying to stay alive for as long as possible knowing that all you could achieve by winning would be living just a few days longer than your opponents? Or would you choose to die sooner rather than later so that your last few days would not have to be spent hunting and being hunted?
This is the question that has infected my brain since seeing The Hunger Games and now I’m sneezing the memetic virus your way. It’s not an easy question, not for me anyway. But perhaps that’s what makes it so compelling.