The film du month for March is bound to be “The Hunger Games”, based on an immensely popular book supposedly written for teens. Not wanting to be counted among those who “criticize things they don’t know about” (to paraphrase Steve Martin’s grandmother’s advice) it’s important to note that I read the book.
I will not be seeing the movie.
I have two problems with the book. First, I don’t think it’s very good. The prose is weak and the plot is derivative. Do we need another book about a futuristic dystopian US? Not in my mind, unless it is well-written and has a distinctive hook.
The Hunger Games has something that might be considered distinctive. And it’s my biggest objection. The story revolves around an event – the Hunger Games themselves – that entails children killing one another. Sigh. That’s not really unique. It’s happening all over the country today. Inner cities and schools have their own informal versions of hunger games going on all the time. Two school shootings last month alone.
Critics of my viewpoint will say that the book (and I assume the movie will not stray far from its source material in this respect, at least) condemns the violence as well as the totalitarian government that imposes it on the populace. I’ll take Truffaut’s view of things. Just as he opined that it’s impossible to make an anti-war movie, I don’t think it’s possible to make an anti-violence movie that is filled with violence.
In the post-Colombine era, is it responsible to make a movie like this? Is it wise to have children watch it? They will, in droves. The book was required reading in many schools. Shame on them. It was the “town book of the year” in my hometown last year. Shame on us. There’s censorship, which we all know is “Bad” (I’ll consider that topic in another post), and then there’s common sense, discretion, and discernment.
“Hunger Games” is likely to be a blockbuster. But we can all save ourselves some time and money by simply watching the news.
It gets worse. This is the first book of a trilogy. If all goes as expected, they will all be movies. Then there will be sequels of the trilogy because Hollywood loves a bankable franchise.
God help us.