Fear and Loathing in the Districts

In her Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins strikes a stomach churning contrast between those who live in Districts 1–12 of Panem, where life is nasty, brutish and most likely short, and the glittering frivolity of the Panem Capitol denizens, whose main concerns are soiree invites, wardrobe choices and clandestine gossip about those in power and the players in the Hunger Games.

I used to inhabit the Capitol. It was awesome. And I want back in.

Not literally, of course. But in a not so distant past my top interests included: what Karl Lagerfeld’s latest swarm of underage Fashion Week stick bugs paraded down the Chanel runway (handbags triple the acceptable size mon dieu!), a new lip serum that burns when applied (but so worth it because it makes your lips look 2 days post injection!) and of course, the fabricated antics of those wild and krazy Kardashians. I was positively aswirl in a privileged typhoon of ignorant, hedonistic foolishness.

Yes, I said it: privileged…aka that word no one wants to admit applies to them. Balk all you want, but isn’t it a privilege to be in such a stable life situation that you can lose your mind when Britney shaves her head and attacks a papparazzo’s SUV with an umbrella? And can we just call it what it is when Tom Cruz’s couch-jumping Oprah antics are discussed ad nauseum nigh the proverbial water cooler? Furthermore, why did your heart momentarily cease to beat when you found out Brad left Jen for Angelina?

There can only be one word to describe a society so stable, so safe, so confident, that these are the things that pass as earth shattering developments: privileged.

Like the wig-donning, surgically-enhanced, eat until you vomit and then eat again Capitol crowd, us privileged Americans had it made. Until we didn’t.

I can’t name one film in theaters right now. If there are People magazines on the newsstands, I haven’t noticed. And if Brangelina reaffirmed their vows on a spaceship destined for Mars I doubt I’d care.

I can’t care. Since the election it feels like I am scrapping away in the Districts, where every day I am forced to grapple with a dizzying onslaught of threats to the basic freedoms all of us ‘mericans have clearly taken for granted far too long. Life has indeed become nasty and brutish, and vicious clashes among once congenial coworkers are the new norm, family members scream at each other on the regular and Facebook is a psychological bloodbath.

For some outliers in the Districts life has also, unfortunately, become short. Heather Heyer’s 32 years abruptly ended while protesting the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Furthermore, countless undocumented citizens have been ripped from their families, many taken to an undisclosed location across the border and unceremoniously dumped into the hands of desperate kidnappers hoping to capitalize on the plethora of fresh hostages with ties to American money. Compound this with the endless examples of often lethal police brutality inflicted upon minorities and the accompanying protests and you get a real sense Rome is burning, and Nero is maniacally fiddling away atop the heap of smoldering rubbish.

Oh, and there’s a chance Nero’s, ahem Drumpf’s, successor will be Kid Rock. Happy joy.

Kid Rock jokes aside, I would like, for just one moment, for us all to engage in brutal honesty: isn’t it a no brainer that the concern over Justin Beiber’s mental health following egging his neighbor is preferable to the concern over the mental health of someone with the temperament of a toddler in charge of the nuclear codes? Wouldn’t you rather mourn the latest octogenarian celebrity’s passing instead of the senseless murder of a 32 year old woman peacefully and passionately standing up to Nazis? And can’t we all agree that it would be nectar from the gods to just simply watch the Golden Globes without the burden of anxiously anticipating one rogue nominee’s political activism?

Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, this is life here in the Districts. It is nasty. It is brutish. And, if the administration has its way it will be short, especially for those whose existence threatens their unapologetically bigoted agenda. I can only hope that one day we will all be transported back to the Capitol where we can commence seeking out the latest “it bag,” feeling safe and above all, keeping up with the Kardashians.