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‘Catching Fire’ reflects our excesses

More than a year ago, I stood in a long line to see “The Hunger Games” on opening night. This past weekend, I was surprised to be one of very few people arriving early to see “Catching Fire,” the next installment of the series written by Suzanne Collins.

Let me just say this series is not the next “Twilight” series, as Hollywood or your children may have you believe. And it’s not just for your teenagers.

When I went to the first movie, I believed I was taking my then-10-year-old girl to see the next teen love story. I left thinking it was the most intense satire on American government, culture and media I had ever seen.

“Catching Fire” emphasized that.

The first two movies spare no expense painting the political — or ruling — class of the “Capitol” as gaudy gluttons taking everything from the working class.

Capitol residents wear outlandish clothing and clownish makeup. They take everything for granted, while ignoring the difficulties of those living in poor, rural areas.

In a “Catching Fire” scene, one of the heroes is encouraged to, shall we say, “toss his cookies,” just so he could taste more treats. That’s something he just can’t stomach, knowing people in his home “district” are starving and barely getting by.

Conversely, district residents have little food and virtually no modern conveniences. Everything they do is done to benefit the government and ruling class.

The satire is intensified by the depiction of the televised media as loud and opinionated and whose job it is to sell the games as a competition to distract district residents from the hardships of their poverty-stricken lives.

That doesn’t sound so far-fetched from some things we see going on today in our nation’s capitol, does it?

Looking at Washington, D.C., it’s not difficult to find examples of lifestyles and society reflected by “The Hunger Games” series. It’s not that hard to see some of the same excesses in Olympia, either.

Want to see the poverty reflected in the movie? How about taking note of areas right here in Okanogan and Ferry counties where people live without electricity, still have outhouses and lack the connectivity of the modern world.

And what about the media?

Can you say reality TV? That’s basically the movie’s version of what is being pushed on the American public today.

If you see some of the same satire I did, maybe the movies will prompt you to help reshape where our nation is headed.

While I caught flack for taking my daughter to the first movie, I hope she learned something and doesn’t just see “The Hunger Games” as the next teen love story.

Roger Harnack is the editor and publisher of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at rharnack@omakchronicle.com.

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