Everytime I see this…
This actually did happen to a real person, and the real person was me. I had gone to catch a train. This was April 1976, in Cambridge, U.K. I was a bit early for the train. I’d gotten the time of the train wrong.
I went to get myself a newspaper to do the crossword, and a cup of coffee and a packet of cookies. I went and sat at a table.
I want you to picture the scene. It’s very important that you get this very clear in your mind.
Here’s the table, newspaper, cup of coffee, packet of cookies. There’s a guy sitting opposite me, perfectly ordinary-looking guy wearing a business suit, carrying a briefcase.
It didn’t look like he was going to do anything weird. What he did was this: he suddenly leaned across, picked up the packet of cookies, tore it open, took one out, and ate it.
Now this, I have to say, is the sort of thing the British are very bad at dealing with. There’s nothing in our background, upbringing, or education that teaches you how to deal with someone who in broad daylight has just stolen your cookies.
You know what would happen if this had been South Central Los Angeles. There would have very quickly been gunfire, helicopters coming in, CNN, you know… But in the end, I did what any red-blooded Englishman would do: I ignored it. And I stared at the newspaper, took a sip of coffee, tried to do a clue in the newspaper, couldn’t do anything, and thought, what am I going to do?
In the end I thought, nothing for it, I’ll just have to go for it, and I tried very hard not to notice the fact that the packet was already mysteriously opened. I took out a cookie for myself. I thought, that settled him. But it hadn’t because a moment or two later he did it again. He took another cookie.
Having not mentioned it the first time, it was somehow even harder to raise the subject the second time around. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice …” I mean, it doesn’t really work.
We went through the whole packet like this. When I say the whole packet, I mean there were only about eight cookies, but it felt like a lifetime. He took one, I took one, he took one, I took one. Finally, when we got to the end, he stood up and walked away.
Well, we exchanged meaningful looks, then he walked away, and I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back. A moment or two later the train was coming in, so I tossed back the rest of my coffee, stood up, picked up the newspaper, and underneath the newspaper were my cookies.
The thing I like particularly about this story is the sensation that somewhere in England there has been wandering around for the last quarter-century a perfectly ordinary guy who’s had the same exact story, only he doesn’t have the punch line.
This is how many children that died in their Hunger Games, without even being mentioned throughout the three books. All these children were under 18. All these children had parents. All these parents’ hearts sank to their knees during their child’s reaping. All these parents saw their terrified child off at the train station. All these parents heard the sound that signified their child’s death. All these parents received their cold, dead child in a wooden box. All these parents’ lives ended there. All these parents could say or do nothing. All these parents were merely thanked that they gave up their child. Thanked.
And the media focuses on the love triangle.
All these children and all these parents aren’t real
Yeah, sure, I guess that’s true. None of these people were real.
But let’s focus on what this series, and this fact, say about our society.
In the series, the Capitol’s media focuses entirely on the ‘fun’ of the Games- the fashion, the plot twists, the favorites, the strategies, the romance. And the entire time, they completely overlook the fact that 1,678 children between the ages of 12 and 18 have died. Usually brutally murdered by other 12 to 18 year old children.
And how does our real-life media react to this story when news of a movie adaptation reaches them? They talk about the romance. This tragic story of a girl who must choose between her long-time best friend and her new love. Even if she chooses Peeta, they still must fight to the death. The star-crossed lovers of District 12. And many readers of the original novels saw the books through the same lens. You would tell them that you read/ were reading the books and their first reaction was, “Are you Team Gale or Team Peeta?”
Meanwhile, children are fighting to the death.
The fact that our media, and many every-day people reacted to the Hunger Games the same as the Capitol media scares me.
I don’t want this world to be anything like the Capitol. I don’t think any of us do.
And the fact that most of us (including myself) never really considered how many children had died in the games also scares me. But, hey, it didn’t happen now/ in the current story, so it doesn’t matter, right?
THIs is actually the reason I thought the book was so thoughtful. western society IS the capitol.
Yes, I was pulled along by the romance as well, but I’m more complex in my desires and interests. Not only was I interested in who she may or may not choose, but I was constantly making parallels to today’s media and our current society. It was scary, and gets scarier the more I watch current events unfolding. It could happen, and it scares me.