The Hunger Games are real, and here’s why.

By Paloma Alonso

The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel turned movie franchise. With four major hit books and movies, and a fifth movie just recently in theaters, The Hunger Games stories have been fan favorites around the world. The Hunger Games movies deal with a notion that has been familiar to humans for millennia; survival of the fittest. 24 children ages 12-18 are chosen at random to fight to the death in an arena, and the victor becomes a district hero. It started as a form of punishment on the districts for rebelling against the Capitol, the people in power.
When watching The Hunger Games movies, one feels a deep sense of connection to the underdogs, like Katnis and Peeta. We want to see them overthrow the government, to disrupt the system, and come out victorious. As viewers we feel a sort of empathy for them, as they grew up in the less than ideal poor community of District 12. As tributes in the games they have to do everything they can to fight their way to the top and protect their families. Tragic, right? When watching The Hunger Games movies, I always have to find ways to overcome the anxiety that comes with watching the games. I need to relax and detach myself. I often think, “It’s just a movie, this would never happen!”, and carry on with the film. But is it just a movie? Or,has it already been happening for hundreds of years?
This movie series deals heavily with the themes of loss and injustice, as part of the premise of the films is that families lose their children to the games. So how could this possibly be real? It’s cruel and inhumane to have humans, specifically children, fight to survive; all for the pleasure of an out of touch society. Little do all of us know that we are oblivious to our world's very own survival of the fittest happening right under our noses everyday.
Homelessness is a prevalent issue worldwide and has been for years;affecting millions of lives. According to National Alliance to End Homelessness, “In 2022, counts of individuals (421,392 people) and chronically homeless individuals (127,768) reached record highs in the history of data collection.”  In New York City alone, hundreds of people stand in line early in the morning in front of soup kitchens just to have access to a little bit of food, if they get any. I walk by these people on my way to school every morning, standing in the cold, their heads tilting to the right to see if they can catch a glimpse of how far they are from the entrance. The ones who don’t make it in end up walking around the barren city in the morning, trying to see if they can get scraps of food from anywhere they can think of, outcast by the rest of society similarly to the tributes in The Hunger Games.
Forced to survive, 653,104 people became homeless in the US this year alone. Similarly to the tributes, many homeless people don’t make it out alive. At least 815 homeless New Yorkers died in public spaces, shelters, and hospitals in 2022, the most on record according to the New York Times.  
Homelessness is an issue that goes unnoticed everyday, with stories that are undermined and ignored. Some of these people resort  to drugs just to survive, and families are destroyed. The lives of homeless people are ones that we could almost consider dystopian, as the ones in The Hunger Games.
So next time you are watching one of the many Hunger Games movies, just know that it’s not as dystopian as one might think. The fight against hunger and the pressure for survival is something that is real, and is something that we should all be aware and conscious of wherever we go. These individuals might be homeless, but they aren’t hopeless. We can find ways to help everyday, whether that be helping out at a soup kitchen, volunteering, or even giving a few bucks to someone on the street, Katniss and Peeta don’t have to be the only heroes in the narrative.