The Opening Ceremony: Comparing the Hunger Games to the Olympic Games

The Olympics will kick off next week in London with the Opening Ceremonies and all its festivities. I cannot help but think that Suzanne Collins thought of the Olympics when she wrote The Hunger Games trilogy. With its focus on glam and glitz, the hoopla surrounding the kick-off to the Olympic Games definitely seems very Capitolish. So what does that say about us?

Of course, this is a topic that is sure to come up when you are teaching The Hunger Games. Are we the Capitol? In many cases, it certainly seems so. Just look at the two images above, one depicting the streets of the fictional Capitol of Panem for the Opening Ceremony (or, Tribute Parade, which it is referred to in the movie) and an image depicting the opening of the Summer Games from EuroTeam World of Tickets. Actually, the way the Capitol streets are transformed into the likeness of an arena, we could compare it to any large-scale sporting event. But it is the actual ushering in of the Tributes and Athletes that make the Hunger Games and Olympics especially similar.

Both events require the participants to dress alike in outfits to represent their homeland. In the Olympics, the athletes dress in the flavor of their country. In the Hunger Games, the Tributes represent their districts. Perhaps the costumes for the Olympics are not quite as flashy, but is their costume really that important? Didn't the athletes go nude in the Ancient Games? Why do we even care what the athletes are wearing for this event?

Perhaps the reason this is a big deal is because of the emphasis of the arts in Olympic Games. In the past, there were actually art competitions. In the Ancient Games, artists and sculptors flocked to the Games for inspiration and to showcase their talent. Are the opening outfits a way to showcase our own artistry? If that's the case, doesn't it seem sad that American athletes won't be wearing garb made by Americans, but made by Chinese residents?

In contrast, do you think the outfits for the Tributes are made in the Capitol or in district 8, where they produce and manufacture "textiles"? We know for certain that the home districts do not make the Tribute's outfits. So does it really matter if American outfits are made in China? Or is this satire? Was Collins making a statement about the outfits, making fun of the fact that they should represent the districts, and yet they are nothing like the districts themselves? Just like the Capitol, which is supposed to represent the entire nation, but only really represents its own residents.

Yet, I hardly believe Ralph Lauren was trying to make a satirical statement with his French-inspired and Chinese-made design for the American athletes. Even so, it is a perfect satire. A little Monty-Pythonish...and fodder for Saturday Night Live, I imagine.

What do you think? Does it matter what the athletes wear or where the outfits are made? Have this discussion with your students and explore more about the arts in the Olympic Games and how the arts are incorporated into the Hunger Games, as well. Utilize websites such as Olympic.org and TheCapitol.pn for more information and debate.

Photo credits: Images used in the photo art above from Lionsgate Movies® and Getty Images. Mockingjay designed by Tim O'Brien for Scholastic Books®. Photo collage/art by Tracee Orman for Hunger Games Lessons.

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