Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hunger Games Thoughts

(This isn't a book review, but musings about a book.  If you want the basic plot of the Hunger Games before you read my thoughts, go to Good Reads.)  

For months (probably years by now) I have had people telling me that I need to read and watch the Hunger Games.  I was quite reluctant for several reasons.  First of all, I had read the first book and thought that the writing was, frankly, not that great.  Second, I have a (slightly irrational) dislike of young adult fiction as a class.  I think that it's kind of ridiculous that teenagers have to have their own category of books.  You read the children's section until you're sick of it, then you gently ease into the adult section.  I also found it highly ironic that the people reading/watching the books/movies are being entertained by the killing just like the members of the Capitol.  However, last night at the behest of my family, I sat down and watched the first Hunger Games.  Before I sat down, I decided I was going to step out for the worst of the gore.  There actually were only three huge battle scenes, so I didn't actually miss huge portions of the movie.

Several things struck me while I was watching the movie.  1.  This story is a huge social commentary.  That's something I didn't realize when I first read the book.  Sure, the story is for entertainment, but there's a deeper point behind the pretty basic tale of kids in a dystopian society.  Are we, like the people of Panem, entertaining ourselves to death?   I was interested to read that Suzanne Collins thought of the Hunger Games while switching channels between a sports game and Iraq war footage.   2.  I don't think that many watchers/readers get how serious the message is. Actually I don't think you really can if you're, say 10.   3.  And this is completely shallow...I'm sorry.  I liked Gail (the boy back home that loves Katniss) better than Peeta (the boy who is in the Hunger Games and ends up with Katniss).  He has principles, something Peeta apparently doesn't really have.  And, I just think he's a nicer person.

My third thought deserves a whole paragraph unto itself.  I'm going to have a little spoiler here, so if you don't want to know what happens at the end of the first book/movie, stop reading.  At the end, Peeta and Katniss (our heroine) survive.  They have been told that they can be a team, so they don't end up killing each other.  Finally, after everybody else is dead, there is an announcement that, never mind, they will have to kill each other.  Katniss pulls a move that nobody is expecting.  She takes a handful of deadly berries and tells Peeta that they're both going to eat them and die, leaving no winner.  Now, let's stop right there (I promise this isn't the end).  You all know that I am a sucker for happy endings (in fact, I'd probably hate the writers if I hadn't thought of this plot ending myself), but what would have happened if Katniss and Peeta had eaten the berries and died?
It would have been a huge statement.  Think what would have happened- here is the Capitol with no winner, no huge victory parade and medals, no crown.  It would have shown all the watchers the true horribleness of the Games.  It would have said, look, the whole point of the games is death and entertainment.  There would probably have been a whole lot of rage and uprising and, hopefully the end of the games.  Of course, that isn't what happens.  A voice yells, "Stop!" and the two are safely carted home with much fanfare.

So now you know what I think about the Hunger Games.  I think I will go ahead and read the books and I'm definitely going to watch the next movie.

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