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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.