Thursday, September 13, 2012

Send in the Clowns

The phrase panem et cirenses came up twice in 24 hours in two very different books that I am reading. This being no coincidence it must be noted and commented on.
In Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture Ellen Ruppel Shell defines the phrase, which translates from the latin to bread and circuses, as "the art of plying citizens with pleasures to distract them from pain." In this case it seems to be all about making us think we have choices. Like when we have 75 choices in breakfast cereal but none when it comes to health care.
Mockingjay, the third installment in the Hunger Games trilogy says that panem et cirenses is a phrase coined to describe Rome - a city where "in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power." Translated to the present I think Susanne Collins is saying it's like when we pay more attention to what the Kardashians are doing that what's going on with our own 401Ks.
Woah. And I thought Bread and Circus was just a defunct natural health food chain that got swallowed up by Whole Foods.

song: Send in the Clowns • musical: A Little Night Music


TangledLou said...

This is both frightening and hilarious. I would totally shop at "Bread and Circus". Unless... well, it sounds as if we all already do?

Kathy said...

Kind of scary.


Joanne said...

Well said. I'm afraid that may indeed be the case.