Fandom-esque | Nostalgia rears its head for the Hunger Games fandom

Fandom-esque is a biweekly blog about the fandoms of the pop culture sphere and their latest ongoings in TV, film and more.

By Diana Velasquez, Senior Staff Writer

Peeta Mellark makes a comeback 15 years after the publication of “The Hunger Games” in a TikTok edit that’s taken over the For You page.

Congratulations, middle school Katniss Everdeen girlies, you can dust off that bow and arrow set you left in a closet in 2012 — cause we’re in a Hunger Games renaissance! If you don’t already have a crippling TikTok addiction, there’s a whole new swath of content focused on Suzanne Collins’ best-selling series just for you.

“The Hunger Games” is a YA dystopian staple. It centers on Katniss Everdeen, a teenage girl from District 12 of the post-apocalyptic country of Panem. She volunteers for the Hunger Games in place of her sister — a “Battle-Royale”-style fight to the death between 24 tributes all for the entertainment of the decadent and villainous Capitol. Many authors have tried to mimic Collins’ writing style with various degrees of success.

But, it’s 2023. Why the sudden re-obsession? The first novel came out in 2008, and the movie trilogy starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth ended in 2015. It’s been almost 10 years since we’ve seen Katniss or Peeta on the page or on the screen.

Well, this “renaissance” is not specific to the “Hunger Games” fandom. It is, in fact, a common occurrence for many fandoms — and ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, older fandoms have been rearing their heads more and more frequently in online social media spaces like TikTok and Tumblr.

Hannah Ewens, author of the fan-studies book “Fangirls: Scenes from Modern Music Culture” interviewed fans from large band fandoms like One Direction and My Chemical Romance. During her research, she found that many older fans specifically returned to these respective fandoms after the pandemic started.

She said in an article for Nylon, “I explore why, during periods of mental distress, female fans dip back into familiar teenage fandoms. The interviewees I spoke to for this article repeated the words that depressed fans used when they told me why they returned to fandom.”

Many of the fans she interviewed described their participation in these fandoms as an “infatuation” when they were teenagers. Generally, as teenagers, most people spend their time under the security of their parents, which pairs well with an innocent childhood interest. As an adult, returning to these fandoms in hard times brings back the feeling of that secure lifestyle.

“The Hunger Games” was a very popular fandom for Gen Z and younger millennials. I, along with many other fans, no doubt look back upon the fan art and fanfiction written about the series fondly. I certainly spent a significant amount of time on in its heyday, reading through Peeta POV fics or original post-series interpretations.

Today, is in a decline, but on ArchiveofOurOwn, the Hunger Games trilogy has more than 10,000 fics under its tag — 557 of them have been posted and or updated since the beginning of 2023. That’s 5.57% of all Hunger Games fanfictions on the website.

This Hunger Games renaissance bears a particular similarity to the “Twilight” renaissance that began on TikTok in 2020 — and persists to this day, mind you — in the form of cosplay, memes and general ridiculousness all over the app.

Even Kristen Stewart had something to say about Twilight’s overall resurgence in popularity. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly in early 2022, she said the Twilight films popularity on Netflix surprised her— which in turn, helped the renaissance’s surge.

“Dude, it’s weird because it feels incredibly far away and also still not that far away from me and my time in this film. I don’t know, like, on one hand you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m old, my God, I did this five minutes ago, now it’s like 10-year anniversary.’ I’m like, wow, I have to go to my high school anniversary already,” she said.

Though, the Twilight renaissance seems to be born entirely out of a desire for childhood nostalgia, the Hunger Games renaissance might be tied into new content in the universe.

Some suspect that the renaissance falls too easily into the recent kick-up in marketing for the new Hunger Games movie, “A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” based on Collins’ novel of the same name, which she released in 2020.

“A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” takes place more than 50 years before the events of the original novel and focuses on a young Coriolanus Snow years before his ascension to the presidency of Panem. Stuck in poverty after his family’s fall from grace, Snow is assigned to mentor the District 12 tribute Lucy Gray Baird for the upcoming 10th Hunger Games.

The new movie will star Tom Blyth as Snow and Rachel Zegler as Baird. Information on the film is scarce, but this weekend the official Hunger Games Twitter account shared the movie’s first official poster.

Does the TikTok algorithm know Lionsgate’s marketing plans that well? That’s not data I have access to — though Congress might think so. Jokes about old people in Congress aside, I encourage you to ignore any possible marketing strategies and just enjoy the resurgence. If you don’t like Hunger Games you can just scroll on past, and the algorithm will show you something else.

The year is winding up, and I’m willing to bet that more than one of you is feeling a bit depressed right now. If Hunger Games gives you comfort, indulge in it. That bow and arrow in your closet can make you feel just as much better as your favorite childhood meal might. And if the result is the same — well, there are much worse games to play.