Main menu

Hunger Games II: Catching Fire

This film is a fictional dystopian story of people living in a totalitarian police state, where elite government officials live in grossly wasteful luxury, and the rest of the population struggle to survive in abject poverty. Each year, for the entertainment of the people, and more importantly to manifest the power of the state, two young adults from each of twelve districts are forced to fight to the death, with only one victor allowed to live.

The weapons the contestants use are medieval: bow and arrows, swords, spears, axes. Unlike in the Middle Ages, however, half of the contestants are female.

Though the contestants are forced to fight with medieval weapons, the society is technologically advanced. This makes me think of the level of government control. In the Middle Ages, government and Church leaders probably wanted to dominate the lives of the common people, but they could not. Communication and transportation technology was primitive, so that knowing what people did far away was very difficult, impossible in a brief period of time; and if King or Pope did find out what people were doing far away, they had very limited ability to do much about it. Today, on the other hand, people in most of the world (though not all) desire freedom, and would balk at the idea that any king or priest has the right to control their lives, yet more than ever before technology makes it possible to know what people all over the world are doing, and it is possible to almost immediately kill them. The desire to dominate was strong in the Middle Ages, but it was not very harmful because it was impossible to act on it. Today, the desire to dominate still exists, but in my opinion it is weaker than it was, yet thought the desire is weaker, the reality is potentially much more harmful, because now the means exist to dominate more completely than ever before.

My wise old teacher Marie-Dominique Philippe used to emphasize the important of the judgment of existence, which is done by touching. It is very easy to claim that someone says something that he or she has never said. It is also not very difficult to photoshop a picture and portray someone doing something that he or she never did. Videos, also, can be altered. Nobody’s reputation is safe. Anyone, from Mother Theresa to Ronald Reagan, can have his or her memory tainted. Protecting oneself form character defamation is impossible. Personal relationships, involving touching, are therefore increasingly important, because technology has not yet advanced to the point where it can easily make people believe that they are shaking hands with one another, or hugging, when they are not really doing so. Now I think of Saint Thomas Aquinas who wrote that kissing a married woman is a mortal sin, unless it is the custom in a country and not doing so would be rude. Christians should not be rude, so if one is in a country where it is the custom, then it is good to kiss married women. This is typical Thomas Aquinas: almost every act could be a mortal sin, but almost no act is always a mortal sin. The essential elements are circumstances and will. Some behaviors are inappropriate in certain situations, but appropriate in other situations. Getting drunk, for example, is inappropriate in almost all circumstances, but Thomas Aquinas mentions the rare case of a person who has eaten something poisonous and needs to vomit. In such a circumstance, getting drunk would be good, because it would cause a person to vomit and thus save his or her life. Even if an action is inappropriate, if there is not ell will involved, then it is not a moral sin. Again the example of drunkenness: if someone is inexperienced with alcohol, and does not know how much he or she can drink before getting drunk, then he or she would not be guilty of getting drunk because he or she did not will it but only did it out of ignorance. This all ties together: killing people is normally a mortal sin, but if forced to fight for your life as in the movie “Hunger Games”, then it is not. In the same way, I think that it is more important than ever for friends to tough each other, at least shake hands, because that is how we can make the judgment of existence and thus avoid getting tricked by the government which can use technology to present words and pictures that were not really said or done.