How A Hunger Games Symbol Became Key To A Real-Life Protest Movement

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series has remained an important franchise within the fabric of YA dystopian fiction for over a decade. The book trilogy became even more popular when Lionsgate adapted the series into movies starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth. The Hunger Games’ message of resistance and resilience remains an apt message for fans around the world today as activists from Thailand and Myanmar have actually borrowed an element of Katniss’ rebellion in their own protests.

Since 2014, young people living in Thailand have led a movement in the country by peacefully rallying by the thousands in its main cities to call for dissolving the parliament and holding fresh elections, reformation of the country’s monarchy and revisions of Thailand’s military-drafted constitution. The three-finger salute was used in solidarity by a slew of young protesters at the time, along with many holding up George Orwell’s 1984.

Following the 2014 protests, the Thai military actually decided to ban the use of the three-finger symbol from The Hunger Games. And last week, protesters, including medical workers and young people, took to the streets in Myanmar to oppose a military coup also using the three-finger symbol again, per The Guardian.

Myanmar’s people have been dealing with an imposed curfew following days of protests in defiance of Aung San Suu Kyi's government. Most of the demonstrators were reportedly peaceful, but police deployed water cannons at the protests. The three-finger symbol has spread to become a symbol of resistance and solidarity for democracy in Myanmar and other countries in southeast Asia. You can check out the medical workers recently posing with the symbol here:

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Additionally, when a group of a thousand students and teachers protested in Myanmar last week, they could be seen offering roses to police officers, which is also a reference to a symbol used by authoritarian leader President Snow throughout the Hunger Games series. Check out some photos below:

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These images certainly speak to the draw of the Hunger Games movies long after the books and films have come and gone. A fictional salute has become the symbol of an actual movement on the other side of where Suzanne Collins initially wrote the novels. Here’s a reminder of one crucial scene in the series: in 2013’s Catching Fire, the symbol became the spark of a coming rebellion in Panem:

The Hunger Games was also the topic of conversation here in the United States during the inauguration of President Joe Biden last month when Lady Gaga’s wardrobe decisions looked to be right out of the sci-fi franchise. The series is set to continue on the big screen with a prequel movie adapting Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbird and Snakes, which will follow President Snow as a teenager and a new District 12 female protagonist much different from Katniss. And perhaps one day the franchise will continue to tell Katniss and Peeta's story following Mockingjay.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.