Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Hunger Games

A group of 24 kids between 12 and 18 (I believe) from 12 districts are selected randomly each year to fight to the death in some large arena. The reason for these hunger games is some past uprising of these 12 poor districts against the almighty capitol. This book and the movie are extremely powerful, intriguing and generally well done. That is, for adults. Because seeing children kill other children is about as sad as it gets. Adults killing other adults is one thing, but a small girl being speared down by another small boy (and many other such instances) has a huge impact on anyone's mind.

But why on earth is this a book and movie for children? Do we really need to feed our kids' brains this kind of material? I think not, because children don't see the deeper layers of this brilliant book; they can not see it in the perspective that we can. They simply absorb the images and emotions that it conjures up and who knows how this gets processed. I dread the day we read in the newspaper about kids being inspired by this book/movie to act out its violence.

But the book also represents an extremely powerful reminder of who we once were. The ideas must have been inspired by the Roman empire that dragged slaves from conquered lands to their own little arena to fight to the death. But at a deeper inspection, one can argue that a version of this still continues today. The West exploits the developing countries with unfair trade agreements, forcing them to opening their markets. Products from the developing countries can by no means compete with the much cheaper, often heavily subsidized products from the West. As a result, many people die of hunger. Not in an arena, but in their own homes. I feel that the Hunger Games has these deeper layers and exposes them very powerfully. As such it is a brilliant book (and movie). But for adults, not for 12-year old kids.

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