It has been thirteen years since The Hunger Games hit bookstores and scared the living daylights out of kids all across America. Could things really get that bad if the government gets, well, that bad? Lucky for us, these previous four years have been a test of American’s patience, morals, and priorities. Specifically, there have been many jokes that the millennial generation has been screwed over pretty much since birth. Perhaps this is the reason why this generation gravitated so much to the idea of a dystopian America.
The idea that The Hunger Games is a critique of American society is not a new one. A 2018 article by Medium suggests that the book itself specifically looks at the capitalist ways that will inevitably take down American society. There is an obvious gap between the richest districts in Panem and the poorest. Ironically, the poorest sector is where Washington D.C. sits in the actual USA, while The Capitol sits somewhere in The Rocky Mountains near present-day Salt Lake City, Utah. The closer to The Capitol, the richer the districts.
As a millennial myself, I have to wonder if this particular generation gravitated towards this critique of modern American society because we grew up on edge. The Millenial generation is defined as those born between 1981 and 1996. This means that the oldest of us remember The Challenger explosion while those of us in the middle significantly remember September 11, 2001. Worst still, the youngest of this generation has a global pandemic defining their early adulthoods. While every generation has its setbacks, the millennial generation has particularly felt the consequences of these events, whether through the 2008 Recession, threats of nuclear war, or even the lack of leadership by a president whose only credits were that of reality television. Frankly, it’s no wonder why living in modern-day America has left the millennial generation anxious and burnt-out.
With that said, it’s interesting that a generation would pick up a book that was the worst of their potential futures. Just like how the younger generations of Panem were exploited with a deathmatch as a consequence of previous generations, current young adults and teenagers in America are being punished because of selfish choices made by their predecessors. You cannot compare working a part-time job and being able to afford college in the 1960s versus having to live at home because you need to work full-time to barely put yourself through university in this day and age. An interesting article by FEE.org highlights some ways in which themes in The Hunger Games are playing out all around the world. Another article by lifestyle website SheKnows specifies how parts of the series are prevalent in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
But what is glorious about The Hunger Games is that it is specifically the younger generation that over-throws The Capitol so that Panem can begin anew. We have already seen such success from Millennials and Gen Z rallying votes for the 2020 Presidential Election last year. We have collectively decided that past generations are no longer in charge of our futures. Because of our voices, we are seeing better access to healthcare; we’re getting a tiny bit closer to cheaper and free higher education; and better yet, we have a more competent president who, although not perfect, is certainly more qualified to run a country. Perhaps The Hunger Games scared this generation so much with what their future could look like, that they decided to fight back with every ounce of power they had.
We can’t sit here and say that the millennial generation has it worse than any other generation out there. To be fair, the only thing that we have collectively been able to avoid is another World War. However, it sometimes feels as though millennials are the punching bag to society’s experiments with capitalism. It will be interesting to look back in half a century to see what other parts of Suzanne Collins’s dystopian nightmare play out in real life. For now, all we can do is continue to fight for our futures.
If you would like to read more about The Hunger Games, click here to read about my personal favorite in the series.
FEATURED IMAGE VIA NPR