Awhile back on In Mala Fide, there was an article about how the Hunger Games describes current cultural competition.
Bitterly insightful as far as it goes, but the thing that got me was the next day Walter Russell Meade had a post on how internships are now for sale. Life is indeed imitating art.
I have not seen the movie or read the book, but as I understand it the games are in part a zero-sum competition for tools and supplies, but in addition competitors from the rich regions have special training. And viewers can buy things to help competitors they like; the job of the “stylists” is to make them look good, be more popular and have a better chance of living.
When I was a kid, you worked, you got paid. A summer job with the right people was certainly a good thing, but it was a job, at minimum wage at least. Then the concept of the internship was introduced- this was in the 80’s, and likely a first sign of social decay. An internship paid a stipend, not a wage, but was also not actually work, you did simple tasks while watching and listening. Then internship became “educational”, and no one gets paid to go to school. The intern was expected to do actual work and the benefit became “networking”, getting important people to like you, rather than learning. And now, you pay for the privilege of doing crap work while desperately sucking up.
Just spending a huge amount of money- likely borrowed- for college is not enough. You have to be connected, you have to know people who know people. And that costs you even more money, maybe even after you have graduated. If you don’t do it, or do it and fail- your $200,000 college and your $10,000 internship doesn’t lead to the right connections- you will be lucky to be working at Starbucks while dodging student loan collectors.
It’s grim and getting grimmer. Welcome to the Hunger Games.