Incredibly bizarre, bad taste “citizens” make up the elite of the world of Hunger Games.
The theater was filled with teenagers, but to me, Hunger Games is more than a hot movie. It’s a media phenomenon, fueled by sales of over 26 million copies of the first three books in the series. I was not to be disappointed. First, though I tried, the Imax version of the show was sold out. So I had to see the old fashioned 2-D version. It was still worth it
The movie is very long, two hours and 22 minutes. But it is also riveting and moves fast.
Most important, it has lessons to tell, and since its main audience is teenagers, and young adults, I’m glad to say it’s a message that tells some important truths. Unlike the Twilight series, another cinematic trilogy that teens have thronged to, this movie is attracting the approval of people on the left and the right.
From my perspective, even the messages that the right approves are good ones.
For the left, Hunger Games portrays an unjustice system where 24 12-18 year olds a year are forced to fight to the death. They can volunteer or they are drafted, two from each of twelve districts. The main protagonist Katniss Everdeen volunteers to rescue her 12 year old sister, who’s been drafted.
The “Games” are a huge media phenomenon and have been woven into the culture of the country, with a lame explanation. On the face of it, this idea that 24 young people are forced to kill each other as part of a national media event seems terrible. Oh that the USA had it so good. Here, we have the media celebrating wars that kill thousands every year and corporate systems that kill tens of thousands more.
In the movie, the Government controls, operates and maintains the Hunger Games. This seems cruel, but hey, in real life, the government operates the wars and keeps the regulations loose enough on industry so tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions die from pollution, industrial accidents, etc. The conservatives like the way the movie portrays big, bad government. We ALL should condemn it and the craven politicians who support it.
In the movie, most people live in rural and industrial backwaters, mining towns, manufacturing towns, living like people did 100 years ago. But the one percenters– the elites– they live in a megalopolis with stunning technology. They dress in the most tacky, garish clothes and manifest ignorant, tasteless values and manners, for the most part. But hey, they’re the ones in power.
The movie shows a system where the rules are made to be broken, where even though the 24 young people are fighting for their lives, they are treated unfairly, even injured by the system, just to make the games more entertaining.
The movie shows the under class– there does not appear to be a middle class– almost at the breaking point. When one young hunter is killed, her father attacks the militarized police– just like we have throughout the USA now– and sets off a large crowd of people who go on a protest rampage, turning over and trashing symbols and tools of the state. This is a message that might please both lefties and conservatives on further edges. Of course, the police quickly arrive in large numbers to quell the protest.
There’s romance in the story, sort of. But it takes a cynical turn when Woody Harrelson, playing Haymitch, a survivor of a previous Hunger Game, who coaches Katniss, says, about the games, “It’s a television show. Being in love could get you sponsors that could save your goddamn butt.”
That’s right, sponsors. These kids who are killing each other have sponsors just like NASCAR drivers who wear logos all over their uniforms.
Who knows what the kids who are filling the seats of the theaters think about this movie. One hopeful thing, the author, Susan Collins has said that she’s intentionally included a message about the threat of global warming, saying in a New York Times interview, <blockquote> “It’s crucial that young readers are considering scenarios about humanity’s future, because the challenges are about to land in their laps,” Collins said. “I hope they question how elements of the books might be relevant to their own lives. About global warming, about our mistreatment of the environment, but also questions like: How do you feel about the fact that some people take their next meal for granted when so many other people are starving in the world?”</blockquote>
Not withstanding the political messages in the movie, it stood alone as an entertaining tale with strong protagonists who gain your caring and empathy. Even Stanley Tucci, who plays a vacuous talk show host, has a character that’s reasonably well developed. Donald Sutherland does his usual good job playing a bad guy, in this case, a calculating president, who manipulates what’s supposed to be a fair fight.
It will be interesting to see how the left and right take action to exploit some of the lessons and messages that this movie offers. The opportunity is definitely there. My guess is the right is far more organized at this kind of thing. I can almost imagine Frank Luntz already doing focus groups on it.
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