Within the first fifteen seconds, the message of the Harry Potter Alliance’s newest video is clear. Within thirty, it’s confirmed by the powerful narration: “The Hunger Games are real.”
This truth was once widely accepted. Author Suzanne Collins famously came up with the idea for the series by flipping the channels between news coverage on the war in Iraq and a reality TV show. The idea that this is unacceptable was at the heart of the revolutionary series.
With the books’ translation to film, however, too much of that is lost. Entertainment news outlets’ questions for Jennifer Lawrence seem to parallel Caesar Flickerman’s questions for Katniss Everdeen. Promotion deals are made with Subway, CoverGirl, and Barbie, almost parodying Panem’s harrowing struggles. Lionsgate launched a social media presence that celebrated the Capitol – and its oppression of Panem – status by status.
The very tactics that the Hunger Games series was written to critique quickly became just another way to reap some profit. Hypocrisy was considered collateral damage at worst.
This is where the HPA comes in. The video is just one part of the nonprofit organization’s recently-launched Odds In Our Favor campaign:
The campaign is a direct reaction to not only the toxic marketing tactics the franchise has adopted, but also the important issues it obscures. Another component, the We Are the Districts blog, highlights effects of economic inequality. With submissions open to everyone, it’s a collaborative effort to bring the spotlight back to the problems in Katniss’s world and ours.
In truth, the entire OIOF campaign is a collaborative effort – a resistance.
“The media campaign for the Hunger Games seems to be borrowing from the Capitol’s playbook – a slick glossy spectacle that distracts from the central message of the story,” says Andrew Slack, Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance. “At its core, the Hunger Games is about economic inequality. The fictional future of Panem is upon us already: 25 million Americans can’t find full time jobs, 22% of children live in poverty and the top 1% control 40% of our nation’s wealth. It’s time for fans of the Hunger Games to make sure that message doesn’t go unspoken.”
The fans have answered that call. At the HPA’s request, they’ve taken pictures of their three-finger salutes, submitted them to the Odds In Our Favor website, and used them to speak out on the Capitol’s Facebook posts.
As they head out to Catching Fire premieres across the world, fans will be spreading the word and throwing up their salutes once more.
In the Hunger Games canon, a three finger salute is a sign of “thanks, [...] admiration, [...] good-bye to someone you love.” With the HPA’s campaign, it’s quickly becoming something even greater – a sign of unity, resistance, and revolution.
And it’s only the beginning. The HPA has pledged to keep going until the odds are in everyone’s favor.
Panem rose against the Capitol. Now it’s the fandom’s turn.