I wasn’t going to do it, but I did. I saw “The Hunger Games” even though I felt revulsion at the premise of a society that sends its kids out to hunt and kill one another. How disgusting is that? So why did I go? Because the critics on Rotten Tomatoes are giving the film an approval rating of 85%, and more importantly, I wanted to see what all the fuss is about. I wanted to see exactly what this film has that enabled it to pull in $189 million in one week?
So I went, even though I’m nowhere near the 12-18 year old demographic the film targets. Trust me, I’m nowhere near it. The theater employee cautioned against sitting near the back row as I stepped up to buy my ticket. “It’s full of screaming teenagers” he warned. I thanked him and took a seat several rows away. I was grateful for the advice once the crying started.
The movie was, as I had feared, initially disgusting. I thought about leaving the theater but stayed where I was, determined to give it a chance. Determined to see what this newest motion picture “phenomenon” was all about. It wasn’t easy. I was hit by wave after wave of revulsion as the film began with its horrible premise of innocent young people being forced to take part in the “Games.” Twenty four go out in the woods, only one comes back alive. A kind of cross between “Survivor” and the Roman Circus, with the whole thing going out over live television so that the good folk out in the 12 districts can root for their hometown favorites as they slaughter the other teenagers in the field. Disgusting.
Then the messages began to arrive.
There’s a message about the evils of a two-class society, with the self-indulgent wealthy upper class living in the city and using the military to control the poor, hungry working class out in the hinterlands. There’s another about questioning authority and the danger in believing what all those smiling faces on television tell you. There’s another still, about the value of loyalty to one’s friends — and yet another about the need to rise up and take a stand against wrongdoers no matter what the cost. This is a film about decency and courage, or a total lack of the same, and how society can be philosophically corrupted to a point at which man’s inhumanity to man is considered to be high entertainment. Just like the Romans.
At least that’s what I thought the film was about. For me, it has the potential of being a “Brave New World” (lite) for the 21st Century. But only if younger folk are getting the same message. Only if they see it as being more than a well produced and well acted, action packed movie that’s highly entertaining but devoid of any serious message.
This is not another Harry Potter. This is more than mere entertainment. This is a film that cautions against giving in to the lesser angels of our collective nature. At least, I hope that’s what it turns out to be. For an answer, you’ll have to ask someone between the ages of 12 and 18. This is their show. Ours, is nearly over.