Friday, May 18, 2012

In Defense of Careers

No, not real careers. I wouldn't know much about those anyway. I mean, career tributes in the Hunger Games. I first read the Hunger Game series on my flight back from China, and I got so absorbed in the book, it probably made the people stuck in the seats around me uncomfortable. Admiration for Americans was not increased. 

Sadly, it has not stood up so well to a second reading (but the movie was awesome!) Mostly, it bothers me in the hunger games how the career tributes don’t really make sense as the psychopathic murderers they are portrayed as. It bothered me enough that I have written this post to defend imaginary characters. So here it goes:

Even if only the career tributes win the Hunger Games, each individual career only has a 5/6 chance of winning. Therefore, the careers likely volunteering for their own deaths. They may have better odds than the other tributes, but the careers  are still facing a likely death for the honor, glory, and profit of their district (the districts get food parcels if their tributes wins). Sure, the most noble thing to do would be to refuse to play, by suicide perhaps. But nobody choices that, so you can’t vilify the careers for trying to survive. Everyone else is too, they’re just doing a worse job.

Also, the career districts are just as much victims as the normal districts. Yes, the fact that the career tributes have been brainwashed into thinking their lives are worth sacrificing for entertainment is wrong. However, the districts have little choice but to look at it as a district vs. district game instead of a district vs. capital game, and, in that context, it’s smarter to train your tributes so they at least have a chance. In addition, the fact that careers volunteer means that they are protecting someone else, someone less prepared in their district, from dying. The fact that the careers  actually kill people isn’t as bad as it seems – 23 people are going to die no matter what, so all you can do altruistically is save the life of one person (by surviving until only you two are left, and then offing yourself.)

In conclusion, the career tributes are just as much a victim as anyone. I understand why Katniss would still try to kill them, if only out of self defense, but there is no point in demonizing them. And it’s weirdly convenient how the careers wipe out everyone Katniss would have to feel bad about killing. 

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