My friend who hasn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy, asked me where the appeal lies in a set of stories about kids killing kids. Ummm, well when you put it that way…. I know for me personally the appeal was 1) strong female lead character (we need Buffys not Bellas) 2) future-dystopian storyline (two of my favourite books are 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale). But I doubt that’s why all the tweenagers next to me at the movie on Friday were there. My brother in-law pointed out that 3 of the 5 previews were vampire movies, so it appears to be the same target market as Twilight.
Let me take a shot at (pun intended) why we like The Hunger Games so much:
1) We feel a real sympathy for the characters because of their awful/absurd situation – okay, so not the Lord of the Flies-esque Career tributes so much, but Prim and all the other children who are starving and forced to put their names in a draw if they want more food; then risk being chosen in an annual fight-to-the-death championship for the entertainment of the rich Capitol people. And, don’t tell me it didn’t rip your heart out when Katniss volunteers after her sister gets chosen- if you have kids or younger siblings, you can put yourself there- you’d do it too. Then there’s Rue. Sweet Rue who couldn’t be saved…
2) Star-crossed lovers – Yep, old Shakes may have invented it, but Suzanne Collins put a nice twist on it, by having her lovers stuck in an arena where they’d potentially be forced to kill each other but most likely just forced to watch each other die. Then the rules are changed and they both might make it, but Peeta is in bad shape. They find some refuge in a cave together not knowing what’s going to happen, and Katniss risks her life to save him. Great romance material (except for the: does-she-really-like-him? part). Still, they’ve bonded and they use poison berries to show the Capitol they won’t be puppets anymore. Love + Rebellion = good times.
3) Action – Let’s face it, we’re action lovers, and as soon as I finished the first book, I thought it would make a frincredible movie. Running for your life, hiding-out, sleeping in trees, shooting a bow-and-arrow, hallucinogenic-bee-stings, and fire-balls. Simply awesome.
Ok, there are likely other reasons we like this story so much, like the fascinating world Suzanne Collins has created, and how Katniss is so brave and heroic, and how there’s no vampires that glimmer, but if we look at the three reasons I talked about, they are the same reasons the Capitol people like the 74th annual Hunger Games so much. They felt sympathy when Katniss took Prim’s place, they were moved by Peeta and Katniss’s romance, and they enjoyed the excitement of the action sequences in the games. And this is what made The Hunger Games such an incredible movie. At points we watched, while the Capitol people watched, we were moved when the Capitol people were moved and we were excited by the same action they were excited by.
In every case I like the book better than the movie, but this time I thought the movie was especially effective in portraying the idea, that we, as human beings, might just be capable of enjoying something as sick and twisted as the Hunger Games. Reality TV, for example, celebrates and glorifies the worst side of humanity. We seem to love that. Take it a step further (a big step..I know) and, add some examples from human history, and it may not be that much of a stretch to believe that a large group of people could get behind/support something like this.
Why do you like The Hunger Games so much??