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Why 'the hanging tree' song from hunger games is so powerful

Yes. I am going to write a piece about a song from a young adult fan fiction remix. But there is a reason it has resonated with so many (including me)

From staggering wealth inequality to the grim realization that they are at the wealthy's mercy for climate change mitigation, young people today fully realize the times they are living in and the costs of inaction. Many times we simply distract ourselves from the horrifying possibilities of our futures. We distract ourselves from the reality that water will soon be a scarce resource, that variable weather and climate change will cause our stomachs to growl with hunger we have never yet experienced, and question our ability to have resolution as we tuck in our basements time and time again while storms charge through with increased intensity and severity than ever before.

But I think what scares young people most, is the realization that, as resources continue to dwindle to a select few, we cannot turn our minds away from the violence that may come from the desperation of the poor as they scramble to collect fewer and fewer resources in the future. Especially as those resources shift from creature comforts to life giving necessities like food, water and shelter.

I think this song is so powerful because it comes at a time when young people are feeling the start of a trembling revolution under our feet. And we are both indignant and terrified to answer it.

Jennifer Lawrence starts the song with vulnerable and questioning intonation. "Are you?, Are you?" she calls out in almost an animal like vocalization--asking, and hoping someone is out there to respond. The call has delicate trembling, a fear of being alone.

After several of these calls she asks "Are you coming to the tree?".

It's this that adds the dark, eerie foreground of the song that strikes people.  It's a very human call. A call  to get comfort from someone you love, but it's also a call to the end--the hanging tree. The solemn realization of a future that will not end well.

It's this mournful sorrow that resonates with people. This fear of distopian future. We see the world of drought, water scarcity, and even war, and we feel her call.

But it is what comes after that is so moving. The scared and questioning "are you?"s fluidly transform into a war grunts. The flush of the one-two beat becomes apparent as the drums flare up to support it. Power stamps the back beat of the call which make it feel more natural on a viking war ship than on a deserted plain. But what is most poignant is that it never loses that vulnerable trembling from the first call.

The call "coming to the tree" transforms from a sorrowful cry for comfort in the end, to a call to arms.
 It's still a purely human call--One of comfort and community built from the former, more sorrowful one. but this time it tears out of it's cocoon of melancholy paralysis and transforms into something altogether different.

The fear is still heard in the tremble of the cry, but this time it's shelled in steadfast determination and anger of injustice. It never convinces the listener they aren't marching toward the same hanging tree, as it is not naiive to the realities of revolution and war. The end still might come, but this time when they ask "are you coming to the tree" they question, "what are you going to do about it?"

Young people don't want a revolution to happen, they're scared. But they feel the trembling under their feet. As the frustration, community, and power from movements like 99% and black lives matter march forward across our nation, the one-two quake of boots is felt under our feet.

"Are you, are you, coming to the tree?"


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