The Disclaimer: I have not read the books.
The Background: I knew nothing about it other than advertising. Tim teaches high school so a lot of his students had been talking about it.
Historical perspective: I don’t typically like SciFi. I’m not hard-wired for it. I never understood The Matrix. I find the entire architectural surroundings of SciFi bothersome, all that chrome and clean hard lines.
Expectations: I had none because what I knew of the books and movie ahead of time could fit on the back of a flea.
The Best Part of The Hunger Games: the popcorn
What happened: Shortly after Katniss out ran the fire and climbed the tree, I left the theater. Perhaps I’d had enough of cats for one weekend. (See Saturday’s blog). But I couldn’t sit through another moment. I find despair oppressive. I was nauseated from the first scene of the kids turned loose to kill — no wait, slaughter — one another.
Perhaps the books are better. I hope so. Because of the little dialogue that was in the first hour of the movie, there was only one memorable sentence — Control the hope. Give them a little bit of hope but not too much.
It’s a line worth pondering.
Not much else was.
What mortified me: The number of very young children in the movie. I just have to say this and you can be all kind of mad at me all you want but we have some dumbass parents in this nation of ours. Lame. Irresponsible. They don’t have a clue what it takes to raise a child up rightly. And yes, I think having raised four to bright, shining adulthood makes me somewhat of a voice of experience on this matter. One 7 or 8 year old boy sitting three seats over from Tim and I had to get up and leave the movie. He had a look of sheer terror on his face. Nobody walked out with him.
I think taking a child under the age of 12 to see this movie is a form of emotional child abuse. Here’s why: Young children think concretely. They do not understand nuances and irony. Sarcasm isn’t funny to them. It’s hurtful. Their fears are real and very pronounced. They need to feel safe and secure in order to grow to bright, shining adulthood. They may do it despite our failures as parents but they do it much better if we provide the right climate for such growth. This movie is disturbingly violent. While as an adult, I can appreciate the editorial comment of some of violence, a child of 8 doesn’t have a clue what commentary means. What they see, what they know is that adults are flocking to a movie in which children kill children and we say it’s okay because it’s just a movie and it’s all about self-defense anyway.
Dystopian Genre: Anthony Burgess wrote one of the classics, A Clockwork Orange. Said he of the work: “It seems priggish or pollyannaish to deny that my intention in writing the work was to titillate the nastier propensities of my readers. My own healthy inheritance of original sin comes out in the book and I enjoyed raping and ripping by proxy. It is the novelist’s innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself.”
Burgess admitted that he was appealing to the very worst in all of us. Stanley Kubrick who translated the novel into film, also came to despise its popularity, and worked to ban the movie from television and video release. Kubrick was disturbed by the number of people who claimed that the movie compelled them to rape or attack others, and he began to fear for his own family’s well-being.
Proverbs 23: 7 sums it up best: As a man thinks in his heart so is he.
And Solzhenitsyn adds: The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man.
I have heard that the Hunger Games trilogy is redemptive but just like with Clockwork Orange where Kubrick slashed the redemptive ending, there was nothing at all redemptive about this first Hunger Games movie. It was full of despair and hopelessness. Justifying the killing of a child in the name of self-defense holds no redemptive quality, not if you believe in the admonishment of Jesus to not harm a child, and I do.
Besides, I’m pretty sure that millions who saw the movie will never read the books, never know of any redemption. Who is going to explain the redemption of The Hunger Games to the terrified little boy sitting three seats down from us?
I think what really nauseated me about the movie is the overwhelming sense of acceptance of violence toward children. Maybe I’m just sensitive to it. But I’ll tell you what I will never understand, people who will stand in line for hours to see a movie about children killing children and call it entertainment, the best movie they’ve seen in years.
Is it me, or do we have an insatiable imaginative appetite for bloodlust and darkness.
Have we have become a people who no longer feel it necessary to instill hope in our children?