Hunger Games and Popular Culture

28 Apr

The Hunger Games by Susan Collins is part of a three part series and has already claimed its place on the New York Times list of best selling novels. Some say the Hunger Games phenomenon is sure to find itself setting sales records above even the Harry Potter series. Quickly finding itself a part of popular culture, a more in depth analysis of the novel reveals that it has more to offer than one might originally suspect. The dystopian nature of the fictional Panem and how familiar it is to the real world is all too chilling. It is this predicative characteristic of the novel that has forever altered the way I view artifacts of popular culture.

Popular culture carries with it a broad spectrum of elements. For a work to be considered a part of popular culture, a wide audience must first appreciate it. That is to effectively say that, in its most simple definition, popular culture is the culture of the masses, including popular music, television shows, commercials, brand names, advertisements, sports, the Internet, movies, fashion, etc. This is opposed to high culture, which is considered to be the culture of the more elitist and educated members of a given society. With popular culture clearly defined, it can easily be declared a home for The Hunger Games.

The novel has something for everyone. Rue and her struggles appeal to the younger populous, while Katniss and her more romantic hardships cater to young adults struggling to discover themselves and love, and finally the more political nature and adult elements can be appreciated by the more adult audience. These elements are what allow for all members of society to find some form of appreciation and appeal within the text. Effectively, the novel can claim to be a part of the culture belonging to the masses, which happily meets our definition of popular culture. This is further reflected by the latest numbers claiming there are thirty-six and a half million scheduled to print in the United States alone.

Containing other artifacts such as “The Jersey Shore”, popular culture is quick to be disregarded by societies more elite members. However, the novel contains fundamental elements of literary classics. For example, 1984 (belonging to high culture, mind you) by Georgia Orwell also features a dystopian society. Also carrying this predicative element, popular culture gains weight. Panem and the districts have much to say about some of societies most sensitive topics: racism, religion, and an overpowering government to name a few.

Overall, it can be said that The Hunger Games has forever altered my perception of popular culture. The novel’s ability to challenge societies toughest issues and predict where we are headed as a nation gives it a weight I never would have considered before. Analogous to even elements of high culture, the novel has much to say and deserves a more serious and in depth analysis before being brought down to other artifacts in the neighborhood of popular culture.

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