Now, The Hunger Games is a lesson in how to do young adult with a female in the lead, Stephenie Meyer.
I was a bit apprehensive about buying into The Hunger Games hype but, as a blogger, I thought it imperative that I read the book and the see the movie to understand what all the hype was about and, at the very least, to get a blog post out of it. (That’s my reasoning for going to see American Pie: The Reunion next week, anyway!)
I’d read all the blog posts and cultural analyses of the film and book before I went to see it last Monday and finished it over this past weekend, respectively, so I had a pretty good idea of the storyline and the social commentary I’d be looking for. I don’t normally like to see the film version before I finish the original one (although my track record, with Twilight and, most recently, Water for Elephants and My Week with Marilyn, doesn’t bode well), but I actually found myself more immersed in The Hunger Games, as opposed to analysing each and every moment, when the film continued after where I’d reached in the book. (The pre-Hunger Games interviews, FYI.)
While the book is allegedly a commentary on the hell high school can be (like a post apocalyptic Buffy), I interpreted it more to be not only about capitalist life (the riches of the Capitol juxtaposed against the poverty and poor quality of life for the rest of Panem), but about advertising culture and the media.
The argument that seems to surround media today is that we should ban this, and censor that. Then we wouldn’t have eating disorders, negative stereotypes of women and minorities, obesity, gambling, domestic violence, blatant consumerism and pretty much anything else you can think of. Common sense would have us stop consuming the things we don’t feel align with our personal ethics. Don’t like the way animals are slaughtered in factory farms for our precious meat? Don’t eat it. Don’t like racism? Don’t be a racist. Don’t like leggings as pants? Don’t wear them. Don’t like children being chosen at random to fight to the death for the pleasure of the elite and the opportunity to make life a little more bearable for the underclass? Don’t watch it. If everyone adopted this attitude and no one watched, there wouldn’t be a product. As author Suzanne Collins notes her inspiration for the series as flicking television stations between war and reality TV, it’s not hard to come to this conclusion.
Despite the fact that no one really seems to be talking about the senseless mass murder of children by children (won’t somebody think of them?!), there is a point to “career tributes” like Cato and Glimmer, who are trained for the Hunger Games since birth. As Laura Miller wrote in The New Yorker, “[W]hy isn’t it the poorer, hungrier districts that pool their resources to train Career Tributes, instead of the wealthier ones?”
I wasn’t as huge a fan as some others who’ve devoured the series in several sittings (I prefer to wait until the next filmic instalment is on the horizon to delve into the second book, as with Tomorrow, When the War Began, for example), but I did like it and look forward to seeing what the next two chapters bring; both book and film versions.
*Blanket spoiler alert.
Related: My Week with Marilyn Review.
Elsewhere: [The New Yorker] Fresh Hell.
Image via IMDb.