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Alanna Martine Kilkeary / Her Campus

Met Gala & Palestine: Are we living in The Hunger Games?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCT chapter.

If you’ve been on the internet any time over the past week or so, you’ll know two things:

  1. The annual Met Gala was hosted recently.
  2. The people are MAD.

Yes, folks, it’s that time of the year again when the rich, famous, and “culturally relevant” get together in the name of fashion, art and… *squints at notes,* charity?

Usually, this time of the year passes through global consciousness with an air of wit, giggles and detached spectacle as we lie back in our old – sorry, I mean vintage – pyjamas and become self-certified fashion critics. While the 2024 Met Gala still found many flocking to the internet to debate over who fit this year’s gala theme and who did not, there was a significant shift in reception. This Met Gala season saw a large part of the internet dedicated to expressing anger and bewilderment over the extravagant event continuing unabashedly in the face of current world crises. From #Blockout2024 to outrage over influencer Haleyy Baylee’s tone-deaf “Let Them Eat Cake” video, people are no longer impressed by all the glitz and glamour.

While celebrities posed in lavish outfits and dined on hors d’oeuvres, Pro-Palestine supporters protested – some even getting arrested – outside the venue. Meanwhile, the Israeli Defense Forces launched yet another one of their deadly airstrikes on Palestine, this time aiming for the city of Rafah. Back in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, an individual Met Gala ticket is said to be $75,000. That is more than the average household in a first-world country makes in a year. Yes, you read right. This one night costs more money than an entire family has in a whole year. The elaborate displays of wealth happening in real-time alongside the horrific mass deaths and destruction have many calling the world dystopian… and they are not wrong.

Lionsgate Movies / YouTube

With growing fervour, people have taken to the internet to draw parallels between Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy The Hunger Games and our current reality. Videos, images and tweets have likened the Met Gala to parties hosted in the Capitol.

This year, the Met Gala theme is even based on a dystopian short story, J.G. Ballard’s The Garden of Time, further echoing the sentiment of The Hunger Games.

If you haven’t read or watched The Hunger Games before, let me explain. The Hunger Games trilogy is a dystopian book and film series about a grossly unequal and oppressive world in which children from poor districts are forced to fight for survival against each other while the elite Capitol dress in outlandish outfits and watch it all unfold on their screens…. Wait, did I just describe the plot of The Hunger Games or the latest news report? I struggle to see the difference between fiction and reality these days.

What does the Met Gala have to say in response to being compared to a real-world Capitol? *Cricket sounds* The Met Gala is yet to acknowledge the Pro-Palestine protests or any other criticism we commoners have made. And it is unlikely that they ever will. They’re too busy organising that charity, you know?

This is not the first time people have drawn parallels between our world and The Hunger Games. Back in 2022, articles were written about the Met Gala being hosted amidst Roe v. Wade news. Activist accounts on social media have long been contrasting clips from The Hunger Games with footage of Palestine. Just a few months ago, I shared a few posts about the jarring similarities between our world and dystopian fiction.

While the Pro-Palestine movement has gained overwhelming momentum over the past eight months, we cannot act like this genocide has not been going on for over seventy-five years.

Do you know when the first MET Gala was held? 1948. Do you know when the Nakba, the “catastrophe” that marked the mass violent displacement of Palestinians, happened? 1948. I got chills learning this. (And from my South African perspective, I am acutely aware that 1948 was also the year my country came under Apartheid.)

Since October 7th, media visibility and social awareness of the Palestinian genocide has increased. But just like in The Hunger Games, where the Capitol’s citizens remained unbothered by the increasing protests in the districts or the aired footage of children dying on live TV, our very own elite remain unfazed.

All along we have thought of dystopian fiction to be the imagining of a potential distressing future. But what if dystopia has always been our reality?

Hi angel! My name's Aqeelah (aka @fandomsandfiction_ on bookstagram) and I'm an English Literature and Film & TV student with a passion for social justice, mental health, media diversity and all things BOOKS! :D When not lost in a world of words, you can find me browsing bookstores, visiting farmer's markets or drinking coffee/chai in cute cafés <3