On November 17th, fan-run charitable organization The Harry Potter Alliance announced their new campaign We Are The Districts, a social media-led protest against economic inequality inspired by Suzanne Collins’ bestselling Hunger Games trilogy.
In an effort to take back the narrative of The Hunger Games, fans from around the world have taken to Twitter, using the hashtag #MyHungerGames to share their stories of economic and social injustice, comparing their personal trials to the poverty faced by Katniss Everdeen and her family, or the inequality of the Capitol and its Districts. Thousands of participants have uploaded photographs of themselves making the three-fingered salute of District 12 as a symbol of support and solidarity.
Executive director of the Harry Potter Alliance, Andrew Slack, believes that the marketing team behind the Hunger Games film adaptations have neglected the themes of Collins’ novels, and hopes that the We Are The Districts campaign can encourage fans to spread the books’ message themselves.
“To its credit, Lionsgate and ‘Hunger Games’ do have anti-poverty partners — Feeding America and the World Food Program. If the studio’s marketing was even a fraction as creative in pushing those group’s messages as it has been in crafting its orgy of conspicuous consumption, it might be achieving something true to the films’ themes. But in our culture, even when you’re making movies about the fight against structural class inequality, if there’s a profit to be made, message be damned,” said Slack in the L.A. Times.
The Harry Potter Alliance partnered with several organizations and current movements against income inequality in America, including the Black Friday protests movement. On December 4th, the We Are The Districts campaign joined forces with Fight For Fifteen, as fast food and retail workers across America went on strike to demand a living wage. Protesters have also linked the movement with their personal stories of economic struggle, including student debt, health care access, unfair work policies, and homelessness.
The #MyHungerGames campaign has also been linked with major worldwide social conflicts including the current protests regarding racial inequality and police brutality in America.
“As we continue to see the story of Ferguson, Missouri unfold, the parallels are impossible to ignore. In the first Hunger Games film, we see District 11’s heartbreaking reaction to a young tribute’s death. The media frames their mourning as mindless rioting. The Capitol reacts with unchecked violence and cruelty. These things shouldn’t feel familiar. But they do,” reported The Harry Potter Alliance on Tumblr, using the hashtag #MyHungerGames.
The Harry Potter Alliance’s comments have since caused controversy after social media users found the comparison between Ferguson and The Hunger Games insensitive and distasteful.
This is not the first time fans have resonated with the political message of The Hunger Games. Earlier this year, protesters in Thailand adopted the Hunger Games salute as a symbol of resistance against the Thai military coup. On Twitter, Syrian fans have compared a scene in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, in which the Capitol bombs a hospital, with the conflict in Syria, where over 207 attacks on medical facilities have occurred in the last 3 years.
The #MyHungerGames campaign is ongoing. For more on the campaign and how to share your own story, visit their website.