Slaughter of Innocence: A rant questioning why The Hunger Games is so popular


It’s 11:30 at night. I’m supposed to pack for a weekend vacation, take a shower, and get to bed with enough time left over to get at least a small amount of sleep so I can wake up at 7:30 am for an 8:30 shoot in class in the morning. However, I can’t do any of those things, because I just got back from a showing of The Hunger Games and I can’t seem to get this image of 12 children slaughtering each other out of my mind.

My relationship with The Hunger Games has been very bipolar and quite noncommittal on my end. My interest was slim to none when the stories first started gaining wide recognition. I hate to have to admit this as a nerd, but I’ve never really been much a dystopian future buff. I enjoy a good dystopian story from time to time, but it is very rare that I can actually sit down and read an entire book about it. My interest in The Hunger Games grew slightly when people I respected started reading the books and raving about them. I figured, “Well, if these people love these book, surely I will too!” So I decided to give the series a shot and borrowed the book from a friend. Yes, borrowed, because as much as I wanted to love the books, I still knew deep down that I’m just not a dystopian future gal.

I borrowed the book in August. It is almost April and I am barely on Chapter Six. Don’t get the wrong idea…I’m a slow reader, but not that slow of a reader. If a really great book sucks me in, especially one the size of The Hunger Games, I can have that baby read and be on the next book in a matter of days. I came up with a million different excuses for why I didn’t get through it, mostly that I was just too busy to sit down and read the books (which isn’t entirely untrue). Eventually I decided to just give up on trying to read the book in time for the movie, because if I tried that, I knew that at the rate I’ve been going, I’d never be able to see it in the theatre. So I said screw it and went to see the movie after only reading six chapters of the book.

Before I even get into the main issues I have with the meat of the story, I have to spend a minute griping about the film in general. As I was watching the film, I did enjoy what was going on, but the camera was so shaky, I couldn’t tell what was going on half the time. During the two biggest action scenes, they paired the main character with another character who had such a similar look (hair color and body type, mostly), I couldn’t even tell who was dominating the fight. It drove me insane to try to figure out what the heck was going on in front of my eyes.

Are these two really from the same place and time?
The majority of my issues, that I didn’t even realized I had until I reflected on the film afterwards, were with the story itself. And this isn’t even a criticism of the movie, because I’m accepting that it has a clear beginning, middle, and end, and is based off the book. For starters, as I was reading this book, I felt like the contrasts between the two worlds of District 12 and the Capitol just wouldn’t translate to film. And they really didn’t. I love stories about alternate worlds with kooky-looking characters, but I just couldn’t buy that these people from the Capitol would exist in the same world as Katniss, who looks like a normal human being. It may work in Star Wars, but I have news for Suzanne Collins: She’s no George Lucas.

Now, I love a good story about a strong female lead. There aren’t near enough of them, so when one comes around, I get invested fast. Especially in a situation such as this, wherein it’s an action story, and the female lead has to constantly sacrifice herself for others. I think a lot of women feel empowered by it, but what I can’t get around is that it’s really not that much different from Twilight when you look deep enough into it. I think that if the love story were secondary and developed slowly out of nowhere, I might have been okay with it. But when you stop and realize that Katniss’ whole survival depends on her relationship with this boy, that’s when there’s a problem. I thought the story of her will to survive was great until Haymitch had to use the term “young love” to literally keep Katniss from being killed.

Spoiler alert: Some of these kids die.
Perhaps even more disturbing to me than anything else in this story is the audience it is meant for. I can’t quite seem to wrap my head around the fact that fans love these books about people killing each other, that they’re excited to go to the movie at midnight, maybe dressed up as a tribute, and watch a bunch of children killing each other. It goes back to that image mentioned earlier of all the children brutally murdering each other without looking back. Twelve people die within mere minutes. I’m not judging fans, I just can’t relate to their mindset, as hard as I may try. I don’t understand how this is something that people would want to watch more than once and enjoy every time they do watch it, especially the audience it’s targeted towards. The Hunger Games is a young adult novel and the movie somehow got away with a PG-13 rating. Never have I been so baffled by a story in this way before.

For the record, despite all the above negativity, there were definitely some strong points to the film. As disturbed as I was by the mass slaughtering, I enjoyed that it stood as a hauntingly accurate representation of human nature. I liked that Katniss took the high road and only killed someone when a life was in danger. And I enjoy that she didn’t want to kill, but did it anyway for the sake of her sister – a detail that was much more prominent in the book. The main thing I just don’t get is the phenomenon and why mass audiences would excitedly flock to theatres to see this film. This is why I implore those of you reading this at home to start a civil discussion in the comments below and help me understand why this is a movie worth seeing once, let alone over and over again.

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