April 2, 2012

The Hunger Games.....my thoughts

So, I've yet to receive any mean emails, but I have a feeling that this post
might change all that....

I just finished The Hunger Games Trilogy...it took me about a week to read the 3 books.
I was compelled to read them because I wanted to form my own opinion about them.

It's the reason that I have read all the "pop" culture series....when the Christian
community was in outcry over the "Satanism" in the Harry Potter books,
I decided to read them myself, mainly because everyone that I spoke with who 
criticized them had never actually read them!

Frankly, I loved Harry Potter!  And as I pastor's wife in a smaller conservative Baptist
church, I had to get them on the black-market (from my MIL) and read
them with the book jackets off!
My husband and I would actually argue over who got to read the Harry Potter
books first....yes, this was back when you had to wait MONTHS between editions!

I also heard the criticism of The Twilight Series....vampires??  werewolves??
So, instead of listening to what others complained about, I read the books...and truly
I found them pretty harmless....tween romance at it's best and an entertaining read.

So let's talk Hunger Games.....quite frankly, I've not heard much, if any, criticism.
The first warning that I heard was from our children's librarian who raised her
eyebrows and said to me, "Do NOT let your 12 year old read this!"

Hmm...that sent off warning bells in my head.  She's not a particularly religious
person and I had all these Christian friends on FB raving about the series...

So I borrowed the books and began to read.......and I immediately found myself
skimming pages because the images were just too violent for me to want to 
imprint into my mind.

I kept reading because there was supposed to be a higher and greater analogy located
in the pages of violence, but as I read, I struggled to find it and justify the 
violence with the greater good of the analogy.

As I've reflected, I'm a little concerned.....why are there not more people speaking
out against the violence....the gruesome violence of these books?
Have we become a society so immune to violence that
the continuous murder of and by teens doesn't shake us to our core?

My hubby and I also went to see the movie.....he's a youth pastor and we felt
that this was a movie worth seeing since so many of his kids have seen it.

Wow....do you know how many times I had to avert my eyes because of the 
violent images?  The horrified gasps by adults in the audience over the horrible scenes of death?
 Truly....I still close my eyes and see the bloated
body of a child in the woods.....and as we walked out of the theater, there
were kids 10....11....12 years old walking out with us?

There is a fragile balance of too much too soon.....

Paul writes this in the book of Philippians....
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is truewhatever is noblewhatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I don't think that God asks us to do these things to deny us a good read or movie.....instead, I think he asks us to focus on what's true and noble
to protect the fragile innocence of our mind.  

 I realize that you may have a vastly different opinion, but I just can't shake that this is a 
piece of literature that I wish I could now remove from my mind.


Anonymous said...

Thank You, I have not been able to read and wouldnt go to see the movie. It helps to know a bit about it!

Knitted in the Womb said...


I haven't read the books...not really interested. But I was surprised to discover that my eldest daughter (13) is, which means my next daughter, who turns 12 in a couple of months, will likely be reading it too because she consumes just about every book that enters the house.

I skimmed the jacket on the book, and was really shocked. The violence did seem to be too much. And then I see moms on-line asking other moms if the movie is appropriate for their 10 year old??? I want to scream "there is a PG-13 rating for a reason!"

Sigh. I have talked to my daughter some about her impressions of the book. I try not to be too censoring of what they read...but you had better believe that none of the members of my household will be going to see the movie!

Alicia said...

Thank you!! I agree 100%. In America we have 'accepted' violence as the norm. In fact I hear parents say to often, well I can't really keep my kids from it so I would rather know openly what they are watching and reading. When did parents stop being parents? An when was it right to praise violence in anyway shape or form?!

Unknown said...

I definitely think we are more desensitized to violence and death, which might be why neither the books nor the movie bothered me. We hear about it everyday. Personally, I'm MORE bothered by the romanticizing of the occult (ghosts, supernatural beings and magic) as it definitely glorifies the "dark" side.

Stephanie Cheek said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephanie Cheek said...

Interesting viewpoint. I have, however, also heard an important point worth considering. The Hunger Games depicts a very cruel, violent reality show that the Capitol watches with total entertainment. Looking around us now, though, it's a highly real concern how society is ALREADY desensitized to reality TV and this is magnified through Suzanne Collins' books showing how the world is negatively progressing in its entertainment. People already laugh at deeply painful events like a Kardashian divorce, really any divorce in Hollywood, broken families, affairs, failures, etc. We are already a smaller degree of what the Capitol represents and I believe the author wrote this partially as a satire so we do not continue down the path of people's personal pain bringing entertainment. I personally love the books, but it isn't for everyone or every age.

Also, I understand it can be especially troubling as many on here are parents and worried about their children while they read or what the effect it has on kids. In the book's defense, I feel we need to be able to discriminate what is constructive vs.mindless violence. Video games and movies where people are just blasted to bits for an evil satisfaction, not good at all for the mind/soul. The Hunger Games though has something to take away if readers can get passed the surface violence and see the deeper meaning and important themes of current society and dangerous government scenarios.

Hopefully everyone won't judge it til they've read it. Thanks for reading:)

Rachel said...

I have not read the books, nor watched the movie. If you would like the breakdown and comparison of real life and that series, I implore you to read this article. I am awake to what's really going on today, I believe and pray everyday that the masses awake to the truth before it's too late. I have heard that "what the eyes see, the brain retains, and if something real happens we are already "conditioned" for it. I'm not trying to sound like a goof..just expressing. http://www.infowars.com/the-hunger-games-movie-review-a-glimpse-of-our-own-future-if-the-cancerous-growth-of-government-is-not-checked/

Rachel E. said...

I thank you for the review. Hollywood does a great job creating trailers for movies that miss the point. They lure you in with hopes of a good movie, only to be knocked down and disappointed by what it portrays.

I have not read the books nor have I seen the movie. I have watched the trailer, but I will not see the movie. I cringe at the thought of putting garbage into my mind. That garbage can not be removed or forgotten. It is just like swearing. Once a child, or person hears a word, it's forever there. Violence is the same way. The images are always there. I believe there is enough real life misery and violence out there, we don't need to surround ourselves with the garbage in literature and movies.

Alison Agnew said...

i'm very like you
in that i will always want
to read or see something for myself
before judging it

i have to disagree with you
on a couple points

i found the Twilight books
far more offensive than the Hunger Games books
because they glamorized darkness
blood drinking
soul selling
and rampant sensuality

and just weren't quality literature

and the whole point
of the senseless violence and slaughter of children in the HG books
is that
as a society
we've become numb to the violence
and use bloodsport
as fodder for reality tv

the author is showing
how sick and twisted this all is

she's also making
numerous historical references
to Roman times
and the wholesale 'fun-fests'
that the gladiator fights
and arena entertainment they valued

i totally understand
the squemishness that readers experience
reading the books

that is the what the author is getting at

i loved Harry Potter too
but there is a lot of killing in
those books

just as there is a lot of killing and death
in the vampire books
and Lord of the Rings
and the Narnia books

'acceptable' films like
Star Wars and Indiana Jones

but we accept that violence
because it is more sanitized
and less bloody
so less offensive to our senses

but in my mind
death is death
and murder is murder

and while my kids wont' be reading
these books for a few years
nor seeing the films until they are in high school

i look forward
to using these as tools
to discuss the deeper issues
of human worth
government power
and personal sacrifice

and i love
all the discussions i'm seeing
in the webisphere about these books!


Good Time Charlie said...

I read the Trilogy of the books. I really did enjoy them. I am not proud of myself to say that I was somewhat desensitized to the violence that is portrayed. My oldest, 15 is almost finished with the first book. It has prompted some really, really good discussions about society, greed, a government out of control, and what happens when we let our base desires take over us, as happens in the Capitol in the Hunger Games. Thanks for giving me pause to think about the violence and if and when it will be appropriate for my other two children to read these books. Very good post. -K

Unknown said...

I don't have a lot of time here before I have to leave for work, so I apologize if this was already addressed in other comments.

You know I'm a huge fan of the Hunger Games. For me the entire point of the violence and the kids killing kids was to show us that as a society we've become desensitized to the violence. It was to shove it in our faces to show us how we've made ourselves this way. I also think people are very hung up on the violence aspect when I found myself much more focused on the desperation aspect of it all. The desperation of trying to retain some sense of humanity of trying to retain your moral character while trying to stay alive, all the while being controlled by the Capital. It was so much more than just the violence. Absolutely, I know that was hard to stomach. But that's what a Dystopian Society is. You can't really write about a Dystopian Society and have it be Little House on the Prairie-ish.

Amy Good said...

I'd have to agree with Stuff and Nonsense. I, however, have not continued past the first book and I have not seen the movie. Honestly, I'm not sure I would be able to handle the graphic views in the movie.

I found myself sickened at the Capitol, but quickly understood the coorelation that was being made in how things will revert to that sort of blood sport the way we are heading. Society seems to crave more and more of this violence. The concept sickens me.

The author did a great job of writing the book so we could be sickened by it and wake up.

I agree that this series should not be read or watched by 9, 10, 11, 12...my 13 almost 14 year old is reading it now. I'm grateful that I've read it so we can talk about it as we go. We'll have to consider the movie at a later time.

In all honesty, we have not allowed her to watch the Twilight series, nor do we allow her to watch movie that glamorize sex and such. My husband and I viewed the first movie and felt that it was not appropriate for many of the very sensual scenes shown and less because of the vampires.

Anyway, thanks for writing and it is especially a good reminder to be constantly revieiwng.

gracielynn's said...

I haven't read them, or seen the movies, but just reading teens reviews made my skin crawl.
One girl wrote:
you like the girl & root for her to kill , cuz you like her, you want her to live !

seemed sad to me. seeing a young girl write & worse, think that way. there is far too much killing all around us anyway.
a friend told me she didn't care if her dd watched shows with rapes . She said the real world is like that. I said , well unless SHE is being raped, I doubt she will see one first hand.. SO why put her through that for a one hour drama ?

I don't know your age, but I know our youth pastor is 30 & his wife , younger, loves all the books you mentioned.
I can't justify vampires , romance or not .
The Holy Bible tells us to avoid such things. Why clutter our minds with trash?
a picture once seen cannot be removed from our minds, so a book read .

I say there are a thousand great
works of literature out there , why be bogged down in questionable ? plus I don't want my dd to be a follower , but a leader .

funny how we justify now, what 20 yrs ago would have been considered harmful.
stretching to make something work , may be too far for me to stretch :_)

shannon said...

nikki, thanks for your time and input. as an adult, i realize that there are many books and movies i wish i hadn't seen: The Kite Runner and The Prince of Tides. ugh, there are images in both that have left long lasting impressions on my brain. The Lord of the Flies is disturbing, but not so graphic.

i really like that you quoted Paul on thinking. a blessed, helpful reminder.

Anonymous said...

While I won't read the books (far better books are still on my to-read list), I did see the movie. It is not as violent as many "acceptable" movies - what makes it offensive is that it is kids forced to kill other kids. But that's also the point, that government gone too far can have us accepting ridiculous things. I don't think I will let my 11-year old see it, but I do think it will be good for her to see soon (2 or 3 years). We have to stop being so overprotective and realize life if hard and cruel. Unless of course, you also want to ban reading the rape of Tamar, the killing of eentire peoples, and of course, the cross from the Bible. When we have a standard of "holiness" that the bible does not meet, something is wrong with us ...

TGalyean said...

Thank you for saying this! As adults we can choose to expose ourselves to whatever violence we choose & we're old enough to understand the symbolism if we choose to endure the violent images. Children have not, nor need not have experienced enough life that they need to be exposed to such levels of violence. There is enough sadness & death in the world that I don't need to pay to read it or see it, let alone expose a child to this. Thank you for speaking out.

Dona said...

This is not hate mail, I understand where you are coming from. My teenage children as in 12 and up read this book and we read it as a family, discussing all the issues, and we very much enjoyed the series. We cannot bury our heads in the sands and ignore what has happened over and over in our history, think Hitler and Stalin, and what could very well happen in our very near future. Our children need to be empowered with the knowledge of what oppression is, what it comes disguised as, that some have died to fight it, and there may be a time in their future that they will be called on to stand up against government control and oppression. That is the real message of this book and I was delighted to see a children's literature series address a reality that is creeping in our very own world, disguised as social equality and the government taking care of us, which will turn into total government control over what we feed our children, what we read to our children, what we see on TV, how much money we are allowed to earn, what thoughts we are allowed to speak out loud... a very scary reality that most people refuse to see. I am hoping that my children will recognize it and take steps to prevent it, like by voting... Violence is real and it is everywhere. If we hide our children from it, we create fear instead of empower them. Foolish to think that protecting them from knowledge in any way helps them grow into adults that can handle real life when they have to. A great literary work. The movie doesn't touch the books in quality. Read the books and get the vision. Already our own society is starting to look like the fashion excesses in the Capitol City, everyone trying to outdo the other w/o regard as to what is actually attractive... Read the books and you might see a lot of comparisons to the society we live in right now. Yes there was violence and ugliness that made me sad and I cried much during the books, but there is great value in those pages as well.

Rachel W. said...

I am currently half way through the second book in the trilogy. I have to agree with Stephanie Johnson and Natalie. You have to ask yourself what is the author trying to convey. I don't believe that she woke up one day and said to herself "I think I should write about children killing each other so I can make millions when the book sells." Rather, I think her intent was to shed light on what is taking place in society and what our world may become if it continues down its current route. It's a difficult read, I don't deny that. But there is a message behind it and it is no worse than any book listed on the required reading classes for AP English High School students. It's comparable to 1984, but written in a way that teens can understand.

I respect your opinion and I know it is a hard story to stomach. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Jessica @ Stay at Home-ista said...

I just can't read them. Or see the movie. I read Margaret Atwood's "A Handmaid's Tale" and the distopian imagery has stuck with me for 20 years.I just can't put that kind of violence and disturbing thoughts in my head while trying to raise my three little kids to be kind souls. I'd much rather be naive about the books, and try to change the reality in our world, than to infect my mind with those thoughts on purpose.


Linda said...

Glad to have read your post. I did not read the books nor plan to see the movie especially after seeing the trailers for it. I would like to know what the plot of the moive is about. I did not read Harry Potter or Twilight but I knew they are not my cup of tea. I am going to Google HG and see if I can find out the plot. I agree that we have gotten immune to violence due to TV, the news and movies.

Adrianne Surian said...

I loved the books. LOVED them. But I'm an adult, and there is no chance I'd be letting a 12-year old read them. How in the world is this a YA series?? Terribly inappropriate for kids!

But I also say kudos to you for forming your own opinion, it bothers me a lot when criticism is handed down secondhand.

Anonymous said...

I agree and so does my 13 yr old daughter! She has said of her peers, whom she has had heated debates, "Mom, it's like they are all hypnotized!"
Thanks for your post!

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