“The Hunger Games.”
I wondered what the hype was all about.
After research about the book by Suzanne Collins that the movie is based on, I can offer some prudent advice — be very careful about letting your children (or anyone else’s children) view this movie.
The futuristic movie’s focus is a reality television show in a nation governed by slavery.
Imagine the show “Survivors,” with teenagers 12 to 18, the type who might appear on “American Idol,” in a isolated wilderness.
There are cameras everywhere because the “entertainment show,” is reality TV for the soulless country of Panem.
The hazards aren’t just snakes, human or otherwise.
The television “Gamemakers” control the weather and subject the teenagers to manufactured hazards, all for the amusement of the audience. Computer technicians can change the environment to increase danger.
In a way, the 24 teenagers get “voted off the island.”
The biggest difference is when they get “voted off this island,” it’s because they are dead. It’s Survival of the Fittest.
There are land mines and bombs exploding, but no guns.
You wouldn’t want to risk that PG-13 rating with a little gun violence.
But it’s okay to kill the teenagers by other means — a spear or knife to the chest, a machete to the side, a rock to the head, an arrow to the heart and poison berries. Oh, did I mention the mutant dogs and the broken neck.
Twenty-four healthy teenagers start the movie and two teenagers survive.
They are hunted down by groups and killed in revenge.
Most of them get depersonalized when you don’t ever know the names of some of the murdered teenagers.
Did I mention this movie is violent?
Hey! It’s reality TV and anything goes. You’ve got to take care of the viewers and the sponsors.
The teenagers chosen by lottery from 12 slavery Districts are called “Tributes,” but they are really Sacrificial Lambs. There is very little freedom in their Districts. The “winner,” the survivor, is rewarded with food for their family and a new home.
Of course, overall it all makes no sense. The Capitol leaders have the power to change the weather, control mutant creatures and fly hovercrafts, but they don’t have the ability to feed the people?
The Hunger Games are a throwback to the Roman Empire when gladiators entertained audiences in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Gladiators risked their legal and social standing and their lives. Most were slaves, who lived under harsh conditions.
Collins weaves a story with way too many villains and too few heroes. The most disturbing element is the lack of any religious symbolism. You would think prayers to a higher authority would be wise in a life-or-death environment.
Heroin Katniss Everdeen is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, a rising star who has already been nominated for an Academy Award for her prior work. Viewers will be drawn in by a love triangle with two suitors for Everdeen — Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne.
The underlying theme is about sacrifice and what people will do for the people they love even if it means sacrificing their own life.
I’m sure “Hunger Games,” will be a runaway hit at the box office. Reality TV shows and movies about reality TV shows are a sure bet aren’t they?
The fact the movie is rated PG-13 tells you something about the rating system. Seeing teenagers brutally die on screen is a chilling prospect. The movie features intense violent thematic material and disturbing images — all involving teens. PG-13 suggests special parental guidance strongly is suggested for children under 13. Some material will be inappropriate for “young,” children.
It’s every parents’ responsibility to guide their children. Whether this movie is suitable for your children is a decision every family should make together.
(Jim Misunas is a reporter for the Great Bend Tribune. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)