Panem et Circenses – Catching Fire Subway Ad and Hunger Games Theme Park Plans

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It’s been a pretty strange week for many fans of The Hunger Games series as in a couple of money-making moves, both seemingly devoid of any sense of irony, Lionsgate have successfully managed to use the success of their “franchise” to literally market the proverbial bread and circuses to the masses.

First off, as part of their post-games tour around their country’s many desperately impoverished districts, Catching Fire‘s Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark were spotted promoting Subway‘s brand new “Fiery Footlongs” in a TV ad, because what else could they possibly have on their minds in such a serious situation other than fast food?

Lionsgate’s bizarre partnership with the sandwich-makers is, in Subway’s own terms, designed to “create an experience that would enhance the film even further, and give Hunger Games and Subway fans the chance to relive the film both in-store and online” (no, really). Because supposing that you did actually want to in any way “relive” the dystopian horror the movie presents, eating a Subway Sriracha Chicken or Steak Melt is definitely the best way to do this.

In case you haven’t seen it already, take a look at the ad for yourselves:

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Yes, it may look like a parody, but it’s 100% genuine. Before we even get into the politics of this, let’s just take a moment to consider how badly it works even on its own terms. It’s as if effort has actually been put into making it as tacky and disjointed as possible, even more amazing when you think about how easily it could have been made to at least make a bit more sense. As anyone familiar with the books will know, bread is something which is absolutely vital to The Hunger Games series, appearing throughout the story in multiple symbolic and literal contexts (e.g. Peeta is a baker, a fact which has helped save both his and Katniss’s lives; each district has its own specific, local bread, important in identifying a mystery gift; the whole country the characters inhabit is called Panem, etc.). But rather than exploiting this bread/sandwiches connection, so obvious it was practically handed to them (if you’ll pardon the pun) on a plate, Subway have given us, in essence, this: sometimes, being bold is murdering other people to win a competition for the entertainment of a crazed, bloodthirsty public, and sometimes, being bold is eating a spicy sandwich. That’s actually the best they could come up with.

Of course it’s technically nothing new: The Hunger Games films have already been attached to a line of Capitol-inspired make-up by CoverGirl. Still, at least in that case, the products were in some way related to the world of the story. But with Subway? It’s difficult to decide whether what we’re seeing here is a truly breathtaking lack of self-knowledge, a willful naivety on a par with that of Katniss’s hapless little team of stylists, or otherwise something so cynical it would make President Snow himself proud. Interestingly, comments and ratings have been disabled on the YouTube video. Wonder why….

As if that wasn’t quite enough to take in on its own, news then broke that Lionsgate is seriously considering creating a Hunger Games theme park. Hey kids, why don’t y’all come and have fun pretending to fight to the death? Er….

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Said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer,

“We have been approached in two different territories about potential theme park opportunities, which gives you a sense of the cultural impact of this franchise. We are excited about those opportunities and are pursuing them.”

It’s almost enough to make you worry that the theme park is just a kind of trial run before they get the real Hunger Games up and running. Suzanne Collins may actually have inadvertently just given the sorts of people she criticises in her work more ideas. What on Earth she must be making of all this, one can only begin to imagine.

Sources: The Mary Sue | The Drum | The Hollywood Reporter

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