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Violence in ‘The Hunger Games’ unappetizing

By , Reporter  |  Wednesday, April 4, 2012 8:53 PM

Before “The Hunger Games” hit theaters, I was very skeptical of a movie where children fought other children to the death for the entertainment of others. The idea of manipulated deaths of children is extremely disturbing to begin with, but the fact that the story has managed to captivate the attention of the nation, especially children and teenagers, is even worse. Ops_LOGO

However, I continued to hear compelling stories supporting the series from my friends such as, “I don’t even read, but I couldn’t put them down.” The hype was worse on Facebook and quickly “72 of your friends have posted about ‘The Hunger Games’” became a common notification on my page.

I couldn’t believe that such a violent story could capture the world’s attention, and so far, it’s the year’s top grossing film, bringing in $251 million since it opened on March 23.

Despite my reservations, I decided to jump on the bandwagon and attend the movie. I could feel the energy while eagerly waiting for more than an hour because of sold out showings. Finally the movie started, and I saw what everyone had been raving about… but I was not one of them.

When the characters were chosen for the games, it struck me as twisted and inhumane. Seeing children excited to fight and kill each other was nauseating and seeing spectators filled with even more excitement was worse. Despite wanting to leave the theater at one point, my curiosity kept me in my seat for the rest of the movie.

When it was over, the disturbing reality that people today are entranced by this kind of cruel drama set in.

The violence against humanity portrayed in the film reminded me of the Roman gladiators, where spectators watched fights to the death. But one would think that the civilized viewers of today would not take interest in the same brutality.

While the movie does provide reasons to cheer for the underdog, I spent most of the time gripping my chair white-knuckled and afraid. I admittedly spent some time gazing into Peeta Melark’s dreamy eyes, too.

My disturbance also led me to wonder how this is a series that mostly children are reading and viewing and why parents are alright with this. In fact, in many schools, this is assigned reading.

My boyfriend’s eighth grade sister was assigned to read it over the summer, and many parents were upset about the decision. However, the teacher assured them that there were many good discussions to be had from the readings about government, survival and decision making. And as it turned out, it made her a die hard “Hunger Games” fan.

If the stories of young love, courage and defying a terrible government are what fuels fans’ infatuation, “The Hunger Games” could serve a purpose.

However, if the violence is what keeps fans glued to the screen or turning the page, that in itself is frightening and gives this series even more food for thought.

Meghan Sheldon can be reached at shel9069@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in Opinions and has 11 comments so far.

11 Comments

  1. Catherine Schafer
    Apr. 5, 2012 2:44 AM

    Forgive my bluntness, but you missed the point of the story entirely. It sounds to me like you didn’t bother actually reading the books before you wrote this, and while the movie was actually pretty good as far as adaptations go, the message I believe Suzanne Collins was trying to convey comes across much more clearly in the novels.

    I know everyone interprets a story a little differently, but I feel fairly comfortable saying that NONE of the attraction to The Hunger Games is some kind of morbid attraction to kids killing each other. You yourself say “If the stories of young love, courage and defying a terrible government are what fuels fans’ infatuation, ‘The Hunger Games’ could serve a purpose”. That is EXACTLY what makes the books so compelling. The main character is a young girl who has seen family and friends die at the hands of an oppressive dictatorship. On top of that, she is then thrust into a sick, twisted, government-run event that forces her to kill other kids. Despite all of this she thinks only of her family’s safety, manages to find love, and is eventually the face of the revolution that ends the government’s reign of terror. You say the Games are “twisted and inhumane”. That’s the point. The author uses a kind of shock and awe…

  2. Catherine Schafer
    Apr. 5, 2012 2:45 AM

    to get the reader to see that this is very, very wrong – something the characters in the story know all too well. It seems to me that you took the movie at face value, rather than bother hunting for any kind of deeper meaning.

    The Hunger Games is also a trilogy; the story was not over when the first movie ended. As the books continue the story becomes more of a commentary on the horrors of war and, in my personal opinion, a critique of the violence modern society is plagued by. You continually say how disturbed you are by the violence, but have you read any headlines recently? The Oikos shooting, Trayvon Martin, the soldier that killed 16 Afghan civilians, Syria…those and others have been the main news stories over the last few weeks. The fascination with the story is not a fascination with the violence, and I actually find it encouraging that so many people have latched onto a book/movie about the horrors of violence when we are exposed to so much of it on a daily basis.

    I do however agree with you on the point that parents should better control children’s access to the books/movie. I saw a disturbing number of kids in the theater that couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 years old. It’s a complicated story full of messages that I don’t think a kid that…

  3. Catherine Schafer
    Apr. 5, 2012 2:48 AM

    age could fully grasp, and the parents have to explain why kids are killing other kids. The books are technically teen novels though, and I think that a 13/14 year old eighth grader would have no problem understanding the deeper messages.

    I think you should actually read the series before passing any judgments on it. At the end of Mockingjay (the last book), one character sums up the message nicely:

    “‘Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,’ he says. ‘But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.’
    ‘What?’ I ask.
    ‘The time it sticks. Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race. Think about that.’”
    Also, apologies for the short novel I just wrote. It’s late, and I just couldn’t bring myself to edit it down before falling asleep on my computer.

  4. Brendan Ekstrom
    Apr. 5, 2012 6:52 AM

    So the TommieMedia war on culture continues. Lets review.

    #USTGirlProblems: bad.
    Reality TV: bad.
    Pop music: bad.
    Valentine’s Day: bad.
    Technology: bad.
    Sweatpants: bad.
    Monroes: good.
    Call of Duty: bad. 
    The Hunger Games: bad.

  5. Dan Newman
    Apr. 5, 2012 8:13 AM

    This reminds me of parents saying that video games make their children violent. Its a story…get over it

  6. Luke Ginger
    Apr. 5, 2012 9:57 AM

    The Exiled magazine has a good response to this
    http://exiledonline.com/the-hunger-games-a-belated-wtf/

  7. Drew Puroway
    Apr. 5, 2012 10:25 AM

    I like that the Hunger Games challenges me to think about these questions: 1) In what ways is my life (and that of may Americans) like the lives of those who live in the capital? (i.e. how are we exploiting without knowing, understanding or denying?) 2) In what ways are we like the children in the games? (meaning how are we weaponized or commodified for the benefit of others?) The movie is violent and young children should not see it, however, I am glad that the books are being taught in schools. When my daughter is older, I will encourage her to read the trilogy of books long before seeing the movies.

  8. Todd Anderson
    Apr. 5, 2012 1:55 PM

    Brendan, don’t forget about girls showing their shoulders!

  9. Dylan Wallace
    Apr. 6, 2012 12:07 AM

    Thank you Catherine for typing that so I do not have to. The author of this article totally took a horrible approach to the movie (especially without reading the books). The audience/reader should feel disturbed during the violent scenes because they are naturally upsetting. Nobody is in the theatre cheering when one gets killled, it was a somber moment.

  10. Dan Frye
    Apr. 7, 2012 9:21 AM

    Congratulations on completely missing the point! The books (and movie) are about a dystopian future and the violence is not championed. The death scenes are supposed to be disturbing and when the children are chosen for the games its supposed to be twisted and inhumane. 

  11. Landon Rick
    Apr. 10, 2012 9:28 AM

    You write an article on this…? But yet, the St. Thomas movie channel was playing “Breaking Dawn Part 1″ all of last month, showing an 18-year-old female getting impregnated by a vampire and having a bloody birthing scene and that didn’t bother you?!

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