Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Hunger Games and The Man in the High Castle.
Continuing my post from a few weeks ago that looked at the role of hope in popular depictions of rebellions, I will focus today on “savior” figures in film and TV that also deal with resistance in oppressive regimes, and consider how they intersect with norms of popular political ideology.
For a civilization saturated with the frameworks of Christianity, it is not surprising that Jesus figures can be found all over Western cultural output. Aslan the Lion, created by the great Christian author C.S. Lewis, is quite clearly and intentionally Jesus – less obviously, so is Harry Potter, who also has to die and be resurrected before saving the magical world of wizards.
The most recent iterations of the savior concept, however, seem framed less by a classical Christian concept of the messiah than the infatuation with individualism that permeates the culture of neoliberalism. Take, to start with, The Hunger Games. The hero and protagonist of the series, Katniss Everdeen, initially sparks the resistance not out of political conviction, but because the desire to protect her sister places her center stage in front of the entire nation. She hates the regime, of course, but her actions are motivated out of personal love and intimate commitment. It is not even until the third film (I have to admit to the usual ignorance of having only seen the movies) that she views coordinated cooperation with others – in this case a spectacularly well-equipped resistance army, considering the level of oppression they are apparently dealing with – as a helpful or simply necessary strategy to reach her end goal of living a normal life.