It seems moviegoers cant get their fill of ‘The Hunger Games’. For the third weekend in a row the movie has been the top draw across the country beating out the likes of “21 Jump Street”,”Wrath of the Titans”and “Mirror, Mirror” in weeks past and ‘Titanic 3D’ and ‘American Reunion’ this weekend. “Games” has already made over $303 million and with the list of mediocre movie releases due out this month it has a good chance of holding on the number one spot for a while longer. Unless of course, Larry, Moe and Curly, “The Three Stooges”, to be released this Friday, come out slapping, poking and nyuk, nyuking, their way to the top spot. Stranger things have happened.
Being the number one movie again this weekend wasn’t the only accolade achieved by “The Hunger Game”. For the second year in a row the novel “Hunger Games” was on the list of the most “challenged” books, put out by the American Library Association’s ‘Office for Intellectual Freedom’. A challenged book is one that has had a formally written complaint lodged against it by parents or other watchdog groups at any public library or school because of its content or appropriateness. Among the complaints made against “The Hunger Games” and the other two books of the dystopian war trilogy were charges of being “sexually explicit”, unsuited to age group, violence and were said to have offensive language, occult/satanic leanings and were anti-ethnic; anti-family and insensitive. This year, probably because of the movies popularity the book moved up from number 5 to number 3.
In reviewing the list I was surprised to see two classic novels in the top ten, Adolph Huxley’s “Brave New World”(insensitivity; nudity; racism; religious viewpoint; sexually explicit) and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”(offensive language; racism) Unbelievable! I’ve read both these novels. “To kill a Mockingbird” was on our sophomore reading list. There was much to be learned about society from the reading and classroom analysis of that novel. Neither of these two books should be banned from schools or libraries.
That is where the ‘Office of Intellectual Freedom’ comes in. I had no idea there was a champion of individual freedom like the ‘OIF’, it sounds more like something out of George Orwell’s “big brother is watching you” bleak, futuristic novel “1984”. The ‘OIF’ track official complaints lodged against books and work to preserve our individual rights and freedoms by challenging censorship and any attempts to halt free expression and free access to information regardless of origin, background or point of view. There job isn’t easy. There are political, religious and right wing radical groups out there that would like nothing better than to see the banning of more and more books from schools and libraries. The ‘OIF’ spearheads efforts to keep that from happening. If censorship gets out of control then we’re in real trouble and Orwell’s “1984” vision could become a reality.
The Hunger Games has no business being on this list. I saw “The Hunger Game” last week and thought it was very well done.It’s a great adaptation of the novel. It’s a classic tale of the ‘haves’ who live in the capitol versus the ‘have nots’ who live in the outer districts. I enjoyed watching it nearly as much as I enjoyed reading the novel. About the only complaint I could possibly make and it is a minor one, is in the manner in which life in the capital city is depicted. I wasn’t expecting the Wizard of Oz meets Elton John flamboyancy of the citizens. I have to say that did catch me a little off guard, but I could live with it. Besides with a hero like Katniss Everdeen to route for what’s not to light.
Is it film violent? Yes in parts, but then this is a war trilogy we’re talking about, war is violent. It’s also a movie about survival and survival isn’t always pretty. Had they chosen to do so the film could have been ten times more violent and than it is. With today’s digital effects the film could have been a rel bloodbath. Is it sexually explicit? I think not. Maybe the subsequent novels have more sex in them, but not this one. Is it insensitive? Yes, perhaps it is a bit insensitive, but then you have to take into account that ‘The Hunger Game’ takes place in a very bleak future, a future in which the populous has become desensitized by war and the hunger games themselves.
I have no idea how this movie or even the novel could ever be called anti-family. Certainly the early scenes of life in District 12 don’t paint a very flattering portrait of family life, or life in general for that matter. But beneath the dismal day to day existence and struggle for survival, lies the story of a girls love for her little sister, a love so strong that she is willing to take her sisters place in the games knowing full well that it may cost her her life. No, this is a valuable tale of survival that should be read or at the very least seen. I encourage those of you who haven’t, to do so soon. Believe me, it’s worth the price of a ticket.
Down with Big Brother!