'Hunger Games' fandom: Can it become a force for good?
'The Hunger Games' is filled with themes of social justice, but efforts to motivate the fandom to fight hunger and join other causes have faltered. The films could change that.
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“It’s a natural fit, but pretty new for most of us,” she says. She notes that she was part of a group trying to help raise money for African famine victims in 2011, “but we didn’t get anywhere near the kind of support we had hoped.”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures The Hunger Games
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This time, she says, the movie and the growing momentum around various partners will make a difference. “I am sort of the ambassador to the ‘Games’ fandom,” she says, working to bring the focus and scope of more experienced nonprofits such as Oxfam and even the HPA to her fan world.
“It’s so important that we invest in the energy and passion of young people,” says HPA founder Andrew Slack.
This partnership with “Hunger” fans is the first step away from the group’s founding focus around the Harry Potter stories, he says, but he views it as a natural progression for what is being called “nomadic fandoms.” These are groups that form around an initial shared passion, then migrate the structure and the social-media interconnectedness into the next compelling narrative.
The progression from making a difference in the world based on principles gleaned from the Potter books is a natural fit. “These groups love complexity and nuance,” he says, “and they are invested in online activism and connection. They get it way more than adults do,” he adds.
This push through online connections into the offline world speaks to the way the next generation will be interacting with the politics of tomorrow, says Ben Agger, director of the Center for Theory at the University of Texas, Arlington’s Sociology Department. His 20-year-old daughter is headed to a midnight screening of “The Hunger Games” on Thursday, and he says, she intends to sign the Oxfam petition.
“How long can you keep the injustices of the world hidden now that they have an international fan base?” he adds.
Real-world activism flows naturally from the book’s themes and characters, adds George Dunn, editor of a new book on the philosophy of "The Hunger Games," and a philosophy instructor at the University of Indianapolis. “The heroes of the series are just ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances,” he says.
Characters find within themselves the courage and resources to make the world better. As the books move people to take action, he adds, “it gives you hope about the future of literature when we realize the power it can have.”
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