Learning my lines . . .
. . . discovering what it means to follow Jesus, seeing my story swept up into his . . .

The Hunger Games. . . The Movie. . .


Saw the movie yesterday. . . with my buddy Marv Penner. . . in a Dallas theater. . . that was surprisingly empty. It was energizing to be with Marv and talk about the book, then watch the movie, then talk about our impressions. I’m fully aware from my discussions with others that my commentary is limited due to the fact that I have yet to see the big Hunger Games picture. I’ve only read the first book. I don’t know the rest of the story. . . which I’m sure will make a huge difference in my understanding and thoughts. But here’s what I was thinking as we walked out of the theater. . .

First, I’m getting the connect. Teenagers want to feel strong, validated, hopeful, powerful, empowered, meaningful, important, and significant. They are idealistic. They want to be difference-makers. They long for relationships and love. Blatant oppression and injustice are things from which they want to break free. Katniss Everdeen embodies all those qualities, characteristics, yearnings, and more. She’s “putting it to the man.” She is rising above the heartache and brokenness that has filled the short years of her young life. No wonder she and her story are connecting.

Second, this really is a story that stirs up imagery and thoughts about Hitler’s rise to totalitarian power and the propagandizing control of the Third Reich. District 12 looks like a concentration camp and its young are paraded, controlled and postured like the targets of Hitler’s insane schemes. But while I believe that The Hunger Games can serve as a reminder for a new generation to “never forget,” I fear that the proper reaction against unjust totalitarianism could easily morph into a reaction against the life-giving and redeeming freedom that comes in being a slave to Christ.

And third, I’m not sure I’m seeing the feminist agenda that some critics see in The Hunger Games. Yes, Katniss Everdeen is a strong and bright young woman. Her circumstances have made her strong and determined. She has been strengthened while exercising body/mind and developing skills in order to survive. Just because a story portrays a young lady as strong one should not automatically assume that all males are being depicted as weak or that gender roles are being redefined. At this point, I think this is an unfair criticism.

And finally, I was amazed at the way the radical violence in the story was softened in ways that dulled what could have been especially gory and gratuitous. Once you see the film you’ll know what I’m talking about.

This is a film and a story that our kids are consuming like the hungry Tributes consume their valuable and little morsels of food. They will watch it, chew on it, process it, and digest it with or without us. The latter option offers us a great opportunity to talk about the bigger story – God’s story – and the things that really matter.

5 Responses

  1. Lots of thoughts here Walt: There seemed to be many different “hunger messages” in this movie–the hunger game for power depicted in the Southerland (Boomer?) character; the hunger for glamour/stardom(?) depicted by the (Gen-X) diva hostess and the ‘game-show host’. And the hunger to survive in the midst of these things and more (Gen-Y). The age differences I think are on purpose and bear more meaning than just age. The Hunger Games is all around us. And why not? It began in the Garden and the temptation bids us to consume. I thought one of the most reckoning moments in the movie was when the little girl died and Kat responds humanely to her death–one of the only intentionally directed emotional scenes. All other emotions are self serving and disregarding of others. The movie challenged my own hungers and bade me to ask the question I think the movie provokes, “Should I be allowing this?” And one point of this is ‘should I allow the media to tell me what is meaningful?’ Will i stand by and allow the world to use my children in their consumeristic plot for totally selfish (and hellish?) reasons?

  2. I haven’t read the book but enjoyed the movie. When my daughter first described it, the premise reminded me of The Running Man (Arnold S. in the 80s, I believe). Anyway, it’s good vs. evil. Poor vs. wealthy – the fact that the “Capital” doesn’t seem to understand how offensive they and their game is to the districts is gross and I think it’s something for all of us who are wealthy – even suburbs compared to inner city – need to be aware of. While I wouldn’t call it a “feminist agenda” I, a woman, was waiting on Peeta to do something. Katniss, in her wisdom, quickness, and ability, seemed to protect him instead of the other way around. I do think it continued to feed the image of females leading in strength and cleverness, while the males are either dominating or weak.

  3. Walt-

    This blog provides some great insights that relate to culture and faith. It might be worth reading as you continue to think about this series.

    http://rachelheldevans.com/engaging-the-hunger-games

    Also, I am with you on the feminist agenda. I don’t see it. Plus, isn’t it just as telling if a man was the hero? You could easily read into a man being the central character as a move to preserve a patriarchal society the same as some who claim a feminist agenda.

  4. Don’t get me wrong. I love movies and I know that we have to engage the culture and have to talk about these things and I do and I really like to talk about these things. But….sometimes I just get discouraged……that so much is given to a movie…..how I wish we were dissecting, analyzing, the word of God like we do these movies. Sometimes when I hear of people being so excited about a movie/book I think shouldn’t we Christians be more excited about the living word of God and our risen Savior. The word obsession comes to mind.

  5. Take away the hullabaloo surrounding the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young adult book and what you have is an absorbing film with a dire premise that stands pretty much on its own. Lawrence is also the stand-out here as Katniss and makes her seem like a real person rather than just another book character brought to life on film. Good review Walt.

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