During Thanksgiving break, I had two opportunities to watch the latest installment of the Hunger Games trilogy: Catching Fire. While the film featured excellent production values, spot-on acting, and an entertaining storyline, this article’s neither a review of the film nor a tribute to the best actress in Hollywood, Jennifer Lawrence. Rather, this commentary is about my frequent bouts of déjà vu elicited by the Hunger Games storyline.
In The Hunger Games, the rich, the powerful, and the societal elite reside in the Capitol of a fictional country “Panem.” There, they bask in secular luxuries like the finest cuisines, exotic drinks, and Beverly Hills type residences. Hardship and labor are a thing of the past, and the inhabitants are unaware of or indifferent to the struggles of the 12 desolate outlying districts that surround the Capitol. While members of each of the 12 districts die from starvation and abysmal living conditions, people in the Capitol intentionally vomit in order to stuff themselves with more delicacies.
The epiphany I had while watching Catching Fire is a scary one: we are currently living in the real-world equivalent of the Capitol. Like the oddly dressed and spoiled fanatics who flip out whenever Katniss "catches fire," we, too, are inevitably exposed to positions of privilege by virtue of attending a wealthy private university in the most affluent nation in the world. Like the force field that surrounds the Hunger Games arena, which is later shattered by Katniss’s bow, the BC Bubble can be detrimental if not taken with a grain of salt. And while the bubble itself is self-sustaining and convenient and fun and welcoming, it cloaks the realities of the dark side of the world and often shrouds the way we look at those that are not inside the bubble with us.
I agree, let’s bring Hillside back to the meal plan. And why are there so many stairs on campus? “I’d rather die than live on Newton and deal with waiting for the shuttle.” These complaints are significant, not because of their content, but because of the implicit vestiges of our entitled mindsets after spending time living on the Heights. Because while we may be frustrated with the lack of food diversity in our dining halls or how gruesome finals week may be, we must remember that there are Katniss Everdeens all across the world trying to pull themselves out of the pits of poverty in pursuit of a better life; children like Rue who aren’t lucky enough to live out their lives. These characters may be fictitious but their stories are not.
Three months into freshman year, I found it easy to remain complacent in the comforts of Boston College. Everything is provided for you on campus, so there is little incentive to venture out of it. But I have learned throughout my short time in college that although the outside world may be daunting, dirtier, and less attractive than the beautiful elevators in Stokes, just as District 12 may pale in comparison to the Capitol, it is, nonetheless, the place where we belong. Solidarity with the poor, unprivileged, and weak; three fingers up for the resistance.