I just got home from watching ‘The Hunger Games’ with my husband and a group of friends. This is a movie event that we have long anticipated since devouring the Hunger Games trilogy during a road trip last summer. We wrote the date on the calendar. Bought tickets ahead of time. Got babysitters (yes- we are all in that phase of life where the babysitter is crucial to the execution of the plan.) And so we found ourselves together, minus kids, ready to watch in action the characters who had become so real on the pages.
It was intense. I had forgotten that the book left me breathless at times, cringing as I read and flipping the page yet wanting to close my eyes. So the movie did the same, moving at a reckless speed to sweep a back story, create characters, and then watch them all attempt to kill each other (that is a dramatic overstatement but at times it felt like that.) At the end I felt…bothered. By what?
It was not the fact that it is necessary to butcher a book to make it into a movie. I’ve accepted that. Instead of feeling disappointed, I try to be content with the reminder that books are just THAT good. All a movie can attempt to do is catch the spirit of a story, not really tell a character’s story. (Except in the case of the Lord of the Rings movies. Can I get an amen on that?)
It was not the actual concept of teens killing teens. I’ve been exposed to teen violence, and sadly experienced the death of teens by the hands of others. Granted, those instances were not for the entertainment of millions as is portrayed in this movie. I don’t know that the book was more graphic than books like Lord of the Flies. (Have you read An American Tragedy? I read it in high school- and wished I hadn’t.) Still- that was not the part that is nagging at me.
I can’t shake the feeling that the author was trying to make a point. And that in the premise of that point, I live in District 1.
Here in District 1, we spend enough on Christmas gifts each year to give the rest of the world clean water.
Here in District 1, we crowd around the television, blow up Twitter, and rapid-fire our facebook status in reaction to who won The Bachelor.
Here in District 1, we are totally ignorant of the rest of the world’s suffering, ignoring realities like 2,000 children die every day of malaria (a curable and preventable disease).
Here in District 1, we are thankful that slavery was outlawed years ago. We don’t really feel the reality that more people are enslaved today than ever before.
Here in District 1, we are so obsessed with ourselves that our consumerism (and our personal debt) knows no bounds.
And here in District 1, we are desensitized to violence. You can blame it on video games or HBO or whatever you want, but when we watch someone slashed on TV, we do not equate it as a violation of the sanctity of human life. We may think, “That’s gross.” But shouldn’t we think, “That’s wrong”?
We build kingdoms and houses and blogs and businesses like little empires we are setting up to reign over.
So I guess the “Hunger Games” made a point. I’ve heard that it’s projected that 100 million dollars will be spent this weekend on ticket sales. So a lot of people will be going to see it and will sit and watch District 1 in their finery and silliness. $100 million worth of people will shake their heads and think, “Shame on them.” And then Monday morning, as we spend $4.00 on a coffee or leave the house in three different cars, or wade through our brimming refrigerators full of food, we can be thankful that we are not the Hunger Games.
Or we can be embarrassed that we are. Not in every specific way, we have yet to resort to the slaughter of children as entertainment. But we do live in garish opulence compared to the rest of humanity. Sadly, our wealth has not made us formidable champions of good but rather comfortable aficionados of life as we know it.
And as Americans, we enjoy the reality that in the Olympics and wars and life expectancy, the odds are ever in our favor. Good news for us, I guess.
Three cheers for District 1.
I know there is wisdom in waiting to blog about things, in letting the self simmer down and the sense rise to the front of things. But sometimes there is clarity in the freshness of a thought, and I have found that passion (like most intense emotions) fades over time. So I’m going to write this now while it is fresh, and then have the ‘delete post’ as my plan B.