Monday, June 25, 2012

The Hunger Games {A Different Response}

The secular sensation series The Hunger Games caught my curiosity when almost all my friends, including many Christians, sang its praises. It made the New York Times’ Best Seller list. I read almost all of the trilogy, and the impressive effects Suzanne Collins has on her readers through these books was not lost on me. But I am about to give it much less than the five-star rating I’ve seen from others. In fact, I deleted the trilogy from my Kindle app because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Slow down, here, and I’ll explain that bold statement. It was awesome, indeed, if awesome truly means “worthy of awe.” I truly felt that I was the main character, that I did all the things Katniss did, and that I was the object of love for the “Romeo” of the story. It’s an accomplished writer that can attain such effects. The plot was well-developed until the sharp cutoff ending, and the suspense was enough to keep me hooked, but predictable to keep me yelling at the characters. Well done, Collins.

But now I’m about to hone in on the problem. It was too good. Collins did too good a job pulling me into a new world. When I put down the book (or iPod, as the case may be), I still was waiting for Peeta (the “Romeo” I mentioned earlier) to come home. I still wondered how Prim (the main character’s little sister) was doing. Everything around me I related to my life in my new-found country of Panem. The subtle horrors of the book, the murderous Games, the lying heroes and the giant and growing character flaws of the main people all worked into me without me noticing. Because I read all three books (excluding about 15 chapters from the third one) in three days, I had little time to process my experiences or think about what I was doing. What’s wrong with that? It’s a sign of good modern writing, is it not? Well, “good,” isn’t the word I’d use for it.

In my Lit class, my teacher calls it “Escape Literature.” You know, the kind that’s not meant to teach anything, but merely as entertainment? There is no such thing. You cannot write without sending a message. I know this, and I hope everyone who has read my blog knows it from my communications. The Hunger Games teaches people beyond the surface of the words on the page. It teaches to lie, because both the main characters, Katniss and Peeta, protected those they loved successfully by doing so. It teaches to take desperate measures to stay alive, because that’s what everybody did and only those who were desperate enough to really do it lived. It teaches that having “spirit” is good and a hot temper can save your life, if you have a good liar at your side to cover up your mistakes. The trilogy was meant to entertain, yes, but it does so much more.

Many of my friends have tried to get me to read Harry Potter or Twilight. I have a feeling they are just as sensational as this trilogy was. But I’m not interested. People complain that my generation is lazy, that we are handicapped. But can’t you see why? It’s those desensitizing television shows, the sensational books without a point, the role-playing video games—they all pull you away from reality. Each one is an addiction in and of itself. When we have to put down the strong heroes we have become on the plasma screen thanks to our Xbox or close the book in which we have a passionate lover and see that we actually have to do something with our lives to become a person of influence, the obviously easier path is to pick that book back up or the controller.

This is not a book review. This is a rally cry. These books, and I’m sure many others, were wonderful, yes. But is it really worth our real lives to feel like heroes in a fake one? Is it really worth our character to watch a fictional person evolve on paper? There’s nothing wrong with reading books, but when they are written to take control of our minds—with moral or immoral motives—it’s dangerous to every aspect of our lives.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, Janae! This was so good and well-written, with some very good points and thought-provoking questions. It is a great challenge to not only your generation, but to all generations. Thank you.

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  2. I agree with you on a certain extent. I myself read all of the books and found them phsycologicaly compelling. The books may have drawn the reader in, but at the same time is that not what books are supposed to do? There is a border to reading the books and being hooked, then reading the books and thinking they are reality. As a christian I feel that some things are meant to stay closed and others to be heard. These books not only show haw lieing harms others and makes people you think you love turn to enimeis but show kids that rather than lieing to some one to make them feel better, you should tell them the truth no matter the cost. On the fact of having children kill children, it shows that people will go to the extrems of anything to survive. I do not think that Collins was trying to put the message out that kids should start killing eachother, but rather the fight or flight aspect of our brain are more dominate then we know. YOu also said that your teacher called this trilogy "Escape Literature", to that is each in his or her own oppinion. I myself think that these books show us again about just how prominant the fight or flight reflex is in our nature along with survival of the fitest.(Hence why Katniss can not decide between the to dominate males till the end). I like that you put your feelings on this blog, also I'm not against people who choose not to read this series. I just thought that you would like to know more of an indepth critique of the book.

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    1. Thank you for that. In actuality, I wasn't focussing on the books themselves and how Collins presented her "objectionable content" because my main point was more focusing on the effect similar literature and media has on the minds of those using them. I agree, as presentation goes, Collins did a good job of presenting evil as evil and depicting the human nature. But the fact that she subtly commended Peeta's tactful lies and Katniss' haughty, quick tempered spirit works into the mind. If one can honestly read this without letting it get inside their minds, which is a matter of opinion, then this genre of media is completely harmless. I'm merely pointing out that escaping, or role-playing addictions are very dangerous and can steal the emotions and loyalties that should be used to guide real-life decisions, rendering the user less capable in the real world. Again, I liked The Hunger Games, but I'm very appalled at its effects and it brought me to realize yet another problem I have with modern American society.

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