Hunger Games – A Very Big Dog Loudly Not Barking

You should go see “Hunger Games” and its sequel.  Especially if you are one of them thar educated elites (which being a reader of this blog you must be). Watch it for three reasons.

  • They are fun movies.  You have to make some allowances for the plot – it is a teen book series.  But they are good value.
  • The portrayal of the flibbergidget-y people in “The Capital” is brilliant.  It hits particularly close to the bone for people like us – ie. real-world residents of the real world’s “capitals.”  It is a great look at how people outside the top 5% see people like us.  It ain’t flattering.
  • The harsh, overt, and bitter political payload of these movies is pretty stunning.  There is nothing subtle about it.  They are a class warfare call-to-arms.  If Michael Moore did sci-fi…

Consider that the films got huge mass-market distribution with barely a mention of their pointedly anti-plutocrat political charge.  We haven’t seen such nakedly “political” regular-folk-vs-the-man mass-market movies since the 70’s ( Rollerball, North Dallas 40, Smokey and the Bandit, Foxy Brown, etc…).

This is a very big, loud “dog that didn’t bark.*” If this was 2003-2008, these movies would have been getting the full court press for “socialist propaganda” from Fox news while the Left would be praising it to the skies.  Instead, neither side is saying much at all.  The films are in tune enough with the zeitgeist to slip by as part of the mainstream.

Why the non-reaction?

  • The acceptance of “the 1%” a common conversational currency.  Whether you see yourself in the 1% or the 99%, no-one rejects that premise anymore.
  • Growing, inchoate anger among the have-nots.  What has fed the Tea Part and Occupy Wall Street.    This is what Obama was (presciently) describing in these much-villified comments  (to a bunch of wealthy San Franciscans who probably don’t get out much).
    • “You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.  And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations”
  • Plutocratic complacency?  Me and my fellow “The Capital” dwellers are confident enough to watch a portrayal like this with detached amusement.  Maybe followed by a resignedly Gallic euro-shrug of “what is to be done?” as we walk out the theater and check Yelp for the closest artisinal burger place.
  • Mute exhaustion in “The Districts.”  Like the people in the movie, life is hard enough for ordinary American that most energy just goes into getting by.  And those who are inclined to comment lack much of an outlet for their voices.  The national conversation is largely between elites.

So how will this end?  The comparison to the 70’s is intentional.  I do not think the status quo is a calm or durable one.  The 70’s was the ignominious end of a 30-40 year leftward shift.  The decade gave way to a 30-40 year pendulum swing to the right – in favor of “free markets” at first and promoting plutocracy by the end.

I think the current stasis is another pause at the top of that pendulum’s arc.  To be followed by an equally sweeping 30-40 year swing to the left.   Whether you think that is a good or a bad thing doesn’t really matter.  It will still be the trend.  So might as well start to plan for it.  I figure I’ll be voting Republican (or whatever replaces their splintered remains) by around 2025…  And paying a whole lot more to fund social security benefits in penance for the lie that was the 401k.

P.S.  For advanced credit, watch Jennifer Lawrence’s breakout film”Winter’s Bone.”  Set in Appalachian meth country, it is absolutely brilliant.  Not particularly violent.  Just harrowing.  Definitely not a first date movie.  But absolutely worth it.  Especially if you don’t get out much on roadtrips to the hinterlands.

* ‘The dog that didn’t bark’ is from a Sherlock Holmes mystery.  A horse has gone missing and the owner killed.  A non-local suspect is being held.  But Homes notes that the guard dog did not bark the alarm, so the killer must have been known to the dog.  Generally used to refer to a non-event that illuminates a situation.


Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?
“Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”[2]
Also a link to Hunger Games Plot summary for those who don’t know the basic premise.
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