Despite winning numerous awards earlier, it was the popular “The Hunger Games” film series which catapulted Jennifer Lawrence as the highest-grossing action heroine of all time. The Hunger Games (2012) grossed US$691 million while the second The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) made US$864 million. The third film – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 – released yesterday, November 20, could gross a cool US$1 billion.
Without doubt, Jennifer’s leaked nude photos wouldn’t had created such a brouhaha if not for her legendary role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. The story tells about the thirteen districts attempted to start a revolution against the Capitol. The Capitol won, District 13 was destroyed. As a result, the so-called nation – Panem – was left with Capitol and 12 poorer districts under its totalitarian rule.
In order to control future rebellions by remembering the past rebellion, the Capitol created an interesting punishment – and annual televised death match called The Hunger Games. Two participants, one male and one female, known as tributes, between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen randomly from each district. The rules are very simple – the twenty-four players must kill each other and survive in the wilderness until only one remains.
The Hunger Games was supposed to entertain and intimidate the population, in order for the “dictator” in Capitol enjoys absolute power. Long story short, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen from District-12 survives the games along with another participant, Peeta Mellark. Both refuse to kill each other but defy the Capitol by threatening to commit suicide. The Capitol is furious at their defiance because it inspires rebellion in other districts.
Needless to say, one powerhouse that banned The Hunger Games is none other than China, for obvious reason. Of course, there’re other countries which eerily resembles The Hunger Games in their suppressive and oppressive administration. As much as they wanted to, they can’t ban the movie because they’re suppose to be democratic countries. And we’re talking about Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
As the third part of the film series opens this week, The Hunger Games has served as inspiration for at least one group of protesters and activists. On Wednesday, several students were arrested after greeting Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha with the same “three-finger salute” used by dissidents in The Hunger Games series. That’s right, PM Prayuth who snatched power through coup d’état was having cold sweat at the sight of the salute.
Amusingly, the five student protesters from Khon Kaen University were then taken by police and soldiers to the Sri Patcharin military camp to undergo an “attitude adjustment.” The next day, three more students were detained in Bangkok after being escorted out of a high-end cinema. One of the students, 21-year-old Nachacha Kong-udom, apparently flashed the salute while standing in front of a large Mockingjay poster.
The three-fingered salute was widely used by protesters against Thailand’s military coup in May. Heck, it became so popular after the Thai coup that the Prayuth administration warned they would arrest anyone in a large group who gave the salute and refused to lower their arm when ordered. It seems the power-crazy Prayuth Chan-Ocha is adamant about clamping down on all forms of protest, including banning the latest “Hunger Games”.
After the “three-finger salute” silent protests at cinema, the Thailand theater chain – Apex – had cancelled showings of the film almost instantly in order not to offend dictator Prayuth. Like it or not, when kids and youngsters are using the three-finger sign as a signal to call for the return of basic right to their lives, the oppressors have every reason to be very afraid. Will there be a fresh rebellion against the tyrannical Thai regime?
Most importantly, will the popular “three-finger salute” spread to Thailand’s neighbours such as Myanmar and of course, Malaysia? It’s safe to say Malaysia’s previous versions of Bersih gigantic protesters were influenced by Thailand, one way or another. As much as it’s laughable to see how paranoid the Kingdom of Thailand is with the three-finger salute, it could be even funnier when the Kingdom of Malaysia starts to copy the same trend, only for the local authorities to go bonkers with similar arrests.
Besides, Malaysia under Najib administration has a longer list of endless corruptions, scandals, mismanagement, racisms, suppressions, oppressions and whatnot that deserve the “three-finger salute” more than Thailand. And Malaysia’s present scenario resembles The Hunger Games plot more than Thailand. Fortunately, Malaysians are a bunch of obedient people who would probably flash the “three-finger” sign, if they choose to do so out of frustration, and nothing more than that.
Will the Malaysia opposition parties start the infamous “three-finger salute” in their next demonstration, assuming they would do so if Najib administration refuses to lower the fuel price even after the global oil prices drop further? The world had seen how PM Najib went bonkers and arrested anyone who wore yellow not many moons ago. So, will the world gets to see the same clowns who walk the corridors of power do the same again, only in a bigger magnitude than PM Prayuth Chan-Ocha?
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