All this week, the writers of Christ and Pop Culture unveil their 25 most loved things of 2013. 

Previous #4: Before Midnight

#3: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

We watch it all, the dystopian future, the brave teenage heroine, the heartbreaking love triangle, the pathos, the greed, the cruelty, the injustice, and we are entertained. We should not be so quick to dismiss this, the truth that we are entertained as we watch people, children, battle to the death. But we are not gleeful. After all, this is not the coliseum, literal people being fed to literal lions. Still–we play a part, watch with rapt eyes and enthralled hearts, as bad things happen to people who probably don’t deserve them.

Catching Fire is a fast, smart film about much more than coliseum games. It’s about evil, injustice, apathy, and prophetic imagination. It’s about the choices we face when we confront inequality, abuse of power, the truth that our reality is not the reality of the world’s. We think it is a movie about Katniss Everdeen, but it is really about us: the citizens of the capitol, the Effie Trinkets of the Hunger Games world.

And when we watch it like that, we have a chance to let the deeper meaning of the movie sink in. The world is unjust, and we are at the top of the food chain. How will we then respond? Will we fight, like Katniss? Will we give up, like Haymitch? Or will we choose to find a third path (a la Peeta?)

The reality is none of those options. Because we aren’t the players in this game. We are the audience. Catching Fire is asking us to watch closely, and to pay attention. To realize that there are district 12 and 11’s all around us, and to consider for a moment how our own desires affect those around the globe. May we’ll be like silly, stylized Effie Trinket, who in the end declares to the tributes with tears in her eyes that “they deserved better”.

The world is not right, and the longer we pretend it is, the closer we get to becoming the Capital.

Next #2: Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City