Film Focus: Catching Fire

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, as Twitter, Facebook, and T.V. commercials have been telling you for the past week, but Catching Fire is out! If you haven’t seen it, it’s ok, because I won’t be spilling any spoilers. If you have seen it or, as most people like to claim, have read the book, feel free to offer your insight!

So we know the basic premise, which mirrors and extends the first story’s plot. A futuristic land with a capitol that controls 99% of the money and power over the 12 districts sends young adults into gladiator-style battles to the death for enjoyment and as a reminder that the districts are at the capitol’s mercy.

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What I’m interested in is a single line that is retold throughout this and the past movie. After a single person survives the Hunger Games, s/he is awarded by living in comfort back in their poverty-stricken district. That person is then forced to say towards the capitol numerous times: “Thank you, for the forgiveness and generosity of capitol.” Now what this makes me think about is when survivors of hurricane Katrina went on air via news channels and said, similarly: “thank you, America, for your compassion and generosity.” Or let’s take this transnationally, when America became the shining beacon of support for the earthquake survivors in Haiti, or the views America had towards the Tsunami survivors in the Philippines.

In these examples and in the Hunger Games storyline, there is depiction that the area with the power and resources graciously extend acts of compassion and mercy towards the otherwise victimized land already troubled with hardship. What is untold, however is that these areas are experiencing hardship largely due to neglect from said merciful lands. Centuries of history show that Louisiana and the surrounding area have been at risk for floods and hurricanes, and coincidentally this unsafe area is where there is much poverty. Is this a surprise, or have these underprivileged people (mostly of color) been forced to live where the rich care not to? When the earthquake struck in 2011 Haiti was known as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and relief efforts from the United Nations only perpetuate the mainstream idea: “oh those poor people! Oh but we’re here now, we’re such good people, we’ll save you,” when if we really wanted to make a difference, we would not have waited for an earthquake to motivate us. This nationalistic ego stroke was completely rejected by the Philippines earlier this year following the tsunami. President Obama tried to define the culture with a westernized concept: resilient. Numerous authors identified as Filipina/o resented the notation of bending but not breaking, as it within their culture that breaking occurs, but transformation follows.

Bringing this back to the topic of the Hunger Games, I find the storyline to be way ahead of its time (considering the books were written before the Occupy movements). There are many other social justice movements in the series, including: anti-war, feminism, economic inequality, disability, and anti-racism. If you have the chance to see it, read the book first, and then go! I give 4 out of 5 Snowcaps!

Because, Patriarchy

I’m a huge fan of weddings. When there are opportunities to dress up, free food, music, and the occasional open bar, what’s there not to like? I was at my cousin’s wedding shower this past weekend when the dreaded but comical awkward toasts began. The soon-to-be bride and groom gave theirs, and the parents of the couple went on next. Everyone’s speech was quaint, heart-felt, and filled with laughs. Well that all ended when the father of the groom went on to speak.

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First and foremost he wanted to congratulate his son on “getting this one,” which was a reference to my cousin. He then took it upon himself that she would be changing her last name, which seemed to be news to my cousin. Lastly, and most disgustingly, he announced that he expected her to be giving birth within the next two years. And of course when she gave another look of surprise and obvious hesitation, he responded with a “oh don’t worry, Mark will talk to you about it tonight.”

I clenched my jaw so tight I think I felt a tooth crack.

What I was being disgusted at is the manifested effects of Patriarchy. A Patriarchal system is a system by which there is a head male authority figure that holds authority over everyone attached to the social system. Patriarchy is very prevalent across all cultures and creates male privilege, which makes females the subordinate group. It’s through this creation of systematic misogyny where men get off thinking that they “own” women, and women become objects of sex, service, and reproduction.

In the institution of marriage there are heavily male-privileged customs, such as: women being sold for land and resources, the woman taking the last name of the man, the man being the person to “remove” a woman’s veil symbolizing purity, and the bride throwing the bouquet to rush another woman to marry. My soon-to-be uncle in-law takes a modernistic step by publically announcing what he thinks she should do with her reproductive system.

A few members of my family initially laughed at some of these “jokes.” But all it takes is a second’s worth of critique to realize that these are not jokes, and they’re not humorous, but that they are instead male-privileged patriarchal remarks. My family is pretty matriarchal, so I was able to get them to recognize the privilege stench the other family was giving off. I also may have accidently started a little family rivalry.

 

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