Fans of The Hunger Games will probably already have heard of Capitol Couture, the new clothing line with features clothing inspired from the Capitol fashion in the books. It also includes makeup.
From most of the reaction I’ve seen, the common consensus is excitement. Fans are eagerly awaiting the arrival of these glamorous garments which dazzled viewers who saw the scenes of the Capitol citizens in The Hunger Games (2012). Now, I have to admit, I love merchandise as much as the next person. I collect T-shirts with my favourite bands on them. I have a Hufflepuff wristband, and I have a lot of badges. Movie companies have every right to sell products and make a bit of money if they see where profit can be made. To name a few movies where it’s been done: Harry Potter, Twilight and probably the biggest giant of all Star Wars. That’s fair enough. But it’s just this particular movie that doesn’t bode well with this idea.
In The Hunger Games series, there are 12 districts and a Capitol. The Capitol is filled with rich people living luxurious lives. Some are more shallow then others. They eat well and are obsessed with trends, looks and reputation. They live this way only by the utter poverty and hard labour of the districts. Some districts are slightly better off than others, the outer districts bear the brunt of disease, starvation and squalid living conditions. The Capitol are oblivious to this (or else they just don’t want to know).
Now are you beginning to feel a bit unsettled by this? The allegory isn’t as fictitious as it first appears. In our world there are people, like those in the districts, who live in similar conditions. In the 1st world its the homeless or struggling underclass who have to wonder if they’ll have a next meal or will they have a roof over their head at night. In the 3rd world its the people who are afraid everyday of war, genocide, drought, famine or a natural disaster. The world isn’t such a big place. Yet there’s inequality and injustice everywhere. While we in the 1st world are worrying about getting the latest technology or fashion, they’re struggling to survive. And in most cases they’re not; they’re dying. That’s the message Suzanne Collins was trying to get across when she wrote those books. I know she sold the rights to the series, but I really believe she would be disappointed with Lionsgate’s attempt to try and drain the cash cow on this series.
Trish Summerville designed the clothing for the movies, and she did a superb job, but this is going a bit too far. The images in this post are examples you can expect to find on the clothing line. You can also find them on the Capitol Couture website. The website is quite clean-cut. The amount of design and marketing that went into making the site is quite apparent. I must say I was quite taken aback by how sleek it was. But don’t be fooled. Behind the pristine images and tidy layouts is just another capitalist corporation trying to make a profit off of reckless consumerism in the 1st world.
For that reason, I feel really uneasy about how people are going to celebrate and consume the mindless greed that was so apparent in the movies by buying these clothes in real life. Are they just going to ignore the idea the books/movies are supposed to portray? It just boggles me how the movie company portrays a message of injustice with one hand, and tells people to consume with another.
In a blog I read, http://victorsvillage.com/2013/09/05/crossing-the-fashion-line/#comment-14200, they talk about how Lionsgate “dont care […] what the message of the story really is” and I’d have to agree with a lot of their points.