Not much of a post today, I’m afraid. I am still unpacking my stuff for a brief stay before we start looking for a new place to live, and I still have work to go to. I will try to file a Lifting the Lid, but I’m also trying to get that series into some kind of order so it doesn’t become repetitive.
I just wanted to give my thoughts on The Hunger Games, the same as everyone else. Normally I steer clear of such popular reads, especially in YA fiction, as more often than not they turn out to have more style than substance. I was very wary of a series in which young children are pitted against each other in a fight to the death. This seemed to be such a repulsive concept that I couldn’t think how it would play out.
I have been surprised. The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were okay reads, though they did meet my expectations in being more on the side of spectacle and suffering for the sake of it. But Mockingjay … Well, I am only a short way in, but so far all of my reservations about the series have been obliterated. This is what the series was heading towards: a biting, scathing indictment of our propagandist, TV-fuelled society, in which even genuine human emotion is manipulated in the war for ideals.
I think about how the media manipulate the reporting of world events to suit their own bias and to sell newspapers and get airtime; I think about how even supposedly ‘unbiased’ outlets such as our dear old BBC have their own (inevitable) bias; I think about charities struggling to raise funds, and turning to emotionally manipulative commercials to appeal for donations; I think about the seething mass of information and entertainment by which we are surrounded, and I think: Suzanne Collins, you’ve hit the nail on the head.
The point of The Hunger Games is perception. Not control, not power, not suffering, not spectacle. But how we are perceived and how we perceive the world. Is it through the lens of the media, or is it with our own eyes, unbiased? Is there such a thing as an unbiased view? Is it possible to be objective? Part of me thinks that it is not. We believe what we see and we see what we are shown. Is there any way to stop this spiral into full-scale propaganda and thus the blinding of people’s minds? Is there any way to escape from the web of half-truths and outright lies told to us by political powers on a daily basis?
We in ‘the West’ consider ourselves free from oppression, but in reality we are being morally and intellectually oppressed by a class of so-called political ‘liberals’ who claim to promote freedom of thought and expression, but who in reality are seeking only to promote their preferred agenda. There is no such thing as free speech — freedom of speech (in the UK at least) is defined as saying what the liberal authorities will agree with and accept.
Support Creationism? Oppose gay marriage? Oppose the spread of religion into politics? Forget it. Here in merry olde England such things will have you rounded upon with a swiftness that will take your breath away. And before you say a word in disagreement, remember that this is what freedom of speech means: the freedom to say what you believe, no matter whom you offend.
My point is not that we should offend — far from it. We should tolerate and accept each others’ views. My point is that in order to have true ‘freedom’ we should tolerate and accept each others’ views no matter what they are, which is a whole different kettle of fish.
Is it possible? No. I think it will never happen. We will never as a species reach the point of enlightenment where we accept each other for what we are (and I repeat myself) regardless of what we are and what we believe. It is human nature to be biased, and it is human nature to condemn others for disagreeing with what we say.
Katniss represents this, the Mockingjay paraded in support of District 13’s ideals. One ideology against another, and which one is right? Will there ever be a single political, moral ideology upon which the whole world will agree, and with which everyone will be happy? Short answer: no. All we can do is ensure that we are not unduly influenced by the paradigm of our time, because paradigms change. We must not delude ourselves into thinking we are a civilised society. This is what every civilised society has thought of itself in the past, and where are they now?
Change is the only constant. What is right today will be wrong tomorrow, and vice versa. Will what you believe, and the way you live, be drawn from the whims and desires of TV executives or politicians, or indeed any other human being? How do you decide how to live your life? What is the right thing to do? Where are the concepts of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Have they been done away with?
So if The Hunger Games has led me down this train of thought, it can’t be all bad.
What do you think?