Here's How Our Favorite Movies Can Help Us Understand The Riots In Ferguson

Movies like 'Mockingjay' can remind us of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s wise words: 'A riot is the language of the unheard.'

Throughout "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay," Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her fellow District 13 rebels are bombarded with a single message from their violent government: your actions are disturbing the peace. However, Katniss, Gale and all of the other "Games" characters we've grown to love are only reacting to the decades of systemic, institutionalized violence and oppression that was rained down upon them by the people who had sworn to protect them.

This concept is easy for us to grasp (and, later dismiss) when we're watching dystopian blockbusters -- there isn't a "Hunger Games" fan around who isn't ready for Katniss to bring hell to the Capitol. So why is it so difficult for some of us to relate to the protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner?

Why do we root for movie heroes who literally kill people, but condemn our fellow, outraged Americans who have suffered from eerily similar levels of oppression for rioting, or for laying down on the ground in Grand Central Station? They're disturbing some peace (and commutes), sure, but can you really call what we have here in America "peace" when so many people are suffering and afraid of the police? Or fearful of being racially profiled -- at best-- or, even worse, killed, due to the color of their skin?


Maybe sometimes the "peace" needs to be disturbed. There's no Hob or mandatory murder ritual in Ferguson, but there's also no denying that some of that city's police seem to react to its residents with the same levels of fear and distrust that the Peacekeepers feel towards the residents of District 12. It's just a whole lot easier to digest the social disruption and voice when the call isn't coming from inside the house.

All of this disdain for and intolerance of the Ferguson protests is the focus of the latest episode of Laci Green's MTV webseries "Braless," as the sex educator points out the glaring similarities between President Snow's reaction to District 13... and our own reaction to what's happening in America.

"Some of the best fictional stories tell us something about our society," Green says. "They're a mirror held up that says, 'Look at yourselves, why don't you see this?'"

Indeed, many viewers don't realize that the same heartbreaking oppression we see on the big screen is happening to people in our own backyard here in the States -- and what's worse, many are framing protesters as "radicals" when all they're really doing is fighting for the same privilege and trust that whites enjoy on a daily basis.

"After Darren Wilson shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown, news outlets focused on chaos and isolated cases of looting, sparing little airtime for the overwhelmingly peaceful protests for their grievances," Green continues.

"Just like 'Mockingjay,' protesters were framed as radical troublemakers. This narrative distracts us from the real injustice at hand -- police brutality, and a lack of consequences for it... District 13 wants citizens of Panem to ask themselves why they comply with government violence. Ferguson protesters want citizens of America to ask themselves why they accept police violence against black men as normal."

Even some individuals who understand that police violence against blacks is inherently wrong seem to be quick to condemn rioters for their behavior -- and many on my own Facebook page have cited Martin Luther King as the perfect example on why blacks should be behaving better. But as Green points out, that argument holds little weight.

"Martin Luther King said riots grow out of intolerable conditions," she says. "[King said] 'Violent revolts are generated by revolting conditions.' They're 'the language of the unheard.' Basically, the king of peaceful protests understood why riots happened. It's a way that powerless people attempt to be heard, and to hold authorities accountable. And sometimes, it works. But King demonstrated that other non-violent methods, like boycotts, sit-ins, and marches, work as well."

Obviously, the biggest hope here is that peaceful protests reign supreme. We would all love to see the end of oppression via non-violent means, as this would inarguably be a much better first step towards healing.

This happy ending probably won't come to fruition for Panem, so let's hope that Katniss' famous "Mockingjay" words -- written here on a St. Louis wall, and captured by Twitter user Evan Baker Smith -- will be rendered irrelevant when it comes to the racial injustice in America:

Twitter/Evan Baker Smith