In the U.S., mass incarceration plays that role for many segments of the population - particularly African-Americans.
Most of that incarceration, however, takes place off-screen. Many of us don't even think about the fact that our country has over 2 million people locked up in jail or prison. We just let the correctional officers and other criminal justice professionals serve as our proxies.
The nightmarish world depicted in "The Hunger Games" provides a thought-provoking contrast to our indifference. In Suzanne Collins's dystopia, a lethal form of incarceration plays out 24 / 7 on out-size video screens.
The ritual is almost like a return to the era of the public execution in its over-the-top striving for a deterrent effect. No use resisting The System when the power to compel such extreme behavior is on in-your-face display.
The prisoners are children who committed no crime, yet are put under intense pressure to be their own executioners.