The Hunger Games and Accidentally Conservative BestsellersThe last Mockingjay move opens this weekend, and I am reminded something I have wondered about. Have you noticed that most out-of-the-blue bestsellers, ones that often get turned into blockbuster movies, reflect conservative ideas and principles even when their authors are explicitly not conservative in politics?
The Hunger Games is one example. I read that when my kids wanted to read it because the other older kids at school, and even the teachers, were. People were reading it because of word of mouth recommendations rather than publicity pushes. So I read it and thought, wow, like Orwell, this writer really gets why Big Government is antithetical to Individual Freedom. And then I read interviews of Collins and actually, she doesn't.
Another, older example is Harry Potter, which was another word-of-mouth hit in the beginning. The evil regimes that Harry had to face include a Ministry of Magic that is in denial about the reality of Death Eater terror attacks happening right in front of them (sound familiar?), a domineering bureaucrat who is concerned with bullying students into mouthing platitudes rather than speaking the truth, and the Dark Lord himself, to whom one can either submit, or die. The Harry Potter series is all about fighting for family, for what's right, despite all odds, and never giving up one's right to wield a wand. Again, despite this, the author is actually a supporter of the left-wing politics.
In both case, the authors would reject the idea that their books are conservative. Yet when you read the books you can only conclude the opposite. So how does this happen? I have a theory. I think Collins and Rowling are good writers, and by that I mean that they are writers first and political beings second. They write where their story takes them and they try to be true to the story they are writing. And the stories that resonate with readers are stories with essential truths in them. Conservatism is about the truth, about reality. So by being true to their stories, these writers end up writing books with deeply conservative messages in them.
I think what this means for conservative writers is this: When you write, be true to your story. The message will take care of itself. Do that and you will write a really good book.
If you want to re-watch Mockingjay Part 1 before watching Part 2, or if you've never read the books, they are on Amazon:
The Hunger Games Trilogy Paperback Box Set Mockingjay - Part 1 (movie)
The Harry Potter series always makes a good gift for the kids and is also on Amazon.
Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7)
Harry Potter: The Complete 8-Film Collection