Parable for all: Hunger Games skirts true moral commentary


Like many science fiction stories, The Hunger Games portrays a future that we're invited to read as a parable for the present. After the existing nations of North America are destroyed by catastrophe, a civilization named Panem rises from the ruins. It's ruled by a vast and wealthy Capitol inspired by the covers of countless sci-fi magazines and surrounded by 12 "districts," which are powerless satellites. As the story opens, the annual ritual of the Hunger Games is beginning; each district must supply a "tribute" of a young woman and man, and these 24 finalists must fight to the death in a forested "arena" where hidden cameras capture every move.


This results in a television production that apparently holds the nation spellbound and keeps the citizens content. Mrs. Link, my high school Latin teacher, will be proud that I recall one of her Daily Phrases, "panem et circenses," which summarized the Roman formula for creating a docile population: Give them bread and circuses. A vision of present-day America is summoned up, its citizenry glutted with fast food and distracted by reality TV. How is the population expected to accept the violent sacrifice of 24 young lives a year? How many have died in our recent wars?

The story centers on the two Tributes from the dirt-poor District 12: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). The 16-year-old girl hunts deer with bow and arrow to feed her family; he may be hunkier, but seems no match in survival skills. They're both clean-cut all-Panem types, and although one or both are eventually required to be dead, romance is a possibility.

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What the mainstream media needs to focus on with this movie (and the book that spawned it) is *why are these very dark types of stories being written for and presented to teens?* Why? And why are so few people questioning this? Go to a Barnes and Noble or any major bookseller for that matter and check out the kinds of novels being churned out for tweens and teens nowadays and it's gotten absolutely shocking. "Twilight" is another noteworthy example, among a million others. With every year it's getting nastier and darker and more demonic and Satanic. So now we have the story of a future where *kids* are hunted down and killed for sport. Wow, yeah, THAT'S the kind of stuff we would have seen 30 years ago. Not.

Meanwhile the Sheep just eat it up in droves because they've allowed themselves to be programmed.

The Most Dangerous Game published 1924
The Most Dangerous Game movie 1934

That's far more than 30 years ago. Teens have always read a lot of Dracula and Frankenstein and horror comics like "Tales from the Crypt". "Creepy," "Adventures Into the Unknown" along with countless others were popular among teens and young adults starting in the 40s. Being up in arms about the potential for art and music to corrupt teenagers goes back at least as far as the ancient Greeks who produced their fair share of gory "classics."

Okay....b17? Let's see....."The Most Dangerous Game," which according to Wiki is a story about:

"Widely anthologized, and the author's best-known work, "The Most Dangerous Game" features as its main character a big-game hunter from New York, who falls off a yacht and swims to an isolated island in the Caribbean, where he is hunted by a Cossack aristocrat. The story is an inversion of the big-game hunting safaris in Africa and South America that were fashionable among wealthy Americans in the 1920s."

ie......An **adult** male hunter who becomes the hunted, in a book that was NOT specifically marketed to tweens and teens (those terms didn't even exist back when the book was published.)

And then "The Hunger Games," a book and movie about **kids** being hunted. Written for kids and marketed for them and now a major motion picture starring many kids and young adults.

So I'm sorry........your point again was what exactly?

I will say this - I should revise my previous comment to say that this sort of thing wasn't something you would have seen say, 50 years ago. In the last few decades "stuff" has really ramped things up with moving the agenda forward. Hence why you even said "....starting in the 40s." Things really kicked up a few notches though in terms of dark material geared towards teens in the 70s, with the nasty horror slasher movies and it's just continued to go downhill from there ever since. The thing that makes "The Hunger Games" stand out though is that these started out as books geared towards tweens and teens. Like, Hey, if you're going to be reading, why don't you read THESE books! As if this is seriously worthwhile and enlightening fiction reading material for young people.

When you look at many of the titles being pushed on tweens and teens nowadays it's material designed to strip away innocence, and to portray the attitudes of hopelessness and sicko, negative situations. It's not "art." It's a form of programming. They've stepped things up a few notches. Time to wake up and learn the difference, sheep.

I recall that "The Most Dangerous Game" was a standard school-prescribed read in....sixth or seventh grade, I believe. Also 'The Lottery" by Shirley Jackson, same age group. This was back in the 1960s, which I'm sad to say was about 50 years ago. And, gosh, "The Red Badge of Courage" if you want to think about grisly things happening to young men. I do think "Hunger Games' is not terribly well written, but anything you can do to encourage kids to read, I say go for it. There's more hope in HG than Red Badge, The Lottery or Dangerous Game. And smart, resourceful kids.

What about Lord of the Flies? Pretty morbid and read in school.

For those criticizing Hunger Games - have you read it? I read all 3 and there are valuable ideas in the book. In fact, the whole book is about NOT being a sheep and just going along with the wrongs going on in society. Please educate yourselves instead of just reading the back of a book cover and seeing a commercial for a movie on TV.

lord of the flies, brave new world, animal farm, 1984 -- all pretty dark and high school fare


Someone who has to use wikipedia to find out what "The Most Dangerous Game" is about probably ought not be making sweeping generalizations about the history of any sort of literature. That story was common high school reading when I was young.

Oedipus Rex and a host of other Greek plays fraught with episodes of incest, bestiality, the murder of children, etc. have been standard part of the education of young people for hundreds of years. Then of course there is the Bible with all of its violence. The Romans took their families to see real gladiators fight to the death.

The idea that that just a generation or two ago there was an idilic time when everything was happy and safe and art was pure and free of distasteful subject matter is pure fantasy.