The Hunger Games

April 13, 2012

Finally went to see The Hunger Games yesterday. Since I am teaching the book this summer, I was sort of obligated. I thought the movie was a pretty faithful adaptation–yes there were changes, but the changes made sense given how movies need to flow. I have to say that the scene where Katniss and Peeta roll into the stadium on fire gave me goosebumps. The movie did raise issues for me, however, that I had not expected.

First off, as a recent Entertainment Weekly article noted, the current ratings system needs some serious overhaul, and this movie is a good example of that. No one under thirteen should be seeing it–or reading the book for that matter–but even a PG-13 is not strong enough. Not that it needs an R–there needs to be something else. This is for mature teen audiences–fifteen or sixteen at minimum–and then only at parental discretion. This is definitely a movie, and a book, for parents to see/read with their teens and discuss afterwards. In depth and at length. Not enough of the violence was off-camera for my tastes, and even what was on camera was not tween-friendly. My daughter has friends at school in fourth grade reading the series–no way. As advanced a reader as my daughter is, she will not be reading this any time soon. How younger viewers respond to the violence–both what is shown and what is implied–is critical, and that is part of what needs to be discussed.

The other thing is the message. I get the metaphor, but I am 43 and do this for a living. Dystopian fiction is all about where we can end up if we don’t get our act together. This has messages about violence, government control, and reality TV. But are teen/tween readers getting that? Do they see that Survivor is only a couple of small hops away from this? That we can only see people humiliate themselves and psychologically abuse others for so long before the masses get bored and want to step it up a few notches? And that people will sign up for it? The real world probably won’t need a Reaping. If the intended audience isn’t getting the intention, that is also a problem–and another reason for this story to be taught and discussed.

Sorry this isn’t as fluffy or foody as previous posts, but sometimes I have to talk about serious things too.

 

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Kim Harrison

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