Why I’m not going to see "The Hunger Games"

Why I have no desire to see this film: I won’t go see “The Hunger Games”. I’m glad people, especially young people are reading about a post-apocalyptic world. They should be the ones to discuss the consequences of our actions as a government. They should be thinking and talking about reasons we need to stop and think about the consequences of our actions as a nation, and as moral and ethical human beings. Perhaps they will change the culture we live in for the better. The book “1984” was the Orwellian vision of a totalitarian future. I’m reminded also of the infamous “War of the Worlds” broadcast that had some nervous folks out in the streets fearing a real alien invasion. But the movie that “Hunger Games” brings to mind for me is “Spartacus”. The climactic end scene was a fight to the death between the characters played by Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas. It underscored one of the main themes, which was that Greater love hath no man for another than to sacrifice his own life. The twist, if you will, was that the two friends who loved each other as brothers were slated to fight each other to the death. The winner would be crucified so the “loser” actually is the one who wins the fight and kills his beloved friend, thus sparing him from the pain and torture that will inevitably be inflicted on the winner. The brutality that was Rome is a recurring theme of Spartacus. But it is man’s nature to be brutal and violent that is an unspoken theme, as it gives us the metaphor in Spartacus for the sacrifice which Christians see in Jesus Christ. There are films that use violence to make a point about man’s inhumanity to man that are greatly effective. But in this age, I do wonder when enough is going to be enough. Spartacus was made in 1960. The film was about the Roman Gladiators, who were killing machines created to satisfy the public’s love of gore and violence. The Gladiators would fight to the death and were surrounded by cheering mobs. In “Spartacus”, the same horrific death that Rome inflicted on Jesus Christ is given to Spartacus. The barbaric nature of crucifixion is a constant reminder throughout the film of the violent brutality that lies in each of us and makes up the darker parts of our human nature. This reminder seems to be a theme of “The Hunger Games”. The violence is something we are immune to and we are accepting of it and we watch as jaded spectators watched the Gladiators. Such is the consequences of creating a world of video gaming, perhaps? One good point to make in this film’s favor: This IS a fictional movie. And like novels, films are representations sometimes depicting small segments of the human condition. So Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings and The Hunger Games are one part entertainment, one part protest and one part morality tale interwoven into an entertaining story. That explanation for the popularity of this film I can live with. Because I would posit that a certain man from Avon could fall into that category. I would bet that William Shakespeare, were he alive today would be out there on the cutting edge. In his own words he put it best, “The Play’s the Thing.” Thoughts on violence and the world of video gaming: One of the main differences in action films that were made twenty years ago and ones made in the twenty-first century is the amount of violence that is not only expected, but expected to be graphic. The concern is that there will be a kind of benign acceptance of pain and suffering taken to the extreme level. To convey the horrors of war and of death, sometimes less is more. Hitchcock proved it in ‘Psycho” with the shower scene and in ‘Torn Curtain” where Paul Newman has to kill a man with the help of a young peasant woman by using nothing more than his hands and the two of them manage to asphyxiate the Russian after a tortuous struggle. Hitchcock wanted to illustrate that it’s not easy to take a life. Another chillingly effective death struggle was seen in “Saving Private Ryan” where the two men fight to the death and it takes on the aura of a sexual encounter as the German slowly plunges the knife in to the chest while telling his victim to be quiet and accept the inevitable. Hopefully, there may be a pendulum swing back to the era of using film to illustrate actions without graphic violence and large amounts of blood and gore. **One other aspect covered in “The Hunger Games” is the public’s insatiable appetite for entertainment. Again, we are reminded of Rome and the Gladiator contests. I suppose if people are watching inordinately large amounts of cooking or exercise shows to the exclusion of all else-or staying on Facebook for more than eight hours-there is a real danger of losing focus and balance in your life. Personally, I don’t watch “Dancing with the Stars” or “American Idol”. But some of my best friends do and they are wonderful people with full and engaged lives. As boring as it may seem, moderation is the key to all things. So…people, especially young people, seem to be worried about a post-apocalyptic world. So do we all-and hope and wish and fervently pray that it will not come to pass. There are those who work every day to stem the tide of apathy and bigotry and hatred and ignorance that leads us to a path of destruction. I,for one, worry that I’m not doing enough to prevent Armageddon every day of my life. But then again, the point may be that there is hope yet for a generation that has role models willing to sacrifice themselves for others, as is the case with the heroine in “The Hunger Games”.

Published by

MLJ

Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Degrees-Film-Future-Global-Village/

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