First of all, I want to say I LOVE The Hunger Games (the movie) and happy to see it box office is going strong ($68.3m on Friday). At the same time, I think we, the audiences, can and should ask ourselves 3 simple but meaningful questions. Check out The Hunger Games Official Movie Trailer.
Question 1) What kind of world would let its children aged 12 to 18 fight to their death?
The movie only had a few short seconds of screen time to setup the “rationale” for why they select children aged 12 to 18 to fight to their death for 74 years in a row. It is up to us to ask more. Lets ask ourselves, will we let our children fight to their death? The sad answer is yes as I’ve learned from the news and books like “They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children: The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers“.
I’ve previously shared my views re child soldiers in my #Kony2012 post which I stated the focus should be less on the hunt for one bad man but instead addressing the much deeper and meaningful challenge of the demobilization and rehabilitation of child soldiers.
I’ve both books on my desk and will be spending more time on “They Fight Like Soldiers” to start.
Question 2) Do you find the violence in The Hunger Games so stylized that you forget that these are children being killed?
When I watched The Hunger Games yesterday, there were two young teens, probably less than 13, 14 years old, plus their mom sitting besides me. If I were a better reporter, I would have asked them after the film how they felt about it. During the show, the kids were already asking the mom questions and I would be interested to know if the mom explain or talk much afterwards and at at dinner time. I found this timely clip about the movie posted by Emory University.
Now, in a calculated stark contrast, David Cronenberg‘s A History of Violence is a film that has been designed to put violence front and center, strip away any stylization or pretence, and force us to face our guilt when “enjoying” the violence. Rolling Stone’s Travers put it this way,
“Cronenberg knows violence is wired into our DNA. His film showed how we secretly crave what we publicly condemn.“
Lets not forget, The Hunger Games depicts a reality TV show where children aged 12-18 have been fighting to death for 74 years in a row! It just seems to me the movie lets the audience (yes “us”, as it you and me) get away free without any guilt. I agree with what EW writer Darren Franich wrote in his “‘The Hunger Games’: What the movie missed about the book“
“But there is one important aspect of the original novel [by Suzanne Collins] that is almost entirely absent from the movie: The darkly funny way in which Collins directly accuses the audience. As in, us. Weirdly, by turning the book into such a fan-baiting crowdpleaser, the movie version of Hunger Games seems to oddly miss the point of its own source material.”
You see, in The Truman Show, we the audiences are clearly reminded of who put Truman Burbank in his predicament in the first place. Yes, the viewers put Truman in the show! In Extras, comedian Ricky Gervais reminded us that we are very much accomplices in this celebrity crazed and reality TV mess.
Note re question 1: I haven’t forgotten the shameful ways the US and Canadian governments have acted in the handling of one particular case of child soldier prosecution as I wrote in my #Kony2012 post.
Articles worth reading:
- EW, ‘The Hunger Games’: What the movie missed about the book by Darren Franich
- MTV, ‘Hunger Games’: Why The Movie Beats The Book by Josh Wigler
- Cinema Blend, 10 Big Differences Between The Hunger Games Movie And Book by Jessica Graberb
- “Roger Ebert movie review“