Sunday, January 22, 2017

"row crops, minerals, things we need"

I'm watching "Hunger Games, Part I" tonight.  Former students  have told me that it's not only seriously good dystopian fiction, but also a metaphor of sorts for rural-urban tension.  And they're right.

From the very beginning one sees that District 12 --heroine Katniss Everdeen's home--is depicted much like Appalachia, including explicit references to "coal."  Plus, the residents of District 12 are shown wearing the sorts of clothes (and downtrodden demeanors) associated with the Appalachia of Lyndon B Johnson's era (and even dating back to the Great Depression--not a lot changed in the intervening years)--the era and the place that (partly) inspired and are photographically associated with the Great Society programs of the 1960s.  Indeed, the terrain is also reminiscent of central Appalachia, as are the rural pursuits (hunting deer, squirrels, quail; climbing trees) that hone Katniss's survival skills.  (Further, I cannot help think how similar District 12 is to another Jennifer Lawrence milieu, southwest Missouri in Winter's Bone; read more here).  The place is in dramatic contrast to the uber urban and technologically advanced capital city of the future, its denizens garbed and coiffed in high fashion.

The quote in my headline is taken from the rulers of this dystopian future when the citizens of District 11, home of Everdeen's young black ally, begin to revolt upon her death.  That is, the leaders plot how to calm the hoi polloi from Districts 11 and 12.  One asks the president if he has ever been there, and he replies to the effect that these places matter because they supply "row crops, minerals, things we need."  Sometimes I wish the leaders of the United States realized that rural places (of some stripes, at least) matter to our nation because they supply food and other stuff that comes from the ground--like timber and the fruits of extractive industries.

If more urban dwellers--especially those with political, economic or social clout--realized and acknowledged that rural and urban are interdependent, rural folks might not feel so neglected and/or maligned.

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