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Why I Don't Want to Watch the Hunger Games

Apparently there’s a new trailer for the next Hunger Games movie, and it’s quite exciting. I’ve seen quotes and links and squeals of joy from all across the internet all day. Probably everyone I know is bursting with impatience to watch Catching Fire. Everyone except me.

When I see the words “Hunger Games”, a part of my soul cringes. Every time.

Because every time I see those words, images from the movie flash inside my mind. Images of kids killing other kids.

I know that’s not what the story is about. I know it’s about a strong heroine, about rebellion against tyranny, about family, honor, sacrifice. I know the actual hunger games in the movie are presented as a context for larger themes. I get that.

But a year later, those themes aren’t what linger in my head. It’s just images of kids killing other kids.

I certainly am no stranger to violence in entertainment. I’ve seen countless shootings, stabbings, explosions, maulings, impalements, and dismemberments onscreen. I play violent video games with lots of blood. This isn’t one of those “You shouldn’t watch/read The Hunger Games” posts.

I regularly defend the redemptive depiction of violence, profanity, and sexuality in film.

But when I was watching the Hunger Games, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was simultaneously participating in what I was condemning.

The actual hunger games are meant to be revolting. Their very existence condemns the society that invented them. Watching the movie, we knew who the villains were. We knew who was evil. It was the people who would watch children fight to the death for their own entertainment.

And yet here I was, watching this movie for entertainment, watching kids killing other kids. Despite the fact that the Hunger Games in the film were only portrayed, not condoned, I can’t get away from the fact that they were portrayed. Portrayed by actors, but portrayed nonetheless. With weapons and fists. With fear and screams. With blood and death.

I watched them.

For entertainment.

And my soul cringed.

 [ Image: Xtreamer ]

published April 15, 2013

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