Hollywood movies get a lot of flack for cultural imperialism, but they don’t often run the risk of actual sedition. Yet that may be the case later this month when the latest installment of “The Hunger Games” arrives in Thailand, where opponents of the ruling junta have adopted the films’ three-fingered “Mockingjay” salute.
The salute was quickly outlawed by the Thai government, which will now have to decide how to deal with the series’ penultimate installment, “Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1.” The film’s is scheduled to open in Thailand on Nov. 20.
Anti-junta protesters calling themselves “District Thai” held a demonstration at the movie’s London premiere this week. The group’s name is a reference to the politics of the Hunger Games, in which outlying “Districts” are oppressed by “The Capital.” The supporters of deposed prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra, concentrated in rural areas in the northeast of Thailand, make similar complaints against the political elite based in Bangkok.
“Streets and beaches of Thailand may seem normal and quiet. But that is just the surface,” District Thai wrote on its Facebook page. “In reality, citizens are being brainwashed, activists detained, intellectuals arrested and journalists censored. Expression of dissent became forbidden.”
Opponents of the junta also raised the three-fingered salute to Yingluck last month, at the cremation of a politician from her Pheu Thai party who fled the country after the coup and died in exile in the Philippines.