Saturday, August 18, 2012

Would You Survive the Hunger Games?

It's a very interesting premise. To appease the peace, after a war that nearly collapsed civilization, the nation of Panem sacrifices two of its citizens - a young male and female from each of the 12 districts is chosen to compete in the most watched televised competition. The fight to the death – for unfound celebrity. All in a false effort to maintain order and prevent civil unrest.

The dystopian future of Suzanne Collins best-selling book The Hunger Games when realized to film didn't appear as far-fetched and one would imagine. In a valiant effort to protect her younger sister, the story's heroine Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place when she is called to participate in the battle. Although considered an honor to represent one's district, it is a hopeless endeavor – and one that only guarantees a single victor fame and riches beyond their imagination.

Sound familiar? Little more than a decade ago American audiences were introduced to the dueling "real life" personalities assembled to compete on the television show "Survivor". Back then it was taken as a novelty, tuning in every week to watch regular folk behaving badly in tasks created to test their strength and weaknesses. But truly everyone tuned in to watch each player sell the other one out for the winning pot of $1,000,000.

Cut to the present and one of those "survivors" sits on a panel with Barbara Walters and is the conservative voice of her generation. Elizabeth Hasselbeck was given a platform and she took it and ran with it. Soon every talentless socialite on every coast was having the cameras snap up their antics, and like gravy we watched the brainless Paris Hilton become one of the country's most profitable personalities. When her contemporaries including Nicole Ritchie and Kim Kardashian sought out their piece of the pie, we rewarded them also in kind.

It only took a sex tape to turn Kim Kardishian into a star. And talk about hungry? The ravenous pop-culture has hardly yet satisfied its taste for Kim K and has since kept begging for me. It's only cost her a soul, but considering was it really at much of a loss to begin with?

In a culture that promotes the privileged and celebrates the mundane, marketeers profit from the apparent apathy that is created when all anyone has to aspire to in life is achieving a role as the latest member of the cast of "The Real World". Do you think that you'll really find true love among 32 desperate for attention singles who are only excited to nab their 15 minutes on "The Bachelor" and turn it into a media empire all of their own? Yet every year countless of wanna-bee-somethings line up to find their soulmate or (preferably) have their heart broken on national television. It's a sure way that you'll get to sit in the center seat for the following season.

And while "Dancing With the Stars" rescues some from obscurity, it comes at a cost of somewhat some public humiliation. Just think...the first man on the moon was booted off the show for not being able to keep up on the fox trot. Note: Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon. He's got nothing to prove to anyone.

Like The Hunger Games everyone is seeking to set themselves up comfortably for the slaughter. It's just what's become of our culture, but does it have its limits especially when it doesn't seem to come at any compromise. We made multi-millionaires of the casts of MTV's "The Jersey Shore" – and we know that they can't do much of anything. We bought into the Kardashian wedding and are now drinking the Kanye Kool-Aid. It's like we're never gonna get enough. Olympic swimmer and gold-medalist Ryan Lochte won the highest honor of any athlete on the planet in his respective sport.

What's Lochte doing next? He moved to Hollywood with the hopes of landing a gig on any reality-television series that will take long as he takes his shirt off.

How far are we from establishing our own real-life Hunger Games? Or have we already begun to go down that road? Can I suggest that as the well begins to run dry and the names and faces of everyone that is seeking stardom reaches its fever pitch, why not set those supposed celebrities up in an arena and have them fight it out – to the death. To the winner...we'll make them a star. At least long enough to feed them to the next round of lions.

How do you think you'd fare in the arena?

JC Alvarez is the Nightlife Editor for EDGE On The Net and a pop-culture columnist. He is the voice behind the nationally syndicated Internet Radio Show "Out Loud & Live!" broadcasting on 

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