Should The #HungerGames be marketed to teens…or at all?

When the first frenzy of The Hunger Games movie marketing hit the ‘net, I idly dismissed it as ‘just some teen novel/movie’ that was looking to cash in on the whomping huge success achieved by the Twilight novel/movie juggernaut.

And then I learned the actual premise of Suzanne Collins’ books:  children murdering other children – and even worse: for the sake of spectacle.

All right, I thought, let’s give this the benefit of the doubt, that there may actually be some literary or life-lesson merit involved that somehow would make forgiveable the glorification of such a hideous theme.

So I started paging thru the book.

To put it bluntly: nope!

Aside from the shock and nausea-inducing that even the mention of such an atrocity brings to every cell of my body and every fiber of my being (especially as a mother) – the fact that this is being marketed to teens via a feature film with a cast of very attractive actors to make it more appealing to youngsters, is even more revolting.

I mean, isn’t it horrible enough that there are plenty of real-life instances of children murdering or raping other children?  Why is there this sudden need to make such an abomination palatable to the masses, let alone make money off of it?

What next, snuff films for the tween audience?  This come awfully close to that.

That anyone could get past the horror that such a thing should induce, to write a whole novel, let alone three of them, then go on to have movies made to GLORIFY such things as children murdering other children is nothing short of monstrous.

I think it says more about the fall of civilization that this series was even created and became so successful, than the series itself has to say on the subject.

SPOILERS – SPOILERS – SPOILERS

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For example, in the scene where Rue, a 12-yr old child is murdered by another child, the ‘heroine’, Katniss, in turn murders that other child.  And this is somehow to be seen as heroic or brave or justified.  That the other child that Katniss murders somehow ‘deserved’ it, since they killed a more audience-sympathetic character.

***SPOILERS ENDED***

Yes, I’m sure I’ll hit a few nerves with this post, but please spare me your ‘Team Peeta’ or ‘Team Gale’-fueled rantings and if you do comment (which I welcome – just keep it clean please!), let’s keep it on the topic of whether or not something like this should be marketed to teens…or at all.

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3 thoughts on “Should The #HungerGames be marketed to teens…or at all?

  1. Back in the day, the Romans had the gladiators, the French Revolution had the spectators at the guillotine, the Civil War had the picnickers overlooking the battlefields and today we have all sorts of blood sport on TV, in magazines, in movies (sigh)… everywhere. Wherever there is a buck to be made, the marketers are there. I’m sure there are those with integrity as there are in every profession, but for the most part, the norm is “whatever sells”. These days I save myself from the energy-draining rants against trying to save the world from the neanderthals and endeavor to live my life to the highest standard I am capable of at the moment. Of course, in an ideal world, this book and movie would be rated R or in my opinion XXX and responsible parents would try to advise their children accordingly. Truly, there is enough violence in the world without the manufactured kind, and it does seem those who need this type of stimulation need it in ever growing degrees. Does anyone want to start a petition, or a boycott of the movie and book?
    How about a boycott of Gary Ross, the film’s director, for advocating for a PG-13 rating. According to him, “It’s their [12 and 13 year olds] story and they deserve to be able to access it completely.” Excuse me, who’s story??? We, the public, closed down the “pink slime” company. We can vote with our pocketbook and simply refuse to buy into (literally) the violence this movie promotes.

  2. I sort of wonder if you read the book properly.

    The violence of the Games is in no way glorified or presented as the right thing to do. It is a representation of the lengths a totalitarian government (the Capitol) can go to in order to keep the people down.

    SPOILERS etc

    The scene you mentioned with Katniss killing the boy who killed Rue – I can’t see this as ‘glorifying’ murder. But also as a way of emphasising the Capitol’s terror. Katniss thinks about this boy later in the book, how the Capitol has made her a killer. (And she specificlly thinks about how the boy DIDN’T deserve it, how the Capitol is to blame, but she has to stay angry with him in order to stay sane enough to survive the rest of the Games. This is what I took from that scene and Katniss’ thoughts later in the book.) She has to kill, or die herself, that’s the choice given to her by the government. We as the readers are presented with teens who have to make this horrible choice, and we also see the effect it has on Katniss and the others after the Games are finished. (Meaning; killing someone changes you, it stays with you forever, and this is quite clearly presented in the books.)

    SPOILER FOR BOOK 2 & 3

    The Games (and Katniss’ actions within them) are later seen to spur on the revolution against the Capitol.

    In order to show a violent government being overthrown, you must show the violence that people are opposing – why they are overthrowing the government. The government’s horrific actions must be presented to the reader if a rebellion is to make any sense.

    I generally don’t enjoy reading about violence for violence’s sake, but in this case it is a means to convey a message. The message, in fact, that violence is NOT ok, no matter which of the two sides in a war committs the violent acts. And that, I think, is a message teenagers need to hear.

    Teens are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, they don’t need to be protected against everything, and I believe they can understand the themes of these books easily. (Especially since the themes are sometimes very clearly presented, almost shoved in your face.)

    As a general opinion, I believe we should not shield teens from books and films with more diffcult or dark themes. They will encounter evil in the real world (even of only through the news, if they are lucky), and fictional worlds are a safe environment in which to confront evil and reflect on morals (those of fictional people, and your own). I like to think of fiction as a sort of ‘training ground’ for the real world – a place where we can explore dilemmas that we’ll hopefully never get in real life. The best fiction seeks not to ‘brainwash’ us into any opinions, but to present thoughts that forces us to make decicions of our own and examine our own thoughts (ergo: not to claim that ‘violence is great’, but to make you react to the violent acts and make up your own mind as to how they make you feel, about what’s right or wrong). I think the Hunger Games did the job admirably (especially if you continue onto book 2 and 3 as well.)
    I think, if you think that any teenager would read the Hunger Games and feel that the violence within was awesome, you’re underestimating that teen and their ability to think for themselves.

    I am a 30 year old woman, and although I enjoyed the Hunger Games a lot, I can see why it would be marketed as teen fiction, on basis of the writing style alone. (I work in publising.)

    (My native language is not English, so I hope my points came across properly :))

  3. Hello Anna,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.
    While you may be so lucky that all the teens you personally know are able to handle such dark themes in a mature fashion, sadly enough not all teens are able to do so.

    On another blog, a mother had written that she had tagged along on her daughter’s school trip to see The Hunger Games. This mother was shocked when a large number of the teens in the audience started cheering and shouting during the kill scenes. And what was it that they were shouting? “Kill ‘em!” and “Slit his throat!” and other such words.

    The sad truth of movies is that they don’t go in for as much detail as the books, and are often watched with mental passivity – no activation of any kind of judgment filters, particularly for youngsters.

    And the movie studios are often not concerned with the artistic or thematic integrity, as much as they are with pushing the right audience buttons so as to maximize profits.

    And I firmly believe that unless someone is a parent themselves, they cannot truly comprehend the extreme horror of a child’s death, much less a deliberate one, and so the true impact that the author perhaps wished to impart to her readers on just how horrifying and corrupt that particular society is, is largely lost on younger readers of the book.

    And no matter how “savvy” today’s teens may seem, they still need guidance from their parents to help them sort out what they think or feel about such issues.
    Lara recently posted..#Earthday with a tired mommy of twinsMy Profile

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