What do we actually learn from The Hunger Games?
1. Strategy is everything. Too bad, right? You thought it was intelligence, work, originality, and wit? Nah. Instead, you should develop your strengths, strategies, abilities to form alliances, and be very, very careful (say it in the Elmer Fudd voice) when choosing your weapons. The female lead in this blockbuster uses a bow and arrow; the male lead lifts heavy weights. (How I wish those had been reversed! How I would have loved to have seen Jennifer Lawrence, magnificent in Winter’s Bone but wasted in this movie, pick up a bowling ball and toss it around like a Hacky Sack!) So make sure you remember: Strategy is everything—except, um, for weapons. Weapons help. Also ointment is handy. Plus water. So: strategy, weapons, ointment, water. Not necessarily in that order. And nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.
2. Donors and sponsors matter. It's who you know, honey. People with money wield inappropriate influence. Nobody ever told you that, right? Now you understand.
3. Travel is important. Your loved ones will miss you while you're on the road, but you’ll need to be willing to move to where you can do the work you do best in order to triumph. Pack lightly.
4. Speaking of which, you can’t go wrong if you have a few very special outfits for when you’re out in a public setting (conferences, working with the media, meeting potential donors) but otherwise casual clothing is fine. Wear fabrics that breathe and permit you to move easily. Include some that catch on fire.
5. Certain people get cozy, form cliques, and just aren’t going to be part of your inner circle. It’s best to be sanguine about this and form your own support group, preferably with an ally who isn’t absolutely and entirely destined to be a victim. Avoid people with large luminous eyes and soft voices or anybody who looks like a Furby.
6. Be prepared for the fact that some colleagues might try to undermine your success, especially if you have at any point indicated a lack of support for their endeavors or thrown genetically engineered lethal beehives at their heads during meetings.
7. Make sure you know how to whistle. You know how to whistle, dontcha? You just put your lips together and blow. Unless, of course, you’re dead, in which case the whole whistling-like-a-bidy thing doesn't help a whole lot.
8. The old guy who drinks and tells war stories about what it was like when he was at the top of his game? He really is like Woody Harrelson, except he’s far less attractive. Also, you should no more trust his advice than you would invite him to exhale anywhere near the hem of your fiery dress.
9. People in the cities have a lot more fun, laugh far more, and interact a whole lot more than people in the country, who mostly sit near torn screens and gum their food. They are not as confined in terms of heteronormative behavior and wear more interesting outfits. They laugh and seem to have greater financial means and fewer children. Decide where you want to spend your time.
10. While it might seem as if diversity is important, don’t kid yourself. Although you’re pitted against others from different regions and of various backgrounds who have mildly stereotyped accents, the currently configured narrative virtually guarantees that the attractive white woman (with long hair and no regional accent) will win the battle. Remember, however, that once you get to the higher ranks, it’s still an entirely male-controlled and male-dominated game. Donald Sutherland, once the weed-smoking untenured professor in Animal House, is now—for better or worse—part of central command.