Tanjong Beach Club and The Hunger Games
A decent dinner at Tanjong Beach Club, Sentosa: lovely retro-referential architecture and furniture, cool beachfront views, well-placed lights,
attentive not obtrusive service, rather well-executed dishes off both the Singapore Restaurant Week and the a la carte menus. The dim lighting ensured that appropriate attention was given to the flavours rather than the plating.
We were chatting about a variety of things and somehow, someone concluded that i was an unduly pessimistic person. A colleague had just mentioned that her own husband accused her of the same thing, and we had concluded that while this might be a function of our jobs, to be prepared for the worst was the result of a good sound understanding of the human psyche.
Just dropped some people a note on this saying: many Americans read this as an anti-government, anti-authority book celebrating rebellion and personal freedom, so perhaps that will be the emphasis of the movie. But the trilogy, when read to its conclusion doesn’t seem to say this – it is both Darwinian and Nietzsche-an in theme – survival of the fittest and will to power. Also panopticon-ic 1984 + Lord of the Flies + Battle Royale + commentary on schadenfreude of reality TV + importance attached to superficials as evidenced by popularity of Project Runway + Žižek. The heroine is just a mostly self-absorbed girl who, of her two love interests (Real or not Real?), will choose the one she needs to survive. The oppressive Capitol institutes The Hunger Games both as a reminder to the rebels who really wields the power and as a Juvenal/Roman Empire panem et circenses for the citizens of the Capitol of, well, Panem.
But it turns out the rebels are no better than the Capitol – the lust for power corrupts, or perhaps the lust for survival is indistinguishable from the first. Both sides manipulate their audience and stage media blitzes for propaganda. Everyone has his/her own agenda; everyone is a pawn in the power game. There is no black and white, good and bad, no one you can trust. Outside The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen discovers that the real world is just like the arena.
Other than the rather graphic violence and deaths, why do people see this series as “dark”? There’s sacrifice of course and love (and, as usual in the teenage genre already populated by the likes of Twilight, snuggling and kissing…and the male protagonist in the first book does sparkle (in the sunlight) on page 302 of the version i own). And there’s the underlying inherent sinfulness of everyone, whether Capitol lackey, District 13 rebel, useful heroine, that cannot to be easily dismissed as mere survival instinct or ambition; and there seems no reprieve from the constant uncertainty of people’s intentions and the barrage of nightmares of the horrors of one’s past. But this is merely reflective of the Real.
The Bible does not hesitate to say what we already know – that the hearts of men are inclined to evil all the time; that out of our hearts come evil thoughts — murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. We disgust ourselves just as we are disgusted with those around us. Yet, for all the laws we pass to protect against the consequences of evil, and for all the self-improvements we attempt, we despair of living rightly and of being treated properly.
This is why Jesus’ unconditional offer of rest is so wonderful:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
May the odds ever be in your favour.