Enough about that...thanks for your perspective on The Hunger Games. I think I'd like to read the book first before watching the movie...if I get that far.
This Christmas, I decided to begin reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins after hearing all of the buzz about this series of books. At our house, we have a rule that if you want to see a movie that is based on a book, you must read the book before seeing the film. Since this book will be released as a probable PG-13 movie on March 23, 2012, I thought I would get a head start on reading it over the holidays, and I finished the entire series.
The Hunger Games, while written for a young adult audience, is truly a culmination of our popular culture, especially in regards to reality television. Suzanne Collins creates the story out of her experiences with reality television and children’s programing. In fact, “hunger” in The Hunger Games seems to be much more than hunger for food, although that is significant to the story line. Two young members from each of the 12 districts, ranging in age from 12 to 18, are chosen by lottery in a post-US North America. These 24 tributes are placed in a to-the-death competition where the last young man or woman alive wins. These games mean very different things for the Capitol and the districts. For the leaders in the Capitol, the games were created to remind the 12 districts of the Capitol’s power over life and death. The deaths of the young tributes serve as a reminder to all of the loss of hope and power. The Capitol audience is ripe with a hunger for the violence, intrigue, and relationships of the competition regardless of the impact on the youth. However, in the 12 districts, the hunger is for freedom and other essentials for human life.
Collins has taken the popular styles of reality television, like those seen in Survivor, The Amazing Race, and The Apprentice and combined it with a manner that resembles how the Roman Empire treated young captives of war. The games are a life or death situation where the 24 youth compete to kill each other in order to live and gain food and honor for their districts, or be killed by the machinations of the Capitol. All the while, the citizens of the Capitol pay for sponsorships for their favorite tributes while the 12 districts are forced to watch, as an act of submission to the Capitol, in order that the leaders may demonstrate their power over the slave territories. There appears to be no choice or free will for anyone inside the districts.
The first book in the series, which is also the focus of the movie release, introduces a love triangle, self-sacrifice, relational distrust, political plots, brutal deaths, and deadly risks. For me, Collins’ portrayal of a future world where people are glued to monitors to watch life and death struggles of the innocent is not such a far stretch for today’s culture. In my mind, The Hunger Games are really about our hunger for media and stories that feed a darker side of our souls. The wealthy citizens of the Capitol are so blinded by the entertainment of the games that they forget that these are human lives. These citizens support the games by patronage and viewership. This causes me to wonder if we as Christians realize that our insatiable appetites, our hunger, for entertainment may actually be supportive of many lifestyles, morals, and the devaluing of human life that is inconsistent with our Biblical worldview. Our viewership and support of certain programs provide powerful motivation to sponsors and media providers. Not only do we lend our support by viewing programs different from our worldview, but we are also slowly dulling our own sensitivity, as well as our children’s, to the devaluing of human life and the harsh realities of self-centered lives.
Enough attempting to be a book critic…here is some insight on children and The Hunger Games. I realize that many older children may be reading this series; therefore, I believe thatin reflective conversation with Christian parents there are good opportunities to discuss the story in light of Biblical principles. However, if the movie industry deems this movie PG-13 as it appears, then I would recommend that children under 13 not see the movie. The important thing is that hopefully our standards are higher than the secular world’s decision on what is inappropriate for certain ages. If you choose to let your child see the movie, I would recommend he or she read the book first and then discuss it with you. I also recommend that parents go with their children.
For those who read the books or see the movie, here are some conversation starters:
• Why do you think the people in the Capitol loved to watch The Hunger Games? How is that similar to our choices when we watch TV or movies?
• In what ways do you see self-sacrifice in the book and in what ways do you see selfishness?
• What do you think of the prep-team’s view of Katniss and Peeta?
• Why did the Capitol provide The Hunger Games?
• Why did Katniss distrust Peeta? How did Katniss change and why?
• Why is human life important? How does God view human life? How did the people in The Hunger Games view human life?
I have chosen to limit my comments only to the first book. There are many other themes that I would like to discuss, but for right now these are my first thoughts.
As Christians, The Hunger Games is a call to check our hunger.