Today, I am delighted to have a guest blogger, Rachelle Harp, writing buddy and author of specualtive and dystopian fiction with a Christian world view. Here is her review of The Hunger Games. Follow Rachelle on her fascinating blog at http://rachelleharp.com
While Suzanne Collins’ bestselling book, The Hunger Games release last week to phenomenal success, I’ve read a lot of mixed statements about whether or not it’s appropriate for teenagers. In my opinion, the movie adaptation was true to the book, though toned down in violence to maintain a PG-13 rating, I’m sure. The themes of the story point toward a future where society is oppressed by a government who uses fear (the gladiator style Hunger Games) to keep the districts in line. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to save her sister’s life, and we’re thrown into this world where the Roman gladiator days meet reality TV.
I think many of the critics are missing the point of what she’s written about. It’s not a story promoting violence. In fact it’s quite the opposite. Our world is filled with violence and war. Aren’t our teenage men and women shipping out to fight terrorism around the world every day? Many are just barely 18 when the leave their happy lives to defend our liberty, and I can only imagine the gruesome things they witness. I think this movie offers parents a great opportunity to converse with their teens about the terrible things out there – those things we may want to shield them from – before they step into that world on their own. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that it should be up to parents to determine whether or not their children are ready to view a movie with violence. That’s why we have a ratings system. I confess I was surprised to see so many junior high and tweeners at the movie, especially those who only seemed to think the movie was a romantic teen flick and their main concern was who was cuter – Gale or Peeta? The Hunger Games is far deeper that. It’s definitely not a movie for mere entertainment. It’s to make us think about political possibilities and not let go of the freedoms we have.
As a former history teacher for junior high, I remember most of my students had no idea that there are people still enslaved around the world today, that human trafficking is a growing epidemic, that many families have to fight to keep the food they have, and an overwhelming number of people struggle to obtain the barest thread of liberty from an oppressive world.
My grandfather fought against the Nazi’s in WWII, and to this day rarely talks about the things he saw as a young man. I’m sure it was horrific, and I pray I will not ever have to see them. But I know without his sacrifice, and that of millions of other men and women throughout history, our freedoms could be stripped from us, little by little, until we live in a society reminiscent of Panem – one where people have no freedom. I know it’s strange to think about now, but we can look back in periods of history not that long ago where that level of violence was the norm. Roman authorities forcing thousands of children and adults into arenas in gladiator times. Medieval torture and executions were on display for everyone to watch. Wild West days where everyone went to watch the hanging. In our modern day, there are terrorist bombings, gang fights and more.
So, I think it’s a great question Suzanne Collins has posed. What if our world disintegrated into a dictatorial system and we were forced to send our children to fight or send our loved ones into a difficult situation? How would we respond? Would we let it get to that point? It makes me want to pay much more attention to what’s going on around me and not give up our freedoms that our ancestors fought so hard to win.