Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hunger Games Doesn't Satisfy Satire Cravings

The Hunger Games is certainly not starving for attention.  According to Lionsgate, the production studio responsible for the cinematic adaptation of the first installment of Suzanne Collins' wildly popular teen fiction series, the film's total domestic gross so far is $302.8 million.  The film continues to dominate the box office, topping Titanic 3D and American Reunion even in its third week.  
For anyone not yet familiar with the latest young adult phenomenon, The Hunger Games takes place in a post-catastrophic parallel America called Panem in which the governing force every year demands two teenage sacrifices from each of the twelve districts to take place in the eponymous annual Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games are televised brutality — the whole of Panem watches as teenagers kill each other and try to survive the elements to claim the riches that await the last boy or girl standing.   The reason for these gruesome games?  To remind the nation of the uprising that threatened the aristocracy years ago, and to ensure that a similar coup is never attempted.
Katniss Everdeen, the story's gritty, virtuous, and hardened heroine from District 12, the poorest of the districts, eventually emerges from the violence as victor, though the end of the novel brings a twist: Peeta, the second sacrifice (or "Tribute" as they are called in the book)  from District 12, survives as a second victor when the couple threaten mutual suicide.  
The craze over the series began with the first book in 2008, and has held fans both teenaged and adult captivated, similar to the Harry Potter series.  In fact, given that the first installment of The Hunger Games was released just one year after the last Harry Potter book was published, it isn't so surprising that it climbed to such immediate success.
Both the book and the movie are entertaining, and make for a quick, enjoyable read/watch.  However, some critics, and I would have to agree, argue that the film lacks a satirical bite that might make audiences think about the material they are viewing more profoundly.  
One cannot overlook the resonance the series shares with reality television; the author herself has even claimed that the inspiration for the series came when she was surfing television channels and saw reality TV on one channel and footage from the Iraq War on the next.  But the potential depth that could be drawn from that parallel is missed, and instead what we have is bloodless violence in a world that is accustomed to watching children die on television.
If the premise of The Hunger Games horrifies you, it should.  And yet, we flock to the series and to the newly released movie without a second's consideration that we ourselves might actually be transforming into the violence-hungry citizens of Collins' Panem, eating up the fare that the movie and book offer, without taking a moment to think about the philosophical and social ramifications.  
Here's hoping that our appetites are satisfied.

About the Author:
This guest contribution was submitted by Samantha Gray, who specializes in writing about bachelor degree online. Questions and comments can be sent to:  samanthagray024 [at] gmail [dot] com. 

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