Throughout The Hunger Games, the three-fingered salute operates as a show of solidarity, a call to action and a sign of resistance. Flashing it can be extremely dangerous, but there’s also a hopefulness to it. In short, it’s like a promise for a better tomorrow, and in Thailand, that’s apparently what protesters need right now. They’ve reportedly taken to flashing the three-fingered salute in the streets, and the action has become so common, the junta is now taking action.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Thai government is aware the gesture comes from a movie, and they’re not planning on arresting anyone for peacefully showing the three-fingered salute. That being said, leaders have vowed to arrest large groups of people using the hand signal, if they assemble to protest against the May 22nd coup that deposed the government, blocked numerous channels and created a nationwide curfew.
Here’s an actual quote from junta spokesman Col. Weerachon Sukhondhapatipak…
"If a single individual raises three fingers in the air, we are not going to arrest him or her, but if it is a political gathering of five people or more, then we will have to take some action. If it persists, then we will have to make an arrest."
The above quote is a pretty good reminder of why limiting Freedom of Speech is such a slippery slope. The number of people who can and cannot gather is seemingly arbitrary, and it leads to all sorts of goofy press releases like this. In addition, it can have the tendency to make the government seem really weak, even if that’s not the case.
Obviously, when most directors sit down to make a movie, they’re not actively thinking about altering world politics or having a significant effect on a far off place like Thailand. They’re just trying to make a movie that has an effect, in some positive way, even if it’s just to brighten the audience’s collective spirit. If something hits enough of the right notes and is released at the right time, however, it can wind up being a whole lot more important than anyone would have guessed. Sometimes it’s the little, non-violent gestures that are the most powerful. Something anyone who watched the 1968 Olympics can attest to.
The history of Thailand is filled with juntas. On twelve occasions starting in 1933, the military has stepped in and seized control for a period of time. At this point, it’s unclear how long the "National Council For Peace And Order" will run the country or institute the curfew, but for the foreseeable future, you can probably expect the disenfranchised to continue throwing three fingers into the air and wishing for a better tomorrow, especially with more movies to keep re-inspiring them.