March 28, 2012
I think it's important to be self-critical and aware of our own motivations as Christians to consume and even to justify the consumption of artifacts of popular culture.
In the case of the Hunger Games, it's not clear to me that the concerns raised by many Christians, including those of Josh in this piece (emphasizing the sanitized violence in the movie) strike home, however.
The world of Panem is violent and disturbing. That's the point. As I wrote in another piece today, "If Panem is what a world without faith and freedom looks like, then Collinsâ€™ books are a cautionary tale about the spiritual, moral, and political dangers of materialism, hedonism, and oppression."
It'd be interesting to explore some of the literary allusions and parallels in the books (beyond the connection with reality shows). There are hints and more throughout of The Lottery, Running Man, Romeo and Juliet, and Lord of the Flies.
Brazen self-promotion: http://www.acton.org/pub/commentary/2012/03/28/secular-scapegoats-hunger-games
I agree that the film did not show the violence of the games, and I feel it was for the sake of the rating. SPOILERS AHEAD.
However, I remember scenes from the book which emphasized violence, or the consequences of violence. The first, the death of Rue, was in the film but was shorter than in the book, and because of the bloodless feel of the film, did not have the same impact.
The second occurs near the end. Katniss, Peeta and Cato are the remaining survivors, and Cato gives a poignant speech about realizing he is a pawn. In the book, he, Peeta and Katniss struggle and eventually Cato falls to the monsters below, who are mutated to resemble the fallen tributes, including Rue, an obviously more horrifying prospect.
Katniss and Peeta, I believe, struggle with mutts on the roof, until finally, in an act of mercy, Katniss is able to put Cato out of his misery with her bow.
There have been complaints that Katniss does not face dilemmas in the film. She does not have to kill. She evades. To me, that was a choice in itself. She did not want to become a ferocious monster, similar to Peeta's statement before the games that he did not want the games to change him.
The act of mercy with Cato, befriending Rue and being affected by her death, and even helping Peeta after seeing him with the other tributes, are definitely instances of Katniss making choices, and they are heroic choices.
I enjoyed the film and thought it was well done. I did often feel complicit in the culture being judged as I had gathered, paid money, and watched the hunger games just like the entertainment consumers of Panem. Was I any different in watching the movie than those who supported the games in the fictional world?
How does it being a children's book change the book itself and subsequently the movie? We draw children into the conversation knowing that they don't necessarily have the life experience to process the layers of the issues.
Many preachy movies (I remember an woman saying about a Spike Lee film "If I wanted a sermon I'd go to church...) invite the audience to exclude themselves from the villains of the drama and to stand in judgment over them. I felt that in the film while at the same time not being able to exclude myself from them as I enjoyed the film itself. The game scenes draw you into the game and if you cheer for Katniss you are partaking.
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