Friday, March 30, 2012

Why I don't like The Hunger Games...

I will admit, I didn't read the book before going to see the movie. I didn't have a deep attachment to the story like others, but I understood the premise of the book thanks to one of my friends who sent me The Hunger Games for Dummies article. I knew the hype and stayed open to going because, well, all my friends were doing it. I will say, the movie was compelling and portrayed an interesting view of a post-apocalyptic society and the extremes we go to for reality TV...but when asked if I liked it, without blinking, I said "No." I felt it was too violent for me (someone like me who steers clear of conflict and gets nightmares from such images) and much too violent for the 50+ CHILDREN who were in the theatre that evening. This was a movie about kids killing kids. A week after seeing this movie, I still can not shake the image of the one child beating the other child over the head with a bloody brick. I can only imagine what is happening in the mind of a child who saw the same image. Or are we just that desensitized to images of violence that we think this is okay for children to see? I listened to my friends' (some of which are elementary school teachers) views of the movie and their responses to my shock of all the children who had come out that night to see it:
"Classrooms as young as 5th grade are reading this book."
"I know of one school who is taking their 5th graders on a class trip to see The Hunger Games."
Are you kidding me?? I'm a nurturer at heart. I teach children concepts of peace, compassion, respect, love and empathy every day on their mats, so that they can go out in the world and share it with everyone they come in contact with. Children are very impressionable and I see the way they cope with the world around them.

Some of my students in the 7-9yr old kids class came in this week talking about the movie...
"I saw Hunger Games!" "Yeah, me too!" At that point, one of 9 yr olds leaned over and whispered to me..."Those wolf-dog things gave me nightmares." I'm not surprised. Know any children with a fear of dogs in general? Well, I imagine them never stepping foot near a dog again after this. In the movie, not only do these "wolf-dogs" they chase the kids through the forest while foaming at the mouth like a rabid animal would, but they also rip apart Cato, the male tribute from District 2. To the audience, that's okay, because Cato is in essence the bully. He is described as "brutal and blood thirsty". The anger in his eyes scared me during the movie. I know, just a movie...but we often see this look in the eyes of troubled children and teens who take their anger and pain out on other children. Why waste so much time on the anti-bullying campaign if we're just encouraging our children to watch and read such stories packed with violence? Bullies? If we can't fight to the, let's just sick wild dogs on them? Problem solved. Oh, and how nice of the main character, Katniss, to shoot him with an arrow to put him out of his misery and pain after the attack.

Speaking of arrows...during the same class the other we're moving through Sun Salutation, we drop into Warrior 2 pose - arms out stretched, wide legged stance, strong and focused. While in the past I may have included the Bow and Arrow arms, today one of the 7 yr olds took it upon herself to add them. She pulled back with one arm as if holding a bow and arrow and shot the imaginary arrow across at another student. "I got you right in the heart!" she exclaimed. She thought this was funny. Oh. Dear. God. I quickly took them out of Warrior 2 and gave them the talk on violence and how unacceptable it is, especially in the Yoga studio. Another 7 yr old chimed in, "Yeah, that's not practicing your yoga!" I'm sad I had to even have this conversation on how violence is not funny. Time to breathe.

To the parents who are considering letting their children go to see The Hunger Games: This is not a family film. Please know what you are getting into...understand the dark plot surrounding this movie. Yes, children are exposed to so much these days, as we live in an age of information, but before you allow your child to see this movie, ask yourself - is this the message you want to convey to your 7 or 9yr old? Or even to your 16yr old? The Hunger Games grossed $155 million plus in the box office over the past week. It is one of the most circulated books in the library systems. Scholastic has sold over 17.5 million copies. My question...what does this have to say about our society and how we are raising our children?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,

    I appreciate hearing your objections to the Hunger Games phenomenon. I also wrote about it on my blog from the perspective of connecting with those kids and teens who are reading and why they liked the book. What the message was for them.

    Someone just left a comment there similar to your article, so I linked to you in the comments. She can see that there are many ways to approach teens around the Hunger Games.

    Thanks again,