Monday, April 02, 2012

    The Subversive Message of The Hunger Games

    Will young Christian fans of The Hunger Games get the deeper message around how we might choose to respond to violence?

    In my latest column at the Patheos site, I offer my initial reaction to new film The Hunger Games.  I had not read the books prior to seeing the film so I went into the viewing with fresh eyes and was impressed with the film's themes and characters:

    I'm not sure what I was expecting when I chose to sit alone in a darkened theater to watch the new film version of the popular young adult novel The Hunger Games. I'd read the articles about the violence in the book and the plot's not-so-subtle commentary on reality TV. But as I settled into the story, I was quickly drawn in—not just to the characters and the drama but also to the way in which the film (and perhaps the book as well) takes aim at our culture's obsession with violence on screen and off. I began to wonder, "If some adults out there realized what this story is really about, would they let their children go see the movie?"

    What is the subversive nature of the film?  It all revolves around the script's message against violence -- ironically, the one element of the story critiqued most by those who think it glorifies violence:

    It is The Hunger Games' condemnation of our own culture of violence that, it seems to me, makes the film more subversive than many might realize. In early scenes, we follow the teens who have been selected for the Hunger Games as they travel to the Capitol and are dressed in fancy uniforms and paraded around to a cheering public—not unlike how we have sent our own soldiers off to war numerous times in our nation's history. But the film also forces us to look at disturbing imagery of children slaughtering children and the aftermath, quite unlike the way we still conveniently eschew televising images of real battle or footage of fallen soldiers or even the return home of our soldiers' bodies in flag-draped caskets.

    You can read the entire article here, including my thoughts on how the film might help you engage in a discussion with youth around Jesus' own attitude's about violence.