I was just in Subway the other day and was confronted by the fact that there were sandwiches playing on the idea of the “bold” and “fiery” nature of Catching Fire. I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t judge on the tastiness of the sandwiches they’re trying to promote. However, I can tell you that my immediate reaction is that a book/film franchise about oppressed, starving people wanting to uprise against the well-fed Capitol is probably not the best place to be promoting sandwiches.
Let me turn to a passage in Catching Fire to draw the point home:
Peeta looks at the glass again and puts it together. "You mean this will make me puke?"
My prep team laughs hysterically. "Of course, so you can keep eating," says Octavia. "I've been in there twice already. Everyone does it, or else how would you have any fun at a feast?"
[...] Then Peeta speaks in a strained voice.
"You go along, thinking you can deal with it, thinking maybe they're not so bad, and then you -" He cuts himself off.
All I can think of is the emaciated bodies of the children on our kitchen table as my mother prescribes what the parents can't give. More food. Now that we're rich, she'll send some home with them. But often in the old days, there was nothing to give and the child was past saving, anyway. And here in the Capitol they're vomiting for the pleasure of filling their bellies again and again. Not from some illness of body or mind, not from spoiled food. It's what everyone does at a party. Expected. Part of the fun. (p. 79-80)
Source: Collins, S. (2009). Catching Fire. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
As for theme parks, while I understand how awesome it is to see things come to life that are interesting and imaginative (I love the whole Capitol Couture project for example), all I can think about regarding theme parks and The Hunger Games is this passage:
...We follow instructions to my destination, a chamber for my preparation. In the Capitol, they call it the Launch Room. In the districts, it's referred to as the Stockyard. The place animals go before slaughter.
Everything is brand-new, I will be the first and only tribute to use this Launch Room. The arenas are historic sites, preserved after the Games. Popular destinations for Capitol residents to visit, to vacation. Go for a month, rewatch the Games, tour the catacombs, visit the sites where the deaths took place. You can even take part in reenactments.
They say the food is excellent. (p. 144-145)
Source: Collins, S. (2008). The Hunger Games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
I can’t help but also think about all the good-will campaigns that could help promote the values of the book while also running alongside this commercialism – feeding the hungry, empowering young women, supporting education and outreach, etc.
This other Hunger Games campaign I saw recently supports The World Food Programme and Feeding America. It’s pretty great and easy because all you have to do is take a short quiz on hunger to help fund the cause. You can also “send a parachute” by donating to the campaign. That’s a pretty nifty thematic tie-in!
The other day, I entered the Subway contest to win something with my Subway cup code from the Hunger Games tie-in. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to win that trip to Hawaii, but I can’t also help but think it would have also been equally great (and more rewarding) if I had been entering in a code knowing that I was doing my part in a campaign to feed the hungry instead.