‘The Hunger Games’ resurges in wake of prequel

Hype for “The Hunger Games” has been building as the release of “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” draws nearer. As the audience ages, their interpretations of the series have also matured. // Photo courtesy of Amy’s Bookshelf

Following the addition of “The Hunger Games” movies to Netflix and the announcement that “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” prequel to the series will release this November, “The Hunger Games” movies and books have been experiencing a resurgence in popularity as fans get excited to watch the new entry. 

In particular, new fan theories and rhetorical analysis of the trilogy have gained popularity on TikTok as young adults who originally read the books in their tween years reread it with a deeper look into the trilogy’s larger societal commentaries.

As a young adult dystopian fiction series, the world that “The Hunger Games” is set in is meant to pose a critique of society through the dramatic amplification of particular social issues and government policies. 

As “The Hunger Games” has been reanalyzed through the lens of the world in 2023, the critiques posed by the series remain as relevant as ever. Tiktok user @luckyleftie in particular has amassed heightened popularity by sharing her analysis of the series.

One of the largest themes of the series is the way that a socio-economic system is able to reinforce economic disparities in a way which keeps the poor poor and the rich rich. Panem is made up of the wealthy Capitol and 12 increasingly poor districts, where the Capitol uses financial control to command every aspect of the lives of the people in the districts.

Members of the poorest districts are often driven to risk their lives for food through the tesserae system in which one will have a higher chance of being reaped for the Hunger Games in return for a set amount of oil and grain for their family.

In theory, every individual would have a fair chance of being reaped for the games, but in reality, the poorest have the highest chance due to their need to take out tesserae.

With the recent rise in cost of living in combination with a stagnation of wages, many young people deeply resonated with the financial aspect of “The Hunger Games’” message. 

The commercialization of the Hunger Games for residents of the Capitol emphasizes the way that violence and suffering are being used for entertainment in Panem. 

Children being forced to fight to the death is masqueraded as an honorable reminder of the country’s history rather than the horrific violence that it really is. When the series was first published, this was often interpreted to be a critique on the state of reality TV shows capitalizing on peoples’ suffering. However, during “The Hunger Games’” resurgence recently, this has been transformed into a critique of the way that social media influencers capitalize on suffering. For example, many TikToks have drawn parallels to the way that family influencers use their children’s most vulnerable moments to gain likes and views.

One of the moments in the series that recent analyses have highlighted is the moment in the second entry into the franchise, “Catching Fire,” in which Katniss and Peeta are about to be thrust into their second Hunger Games within a year. Peeta makes the last ditch effort to stop the games by using his interview to say that Katniss and him were married in secret and are expecting a baby. 

This angers Capitol residents due to the perception that an innocent life will be lost unnecessarily, despite the fact that this is what happens every year. 

“The Hunger Games” and the societal commentary that it poses has regained relevance through the rapid growth of content related to the series being posted on TikTok.