Megalomaniacs and Mockingjays

The two characters pushing the story of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Katniss is the young woman living in a horribly cruel world that now has hope because of her defiance in the 74th Hunger Games. President Snow is the megalomaniac who is seeing the world he rules slowly changing.

There is so much mystery behind the story of modern day Panem. There have been 74 years of peace after a rebellion and the society is geared toward the Capitol as the other 12 Districts live in an oppressive poverty. President Snow leads with an iron fist and the fact that Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) did not fight to the death in the 74th Hunger Games has given the people he lords over hope.

President Snow has ultimate power but he sees that his control might be lessening. He has the power to kill Katniss and end his headache but that would turn her into a martyr. Martyrs lead their people from beyond the grave so making Katniss a martyr would not quell the hope that President Snow sees growing with every three finger salute that is met with blackjacks from the peace officers in white. And that is how absolute power corrupts absolutely: President Snow’s people had nothing but that was just not enough for him.

His people looked at Katniss and saw hope so he began to search for a way to take away the symbol of that hope. Gamemaster Plutarch Heavnesbee (the great Philip Seymour Hoffman) created a plan to change the perception of Katniss to the people: turn her into one of us. If Katniss is the symbol of hope for the disenfranchised then what will they think of her when she is part of the social scene in the Capitol?

That is the lure of The Hunger Games to me, the unwrapping of the dystopia that is in the mind of author Suzanne Collins. It is a dystopia by the numbers with the megalomaniac at the helm, the violence of the authority, the suffering of the people and the mockingjay that can change the whole system. Systems are far more fragile than we will ever know and there are many levels of collapse. The American system has been on the skids for over a decade now but our collapse has not fell to the level of the South African system where they are on the brink of anarchy as portrayed with the Oscar Pistorius trial.

The first sign that a system is failing is drastic changes and the 75th Hunger Games had a drastic change: instead of young tributes fighting to the death there is a Quarter Quell that means the winners from past games are to fight to the death for a second time. That means Katniss will have to fight again in the Hunger Games.

As I was watching the trials of Katniss unfold it really made me sad at how Hollywood depicts their leading ladies. The part of Katniss was written to be apathetic with a burning desire to make things right while caring for two young men. Is that how a modern women lives her life? Are women only pawns in their own lives as the others dictate their path? Katniss was so important to so many factions that she was lost in the shuffle. Everything she did worked against her because she never really made a plan. She was constantly reacting to the actions of others and never really came to grips with her importance.

There is a second part to Catching Fire to come in 2015 and Katniss does know her importance and she is told her place. It will be neat to see more of the dystopia revealed and it should be a treat to see how Katniss moves forward knowing what she now knows.