I tried reading "The Hunger Games". It was OK, I guess. I picked up on how self-loathing she was from the jump, almost, and the fact that she really can't do much without having a boy in the picture. And how the whole country looked a lot like the Reconstruction South ('specially about that States' Rights thing), or perhaps the Depression before FDR took over. But then, I got to the actual Games, and I started getting kind of bored. So, I cheated, just in case someone started talking about the books or, God help us, the movie. So I read a synopsis. I get it, I get it: the Careers are evil, Rue is cute and small and what Prim would have been like, Kat's been tall-talked into a "Romeo and Juliet-like" romance (though I don't see much in common other than being teenagers in love -- at least in Renaissance Italy, they wouldn't have killed each other personally) and she wins by, basically, cheating. Oh, yeah, she's been also holding her middle finger aloft to the Government all this time. I dig, I grok, and I understand exactly. It's just the whole Joan of Arc thing in the next two books I consider absolutely dumb (she's not really religious, and this is so NOT the Hundred Year's War). So, I proffer, The True History of Katniss Everdeen as it would have played out in a media climate such as ours.
My version of the story picks up about the time she eats the poisoned berries. You see, the Gamemakers are a little more canny about this kind of thing than she thinks, and they let her. After all, this is an arena, it's not 'real' nature, and they well know that they're there.
But, this is not the end of the story! For one thing, they don't always work that well. Second, since she's been followed by cameras since the beginning, some choppers have been ready with medics who whisk the couple away to a hospital. She gets the exquisite experience of Dying for A Cause, if not For Love...and then...
There, she gets tons of cards, letters, emails, about her politics, her love for Peeta, and what's with the flowers, anyway? Her anti-government screeds are brushed off as "lingering paranoid dementia" from exposure and god knows what else, and everyone agrees that life in the Districts can be rough, but let's see about how she's healing, since they've given her a new liver and a few other nips and tucks... Since there's no Disneyland for her to go to, she's going to be doing the tour of the Districts, sure, but she's not going back to the Seam. In exchange for a "no monkey business" agreement during the tour, President Snow himself, personally hands her the key to her own residence in the Capital on Panem-wide TV.
It turns out that her sponsors (or at least a few of them) are excited to have a real political rebel in their midst. Really! And they'd just love for her to attend a few parties, speak at a few gatherings...What's with the pin? Where can they get one? Braids, archery, wild game, and dandelion salad become wildly fashionable, and anyone with a backyard koi pond (doesn't everyone have one?) grows Katniss arrowhead, with the ritual of breaking off the tubers with bare feet and picking up the floaters all the rage as a party game. She even has her own self-driving car! Mom and Prim are invited to stay with her, and her joy is complete. Except...
Seems like Mom's herbal medicine is not so effective after all. As a matter of fact, when Mom and Prim finally get a good checkup, on top of the problems of starvation, stress and living in an incredibly toxic environment, Mom's got breast cancer, and Prim's tubercular. Meanwhile, Kat doesn't sleep too well, and her behavior becomes increasingly erratic. While her stipend is quite lavish, by the standards of the District, it becomes clear that it's going to be a hard choice between buying, feeding and caring for some Avoxes, hiring help at premium rates and paying for some extremely expensive automation to keep her new home going. Buying clothing is another problem: Cinna is off doing another job, and he's made it clear that he's not going to work for free. Her political efforts only frustrate her: her sneering contempt of well, nearly everyone, thick accent, and lack of polish and political savvy only serve to distance her from reaching the radical intelligensia. In practical terms, while she's often invited to dinner, she rarely is invited back.
The press is finding waif-like Primrose a newfound source of material, as Her Sister's Love Saves Her Yet Again. Mom presses Katniss to let Prim stay so she can get treatment and go to college. What about Peeta? Well...they broke up, pretty publicly, after the Games were over. Now, as "Pita Peter", he's the hunky host of his own cooking show: "The Brick Oven". Right, the Districts are going to rise again…now could you please get with the program? Stop being so angsty! Prim doesn't mind all this attention! Further incidents in the press occur when Prim naively tells a reporter about her mother's herb business ("Mama was a Hillbilly Dope Peddler!"), and Katniss clobbers a young gay man trying to dress like her ("Everdeen: Homophobe?") since now she's a B-lister, she's apparently become a gay icon. She tries to contact her home town honey, Gale, but he's not interested in dating a celebrity. Effie and company are sympathetic, but they're kind of busy...there's a new year coming up, and she's no longer their job either...Rumors fly: in the Capitol, they say she's a prima donna to work with, she rarely bathes, her dad raped her, she has violent fights with her sister almost daily. In the Districts, everyone assumes she's become the same kind of party girl they read about in the Panem Enquirer, since everyone's seen the picture of her wading in a koi pond in an evening dress. "Lord knows. She prob'ly done de President. All of 'em do."
What people called the Great Meltdown occurred at the time of the next Reaping. As part of Katniss doing televised color commentary, President Snow agrees to appear in public debate with her on TV. Primrose, who has been doing particularly well in school, tries to prepare her with economic and political facts, Kat dismisses them as being too supportive of the status quo. Instead, she relies on a plan to rally the Districts in her favor, with her self-righteousness and her Amazing Magic Dress, however her grandstanding manages to come across, not as heroic, but dangerously crazy, ranting on about Victor prostitution, death threats, and poisonings in the President's family.
"Am I an Avox?" she asks at one point. Screams, actually.
President Snow chuckles sagely. "There are other ways of becoming an Avox than surgery."
...Her lengthy stay in a mental institution is considered merciful by most commentators, and for a time, "post-traumatic shock" is the fashionable disease du jour. To set the record straight, Mom writes her memoirs, "Never in their Favor: A Mother's Journey", which becomes a best-seller. Everyone talks about Katniss's violent outbursts, repeated suicide attempts, and her attempted drowning of Buttercup -- her kid sister's kitten, for chrissake!-- and decides, well, she did have some points, but…really, are you going to believe her? Prim launches a line of clothing, "MockingJay Designs", which she uses as a springboard to increase mental health awareness, and graduates class valedictorian. Her future career in both medicine and politics (Senator from District 12 Dr. P. Everdeen Tullius) helps to sway public opinion towards a non-lethal, all-Career version of the Games in order to secure better health services and nutrition in the Districts as a fresh generation of administrators takes the helm. "For a better Games, we need a better Panem!" In her honor, the games are now called "The Unity Games", and include the Thirteenth District as honored guests.
Fifteen years later, most people had forgotten her sister Katniss, as she launches a DVD exercise collection, "Volunteer Ready: Train like a Victor!" Her infomercials haunt late-night TV for some years. Asked about her rebellious youth, she gives out with the following wisdom "I wanted to change the world, but the thing in the world I most needed to change was myself. I'm at peace now. I'm happy."
Now, are gene-spliced dogs with people faces that much more scary?