Why? Why? Why?
What is it about this story that has captivated the minds of our nation's young adults? And why is it being celebrated like this is a good thing? I have seen the movie: I have read the 3 books... and I must say, I am disgusted.
Oh, not at the book. Not even at the movie. But at the fact that we are allowing and even encouraging our children to watch it and/or read it. Are we blind? Or just stupid? Perhaps lazy?
How many of you have taken the time, effort, and interest to read these three books? How many of you have simply seen the weird makeup and costumes and allowed themselves to be distracted by a pretty girl with a bow and arrow? How many of you would agree that children killing children makes for great movies?
Let me ask that again:
How many of you would agree that children killing children makes for great movies?
That is the crux of the story.
Children killing children.
Now, there have been other movies that featured horrible violence committed against children by other children. I know this... as I teenager I saw this... but these movies were called horror movies. They usually featured a supernatural 'bad guy' or a mass murderer. Either way, the movies never made us doubt that the killings were wrong or bad. Yes, we took our guilty pleasures from movies scaring the popcorn out of us... but the actual killing wasn't celebrated, the bad guys were either caught or revealed to be boogie men.
Not this time. This time its called Tribute!
Now, for those of you who have seen the movie but NOT read the books, please don't believe that you know the whole story. The movie was filmed in such a way that the horror is much reduced and it focuses far more on the psychological drama than the books... but chances are that if your child has seen the movie... they HAVE or WILL read the book.
The story features a society where the victors have reduced the wholesale slaughter of children into great TV.
The world, or country, has been reduced to a ridiculously low number of people and the ruling government is known as the Capitol. Everywhere else has been reduced to simple Numbers... Districts One through Twelve. Each district has a primary industry and/or good that they supply to the Capitol. With few exceptions, the majority of the people are kept on the edge of starvation and the smallest of infractions are harshly punished.
You steal, you die. You speak out against the way you or your people are treated, your tortured and then you die. And if you keep you head down and do everything you are supposed to do... then you may still die. Starvation is a common cause of death, but one that cannot be claimed because doing so is a mark against the Capitol.
Once a year two children from each district are forced to participate in a reality TV show. Like survivor, they are dropped off into an unknown area and they have to survive... but unlike our tame TV shows... these children must murder each other in order to win.
The first book, the tamest of them all with regards to the brutal slaying of children, features a young man being gnawed on all night by ferocious monsters (that were created from the dead bodies of all the other children already murdered in the 'game') while the other children have to listen... until they finally kill him out of mercy, or because they can't stand to hear him whimper anymore.
Think about that, your children are reading a story where the 'hero' had to cause another child/teenager to fall into a group of monsters and then listen to his screams and whimpers all night as they slowly ate him alive. Makes for a gripping story, no?
These books are well written and the story is kind of entertaining... if you ignore the fact that the main characters are all children!!! Please notice how many times I have pointed this out... this is a book about children... children forced to kill, children forced into prostitution, children being tortured, children doing the torturing. A book where the existence and success of a war rests on the shoulders of children.
To top it all off, the last book... the one where we hope to finally find some sort of a happy ending... features a large group of very small, very young children being ruthlessly killed and in many cases burned alive.... as a plot point. And if that wasn't bad enough... we are left with the impression that this wholesale slaughter of babies was actually ordered by the so called 'good' guys.
Oh, and our happy ending? Forget it, you simply have the ramblings of our hero as she watches her children play on the mass grave of her entire district.
There was no happy.
There is no reason why you should allow your children to watch or read this so called entertainment. There is no reason why you should ignore this travesty. Don't help people make money by exposing your children to the horrors of these stories.
What are they teaching? That children are expendable. Adults are not capable of protecting them. That nobody truly knows right from wrong. Life is futile. Government is to be tolerated because the alternative is death. And there is no God ever mentioned in these stories, so ultimately they teach that hope is a lie.
So, jump on the band wagon. Grab a coke and a bag of popcorn and sit down and watch while Hollywood teaches your children that they are worthless while the blood spatters at your feet.
Or . . .
If you have children that have already watched the movie and/or read the books then CATCH UP! Watch it, read it, pray about it, determine your opinions regarding The Hunger Games and the messages hidden within. Then sit down and share it with your children and have a discussion. Don't tell them what to think or feel. Ask them what they thought about it. What they felt. What they liked, hated, and which characters appealed to them the most, and why. Then talk about God and the Truth of His love and the eternal Hope that He gives.
If your children have not yet read the book and/or seen the movie and absolutely Have to then I offer this guide:
Age 13 and younger: NO NO NOShare with your children the ugliness that is hidden behind the cool costumes and flashy special effects and why you don't want them exposed to that, and that you hope that they will work with you on this. This is also a great time to sit and just talk about why being a parent can be hard sometimes because not all fun things are actually good for them and how that is no fun for you either. Then invite more discussion by asking them what hard decisions they may have had to make.
Ages 14-16: Maybe the Movie but Not the BookSit down and have a frank discussion about the this story and how horribly they portray the young adults. The killing and the despair that permeate through it. Explain how the movie is more exciting than the book, and that they had to take out some of the really bad parts in order to even get approval to make the movie. Then, if they are still dead set on seeing the movie... go and watch it with them. Pay attention to THEM not so much the movie so you can see how they react and what parts of the movie affect them the most.
As we all know, our ability to control what your teens watch and read is practically non existent... so if they also HAVE to read the book, then read it with them... not out loud like they were children, but rather read a chapter a day and then discuss it. This may seem rather extreme, but this is your child and it is your job to protect them, guide them, and support them.
Age 17 and up: Go AheadThey are practically adults and should be able to discern the darkness for themselves, but I would certainly use this as an opportunity to sit and talk about the ideology (or world view) of the book/movie and the ideology that the Bible teaches and how the story can be used to share Jesus with their friends.
GodspeedI hope that you are spurred into action and that these rants, raves, and helpful tips are of use to you. May God Bless you and your family as you continue to navigate your way through the shark infested waters of today's entertainment industry.
Updated due to the movie coming out on DVD / NetFlix / FIOS etc...