With a new Hunger Games movie on the way, many fans across social media hope that it ignites a full-on Hunger Games renaissance. After all, earlier this year the YA dystopian series experienced a small cultural resurgence when the movies landed on Netflix.
Across the internet — particularly on TikTok — fans started talking about the series with renewed fervor, posting about their favorite moments and diving into deeper analysis about the series. But it’s not quite the same transformative resurgence that other popular fandoms of the 2010s have experienced, for one key reason: The Hunger Games trilogy is actually too good for that.
With dozens and dozens of poor imitators that never quite matched the brilliance of the original books, it’s hard to remember just how evocative the Hunger Games trilogy was, with a sharp message about how the ruling class uses entertainment and propaganda to maintain the status quo and the smart yet subtle world-building that emphasizes that point. And while the movies quite frankly did a pretty solid job of adapting that message, it was overshadowed by marketing that veered sharply in the opposite direction (remember the Hanging Tree club remix?). And the fact is that when talking about something that is legitimately good and in-depth, there isn’t much room to add anything, and therefore not much transformative fandom experience happening.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just markedly different. There isn’t a big movement to reclaim the Hunger Games and turn it into something separate, the way there is for Harry Potter and Twilight. In the case of Harry Potter, fans sought to distance the story from J.K. Rowling’s bigoted views; meanwhile, a big part of the Twilight memes on TikTok, Tumblr, and X (formerly known as Twitter) are about the more ridiculous aspects of the source material, like the name Renesmee and Edward’s chaste lust for Bella’s knee-length skirts.
And so the current Hunger Games revival is less about reclamation and more about discovery. The fans driving this revival aren’t the people who were the target audience when the books came out, but those who were just a little bit too young. As young kids, they watched the movies or read the books, and only really grasped the action and romance. But as young adults armed with more critical analysis and media comprehension skills, they can more fully appreciate the depth of the story. They take to TikTok sharing moments from the books and movies that hit so much harder now that they understand the full ramifications. They write op-eds in their college newspapers about how meaningful revisiting the series has been, rediscovering just how powerful the Hunger Games was this whole time — and it couldn’t be at a more perfect moment.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book might not have totally bridged the gap between older and younger fans, but it built the foundation at a good time: It was there for younger fans to check out when they were ready, and similarly allowed older fans to come back and remember exactly what it was that they loved about the Hunger Games in the first place. The Hunger Games renaissance is mostly being fueled by younger fans, and the movie’s arrival solidifies this fandom rebirth, with a chance to usher in a wave of new fans while reviving the interest of older ones. These younger fans might not have been at the midnight premieres and book releases that the original fans attended, but this time around, everyone has a chance to experience the fandom together.