Like most the rest of the country, I went to the theater to watch the much anticipated movie release of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. Keep in mind that I am not one who makes a habit of going to see a movie on its opening weekend. I can usually wait a weekend or two to let the hype wear off a little bit. I think I have only seen two movies on its opening weekend and both of those were in the Star Wars series. But in the case of The Hunger Games, I went because my wife had anticipated the release of the movie so much that she insisted she would see it the opening weekend. If I didn’t go with her, then she was going to find a friend to take to the showing. So I did the great husband thing and took my wife to see The Hunger Games on opening weekend. And I am glad I did.
I have to admit that before seeing the movie or reading the book, the premise of the story bothered me. What redeeming qualities could come from a story whose very plot centers around kids killing kids? And let’s face it. For those of you who do not know the story, that is what is at the heart of The Hunger Games. It takes place in a future post-apocalyptic world where the world has once again been thrown into the caste system. On one hand, you have the residence The Capitol. This is the rich and ruling class of the nation who live in frivolity and luxury. On the other hand, you have the twelve districts who live solely to support the upper class. Each district has certain responsibilities and jobs. Some specialize in technology, some in fishing, some in coal mining, etc.
Every year, each district must hold a lottery of all their children between 12-18. One boy and one girl are chosen from each district to go to the Capitol to compete in what is known as the Hunger Games. The government claims that these games are to remind the districts what can happen if they try to rise up against the government like they had over 75 years prior to when this story takes place. But in reality, the games are merely played for the amusement of the rich. It is reality TV gone to the extreme as the twenty-four children must battle to the death on live television for all to see. I guess you can see why at first the very premise bothered me.
Yes, you could make the case that the book and movie were made to show the evil of big government. You could also say that it shows that perhaps we are not as far removed away from the barbarian actions of the Roman Empire. But if that were all there was to the story, I would not have liked it. Don’t get me wrong. Those are great messages that we probably need to hear. But those facts alone are not enough to give The Hunger Games much of a redeeming quality. Especially when you consider it is written primarily for the young adult audience. How many teenagers do you know who spend their time worried about big government, the caste system, or the fights to the death in the Roman Colliseum? I teach teenagers. I can tell you right now that not too many of them think about those things.
However, there are many other themes in The Hunger Games that young adults do realize. I am going to dedicate the next several posts on this blog to delving into those lessons that both young adults and older adults can learn from this very popular book and movie. Follow this blog to get the new posts that dig deeper into those wonderful and valuable lessons taught to us through The Hunger Games. In some ways, you might find that it changes your life. Or at least your outlook on life. In the meantime, try reading The Center Circle as many of the same themes are discussed without innocent children killing innocent children.
Next time we will examine the theme of love in The Hunger Games.