Mar 28 • 17M

Yes, And #13: The Hunger Games, Revisited

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Knox McCoy
Extremely niche and chaotic conversation and curation.
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This week’s edition features: an observation about The Hunger Games AS WELL AS six curated recommendations.

🎧 ALSO PLEASE NOTE: You can read this week’s essay below, HOWEVER if you subscribe to this newsletter’s podcast feed above, you can listen to a musically produced and edited version of it now or on the go as well as all future podcast / audio essays in the future...🎧

✍🏻 Yes and…A Mini-Essay: The Hunger Games, Revisited

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something stupid.

It’s not important or timely or relevant but it is vivid and it’s that for the life of me, I cannot understand how the Capitol lost its grip on power during the events of The Hunger Games books.

NOW LOOK. I can be a big boy and understand that obviously the capitol losing is more about the plot requirements for a story about revolution and good vs evil than it is about the tactical logistics of what that revolution requires. 

But all that aside, I can’t help but think of the scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall where Jason Segel, Mila Kunis, K Bell and Russell Brand are debating the merits and realism of a movie Sarah Marshall did where the premise is that cellphones are killing people.

In a fight against a limited opponent (or in the case of the clip above, an inanimate object) it seems absurd to not leverage your strengths to eliminate the obvious threat.

In the context of the Hunger Games, why President Snow didn’t have Katniss knocked off by a derailed high speed train or hunting expedition is beyond me. I’m not trying to show a competency at political murder, but I’ve watched Game of Thrones and House of Cards, so I understand a little bit about eliminating political threats to consolidated power.

It seems so obvious in retrospect that its almost discombobulating. But then again, when you look a little closer, there’s actually some precedence of tolerable dangers and threats that we become accustomed to.

One of the aspects of youth that we don’t appropriately appreciate is the nimbleness of mind.

When we are young, it’s easy to be nimble in belief and understanding as everything is new and fresh and we are used to adapting to new ideas and absorbing newly realized truths.

As we get older, ideas and realities become entrenched either by repetition or experience and there is less and less necessity and/or opportunity for our minds and beliefs to be nimble.

This is both unfortunate and a reality; a bug and a feature because the discoveries and understandings grow more rare A) because we spend our lives gathering a formidable amount of information about the world leaving less room for newer things and B) we’re less eager to nimbly crash headlong once more into the breach of reconsideration or information that may conflict with our acquired stash of knowledge or even our current and accepted stasis of life.

And this is because at a certain point, it’s easier to accept flawed, established things than it is to change them for hopefully something better.

Very simplistically, change is difficult. Add to that, having to change for something where you aren’t completely sure of what it is and if it will be better sounds like a risk very much not worth taking. Because when considering a change, a lot of the mental arithmetic we do is about the likelihood of a situation being better and also HOW MUCH better. A lot? Only slight gradations of better? Is a slightly better but also murkier future better than a clear-eyed but less ideal present?

Here’s the textbook / plot explanation as to why the Capitol lost power in The Hunger Games:

After years of oppression and control, the people of the districts were galvanized by the defiant symbolism of Katniss Everdeen and inspired to work together and sacrifice in order to defenestrate themselves from the control of the Capitol.

The subtextual explanation though is a little more artful and poetic:

After years of excess and empire and self-satisfaction, the Capitol felt entitled to power and the spoils of it and because of this, they coalesced around this expectation and became politically lazy.

In contrast, the Districts, having been inured to marginalization and poverty, coalesced around Katniss and became inspired.

It’s a beautiful inflection point of contrast.

The Capitol united by consumption and excess.

The Districts divided in service to these things.

President Snow as a symbol of establishment and power and of state-mandated murder.

Katniss as a symbol of anti-establishment and idealism and of rejecting government-supported violence.

The Capitol as a power structure pursuing governance and order. But at the price of the televised murder of children each year.

When I watched the news yesterday about the shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, TN I was heartbroken.

For all the obvious reasons:

  • the little lives lost.

  • the families affected.

  • that school and the community around it.

But also for the selfish reasons: our Marlowe is the same age as some of the victims and our girls attend a school similar to Covenant.

But I was also heartbroken for how normalized this has all become. It starts with the violence and the horror, then the stratified conversations around the shooting immediately after. It’s both horrifying and heartbreaking that we’ve become this efficient and familiar with the most singular of all tragedies.

First, we litigate and police the syntax and the appropriate and inappropriate word choices in discussing what happened. These benign and hollow utterances of “thoughts and prayers.”

Second, we debate about the influence of pop culture on gun violence.

Third, we admit that there is a mental health crisis in America and wonder if that’s the REAL problem.

Fourth, we notice that many of our Pastors will curiously take this opportunity to demure on the issue of politics and instead focus on the need for healing and finding hope in a broken world. While we do need both of those things, it’s curious to me how reserved many Pastors get when they aren’t presenting front-running and mass-endorsed ideas. Almost like certain modern pastors are just another strain of politician, camouflaged by their proximity to a nobler cause than political party.

Lastly, we wonder how a state governor with the visage and intellect of a weathered Ken Doll can spend months fixating, maneuvering, and ensuring that the threats posed to our children by drag queens will be snuffed out, but when opportunities to curb literal violence on our children are presented, he and other state legislators don’t just slink away like the parasitic invertebrates they’ve always been and will continue to be; they actually make it EASIER.

But yeah, good thing the fabled threat of the drag queen has finally been vanquished.

Mostly, I was heartbroken because this feels like such a simple problem to solve. Politicians will finesse this point as something much more complicated but the only complicated thing about it is how politicians expect us to believe that they can effectively govern when we don’t know where the Gun Lobby ends and the politician begins. But this doesn’t have to be the absolutist binary we’ve been scared into believing: no guns vs ALL THE GUNS.

I personally don’t own a gun, but I know people who do and they do so with good reasoning and responsibility and they, like me, wonder why we can’t figure this out? Is it because it’s too knotty or is it because it’s more lucrative to keep it hazy and unresolved?

I don’t have a good answer for how to fix this or what to do, but I just felt like it was important to note that in mentioning earlier about there being a precedent for tolerable dangers that we’ve allowed ourselves to become accustomed to, I finally empathized with the citizens of the Districts as they watched the state play Russian Roulette with their children.

It wasn’t that they were ok with it; they just didn’t know what else to do.

And neither do I.

Audio credit to:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
The Secret Sisters, Tomorrow Will Be Kinder

🙌 Yes, And: The Weekly Recommendations

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