I don’t often worry about fandom of a book. This is usually a little less worrisome when it become a good shared experience of watching a movie. However, a little while back I started to notice kind of a disturbing trend in the fandom of the recent movie The Hunger Games. I will admit. I have not read The Hunger Games and I have not seen the movie. I do, however, frequent a lot of entertainment and celebrity websites. I also, unlike some who regularly read movie sites, also make a daily habit of reading such things as news sites as well as sports websites. You do not want to know the totality fo how much I read and type in the course of a single day.
As such a frequent surfer of the internet as well as a watcher of sports and news, I started to notice a few months ago a trend of people holding the book The Hunger Games. I am not really new to seeing book readers or even seeing what is trendy. I have a sixteen year old daughter. Having what is currently popular in my house to read is practically a staple of my existence, and I am also old enough to remember a time when it seemed like the would not let you off of the beach if you had not read at least one further chapter of John Grisham’s The Firm.
I will also say that I have never actually made it all the way through J. D. Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye. At some point in time in my life, I should have really read that one. I love reading about conspiracy theories and there are a number of them that regularly talk about the fandom associated with Catcher in the Rye. So to review, I have not read or seen The Hunger Games. I have also not read Catcher in the Rye. So, before I make the following observation and connection, it might sound like I have legitimately no idea what I am talking about.
I know very little about the book Catcher in the Rye. I do, however, know a metric ton about some of the fans of a Catcher in the Rye. Names come to mind such as Mark David Chapman as well as Sirhan Sirhan. There is a lot of conspiracy literature associating Catcher in the Rye as some sort of trigger for mind control. This is kind of like the game of solitaire in The Manchurian Candidate (watch the original and not the remake.) The Catcher in the Rye also figured prominently in the Mel Gibson movie Conspiracy Theory. Any one other than me being excited to pay money to watch a new Mel Gibson movie? No. OK. Moving on. Lets just say that is you back, there are actually a few good ones.
So, the one thing that my brain is pre-wired to recognize is a conspiracy theory involving a book. For instance, if some one is carrying a copy of Dianetics, there are probably a few subjects about religion as well as self help that you would be encouraged to avoid. A few years ago there was a wonderful Sam Neill movie (which also featured a very young Hayden Christensen) called In the Mouth of Madness. In The Mouth of Madness featured around a book written by an author based on Stephen King named Sutter Cane. Sam Neill’s character finds out that he is actually a character in a Sutter Cane novel. The novel had the added benefit of driving everyone in the world mad. Those that do not read the novel are drawn into the madness by watching the movie. The only thing that could probably stop the movie from taking over the world is if it happened to have a domestic gross of under 9 million dollars.
Digressing, I started to take note of people that had joined into the reading frenzy associated with The Hunger Games. I discounted the over exuberance of Miley Cyrus on this subject. This is because I found out that Miley Cyrus’ boyfriend was starring in the movie as well as the fact that I would not currently trust a Miley Cyrus written review of the album Some Gave All. Miley’s pop tart friends getting their copies out of the pop culture toaster was likewise dismissed. It was the other fans that started to make me wonder about the effect of this book series.
For instance, LeBron James was reading The Hunger Games before his body got its rage party on for the NBA playoffs. The weird part is that you can actually see the level of focus in LeBron rise over the course of this years romp through the NBA finals as opposed to last years Games-less playoffs. While I am usually am not one to pay attention to LeBron, a 6’8 260 pound rage beast is also a bit of notice. I would have discounted that one if it was not cor another curious event.
Casey Anthony’s lawyer tried to point out that reading The Hunger Games was a sign of Casey being just another normal girl. When it was pointed out that a woman acquitted of killing a child was reading a book about kids killing kids might have been improper, the lawyer got kind of lawyery. My brain had already made the connection. James uses The Hunger Games to get inspired and rage filled. Casey Anthony uses the same book to mellow out. This means that there is a level of emotion that reading The Hunger Games inspires. On some sort of scale, James needs more and Anthony needs less. That, in and of itself, should raise a few alarms.
There is nothing truly world changing about a man who is possibly over paid to play basketball and a one time alleged child killer. All we know from that is that The Hunger Games is popular in the state of Florida. The same could be said about tacos and New York Style Delis. The odd connection did make me put up a mental alert to anyone I read in connection with reading The Hunger Games. It took a little digging but I happened upon a further level of disturbing. Without comment, Bill Gates listed The Hunger Games on a list done by Scholastic Books of books that inspired or changed Gates life. Lets be frank about this one people. Bill Gates need more rage or more of a killer instinct? Or, was it that Gates possessed too much, and needed a calming influence like Anthony. Where is it exactly that Bill Gates falls on the new James / Anthony meter.
That paled in comparison when I found out that The Hunger Games was one of the favorite books of Sasha and Malia Obama This means that this book about kids killing kids actually features prominently in our current White House. Legitimately, this one chills me on some level. Especially when you consider that this particular White House has been most lethal in dealing with individual terrorists as well as kill lists. Maybe nothing, I also may get credit for starting yet another new conspiracy theory on the internet. Then again, maybe one day people will track the strange events associated with reading The Hunger Games as you can remember vaguely reading it here first.
Jim Ciscell is a writer on this thing they call an ‘internet.’