Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 comes out today, marking the final chapter in our journey through Panem’s revolutionary uprising. It is the end of another fangirl era. Sad…but not that sad. To be honest, until the big push to promote this last film started, I had forgotten that the Hunger Games era wasn’t already over. Until it was shoved in my face, making me remember better times, I had forgotten to care. Until I rallied with my fellow fangirls for discussions of Peeta vs Gale, I had forgotten why I even wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Hunger Games. All of you Tributes can calm down. Put down your knives & bows & cleverly disguised bombs, and allow me to explain the reason for my oddly unfangirlish apathy. I love the Hunger Games, but I also love so many other things. Many of these things are bombarding my senses every day, bringing themselves to the forefront of my mind, and edging out fandoms that are not fighting to keep themselves relevant. I’m not saying Hunger Games is irrelevant, but it definitely isn’t pushing to stay alive like many other much-loved series. To understand this I think we have to delve into the history of the Hunger Games fandom…
Looking at this timeline I have happy memories. I remember staying up all night trying to finish Catching Fire because it was just too good to put down… only to find it plays directly into Mockingjay and you can’t possibly stop & pause between novels! I can picture Justine & I sitting on opposite ends of our couch, roommates in a shabby old basement suite. I had convinced her to read this new series I was obsessed with (Hunger Games, obviously) and, in return, I would read her new favorite series (which turned out to be the Mortal Instruments books). We both sat in utter silence, ferociously tearing through the books, only stopping to make a comment about how much we hated Gale or how shocked we were by the fact that Clary & Jace were related. I recall lining up for a midnight showing of the first movie, despite having to be up early the next morning. And then lining up again a few days later to see it again. My perceived problem with the Hunger Games franchise is not a lack of pleasant memories. We’ve had good times together.
It’s also not a criticism of the source material. They were damn good books. Yes, the third one got a bit weird but doesn’t the last book always seem a bit jarring when it breaks the rhythm that has been established throughout the series (either negatively – re: Breaking Dawn – or positively – re: The Deathly Hallows)? And they were damn good movies. Talented actors, quality directors, and ample budgets met to make true-to-book representations that seemed true to life. Not only was I entertained but the Hunger Games also made me think. Kids killing kids on television! That’s dramatic! How did society get to that point? What broke down to create this post-apocalyptic scenario? And what about the commentary it was providing on current society?! Desensitization, gluttony, class disparity… and the list goes on…
The real reason that I feel oddly removed from the Hunger Games fandom at this point falls directly on the way it sky rocketed to popularity. It became too big too fast. But it’s not how quickly something becomes popular that is the problem; it’s the franchise’s ability to maintain that status. Look back at the timeline. Do you see where things fall apart? I’ll give you a hint using other popular YA series:
– Harry Potter is arguably the biggest YA fandom in existence, ever. The novels found mass popularity between the 3rd and 4th books. In this 3-year Potter-novel-less stretch the first two movies were released. 10 years after forging a fandom large enough to populate a good-sized nation, the final film was released.
– Twilight is a close runner-up to HP in fan dedication. Popularly came almost immediately, hard & fast. Then for 7 years fans received either a new book or movie (or both!).
Do you see the connection? Hunger Games’ downfall comes in timing: the books didn’t become popular until after the trilogy was ALL released. I realize the first two books were best-sellers when they first came out, but the craziness didn’t start until right before Mockingjay’s debut. Sure, that means the movies can be hammered out quicker (no waiting around for the book to be released first) but it also makes it hard to maintain the hype. We spent years getting excited multiple times a year about whatever new Harry Potter thing was coming out (be it a book, movie, theme park, etc). Hunger Games didn’t have that. We get pumped once a year for the newest film… but it’s harder to do so now. It’s harder to find the energy to care when it’s been so long since we first read the books. Especially because we know the movies will happen. Here’s where the Maze Runner franchise & its “small” fanbase actually takes a win over the Hunger Games army: we are never quite sure the next film will happen, so we get really excited when it does! With Hunger Games we don’t have to be worried, thus losing even the nervous energy. You wouldn’t think certainty would be a downfall (and I’m not saying it will hurt attendance or box office numbers), but it can kill anticipation.
I guess Hunger Games loses a bit of traction to the Maze Runner in another area too: originality. The Hunger Games was so different when it came out. At the time we were wrapped up in magic & vampires, fairy tales & the supernatural; a post-apocalyptic setting was new & shocking. But all of the subsequent dystopian series (Maze Runner being one of them) ate away at the unique aspect that first caught our eye. Sure Hunger Games started it all, making it the diamond in the rough, but all of the copycats dulled its sparkle.
So where does that leave us? If I’m being honest, I’m not sure. I know I will go see Mockingjay Part 2. I have tickets for a Thursday premiere showing. But will I see it twice, like I did the original? Probably not. And will I think of this fandom much come next November, when there isn’t a new film? How about the November after that? And years into the future? I know I will read the novels again, but as often as I pick up Harry Potter? Only time will tell. But let’s keep fighting on Tributes…*whistles & puts 3 fingers in the air*
What do you think? Will the end of the Hunger Games films be the end of the Hunger Games fandom? Or can we keep fighting on, keeping Katniss, Peeta & Gale alive in our hearts (or more importantly, minds)? Let me know in the comments!
Love & Luck,