I read in The Economist about the Tea Party’s recently released trailer that seems modeled after The Hunger Games. The allegorical portrayal equates big government social spending (the “Development Party”) with the tyrannical power-brokers of Panem’s “Capitol.” The Tea Party “Patriots” are hip-looking youngsters who Katniss Everdeen-like are attacking the system and standing up against government oppression.
The Economist seems to point to Miss Amanda Robbins’ reading of Suzanne Collins’ bestseller as a source for the trailer. An influential member of Florida’s Teenage Republicans, Robbins wondered if political conservatism was an agenda underlying the book.
As a founder of a Teenage Republican chapter (yes, that happened once, many years ago) and as someone currently reading the final installment of The Hunger Games Trilogy, I think I am in a unique position to comment on the use of this trailer.
Another qualifying credential is that I am studying ancient texts. And the production of this trailer is a prime example of a splinter group co-opting a text and misusing it for their own purposes.
I’m not interested in politics, here—just with the curious media usage at play.
Texts are a media form, and the Tea Party has latched onto a work of pop-fiction and adapted it for their own purposes. Like when the Valentinian Gnostics championed the Gospel of John. Like Marcion’s preference for Luke (well, most of Luke). Like when the Ebionites attached themselves to Matthew. For a more contemporary case, think about the use of John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart by drug lords for acculturating young males into gang culture.
Okay, okay—I am not trying to equate the Tea Party with early Christian heretics or with drug cartels. Not at all.
But I just want to point out the irony. The most potent critique of The Hunger Games trilogy is not directed against an Obama-style big government apparatus. Tyranny of an Orwellian scope is certainly criticized. But the sharpest angle of the polemic is leveled against the manipulation of the masses through the calculated use of media. In The Hunger Games, Collins has provided a brilliant exposé of media culture. The strategic use of media propaganda to sway the populace is one of the most deadly tools of the hated Capitol.
In fact, taking a popular narrative and adapting it cunningly for one’s own purpose sounds like a signature project of President Snow….