Two Reality-TV Fans from Panem discuss the 75th Hunger Games (minor spoilers):
Man 1: How are you enjoying the Hunger Games so far, old man? I think the ‘returning players’ gimmick is working out quite wonderfully, don’t you?
Man 2: I suppose. I mean, I’m still watching, but it annoys me how overproduced the Games have gotten.
Man 1: What? What are you talking about?
Man 2: I’m talking about the poisonous fog, the man-eating baboons, the endless tortured ‘events’ — it’s too much.
Man 1: But that’s just part of the Games. The environment has to be dangerous, right?
Man 2: Yes, but not like this. Now I feel like the tributes have more to fear from the itchy trigger-fingers of the producers than the other competitors. Remember last year, when Katniss was nearly killed by those random fireballs? How disappointing would that have been? I mean, they’re talking about the girl inspiring riots in the outlying districts, but I tell you, I would have rioted if the producers had let such a good tribute get killed so uninterestingly!
Man 1: Oh, you take it all too seriously. So long as we get a victor and the rest die, what’s the difference how they do it?
Man 2: The symbolism, man! The games aren’t a mere execution; they’re a lesson. It teaches the plebs that if they rebel, they’ll only end up hurting each other. That’s the fundamental elegance of the Games: that it’s not us killing them. It keeps the Districts at odds. By showing them the bloodshed of the Arena year after year, we teach them: “This is what Panem would look like without the Capitol’s protection.” Endless civil war, killing, mass starvation. That’s why it weakens the message if the producers interfere too much.
Man 1: Huh. I never thought of it that way. So if the Arena represents a post-rebellion Panem, then I suppose the Cornucopia represents …
Man 2: The Capitol, exactly. Always in the centre, right? Always the balance of power. Every Games starts with the tributes rushing to loot everything they can from it — killing many of each other in the process — after which point, they’re on their own. It’s really very elegant symbolism, particularly when they starve.
Man 1: Ugh, I can’t stand starvation deaths. They’re so boring!
Man 2: Boring maybe, but necessary. That threat of starvation has to linger over the games. That’s what it’s all about, really: subtly instilling the message that Capitol is the only way the plebs are ever gonna get fed. I mean, they’re called the Hunger Games for a reason.
Man 1: I guess. It’s gotta be entertaining, though. Not all of us are quite so thrilled to watch some morphling kid win by pretending to be a tree for a week.
Man 2: Oh, remember when they’d actually let the Games run on that long? I miss those days. Now I feel like the producers are simply far too impatient; some mutated axe-faced monster would inevitably come and chop you up while you were still working on your camouflage.
Man 1: I agree that these games in particular have felt a little rushed. I suppose it’s because they want all the tributes dead in a hurry to quell the troubles in the Districts.
Man 2: Yes, obviously. It’s just such a shame for the integrity of the game, you know? [sighs] I guess I’m a purist.
I am so very tired, you guys.
I am tired, not of arguing in favour of equality, diversity and tolerance, but of having to explain, over and over and over again, why such arguments are still necessary, only to have my evidence casually dismissed by someone too oblivious to realise that their dismissal of the problem is itself a textbook example of the fucking problem. I am tired of being mocked by hypocrites who think that a single lazy counterexample is sufficient to debunk the fifteen detailed examples they demanded I produce before they’d even accept my point as a hypothetical, let alone valid, argument. I am tired of assholes who think that playing Devil’s advocate about an issue alien to their experience but of deep personal significance to their interlocutor makes them both intellectually superior and more rationally objective on the specious basis that being dispassionate is the same as being right (because if they can stay calm while savagely kicking your open wound, then clearly, you have no excuse for screaming).
Foz Meadows - “I Am So Very Tired”
I just saw Neutral Milk Hotel live
— which is something I honestly never thought would happen —
— like, I have always understood Neutral Milk Hotel’s recordings as the boundaries of their gift to me, and been totally fine with that. The recordings are *enough*, you know? That’s already more than we deserve —
— but it did happen; it was real. Jeff was right there, bearded and wearing a low cap, and the vibrations of his throat rattled in my ears. Scott was there, puffing and blowing like a Viking lord. Julian was there, bouncing and beaming like a 10-year-old at his first Christmas —
— (P.S. How does someone as beautiful and full of joy as Julian even exist in this world? How do we make more of him?) —
— the songs were unbelievable: the early ones, the popular ones and the new ones, all rendered with a love and pride that knocks me sideways. 20 seconds into “Two-Headed Boy” I was wiping away tears; when it got to the “Goldaline” part of “Oh Comely” I literally collapsed, heaving wracking sobs and struggling to breathe. By the time the encores came, I had cried all the tears I had. I danced hard to “Ghost”, then felt nothing but happiness as they finished with my favourite non-album song of theirs (and quiet personal anthem): “Engine.”
— “thank you” is so inadequate for what they have done for me, but it’s what I shouted as they left the stage anyway —
— because what else can you do?