Death notes: The Hunger Games
Songs for all victims of oppression and deception
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand
– William Butler Yeats
Life and death, fact and fiction, truth and deception are the themes of The Hunger Games, its music and inspirations. I crave a stronger response from the public to these themes. The Hunger Games is a strong criticism of those who sacrifice our children to hold onto their power. The world is full of weeping when we allow that to happen. Some composers reach out to us in song to tell us what is really happening in times of war and oppression. Glen Hansard did that in his song Come Away to the Water that show how warped the world is when chillingly children are lured to their deaths.
Glen Hansard composed Come Away To The Water, a song now in the hands of Maroon 5 for some inexplicable reason, for The Hunger Games but you can hear Glen’s original version of the song here. You can also see the connection to the reality that inspired it written out in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wascc5Cyp80
Come away little lass, come away to the water to the arms that are reaching only for you.
Come away little lass, come away to the water to the ones appointed to see it through.
We are calling to you.
Come away little lad, come away to the laughter to the path that is open wide to the new.
Come away little lad come away to the laughter to the one last promise to always hold true.
We are calling for you. We are coming for you.
Come away little lamb, come away to the water to the ones who were lost and don’t know what to do.
Come away little lamb, come away to the slaughter. Give yourself up so we may live anew.
We are coming for you. We are calling for you.
Come away little lass, come away to the water to the ones that are waiting only for you.
Come away little lad, come away to the slaughter to the ones who appointed to see it through.
We are calling to you. We are calling to you.
Where fact and fiction meet makes literature most interesting for me and I crave important messages in any work of art. Teach me something that will move my soul and I shall call you art. Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, cites the war on Iraq and reality shows as her inspiration. Let’s put the Battle Royale (Japanese book on a similar theme) issue to the side for now though I do hope Collins will donate some earnings to tsunami victims. The real horror of war and the gross falseness of reality shows meet in diabolical lies. Falsehoods stir up and ‘justify’ wars. That which is presented as reality is utterly empty.
In the real world we need to recognize the signs. When we are being charged for the basics for survival such as water and health care we know our governments do not care about our lives and we must demand change.
In The Hunger Games children who are forced to try to kill each other in order to survive in a warped fictitious world that is presented to the public as entertainment. It echoes the way our soldiers are sent off to fight in wars so as to benefit the rich and powerful with no care for the lives of the innocents that will be lost. We have enough arms to blow up the world many times over no matter how hard people work too many will not get jobs and the greatest source of debt is students who cannot pay back loans they got so they could go to university
Truth and deception form the lifeblood of the plot. The protagonists of The Hunger Games know the reality of their harsh conditions and ‘the capitol’ (the seat of power) feeds propaganda out through its channel and acts to protect its own false world. Separation, oppression and fear are their tools of war. From the warped point of view of those in power in the Capitol, a social conscience and doing good is viewed as a sick mentality.
I have heard this echoed here in the U.S. Never argue a political point on morality, I was coached. Always base it on economics they taught me. In our version of history the enemy has been labeled been ‘socialism,’ ‘communism,’ ‘terrorism,’ and yet the majority of victims are women and children and the motivation is greed. The greatest number of the victims are the poor fighting for their rights but they are demonized and deception reigns. And yet we stay glued to the TV sets, horrified at it and ourselves for the level of the lies.
The chorus of Glen’s song reminded me of a poem by William Butler Yeats The Stolen Child. Here is a rendition of this poem in song by The Waterboys:
Song # 2
The Stolen Child (not in the movie) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVSN9DMvl6I
The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats
Where dips the rocky highland of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild
Where the wave of moonlight glosses the dim grey sands with light,
Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild
Where the wandering water gushes from the hills above Glen-Car,
Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild
Away with us he’s going, the solemn-eyed:
For he comes, the human child, to the waters and the wild
Evil is personified in this poem as creatures from another world, the faeries. Death takes them away. It steals them before their time. The child is stunned by these strange beings and follows them: ‘Away with us he’s going, the solemn-eyed.’ In life the realization of truth about how wars are all deception is horrifying. We cannot conceive of how man could plan to deliberately do this to his fellow man. It sucks all the energy of the joy out of a person and leaves in its place a zombie-like traumatized shell of a person, solemn-eyed ready to walk towards his death. Innocence is dead. The world is more full of weeping than anyone can understand and it stuns the spirit and steals it away.
In The Hunger Games children are robbed from the safety of their families and friends and made to lose their humanity as they must kill each other. The book’s success has much to do with its universal theme. That is the very nature of war. Man was not born to kill his fellow man. It is a massive crime against nature. And yet it is common. Why and how did society become so sick and twisted as to implement such a game (fictional and real)?
Why? To suppress people so the heartless can keep power. How? Using lies, deprivation, and fear. The first victim when war comes is truth. The nature of the beast that spawns such deranged cruelty is the lack of a conscience. Then we are denied some of our rights and respect to protect society from the enemy. What is truly scary is how easily we accept this. The fear thrives on the rules being unclear. They are changed often and we are told to accept that our leaders know more and if we are not for them, we are against them.
Explain to me the nature of evil, the power and the glory.
Intinn, an Irish group with a reggae style asks people to come away from the deception in their song Come Away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46H8VXpuFrU
The Hunger Games has its ‘Tributes’ while the US has it’s ‘Servicemen and women’ otherwise know as soldiers who are fed lies and propaganda. The military Industrial Complex has a massive grip on American politics and culture and it will need all the people to reject their grip in no uncertain terms to have any hope of having a better future.
Irish singer Paul Brady sings of children as tributes or sacrificial lambs when he sings of how we sacrifice our children when we send them off to war in his song The Island.
Song #3 The Island here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avr0-Utx3X0
They say the skies of Lebanon are burning
Those mighty cedars bleeding in the heat
They’re showing pictures on the television
Women and children dying in the street
And we’re still at it in our own place
Still trying to reach the future through the past
Still trying to carve tomorrow from a tombstone…
But Hey! Don’t listen to me!
This wasn’t meant to be no sad song
We’ve heard too much of that before
Right now I only want to be here with you
Till the morning dew comes falling
I want to take you to the island
And trace your footprints in the sand
And in the evening when the sun goes down
We’ll make love to the sound of the ocean
They’re raising banners over by the markets
Whitewashing slogans on the shipyard walls
Witchdoctors praying for a mighty showdown
No way our holy flag is gonna fall
Up here we sacrifice our children
To feed the worn-out dreams of yesterday
And teach them dying will lead us into glory…
Now I know us plain folks don’t see all the story
And I know this peace and love’s just copping out
And I guess these young boys dying in the ditches
Is just what being free is all about
And how this twisted wreckage down on main street
Will bring us all together in the end
And we’ll go marching down the road to freedom…
There is bitterness in that thought and it is not accurate. The dreams do not wear out; they are crushed and erased. It is not to feed those dreams that people were sacrificed; that has always been a lie. We are fed propaganda and war to distract people from the diabolical crimes of the truly heartless. They care not a whit for the many who suffer and die as it serves their purpose. Yes, Evil is Live backwards in that it is everything that is good and true turned backwards and grotesquely twisted. What is truly scary is how easily people accept that twisted version of life. There is not and never was any glory in killing.
Reflections on what we do or do not learn:
So who are the heartless, these strange creatures so devoid of humanity who start wars? They are the many heartless beings who walk among us, those without a conscience who are often charming and always self-obsessed. Their lack of a conscience makes them incomprehensible to us like beings from another world. It has always been so. They were the bullies of the school playground, the Saurons and Voldemorts of literature, the evil forces and the bad faeries of mythology.
Mostly they are people who like positions of power. Too many of us are sheep who give them their power over us. They do not look like monsters or talk like monsters and many are charming and know how to look wounded when we question their motives. Many of the worst rise to the highest levels of power precisely because they have no conscience so they are immune to criticism and can carry off lies convincingly.
They are most often in positions of authority. They wear wings or pins or medals or ribbons and they engage in warfare of one kind or another: war on the fragile, war on the poor, war on the battlefield from the safety of an armchair. They recruit the innocent and send them off to be killed and far worse, to kill destroying their souls. They feed on the idea of glory and gain that from the slaughter of the innocents.
They may feed off people’s vulnerability in order to crush our dreams. They may delight in causing others humiliation. They may deprive people of their basic necessities or their freedom because to do so gives them a rush of power and they are far more common than we would like to think.
What are the odds?
It’s time to name the creatures who suck away our happiness. Psychiatrists would call them sociopaths and there is approximately one of them for every 25 of us. So you would think the odds are in our favor, right? Sadly that is not the case. Evil is more likely to win as long as we let it and that is what we have done for far too long. The Milgram experiment saw 6 out of 10 people blindly following orders because they believed someone they perceived to be an authority figure. That shifts the odds diabolically in the favor of the warped.
From Yeats’ poem The Stolen Child I paint them as monsters but the truth is that we all have selfishness and lack of caring to some degree. Whenever we decide to pass a homeless person who is truly in need, we have, for however brief a period it may be, entered into their world. When we do not speak up against unjust acts or when we blindly follow leaders to kill in foreign lands not knowing the reason for the fight (trite labels like communism or terrorism do not count), we lose our humanity. Do people really hate all the people they will kill? Do they really love all the people they think they will protect (child molesters included)?
Though leaves are many, the root is one; through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun; now I may wither into the truth
I recall so many Stolen Children such as the Aborigines as I learned from watching Rabbit-Proof Fence, Argentina’s lost children as I learned from The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Brazil’s poor as I learned from City of God and child soldiers everywhere forced to act as killing machines so sociopaths can keep their power. And still we let this happen. And still we have not learned that the bullies are the minority and they get their power from our silence. Sing, paint, do what you will to voice your contempt but do not be silent any more. Let us take away their power and take back our children.
Visit http://www.amnestyusa.org/our-work/issues/children-s-rights/child-soldiers to learn what you can do to help.