i won’t say i was ‘dragged’ to the hunger games, but anyone who knows me would probably be surprised to hear that i went to see it.
what was nice about going to see it was that i was exposed to almost none of the hype surrounding it.
i don’t watch news. i mostly consume news via my twitter feed through about 400 international outlets. on twitter i almost exclusively follow only news outlets throughout the world. so the tidbits about the hunger games that i saw were related merely to headlines which, due to the nature of them, i would never click on. the point of saying all this is: i went into the hunger games almost totally blind and wholly ignorant.
what did i think of it? i thought the premise was immediately stupid. every year a reality show of sorts is held in which young people have to fight to the death? this is done to maintain peace and order?
meh. but i went along.
the premise of the hunger games is a strange mix of aztec sacrifice, standard gladiator fare, the truman show and the holocaust. that sounds like a lot. really it amounts to very little.
the movie stars jennifer lawrence, who distinguished herself early on in winter’s bone, a film which also featured the great john hawkes.
there were ideas behind the film that intrigued me. i was struck by the idea that, during a holocaust-type roundup, the youth wouldn’t revolt. there was a certain level of societal self-satisfaction among the television viewers of the games inside the movie which bordered on satire that i found interesting. the one-dimensional parody of reality television wasn’t lost on me, but it mostly fell flat.
watching this film, i was surrounded by young teens, much as i was when i screened the last twilight movie. i was struck by the fact that every couple of years we are hit with another ‘phenomenon’ like this – a literary phenomenon turned cinematic.
this is true whether it’s harry potter, the lord of the rings, or twilight. the success of these and the hunger games means just more of the same will inevitably follow. but i was taken with the idea while watching it that none of this is pure literature. none of it is transformative. it is none of it the catcher in the rye. it is none of it anything approaching kurt vonnegut or hermann hesse. it’s just …. stories, soap opera.
it’s all just fun, entertaining storytelling based on age old paradigms, made fresh for a young, cynical audience. it’s the retelling of old memes – whether it’s vampires, magic or gladiators.
so is the hunger games a good movie? nah. not by a long shot. it’s simple and the action is told in an almost paint-by-the-numbers fashion. is it a compelling story? not really, though jennifer lawrence does a good job selling the idea as the lead.
to use an increasingly tired phrase – it is what is is. and that’s all that is is.
but i’m sure it totally hits it’s intended target. i just wonder what might happen if someone would design a challenging, meaningful entertainment that spurred in it’s intended demographic not just the perception of being entertained and distracted but additionally inspired the reality of thinking something new and all their own?
now that would be something.