'The Hunger Games': Murder As Amusement For Children
My holy of holies is the human body, health. . . and the most absolute freedom imaginable, freedom from violence. . . .
— Anton Chekhov, Letter to Alexei Pleshcheev
Since not all my readers get to movies on a regular basis and many of them will have avoided this one thinking it’s for children, herewith a brief description of the movie that will inform the reader and spare the curious of the need to pay money to see it.
The movie is a story of girl meets boy through a lottery and after a lot of folderol, girl gets boy. It is a wonderful story and that is why it made more than $155 million the weekend it opened. The movie is called “The Hunger Games.” The country in which all the action takes place is the capital city called Panem. Its wealthy inhabitants rule the impoverished people living in 12 Districts that once revolted against the capital and were defeated. To remind inhabitants of their subjugation, the capital conducts a yearly lottery in which a boy and a girl from each district are selected to participate in something called a “Hunger Game” put on by Panem’s rulers. The game takes place in forests in Panem and the goal of the game is for the children to find and kill each other. The last child to remain alive is the winner.
The 24 lottery winners are brought to the capital in preparation for the game. Each pair is placed in a beautiful suite and served great food and taught to ingratiate themselves with the sponsors of the game although why any of them would care what the sponsors think of them since all but one of them will soon be dead, is a mystery. In addition each of the children is introduced to a bloodthirsty audience in a television game show setting and questioned by a man who is modeled after actual games show hosts who are obnoxious in both appearance and demeanor. He asks the children the sort of vacuous questions asked on such shows and the audience hoots and hollers at the responses making some children really uncomfortable although not as uncomfortable as they will be when they are being killed (or as some viewers will be when watching the action.)
When at last the moment comes for the game to begin, the children are lined up and as the game begins, most of them rush forward towards some sort of goal and right then and there several children are killed by their fellow participants. That is quite exciting. Each time a child is killed a canon goes off thus enabling the not yet dead to figure out how many participants remain to be murdered.
As readers can figure out from the foregoing description, this has all the makings of a love story and the children responsible for that are the boy and girl from District 12. Her name is Katniss and his name is Peeta. It becomes clear before the game begins that he is sweet on her and during the game it becomes clear that she is sweet on him. Since Katniss and Peeta are in love the saddest thing that one thinks could happen to them is that one of them gets murdered which is, of course, what is certainly going to happen because those are the rules. Katniss spends her time in the woods hoping not to be killed and, when Peeta is injured but not killed, tenderly tending to him rather than killing him. The viewer cannot help but like the two children and applaud their efforts to survive so that one of them can return to District 12 as a hero but the viewer doesn’t know how the love part can have a happy ending since happy endings in love stories involve two people.
After 21 children have been murdered Peeta and Katniss end up trying to kill the only other child still living. To accomplish that, Katniss pulls out her bow and shoots the child who falls down torn limb from limb by ferocious beasts. That leaves Katniss and Peeta who are in love but know that the rules require one of them to kill the other. Just as they are gazing at each other sadly, a voice announces that the rules of the game have been changed and two survivors will be permitted. Peeta and Katniss embrace. Then the voice is heard again and says only one survivor will be permitted after all. At that point Peeta and Katniss start to eat poisonous berries so there will be no survivors thus turning the tables on the game’s organizers. The games’ organizers realize they have been outsmarted and say there will be two survivors after all and so Peeta and Katniss go back to District 12 and everyone is proud of them and they presumably live happily ever after.
There you have it and there’s no reason for you or your children to go see the movie. Just read them this column. It’s far less offensive than the movie.