Yesterday, like nearly every teen in my county, I went to see the "Hunger Games" at the town theater. Several months ago, upon the recommendation of a friend, I started reading the books, and like so many others, became immediately hooked, so I was eager to see how the movie would measure up to the text. I was also very excited to see local footage, as many of the forest scenes were shot within minutes of my home. In my opinion, the movie was fantastic, and that is not an easy feat, since flicks are, so often, watered down versions of their literary predecessors. I won't give anything away, as I imagine many of you will be making this journey on your own, but I can't help but share some of my thoughts on this phenomenon, especially when those thoughts take me right back to DMB.
First, I keep wondering how Suzanne Collins, the writer of the series, feels today. To know that characters, who once existed solely in her head, are now being watched on thousands of big screens, must be a truly surreal experience. I don't know, but I bet that when she wrote this story she had no idea the effect that it would have on those who read it. It is an outstanding tale, but when any piece of art makes it to this level, we also have to wonder what other factors were at play to create such an enormous success. Besides pure talent, is it timing, luck, sociological issues, or some other inconceivable facet that pushes certain works above all others? There seems to be a mysterious element that is out of the artist's hands when it comes to this process, and I believe that the most skilled creators make themselves familiar with this ambiguity in order to thrive. This, of course, is where the Dave Matthews Band comes in. As Dave and the boys are working on the new record, I imagine that they are creating space for mystery when it comes to the outcome of their project. Even on the heels of past achievements, a group can never be sure how a novel piece will be received. Still, everything we know about these musicians tells us that they will play with their whole hearts, leaving no chord untouched by pure emotion.
Also, if the new album is anything like the quintet's past deeds, we can expect to hear some songs that make important statements about the ways of the world today. Therein lies the other tie in that I found between Suzanne's plot and Dave's writing; socio-cultural relevancy. As I sat in the crowded room yesterday afternoon, I wondered how many of the adolescents around me were taking in the clear parallels that Ms. Collins put forth between her imagined society, and the one in which we live. Is it really that far off to think of a time when there is such a huge divide between rich and poor? A time when a very small percentage of the population has all the power? A time when reality television de-sensitizes us to the very real suffering of our brothers and sisters? Personally, I don't think that scenario is so far-fetched, which is why I am eternally grateful for the works of gifted artists who bring our attention to these issues, by giving us songs and movies that raise our collective consciousness. Because together, we can put the hope back in our minds.
Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.