By Socratis E Socratous and Leontios Charalampidis

A few years ago, one of those film series that everyone talked about was The Hunger Games, a movie saga based on the novel of the same name.

The genre is science fiction, but not of the imaginary fairytale type JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Instead, the Hunger Games are of a more dystopian nature, one that would possibly accommodate a George Orwell or Franz Kafka society much more suitably. They make the viewer think, disturbing their peace of mind as dystopian concepts are often a lot closer to life experiences than fantasy.

The story is based in a future world with a clear and defined ruling class of people, who subjugate the masses in an unjust system of plutocracy. People are forced to participate in the Hunger Games, where the winner takes it all. And what is all? The last person standing is set free. A person’s freedom and survival, and certainly their well-being, truly relies on everybody else being extinguished.

In this system there exist only enemies and no teammates. It’s a sadistic concept for the entertainment of the elite, who enjoy watching the players struggle to grasp on the extremely slim chances of winning and being rescued.

Take away the reality game concept and the blunt killing and, unfortunately, the Hunger Games are metaphorically becoming a mirror of today’s world. People’s stress levels all around the globe are higher than ever before, one can feel it, and people are fighting an endless cause in an abstract manner, constantly wrapped up in their anxiety of fulfilling liabilities, with household bills reaching unprecedented limits and coping with inflation and high interest rates.

In the meantime, the era of extreme digitalisation has certainly provided time-benefits, amongst others, but very often at the cost of replacing personal contact and communication. Furthermore, in the job market, positions are being lost and even cease to exist as we know them, while on the other hand new technological breakthroughs mean exponential professional opportunities for those who can exploit them. Inequality is therefore increasing dangerously and pressure from all directions is acting to further squeeze the knot on people’s lives. Resorting to impulsive and abrupt behaviours, possibly as a side-effect of this generic sense of pressure and competitiveness, is nowadays an apparent and trending reaction.

In this perfect chaos, most social welfare systems are suffering from their own inefficiencies, now more than ever, pushing people to abuse the system at the expense of fellow citizens. Such environments thrive in small countries, such as Cyprus, where institutions are weak, often leading to the rise of nepotism and hidden corruption. Apart from being powerful, systems nowadays have become so bureaucratic, they have ultimately achieved unbeatable levels of self-sustainment. Numerous simple tasks which should be straightforward for the layman can lose one in translation and extraordinary procedures, never-ending procedures.

Sure, the few are still trying to talk common sense and bring some balance of hope in a world where aggression often prevails, but this modern paranoia and the power of the masses seem hard to fight. Of course, this has always been the case to a certain extent. But can only wonder if this is what Europe and the Western world should really be all about. Why is the dream becoming a nightmare? But then again, that old phrase says that in the end, “You Get What You Deserve.”

In his celebrated poem “No Man Is An Island”, John Donne explores the idea of connectedness and human relationships, as people are by nature no isolated “islands” on their own. Is it perhaps the time when people have to try working with a team spirit all over again? Is not such philosophy the right way to go? Is this not the healthier formula to improve societies; the one closer to Pareto Efficiency where resources cannot be reallocated to make one individual better off as it will make at least one individual worse off?

The Hunger Games is an extraordinary novel and film series, a story we very much hope stays in books and on big screens. An imaginary, pessimistic and non-fulfilled prophecy of a gradually disappearing race as we know it, the human race with all its genuine elements that constitute people and societies, core morals and values.

 

Socratis E Socratous (BSc, FCA) and Leontios Charalampidis (BSc, MSc)