Community highlights

The Conversation receives a lot of comments each day and you can’t read everything. That’s why we occasionally end the week with a selection of community highlights: comments we enjoyed or thought interesting. Read on for four comments and discussions I thought worth highlighting.

Ending with a bang or a whimper? The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II

Ari Mattes published a review of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II wherein she argued that, in its final scenes, the movie betrayed the revolution Katniss Everdeen had led. A few people disagreed, leading to the below discussion about alternate interpretations.

Johanne Gartner:

‘…(she) is occupying the most satisfying role a woman can have, “mother” – or so the film seems to tell us. She’s a warrior, a freedom fighter, a hero for the exploited and abused … but really she just needed to pick the right man.‘

Overreach, I think. I do not think that it is automatically implying that ‘mother’ has become this character’s only or most satisfying role. Or that a serene moment of motherhood implies that this has become a summation of totalisation of this characters life-work.

I know many women who, in their previous and current occupations, have taken on roles of responsibility and personal danger (policewomen, Army officers etc). They seem to be able to accommodate their lives of responsibility and danger and a wish for (and attainment of) stable domestic lives with children. All this without the sneering presumption that they have fallen into stereotypical domestic or biological slavery.

The scene in this movie, to me, just showed that the character had reached maturity, safety and stability in life. A goal that many couples have - including couples that have dangerous, responsible and difficult work.

Other than that I really liked the article.

Mike Swinbourne:


The whole point of revolution - apart from seizing power for oneself - is to rid the society of a tyrant so the common people can live decent lives.

One does not want to remain a warrior forever.

Suzy Gneist:

She still enjoys hunting it seems, which was her favourite occupation even early on as it connects her to her deceased father and the solitude she seems to enjoy.

The family was only made possible for her by removing the corrupt leaders from both sides of the war since she was not able to see herself ever having a family in the first installment.

I do not think the idyll is all there is, yet it is only possible now as a rest period and recuperation from an extended abusive period. There is nothing wrong with having a little idyll in life

Tom van Laer:

I agree with the earlier comments and disagree with Dr Mattes.

I am a narratologist, someone who studies the causes and effects of exposure to stories. I have studied the Hunger Games and other young adult dystopian fiction for seven years.

In dystopian fiction, revolution is always a means to an end.In the Hunger Games, it has always been with great reluctance that Katniss adopts the role of “a warrior, a freedom fighter, a hero for the exploited and abused.” Hence, the ending is spot on.

Allow me to elaborate in The Conversation US.

Destroy the Joint, sure, but feminism must include disability politics

Sujay Kentlyn and Mairi Rowan talked about how “woman” has been defined and the discussions being had to make feminism inclusive.

Sujay Kentlyn:

Excellent article by Katie Ellis. The same principles apply to sexuality and gender. While being prominent in the early stages of second wave feminism, there was a conscious decision in some circles to exclude lesbians in order to avoid the accusations of ‘man-hating’ (it didn’t work, of course). And Germaine Greer’s recent comments are indicative of the work that needs to be done by many feminists in understanding and including trans women, let alone non binary identifying people, who may not identify as women but still experience the disadvantages and oppression that comes with that subject position - and then some. While these folks may ‘trouble’ the category of ‘woman’, this should be seen as enriching the discourse, not threatening it.

Mairi Rowan:

Perhaps Ms Greer’s concerns are over who decides on what is the ‘category of women’.

To the best of my knowledge it has hitherto been defined by men, who attribute to ‘woman’, everything they do not want to claim as Man. Considerable medical, philosophical, religious, and other scientific expertise has been put into developing ‘the category of woman’ as the garbage bin of attributes not claimed by Man, except for the production of soldiers and a labour force which necessarily requires women’s bodies with or without their consent.

The ‘category of woman’ still exists independently of women, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me that there should be debate among women about what should/could be in a women’s ‘category of woman’, and what might not.

Is Australia ready to give people with disability real choice and control over services?

On her article about whether or not the National Disability Insurance Service will allow people with disability freedom, Helen Dickinson had a discussion with David O'Halloran about possible outcomes and what the service may base itself off.

David O'Halloran:

We conveniently overlook that the “I” in NDIS stands for Insurance. The comparison with Job Network is perhaps the wrong one - there is probably a more disturbing but closer to mark example: The NDIS wants to operate with service delivery models like insurance schemes - Workcover, Motor Accident, etc. There are few examples in that arena that focus on choice and control and there are worrying signs that NDIS will be no different.

Helen Dickinson:

Hi David, thanks for your comment. I would say that if it is going to act like an insurance product (be preventative, keep people well and not needing more intensive care) then it needs to provide precisely what people think is important to them. People with chronic and complex disabilities all experience life in different ways and have different priorities - much like the rest of the population. The problem with traditional services is that they tend to put people into similar sorts of ‘boxes’ which we know is often ineffective and inefficient. So if the ‘I’ is to be realised it needs to do precisely this sort of thing.

David O'Halloran:

Sorry Helen, once a claim is made, insurance products in Australia focus on minimising costs, they do not focus on prevention and keeping people well. If they do focus on not needing more intensive care, that is primarily for cost minimization reasons .

I have heard officials from NDIS say that they do not want a Rolls Royce Scheme - code for “do whatever to screw down costs”. So long as consumer choice is cheaper, and thankfully it usually is, then it will remain a feature. Effectiveness seems to be of incidental interest.

I also believe that the shock-jocks, ACA and the Murdoch tabloids cannot believe their luck at the opportunities that the NDIS will bring. The first “undeserving” disabled person to hire a sex worker with NDIS funds will probably be the first of many innocent victims - I have no confidence that our politicians will do anything but leave them to hang out to dry.

Helen Dickinson:

Hi David, I totally understand where you are coming from here with these comments and don’t disagree with you. I do hope that we can start a conversation where we can talk about the negative implications of just focusing on efficiency and what we can do differently when we are imaginative - even if this may lead to different decisions than some within the community might make.

Why is Einstein’s general relativity such a popular target for cranks?

Finally, things got a bit silly on Michael J. I. Brown’s article about why general relativity attracts so much pseudoscience. Thankfully, Brown approved.

Dave Arnold:

The simplest explanation for the attraction of cranks to Einstien’s Theory of Relativity is that they became bored with attacking Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Martin Boland:

If creationists evolved into physics cranks, why are there still creationists? ;-)

Patrick Stokes:

You owe me a new keyboard, Martin; this one now has coffee spat all over it.

Read a comment you thought interesting? Let me know during the week. You can leave a comment below or send me an email.