Non-Mainstream Review of ‘The Hunger Games’

By Saturday, March 24, 2012 5 0

We all like good entertainment. I had furlough yesterday (an unpaid day off), and went to see The Hunger Games. My report?

From a mainstream perspective, it’s a ‘good’ movie. It has a compelling storyline, credible, sympathetic characters and strong production values. It’s riveting; once you start watching it, you’ve simply got to know how it will end. You lose yourself in the bizarre, corrupt world of Panem, set in the postapocalyptic future.

That’s the end of my mainstream report. Diamond-Cut Life isn’t mainstream.

How in the hell is it entertaining for short, spindly 12 year olds to be pitted in death fights against tall, muscular 17 and 18 year old males? And why the bleep did this film get rated PG-13? The film’s concept is so profoundly brutal that no young child should see it without their parent’s consent (which consenting parent would need to have their head examined, not to put too fine a point on it). But, an R rating would mean less tickets sold, and less profit for the filmmakers. How corrupt is that?

When I got home from watching The Hunger Games it was beautifully, deliriously sunny out. So my friends and next door neighbors Alayna and Jeremiah and I were compelled to go bike-riding in Mount Tabor Park. I got the loose straps on their helmets adjusted, and off we pedaled. We were very happy. Except that SE 72nd has these speed bumps, and Alayna’s handlebars started wobbling crazily, like a penguin in a footrace. The next thing we knew she was sprawled in the street, her mouth a mass of bright red blood.

I picked her up and carried her the quarter-mile back home, almost running, like she weighed one pound instead of 50. Her mom Sarah and I soon had her at Columbia Urgent Care. Badly swollen lips, two missing teeth, but no broken bones. They were baby teeth, thank heavens – but she’ll need to see a dentist. We praised her courage, went home and ordered pizza from Pizzicato for everyone. Alayna got a chocolate milkshake, since she won’t be chewing for awhile. I changed out of my bloodied sweatshirt.

Note to self, note to the mainstream culture: there is nothing exciting, sexy or remotely entertaining about blood spurting from children. It’s bad enough when it’s accidental. To deliberately make children into murderers of each other is obscene as rape. Is doing that, even fictionally, entertaining? How desperate are we to be entertained?

Back to The Hunger Games. Gale, the best friend of the protagonist, said at the beginning of the movie, “The games are sick. If everybody refused to watch it, they wouldn’t be able to have the Hunger Games at all.”  That was the most engaging, provocative thought I’ve encountered about The Hunger Games.

We all like good entertainment. I had a furlough day yesterday, and went to see The Hunger Games. My report?

From a mainstream perspective, it’s a ‘good’ movie. It has a compelling storyline, credible, sympathetic characters and strong production values. It’s riveting; once you start watching it, you’ve simply got to know how it will end. You lose yourself in the bizarre, corrupt world of Panem

That’s the end of my mainstream report. Diamond-Cut Life isn’t mainstream.

How in the hell is it entertaining for short, spindly 12 year olds to be pitted in death fights against tall, muscular 17 and 18 year old males? And why the bleep did this film get rated PG-13? The film’s concept is so profoundly brutal that no young child should see it without their parent’s consent (which consenting parent would need to have their head examined, not to put too fine a point on it). But, an R rating would mean less tickets sold, and less profit. How corrupt is that?

But does that make something good entertainment, to lose yourself in a different world, no matter how sick that world is? How desperate are we – our culture — to be entertained? As desperate as the fictional world of Panem?

Katniss Aberdeen

When I got home from watching The Hunger Games it was so beautifully, deliriously sunny out that my friends and next door neighbors Alayna and Jeremiah and I were compelled to go bike-riding in Mount Tabor Park. I got the loose straps on their helmets adjusted, and off we pedaled. We were very happy. Except that SE 72nd has these speed bumps, and Alayna’s handlebars started wobbling crazily. The next thing we knew she was sprawled in the street, her mouth a mass of bright red blood.

I picked her up and carried her the quarter-mile back home, practically running. Her mom Sarah and I soon had her at Columbia Urgent Care. Badly swollen lips, two missing teeth, but no broken bones or need for stitches. They were baby teeth, thank heavens – but she’ll need to see a dentist. We praised her courage, went home and ordered pizza for all of us. Alayna got a chocolate milkshake,

Note to self, note to the mainstream culture: there is nothing exciting, sexy or remotely entertaining about blood spurting from children. It’s bad enough when it’s accidental.

Back to The Hunger Games. Gale, the best friend of the protagonist, said at the beginning of the movie, “The games are sick. If everybody refused to watch it, they wouldn’t be able to have the Hunger Games at all.” That was the most engaging, provocative thought I’ve encountered about The Hunger Games.

5 Comments
  • Tess
    March 24, 2012

    Great review Alison, and connection with that real life experience. The comment you quote about refusing to watch: I feel the same about the tabloid press. If everyone refused to buy them, they wouldn’t exist.

  • Barbara
    March 24, 2012

    As middle school teachers go, I have an pretty high threshold of tolerance for violence, preferring, generally, to talk about it with kids rather than ban it outright. Having said that, I found the Hunger Games books deeply troubling and had a hard time seeing my students reading them. Yes, they were page-turners and compelling reading, but they were just SO disturbingly violent. I hope parents will talk with and listen to their children about the vision of the world presented in the Hunger Games. Thanks for your review.

  • Regina
    March 24, 2012

    Good review Alison. Hope Alayna feels better very soon!

  • Colleen
    March 24, 2012

    I agree on all points. I won’t be going to see the film, to make a statement against gruesome entertainment involving children billed as a PG-13 movie. I can see how the film/book series is probably making a larger societal point, but a violent film should receive a more adult rating. And I question whether the book series should have been made into a film in the first place.

  • Rockinon
    March 25, 2012

    Best review yet. Cannot agree more: “The games are sick. If everybody refused to watch it, they wouldn’t be able to have the Hunger Games at all.”

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