Sunday, November 24, 2013

About Those Hunger Games

Any close examination of my personal sins and faults would be far too long to list individually. For the sake of coming right to the point for this post I will focus on one that if not in the top ten for everyone does tend to highly piss off anyone leaning to the right of the political spectrum. The little secret that I usually do not share with my accusers is that such criticism does not bother me, even on the occasions it happens to be true.

More times that I can count I have been accused of being a pretentious twit or deluded snob who has no real idea how the world works. The person or people making such a statement then usually go on to describe how I live in my own rosy fantasy world. To support their claims these individuals site my choices in television and movies that lean heavily towards science fiction, intelligent drama, documentaries, and comedies that use words with more then three syllables. In my own defense, I've watched a few episodes of Duck Dynasty, Storage Wars, along any number of reality shows that are for the moment popular. I'll be nice and just say that if a person enjoys such entertainment good for them, I will gladly suffer the consequences of being a snob and continue to live in my own little world.

Part of the requirements for being pretentious or deluded seems to be the ability or talent at noticing the contradictions of the world around them and how, if this was a “Christian nation” as so many claim it is things could not exist they way they do. Contrary to the saying that in the world of the blind the one-eyed man is king, it seems that in my family, circle of misbegotten acquaintances, or people in general such a capacity is often a strange handicap. Far worse a situation for someone like me is to begin to see similarities between the world of fiction and our so-called reality.

This weekend the second movie in the Hunger Games series opened and being the dutiful parents both my wife and I accompanied our eager daughter, Darth Wiggles, to go see it. For those possibly unfamiliar with the Hunger Games plot it takes place in the indeterminate future centered around a fictional dystopic North American country called Panem. Because the government of Panem is run by a bunch of certified douchebags several of the districts that make up that country at some point rebelled. The rebellion was eventually crushed with the central government, in a bizarre type or retribution, coercing each of the districts to offer up a male and female child every year and forcing them all to fight each other to the death in an arena until there is one survivor.

The Hunger Games books and movies start up seventy-four years into these “games.” For the capital city of Panem, an extremely prosperous and well-fed place compared to some of the districts where third world-level poverty and starvation is the norm, the start of each year's games is a cause for celebration and outright pageantry far exceeding what we do for the Olympics or Superbowl.

Of course the entire scenario playing out here is monstrous to the extreme but I was bothered by something far closer to home. Before the beginning of the actual games in the second movie all the contestants are invited to a big shindig at the residence of the president of Panem. Because everyone who is anyone in this fictional country is at this affair the buffet tables are loaded. Given the views we have of the capital city during the movie I highly doubt anyone living there goes hungry. In fact during the president's party one of the main characters, Peeta, is offered a dish filled with pastries. Peeta declines, saying he is full, but this caused the person offering the pastries to then offer up a drink specially designed to allow someone to vomit and purge their stomachs so they can continue to eat. I came away from that scene with the idea that such a drink was normal in that society.

Now after the movie what do my family and I go and do? We walk down to a nearby restaurant and have lunch. While this unnamed restaurant lacked the opulence of a Panem presidential party it did have a similar overabundance of food available given the leftovers remaining in the dishes of customers who had paid their checks and left. I have all idea, and no evidence to the contrary, that all the uneaten food I saw was promptly trashed when the tables were cleared. Now there is nothing legally or ethically wrong with a person not eating all the food on their plate. God knows, Americans are massively overweight and restaurants are notorious for over sizing their entrees. For the me the problem involves how casually most of us ignore hunger in America right now.

Right-wingers will go into a rabid-like rage over perceived abuses to the food stamp program. Politicians, always reflecting the lowest common denominator of the voting public, will easily vote to cut funding that alleviates hunger although sixteen million kids here in the land of the free and home of the brave daily struggle with getting enough to eat. Now as a nation we seem easily able to afford tax breaks for corporations and to buy weapons systems the shiny star-wearing boys and girls working in the Pentagon damn near jump up and down while screaming at Congress they have no use for but feeding poor children, that's a huge issue.

Right-wingers fume saying these people on food stamps should get jobs so they can feed themselves and their little rugrats. Okay, I agree, its just that many people on food stamps do have full-time jobs, but they do not make enough to feed their family. A little very inconvenient statistic is that hourly-wages have not kept up with the average cost of living but more on that later.

Hey, to any right-winger reading this a good number of people on food stamps list their full time occupation as active duty military. How about that folks that kind of shoots the "get a job you lazy bum" argument in the ass. Our government buys carefully crafted television commercials and other forms of expensive advertisements extolling the virtues of being a soldier, marine, sailor, or airmen then sends them out to the far corners the world to “spread democracy” but the spouse back home here in the States has to go apply for food stamps. Someone is getting screwed here and my answer would truthfully be that we all are except for the billionaires and other rich folks who profit from wars.

My absolute favorite example of surreal denial of real hunger in America came recently from that place where there is “always low prices.” News was made recently when a couple of Wal Marts began holding food drives for their employees. Take a moment to reread that last sentence then jump over to the link to read the actual news report. Now think, one of the most profitable corporations here in the CSA – Corporate States of America – is having food drives so their underpaid employees can have Thanksgiving Dinner. Remember, these same employees stand a high probability of having to work later that day and well into the Friday because we proles have important Christmas shopping to do. Don't know about anyone else but I have such a warm fuzzy going right now I want to drive down to the nearest Wal Mart and dry hump the ubiquitous flag pole they always put in front of the store.

Lastly, I offer up some friendly advice the McDonald's Corporation recently gave to their employees. The Burger Clown, ever concerned with the health of their workers told them to break up their food into smaller pieces to get full and to sell their belongings on the internet for cash. I really wish I could write a proper snarky response other than God bless America!

We're not quite at the monstrous level of sending kids out to fight to the death as shown in the Hunger Games but give it a few more years.


goatman said...

Frankly, I liked her better in "Winters Bone"!
We were in the army in '69, Tigerland, Fort Polk La, and were getting food stamps there as a matter of necessity. So nothing has changed much.
Your rant has merit, and truth.

Pixel Peeper said...

The story about the food drive for Walmart employees made it all the way to Germany. As you may know, Walmart did not do well in Germany for a number of reasons and pulled out after a few years.

I read about the McDonalds thing, too. *Shaking my head*

All the people I knew who received food stamps had jobs. One was a single mother working two jobs and another a military family with two kids. Incidentally, that was in Ft. Polk, Louisina.

Akelamalu said...

The waste of food in restaurants in the UK is absolutely shocking and the portions served here are no where near as big as are served in the US, so I can imagine the waste there! There was a programme on TV recently showing just how much food is thrown away by supermarkets, which is criminal when there are people going to foodbanks because they can't afford to eat. :(

The Bug said...

Well said, as usual. I almost always bring my extra food home from a restaurant - I LOVE leftovers since I hate to cook. But it's really crazy.

So many people have these ideas of what "poor" people should do to succeed in life - I'd like to see some of them try to follow their own advice!