Monday, April 9, 2012

A thought (or two) about the Hunger Games

I was planning to see Hunger Games when it first came out, but life intervened. I finally saw a matinee show last Saturday, and I have a few thoughts. For me, the Hunger Games resonates with these times because it is about hope in the face of hopelessness and humanity in the face of barbarism. It's about a 1% that lives in opulence and luxury while the 99% are forced to compete with each other for their very survival as they struggle to subsist and live with dignity. 

I was a huge fan of the books. Enthralled, I couldn't but my Kindle down, and I read the trilogy over the Christmas holiday (one per day over three days). Book one is better than the movie, hands down. But I was drawn in by the movie too, even though it was less action-packed than I thought it would be. Usually, I'm so impatient to get to the end (I like to know what happens in movies before I see them). Perhaps, because I already knew the ending, I could just sit back and soak it all in. 

The very premise of the movie is based on the fierce love that Katniss Everdeen demonstrates when she volunteers to take the place of her little sister in the Hunger Games. To be honest, I didn't picture Katniss to be so lily white when I read the book, but I was won over by Jennifer Lawrence's phenomenal acting. As Katniss fights for her own life, debased and forced to kill, she responds to impossible situations with acts of love. When our heroine mourns the death of her newfound ally Rue, a young black girl who unexpectedly saves her life, her grief and pain are palpable. 

But Katniss is not a martyr; she is a survivor. Although she acts with compassion, she acts shrewdly too. Together, she and Peeta, the boy from District 12, put on a show of star struck lovers to win a popularity contest with the Hunger Games audience. Big Brother is always watching in the Hunger Games arena, and Katniss and Peeta give the audience something to watch. As the two young lovers care for each other, it’s hard to know what’s for show and what’s not. Can true love be born out of tragedy, desperation and need? 

As Peeta says on the eve of the Games: "I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not....I keep wishing I could think of a way the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in the Games." Perhaps, love is the very act of rebellion that Peeta is seeking. By saving each other, Katniss and Peeta ultimately save themselves. 

No doubt, the Hunger Games can be seen as an allegory for today, the 1% percent versus the 99%, as I mentioned previously. But more than that, this surprising and fantastical and familiar story acknowledges the vulgar acts of violence that surround us; and, in spite of this (or perhaps because of this) asks us to always seek our own humanity. 


  1. I went to see Hunger Games this past saturday as well. I haven't read the books yet but will after reading your blogpost. Dope analysis

    1. love you, FM. let's talk hunger games and more soon.

  2. I was not familiar with the series and ended up seeing the movie as a last minute whim. I enjoyed it immensely. In addition to the humanity and love you mentioned, I think the movie also speaks to the role of media in our lives.

  3. Hi Alice,
    Insightful post! The Hunger Games has definitely struck a chord with many people and seems to apply to today's political and economic climate. Your post has further encouraged me to see the film. I feel like the only remaining person on the planet who hasn't.

    You write beautifully and have a very engaging and personable style.

    Glad to be on your blog again.