Slate is an online magazine founded by a former editor of The New Republic and now owned by The Washington Post. Like its mother and father publications, it is not a surprise that Slate leans hard to the political left. Nonetheless, if one is steeled to partisan comments offered as undeniable ‘givens,’ a commonplace of both left, right, and center (there is a center?) in American discourse today, Slate provides as often as not delightful reading on substantive subjects and another, fresh look at worn topics. To risk a rough analogy, Slate is to reading online what NPR is to radio; shamelessly leftist messaging in a sophisticated, challenging package.
Most of you already knew all that, I’m guessing, but I review it because Slate loves The Hunger Games — and you could spend a big chunk of your day (as I have) digging into and thinking about The Complete Slate ‘Hunger Games’ Collection. Are all of them worth the time to read? No. The ‘Meet Suzanne Collins‘ piece is a two paragraph piece that tells us exactly nothing about her (compare), for example, and ‘The Problem of Tesserae Inflation‘ is just a failed reading of the books (and something like innumerancy).
Most, however, reward the reader with either a new take on the dystopian trilogy or raise a smile (see ‘Hunger Games Premiere Offers New Possible Object of Your Twilight Disdain‘ for a little of the latter). My favorite? The Economics of The Hunger Games: Could any real country have an economy like Panem’s? Actually, yes.
Read the whole thing and you’ll learn quite a bit, if you’re like me, about “extractive colonial economies” and how the relative absence (or compliance) of Native Americans in New England shaped US economic and political history. Not to mention what we pick up about Panem and the end of Mockingjay. And, for Slate, the politics was relatively muted; yes, colonial regimes cursed their captive peoples with extractive regimes, but, no, those peoples once liberated haven’t chosen a better way.
I confess it made credible an aspect of the story I had found unbelievable, namely, that the Districts could be so small and live in such poverty and still support a city with the numbers and decadence of the Capitol. It’s still far-fetched, but after reading this piece I found the transparency requires a lot less fantasy-suspension-of-disbelief to look through.
It even gave me a new perspective on stories like The Washington Post’s Five Years Into the Mexican Drug War and The Christian Science Monitor’s Drugs on the Other Southern Border: Nightmare in Puerto Rico. I assume that dystopian fiction is a lens through which to view our own cultures. I confess, though, to being surprised at how challenging Ms. Collins’ vision is to the “all is right with the world” cocoon we live in.
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