Capitol Control: The Irony of the Hunger Games Movie Mania
Happy Hunger Games! Do you have your ticket to see a midnight showing of the movie tonight? A bunch of us at Bitch do, and I for one am beyond psyched. (Check back tomorrow for our review!) I've watched the trailers, listened to the soundtrack, and even have my outfit planned—based on the Ironing Board Collective's End of Days style predictions, of course. I have to wonder though, is it wrong to want so badly to see the Games?
Considering that the book series—and presumably the film—is about a not-so-distant dystopian future where the government controls its citizens and makes mandatory the watching of a game where kids battle one another to the death, at what point does this must-see movie mania get just a little too ironic?
Take, for example, the marketing of this movie. Yes, it's a blockbuster film version of a wildly popular YA series, so it's no surprise that Lionsgate pulled out all the stops to get us to want to see it. Which we do. But not content to just jam puzzle pieces all over the Internet, Lionsgate has also assumed the role of the Capitol in the film's campaign.
PURSUANT TO PANEM LAW, MATERIALS APPEARING ON THIS SITE ARE GOVERNMENT-OWNED...
The official websites for the film end with .pn instead of .com, because they represent Panem. "Citizens" who visit the sites are asked to register with the Capitol to be assigned a district and an ID. Messages from the Capitol appear under every link, reminding citizens that "ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY" and to "BE INFORMED ABOUT TRACKER JACKER ACTIVITY IN YOUR AREA." Clicking on some of the links provided will take you to the Capitol Couture site for all your fashion needs, or to a virtual Capitol tour where citizens are not yet authorized to view certain areas. The promotional sites do such a great job capturing the sinister allure of the Capitol that it's easy to forget that THE CAPITOL IS THE ENEMY! OH NO WHY AM I PAYING MONEY TO WATCH THE HUNGER GAMES?!
Only adding to the Orwellian mystique is the fact that Lionsgate refused to show any footage of the actual Hunger Games in any of the trailers or leaked footage from the film. It's all buildup: the reaping, the training—check out the OFFICIAL CAPITOL TV YOUTUBE CHANNEL if you need convincing. In order to see the Hunger Games, you have to buy a ticket. From the Capitol (well, Lionsgate assuming the role of the Capitol). I'll repeat: You have to give your money to the Capitol to watch the Games. Holy Panem, people!
The Control Room. During this part, the tour guide said EVEN YOU ARE BEING MONITORED AS WE SPEAK.
Of course, all of these materials are from Lionsgate and are ostensibly a part of the movie itself. We know that the $10 we'll spend to see this film isn't actually going to wind up in the pocket of President Snow's sanguine sharkskin jacket, and some of this stuff—while troubling if you think too hard about it—is kinda fun. Don't we want to feel like citizens of Panem watching the Games? Isn't getting caught up in the story part of the experience?
Maybe, maybe not. But the branding of the Hunger Games that's happening outside the world of .pn URLs is arguably much darker. From Post-Cornucopia Bloodbath lotion to a "kill or be killed" baby tribute hat; from Capitol Colours nail polish to a pair of underwear that has "May the odds be ever in your favor" printed on the ass, many products have taken the subversive spirit of the series and created something that's just the opposite. Hell, you can even wear dresses inspired by the Day of the Reaping.
So what are we
CITIZENS OF PANEM moviegoers to do? Should we avoid the film because its capitalist (Capitol-ist?) agenda is counter to that of the series? Should we jump in with both Laquan Smith-clad feet because it's more fun that way? I don't have the answers, but I will be front and center at the movie tonight. Will you?
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