Protesters in Thailand have rallied around a symbol of resistance that will be familiar to science fiction fans: the three-finger salute featured in The Hunger Games books and movies. Some protesters have begun using the salute as a form of silent opposition to the national military, which seized power under a coup d’état on May 22nd 2014.
In a statement, a spokesman from the ruling junta announced, “If it is an obvious form of resistance, then we have to control it, so it doesn’t cause any disorder in the country.
But Thai protesters have also wrenched the symbol from its pop cultural context for their own purposes. Some saluters have said that, for them, the three fingers pointing skywards stand for 1. No Coup, 2. Liberty, 3. Democracy.
The salute is certainly an “obvious” form of resistance — obvious in so far as it is recognizable to anyone around the world who has been in contact with Western popular culture in recent years. The Hunger Games has become a global phenomenon, with its second film installment, “Catching Fire,” grossing $838.2 million worldwide as of earlier this year.
The hand fist for example is another symbol which opposition groups adopted across the world. It was common in 2000 in Serbia when Slobodan Milosevic was toppled. It was later used in many other protests in Ukraine, Iran and other countries, and it made it to the Arab world when revolutions erupted in 2011. But are hand gestures enough for political expression in streets and squares? It’s true that hand gestures convey a bigger and more important meaning but the problem is for our objections to turn into mere symbols that are not translated into actions. People resort to adopting such symbols when the capability to express their opinion and objections is restrained.