The ‘Hunger Games Renaissance’ wasn’t organic, and that’s okay

Jennifer Moglia, Staff Writer

Lately, my social media feeds have been looking a lot like they did in 2013.

“The Hunger Games” had a huge spike in popularity over the last few weeks, despite the final film coming out over eight years ago. There has been an influx of content surrounding the series, particularly on TikTok, including conspiracy theories, edits of footage from the movies and plans of what users would do if they were chosen to compete in the games.

This resurgence seemed organic at first; humans are cyclical beings, and it makes sense that we go back to things we enjoyed at pivotal points in our lives. However, this one wasn’t as authentic as it seemed.

For those who haven’t shared in the collective trauma that is reading the books or watching the movies during your formative years, “The Hunger Games” takes place in Panem, a dystopian version of the United States. Twenty-four randomly selected teenagers, one male and one female from each of the 12 districts, fight to the death with only one emerging victorious. The games were created as a punishment for the citizens who once attempted to rebel against their government, known as the Capitol.

The first novel and movie center around Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl from District 12 who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the games. Her archery skills and fabricated romance with the male tribute from her district, Peeta Mellark, make her one of two victors from the 74th annual games.

Throughout the rest of the series, Everdeen becomes the face of a rebellion against the Capitol. She loses friends, family, allies and enemies along the way, but the series ends with the corrupt government system essentially dismantled and Everdeen and Mellark at peace.

“The Hunger Games Renaissance,” as fans have dubbed the recent rise in popularity, has been taken off social media and into the real world as well. “The Hunger Games: The Exhibition,” a hands-on exhibit involving real costumes and props from the films, opened in Las Vegas in 2019, but I’ve seen more visitors posting about their trips on social media over the past few weeks. 

“I started to notice more and more people were calling me Cinna (my character) out on the street and I was like, ‘What’s going on? Why are people all of a sudden back on that?” Lenny Kravitz told Variety on March 24.

The content surrounding the franchise started making a comeback at the beginning of March. On March 1, all four movies in the series were added to Netflix’s catalog for 31 days, urging users to binge-watch them as soon as possible. The streaming platform claimed on Twitter that adding the films was in celebration of the series turning 11 years old this month, but that seems like a weird anniversary to celebrate – time to dig deeper.

A few quick Google searches show that a film based on a prequel to the series, “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” will be released in November. If you asked me a month ago if I’d be seeing this in theaters later this year, my answer would be no; however, after re-entering the world of Panem on my TV and phone over the past few weeks, my thoughts have changed. It looks like the marketing schemes have worked on me.

This revival probably wasn’t just a few people randomly rediscovering the franchise and posting about it and, more likely, was planned by Lionsgate to build hype around the new film to make sure it wasn’t a box office flop. Maybe this should upset me, but it doesn’t.

Seeing these books and films talked about on social media once again has reignited my passion for the series. Looking at the story from a more mature perspective, coming back to it as an almost 20-year-old rather than a 10-year-old, has been an incredibly fulfilling experience as well.

Do I wish that this magical-feeling time wasn’t most likely a marketing ploy? Of course. Is it going to stop me from re-indulging in a series that once brought me so much joy? You bet your poison berries it won’t.