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One of the themes I see in many of the Ask Joy questions I get is, “How do I…?” or “When should I…?” or “Is it ok if…?” And one of my main goals is…
…to not answer.
I prefer posing questions to give possible scenarios pointing the asker to a more global answer. I want to push myself and all of us, to think. And that’s what I want to do for those of you who simply see The Hunger Games as one of two extremes.
In case you have been living in a Wi-Fi-free van down by the river, the first book of The Hunger Games series came out in the movies on Friday. A larger group of us went and, like all movies with startling moments, I responded in like fashion with my loud man-grunt. Multiple times. It’s not pretty folks.
So yes, the movie is violent.
The disturbing aspect is that teenagers are killing one another in a battle for survival…on reality television.
If you are of the extreme that chalks The Hunger Games up as purely entertainment, then I would challenge you to take a step back and ask yourself if you are as numb to the larger questions of life and morality as those “blessed” to live in Panem? Is the only difference that you don’t wear neon clothing and too much hair gel?
And if you are of the “it’s too violent” crowd, I would also ask for a tiny step back. First, if you are a parent, then you have a responsibility to know your children well enough to know what is appropriate for them. I’m not trying to argue that your child must see this film. I’m only saying that I think the violence teaches a very valuable lesson that makes this something far more than just an act of teenage homicide.
The kids in the film know it’s wrong. At least the ones who are thinking.
When I was a child, my family watched World War II movies. I now have an odd intrigue with World War II. I recently bought a pair of boots because the salesman said the canvas was from the WWII British Army.
SAAA—WEEET! History on my feet.
Everyone should learn about WWII. In the timeline of history, it essentially happened yesterday and for numerous reasons I shouldn’t have to explain, it should never be forgotten.
“The Hiding Place” and “The Great Escape” were among the movies my family rented; stories of evil and despair mixed with hope, courage and strength. I remember being about ten years old and my parents renting “Schindler’s List.” I was not allowed to watch R rated movies but I remember them talking to me and essentially saying,
“Joy, this movie is really heavy. It’s rated R because of the terrible images, but it’s also history. So you are allowed to watch, but it’s up to you.”
Wow. I never forgot that moment.
I felt like I was being treated like an adult. I had the freedom to choose; an explanation of why and the result was a feeling of incredible responsibility. It was a very rare and introspective moment I had as a child.
The movie began and I can’t remember why, but I chose to leave and not watch. Thinking and choosing wisely for myself would not have begun developing at that moment if my parents had said, “ok, we’re starting the movie” or “Joy, go to your room, you shouldn’t watch.”
But, this post is less about parenting and more about us being a generation that fosters thinking in each other. Whether it is our peers, parents or children.
I tweeted after I saw the film on Friday night that I believe The Hunger Games is an incredible social commentary for our generation. Some have asked, “why?”
Hunger Games depicts passive and disgusting voyeurism. Teenagers killing one another while their parents watch and strangers cheer. No one has bucked the system because:
1. That’s just their reality.
2. There’s nothing little ol’ anyone can do.
As we are shocked by the premise of The Hunger Games, are there things on TV today that people 200 years ago would have been surprised we call “reality?” Do we have a moral compass that has bent to what we are told is normal? Do we shrug responsibility in light of saying there’s nothing we can do?
Katniss (the star of the series) doesn’t want to get married or bring kids into the world because of all the pain she sees, yet simultaneously she has feelings for two different men.
Do we see resistance towards the institution of marriage because we are simply apathetic or because there is a deep fear around a real desire? And are we paralyzed by the paradox of choice while simultaneously assuming it’s our right to always have a better option?
Government of Panem. Enough said.
Have we not already seen the impact of our generation to influence a political campaign when we are spoken to in our language? There is great empowerment and danger in this if we don’t become a generation that thinks about how “reality” is marketed to us.
Haymitch: alumni Hunger Game winner (now apathetic alcoholic) is the character who reflects our brokenness.
We’ve seen and been warned that material things will not buy happiness, and yet isn’t that the “prize” many of us strive for today? Haymitch didn’t have a choice in being entered in the game, but we know through the story of Katniss that how we play the game will always be up to us. Will passiveness stop the oppression and darkness in this world? If those who have an option to live differently don’t, over time will that influence the belief that there is no other way, and contribute to compliance with the “games?” And without hope and purpose, will many think we are free while bound to consumerism and addiction? Like Haymitch, many of us are unaware of the person we could be, buried under the layers of our calloused state of pain.
The Hunger Games bucks the social constructs, not for the sake of simply being “down with the man” but because a few teenagers start thinking about what is right and wrong and will not fear even death to encourage a culture to take a stand.
I’m excited about our generation and how this movie can point to truths of today and possibilities of tomorrow. May we be a generation that thinks and stands for what is right and wrong not only for us, but for our children. May we lessen our consumerism, voyeurism and apathy to get in tune with our deep pain, our fear and cling to Truths that defy all odds.
Despite the odds.
1. I still haven’t seen “Schindler’s List.” I want to, but now I hold out just to hear people say, “What?! You’ve NEVER seen ‘Schindler’s List?'”
2. I read 2.5 of the books in The Hunger Games series. I don’t want the books to spoil the ending of the movies. #truefact #iknowitsweird
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Love and Respect (Now) is a division of Love and Respect. Please be considerate.
The Corinthians faced a world not too different from that of Panem. In fact, the very word “Panem” is a Latin term describing the entertainment the Romans used to distract citizens from the evil all around them. What is the role of marriage in such a world? Well, in I Corinthians 7:8, the Apostle Paul states: “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am.”
I believe the Apostle Paul would endorse Katniss’ choice not to marry.
That leaves us with the task of considering our context. Are we living in a Panem?
I get the Schindler’s List thing. I haven’t seen it either, and it’s just funny to hear peoples’ reactions.
I’m having a hard time with your other fact. You don’t want the book to spoil the movie’s ending? I would love for you to go a little further into that comment.
I’ve been telling my friends who haven’t read them yet that they just have to and soon because, yes, it’s a book for teenagers and, yes, it’s a book about kids killing kids, but it’s so much more. I’ll just shoot this post their way. You said it way more eloquently than I ever could! Heading to watch the movie this weekend!
@Julie, It’s totally a weird thing for me around fictional/fantasy books and movies. I have a vivid imagination, but when it’s un-real fantasy that someone is writing, it’s harder for me to create in my mind. So, I kind of lean towards anticipating the movies. I want the ending to be a surprise. Although I don’t know if I can wait that long for the final movie to come out!
I have not yet seen the movie and I can guarantee I will not be reading the books; for some reason I do not find pleasure in reading ‘Stories,’ I more enjoy reading the types of books that will help me to grow and will help me to assist others.
I would like to also hope this will open the eyes of our generation to what “could happen” if we stop pursuing what is right and continue supporting what is wrong. Sadly I think today’s society is a little to wrapped up in what they “feel” and not what is truth. Without a firm foundation to refer to, most people base their reaction to what they “feel” at that present moment and there is no telling what could be influencing them at that present time. Without a foundation we are tossed too and fro by way too many external influences.
Forced to watch Schindler’s List in college for Sociology and it wasn’t too bad; I think 180 would’ve been a way better movie for studying the degradation of a society. $0.02
@Aron, I often have a similar reaction to fictional stories, however my friend Justin sent me these links about how fiction can increase our empathy. So…it may just help you grow and assist others like you wanted. I personally think many forms of art can help us grow, it’s just usually makes sense that we would gravitate towards forms of art and materials that we most resonate with…so it’s your call! http://tnhf.org/CtSa and http://tnhf.org/NEqn
Sadly, I haven’t seen the movie yet, though a good few of my fourth graders have. I also haven’t seen Schindler’s List, because I was too young to appreciate it when it came out, and since then, I’ve never been in the mood for an extremely depressing though realistic portrayal of the Holocaust.
Okay so I’m a crazy person who memorizes every detail of books that I think are really good. So District One while better off than District Twelve is still a District with similar rules to the others. I think you are talking about the Capitol.
You really haven’t finished the 3rd one? That is a lot of self control you have there. I couldn’t put the third one down. And I have yet seen the movie.
Anyway, Great post and I totally agree. The whole time I was reading the books I was thinking this could be us. Soon. Or not who knows. But I think a lot of the people who have read the book and/or saw the movie are in your first extreme because I heard several comments from people who went to the midnight premier that the audience would cheer when a tribute died. And that to me is a severe indicator of how desensitized we are as a culture to violence of any kind even if it is in a fictional world.
I saw the movie on Saturday. My 22-year-old daughter saw it Friday nite. When we were talking about it, she said, “We are the Capitol.” When I asked why, she said that when the young man saved Katniss by killing girl from Dist.12 who was attacking her (when Katniss went to get the medicine for Peeta), everyone in the theater cheered. That didn’t happen in our theater, but ours was filled with mostly middle-aged adults as opposed to teen and 20-somethings. I found it an interesting conversation. I loved your post and agree with your comments. This series is certainly an excellent example of social commentary.
Thoughtful post, Joy. I remember my mom encouraging my sisters and I to see “The Silence of the Lambs” because she wanted us to understand the shocking reality of predators. It made an impression.
On another note, I encourage people to read and see the Hunger Games because I think Peeta is such a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ. I even blogged about it at http://www.celebritygospel.com.
Thanks for this post,
Well, a lot of what I was thinking has already been said in comments, but anyway:
First of all: YES. Awesome commentary. We read the first one for my book group and had a similar discussion. I took my 12yo because we had a great discussion about things like social media and all that intimacy sans commitment.
Go ahead and read all the books. A common complaint is that they wrapped up and ended so fast, we’re hoping the movies give a little more closure.
I’m loving this continued HG discussion!
I’ve seen Schinderl’s List…and it is violent/dark, but also historical. I haven’t seen “The Hunger Games” yet. I’ll probably read the books now. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂
After seeing the movie my son made a very profound comment. He said “Does anyone see anything wrong with a bunch of people sitting in a theatre and cheering every time a kid kills another kid in a movie about people watching kids kill other kids on live TV?” Nah! 😉
THANK YOU JOY!!!! I have been screaming these exact things at the top of my lungs! When I heard that my pastor of the church that I grew up in, having no knowledge of the books or movie compared them to Harry Potter and Twilight and said that our generation is allowing ourselves to be entertained by evil…. I think my head almost exploded! I can’t thank you enough for sharing this in such a thoughful, factual way.
Your posts are incredible! Having grown up the daughter of 2 marriage counselors (my dad me over here because he said you sound like me haha) I am just as passionate about the cause of getting our generation to understand these principals NOW instead of later!! My marriage is what it is because I grew up surrounded by the love and respect principals. Thank you for using your platform to speak out and I look forward to sharing in your journey! And my Dad was right… I kinda feel like I’m reading my own blog… creepy 😉