Overlooking ‘Hunger’ in The Hunger Games

Posted: December 2, 2013 in The Hunger Games Op Eds
Tags: , ,

By Austin Del Priore

With the recent release of the movie version of Suzanne Collin’s “Catching Fire” of The Hunger Games trilogy, ironically enough hunger seems to be the least talked about issue.

The books and now films have captured a variety of audiences and age groups with the entrancing love drama, political infighting and bloody battle scenes. Hunger seems to take backstage to the more flashy and violent themes.

A major aspect of the plot development of the series focuses on the lack of food for impoverished communities and how food is actually used as a tool of political leverage and manipulation for the controlling capitol. The district from which the main character, Katniss, hails is strikingly similar to the modern region of Appalachia – with poverty and food insecurity being major concerns. Just as hunger is overlooked in the series, American society seems to be taking a similar path of ignorance.

Despite 1 in 6 American’s facing hunger, why is it a largely overlooked?

According to a recent Gallup poll, when asked what the most important problem facing the United States today, only 2 percent of respondents answered “poverty/hunger/homelessness,” while “dissatisfaction with government” garnered 26 percent support and healthcare polled at 19 percent.

In 2012, 49 million Americans lived in “food insecure households” according to a FeedingAmerican.org report. Meanwhile, the Republican held US Congress recently passed legislation to make “draconian” cuts to the food stamp program, according to US Congressman James McGovern. He also called it, “one of the most heartless bills I have ever seen.”

While there are viable arguments to be made of the importance of other issues – poverty and hunger are uniquely impactful to the quality of life of Americans. What does it say as a country when the ability of our fellow citizens to feed themselves is not seen as an “important” issue?

So, how can the dynamic be changed? Perhaps The Hunger Games offer an example of what narrative not to pursue. Just as the likes of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga (and their antics) dominate contemporary news cycles, the appeal of The Hunger Games seems more rooted in the flashy Hollywood of overdone themes: love, death and violence.

The Hunger Games does make issue of social class and food access, though it is not what you will see being advertised in the “Catching Fire” commercials. Recognizing that there are starving people in the United States is hardly glamorous, just as it does not sell books or movies.

As a society we must move past what may be deemed showy politically and take note of a critical issue.

While there are certainly flaws to the current food stamp program, a recent Census Bureau report demonstrated that the program “had kept about four million people above the poverty level and had prevented millions more from sinking further into poverty.”

Hunger and poverty is not glamorous or glitzy, but it is pressing and important. With The Hunger Games serving as another reminder of how hunger affects the lives of many, I suggest that food security organizations around the country take this opportunity to expand their message, their reach, their fundraising and food collecting. What better time to attempt to entrance the country with an issue affecting so many, than when the issue is staring back at society with a popular-culture film.

Hunger is not a game; it is a very real issue and should be thought of as one by the American public.

By: Austin Del Priore


➢ http://feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/hunger-facts/hunger-and-poverty-statistics.aspx

➢ http://www.gallup.com/poll/1675/most-important-problem.aspx

➢ http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/20/us/politics/house-passes-bill-cutting-40-billion-from-food-stamps.html?

  1. Jimmy Schwabe says:

    I think you did a great job highlighting an important theme that is left out throughout the movie series thus far. After all, it is called The HUNGER Games! We are desensitized to some of the less flashy global issues today. Starving families and hunger have been constant issues on the news throughout my entire life. Yet, it seems that hunger is a never-ending issue that cannot be solved. Unlike war or political issues, hunger appears to take many more steps to solve. But, without taking that step today, tomorrow will not change. Your piece does a nice job of taking the issue of hunger and placing it on the forefront! Hopefully people hear what you are saying!

  2. Carly says:

    I agree that Hunger is left out of the series, and even today is very over-looked. Although, I believe that the elaborate party scene in “Catching Fire,” and the elaborate display of food in the Capitol, along with the Capitol’s fashion, greatly shows the ignorance that people have for those suffering. I believe the series does a great job of exemplifying just how self-absorbed some people really are. Besides that, I love hearing your insight because even I overlooked the theme of hunger, and found myself caught up in all the other drama. I also feel that people think the Hunger Games is based off a bizarre concept, just because they themselves do not suffer from the Hunger that many American’s today face.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow. I had not really thought of the movie version of “The Hunger Games” like that. You bring up a good point. I really like the way that you do not chastise the movie makers for not including hunger in the movies, but instead you use this example as a tool to showcase the neglect of the issue in our own society.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I definitely agree that the issue of hunger has taken a backseat throughout the series thus far. It is one of the main ways the Capitol controls the districts. It is a similar case in the US as well; hunger is a worldwide problem that is overshadowed by politics and control of the government.

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