Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What is the appeal of The Hunger Games?

My grandson and I began to read "The Hunger Games" together, but it was too disturbing to me.

What disgusted me fascinated him, the idea of an America in the future where time has led the rich to crave combustible celebrities, extraordinary fashion and televised drama at the expense of the poor whose labors, resources and even children are given as "tribute" to atone for an uprising 75 years before.

In the story, children chosen in a yearly lottery to be given training and weapons, then set into a huge arena to fight, maim, kill each other until only one remains standing for the entertainment of the rich and to win food for the victor's district.

The children are forced to kill each other while followed by cameras depicting the drama and carnage until only one survives, although most of the children die by The Capital's nightmarish booby-traps.

The author wants to shock people into recognizing the nature of war itself; how innocent children suffer, how for soldiers the wounds never heal, how inequality and cruelty eventually lead to insurrection, but I wonder whether children raised on Hannah Montana can grasp such lofty themes.

I expect the movie to focus on beauty, fashion, teen romance and carnage, unable to convey the narrator's anger, commitment, conflict between wanting to love and hate, wanting to fight or run which made it possible for me to skim the violence to get the story.

Dustin might never be told that his other grandmother survived bombs, German soldiers grabbing anything of value, Russian soldiers grabbing peasant girls, the loss of her home and homeland, the hunger in a decimated nation, the pain of exile.

Or how my husband's mother, Dustin's great grandmother, witnessed soldiers on horseback killing her mother and other women and children of her Russian neighborhood while she hid in a tree.

My dad had it easy compared to my son-in-law's and husband's mothers, on a hospital ship at the Invasion of Okinawa, less than 500 miles away when the atom bombs fell upon Japan.

My grandson is 75% Russian and 25% early American colonist, but if he ever thinks war is entertainment, or even if he believes this movie is, I might tell him.

It's not.

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