The Hunger Games
There’s been a lot of talk about the appropriateness of The Hunger Games for its target audience. When I was a teenager, I was an activist. At fifteen I was at a show (Against All Authority, I think–it was the mid-nineties and I was really into pop-punk and ska), and there was an info desk set up about the Cassini space probe. It was a rocket being launched from Cape Canaveral to send pictures back of our solar system and beyond. Apparently it was carrying fifty-two pounds of plutonium on board, and if it crashed, it would decimate central Florida.
For a kid who watched the Challenger explode, the threat of this was very real.
I drew up a petition and got something like five hundred signatures from the kids at school. Then I took it to my mom’s office and faxed it to the White House, with a letter along the lines of, “Dear President Clinton, please don’t let this launch happen, because the nuclear fallout would be devastating if this thing crashed.”
I don’t even think I got a form response.
The point of that ramble is that at fifteen, I knew the stakes, and was willing to fight to change things. So are kids today. War, poverty, hunger have always existed. Part of how to foster a desire to change those things is by reading books like The Hunger Games, that depict the horrors that autocracy and war and xenophobia and apathy can create. Not to mention the endless cycle of violence that retaliation can trigger (a point well-defined by Steven Spielberg’s film Munich). And the fact that it does it through the eyes of a strong, yet flawed, female protagonist? Even better.
We need more literature and art that inspires changes and doesn’t shrink from depicting what human beings can do to one another. Look out the window. Turn on CNN. It’s happening every day, all around us. We, as adults, can be just as bad as the Capitol, either turning blindly away, or participating in the voyeurism ourselves.
Happy Hunger Games.
Photo Credit: This interesting article from The New Yorker (be warned–it has spoilers through Mockingjay)