I took my boys to see the Hunger Games on the weekend. I really didn’t know what it was about before we left. I’d see previews, and thought it was about a conscription style ‘game’ that promoting starvation in primitive surrounds. Well… I was half right, just didn’t realise that there was an outright winner after all others died.
We went inside the cinema, one of the first to be seated. A lady in front of me turned around and said to me ‘I’m glad someone else has brought their children to this.’ I was a little concerned by her comment. Isn’t this another teenage book that’s turned into a movie? Why wouldn’t children watch this, like Harry Potter and Twilight, if the story isn’t targeted at children?
As more and more seats filled up, so were the seats that contained children size bottoms on them. As we sat in a group of four seats, but only occupying three, an elderly gentleman was allocated the seat next to me, and questioned “Is this a kid’s film?” I just told him that it was a teenage book, maybe that’s why there were so many kids. The cinema would have been three-quarters filled with children between the ages of eight and seventeen.
As as the dark gloomy setting of a coal mining town set upon us in the opening scenes with an ostentatious looking pink wigged, over-make-uped woman taking the centre stage of the conscription style assembly, you soon realise it’s a battle of the classes, the battle of survival, a battle between eight-eighteen year olds to be the last one standing in any possible way it can be done.
After the movie, I had a chat with a fairly conservative older parent who can sometimes have fairly liberal views, but not when it comes to raising children, and essentially the protection of children. Admittedly, The Hunger Games has taken the concept of video game surreality into movie made reality. This isn’t animated figures killing each other, it’s children killing children with weapons. There really is only two scenes that are so blatant to show children doing this to each other – the first scene is murderous, the second scene is self-defence. But it happens so quickly that it’s forgotten as soon as it happens. And I think that was a clever editing tack on the movie-makers part. It doesn’t dwell on the bodies lying there like an episode of ‘Law and Order.’ The images are quick, only to show the cause and effect of the plot, not to leave a lasting impression of the massacre.
My friend insisted that he would never take his children to such a violent survival based film that is depicting children in such a harsh manner. But isn’t this a version of the reality children deal with in places like the Middle East and some third world countries? Whereas, I feel that if your children ask to see it, and you tell them all the reasons why they can’t, they are more likely to be rebellious and play out these sort of survival ‘games’ in reality, than those who have the freedom to experience the possibilities of reality through the visualisation of film. It does help if you children actually understand the difference between the possibilities that movie makers are able to create versus the reality of news footage. For me, watching the news is more harmful to their innocent eyes than a blockbuster movie.
So as The Hunger Games opened around the USA topping $155 million in a weekend – the third highest movie opening weekend ever (the highest that wasn’t a sequel), you have to ask, how many parents are banning their children from seeing it? I doubt if it is many.
I’d like to hear your views on parenting and The Hunger Games. It is quite controversial… but so is life.