The use of The Hunger Game’s three fingered salute by Thai protesters can be viewed in a number of ways. To me, it’s an amazing instance of where art is inspiring society not necessarily because of the film’s success but because the themes of The Hunger Games are relevant to today’s socio-political culture.
Protesters began using the salute a few weeks after a military coup “clamped down on all forms of protest, censored the country’s news media, limited the right to public assembly and arrested critics and opponents”. At the opening of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, five individuals were arrested for using the salute.*
In an article for The Wire, Danielle Wiener-Bronner wrote the following: “In the Hunger Games series, the three-fingered salute is used to show solidarity against an dystopian government which forces children to compete to the death in televised events. In Thailand, the salute — along with the phrase”liberty, brotherhood and equality,” taken from the real French Revolution — seems to have been adopted to show solidarity against an unlawful, military-led government.”**
I am not writing this post just because I am a fan of The Hunger Games. I think that would be an incredibly naive perspective from which to comment on.
I am supporting these people–and others like them–because I have seen first hand the affect of government (military or otherwise) policies and socio-cultural atmospheres negatively affect the daily lives of people. Minority groups in China treated as lower class; the under privileged being oppressed; blue collar workers being underpaid for long, demanding hours.
I am not suggesting every person who lives under these circumstances are intentionally displaying signs of what can be called learned helplessness. What I am saying is they should not even have to feel inferior, underprivileged, or out of place.
I realize any discussions about equality are idealistic. Unfortunately, we live in a world that tends to crush ideals. War, terrorism, disease–the list goes on and on. I think people want the world to change but we are overwhelmed by the size and scope and immensity of the problems that are in front of us.
As a king in Middle Earth said, “So much death. What can man do against such reckless hate?”
I believe we make a choice. We choose to believe there is still good in the world. And we fight for it even when–or maybe especially–when the entire world is standing in our way.
So if standing with Thai citizens and raising three fingers inspires and encourages them I do it gladly even if it is only through this one post among millions.