I loved ‘The Hunger Games’ (the novels, not the movies). I loved them so much, I read them all in one week. The thing I loved about ‘[The Hunger Games](movie:44466)’ was that I believed them. I believed that there could be a future where an elitist society kept everyone else poor and tethered. That’s, essentially, been the case for most of human history. More importantly, though, I believed that a teenage girl could be totally Robocop-scary with a bow and arrow.
It was predicted, way back in the middle-ages, that the invention of the longbow might bring about the end of the world. Why? Because the best and noblest (read ‘richest’) were no longer in control. The guys on horseback, the dudes swinging swords and dressed in armor that an entire village of peasants couldn’t afford if they saved up for ten years, were not superior, anymore. Now, any farm boy, who started practicing young enough, could pick any rich asshole off his pretty horsey from fifty yards away. The longbow was the great equalizer in an age ruled by jock assholes called knights.
The powers that be really got scared after The Battle of Agincourt, when King Henry V, of England, led a bunch of bumpkins with bows against the French nobility and slaughtered them all from a hundred paces away. The longbow not only made peasants dangerous, it led a backwater country like England to victory against France, a country that had oppressed them for centuries.
So, I like the bow and arrow. I liked that a girl with a soft name like Katniss could scare people. Frankly, all the sci-fi movies that show superhero women beating up fifteen guys at once (any piece of shit starring Milla Jovovich), have always struck me as silly. Women really just can’t do that. Sorry. Incidentally, how come you never see a movie where a guy beats up a whole bunch of women, at once?
As a novelist, I have, at least, a little idea about creating fiction. The key to fiction is that it is a lie. How do you tell a good lie? You make it believable. If you’re cheating on your husband, who is sterile, and you get impregnated, chances are your husband’s not going to buy that you got pregnant by God, that your child is the new messiah, here to lead humanity to the ultimate redemption and the End of Days. Don’t even try it. That worked ONE TIME, and ONE TIME only. So, you have to come up with something that will keep him out of the gun case. I’m just assuming you’re a Floridian, too.
Now, this is the true weakness of [Divergent](movie:593270). I don’t believe the lie. To sum up the situation the movie creates, very quickly(just like the voiceover does, very sloppily, at the beginning), the world was destroyed by some cataclysm, blah blah. If you’ve seen pretty much any sci-fi movie in the last ten years, you’ve heard this one before(it was nothing new when Hunger Games did it, either, but let’s stop comparing the two). So, for some dumb reason, humanity has divided itself into five different factions, the names of which escape me(I escaped them, actually), but each faction is oriented around some kind of human temperament. I remember there is one called Candor, in which, the people are very frank and speak their minds. Sound ridiculous? It’s more than that, it’s ridicutarded.
It’s a clumsy repackaging of the Hogwart’s school system. Why would humanity deliberately divide itself up into factions based on personality, you ask? It wouldn’t. People don’t fit into categories like that. A fifth of all people born are not brutally honest in the way they comport themselves socially. Almost nobody is. Most relationships we have, even with the people we love, are built on foundations of wonderful pretense. This world the writer created is absolutely the most contrived I’ve seen in a popular movie, perhaps, ever. She’s intentionally built a world in which some people would inevitably fall through the cracks and end up detergent. I mean divergent. It’s the perfect place for a rebellious girl to be rebellious. She constructed a whole universe around a character. That’s why it sucks.
As you might have guessed, our heroine, Beatrice, is detergent. She’s one of the rare few that don’t fit into one of the traditional quintiles. Funny thing is, though there’s some silly test that will reveal to you which faction you naturally fit in, ultimately, you get to choose which one you want to join. Does that make sense to you? The cohesion of their entire society is based on fitting people into the right group, and everybody fits, genetically, into one, specifically, but you can just say fuck it and join whichever one you want. This is like an actual scientist becoming a Scientologist.So, these divergents are being rounded up because their very existence puts all of society in danger. Why? Because they can’t be controlled. Why can’t they be controlled? Um…because they’re detergent. Oh? But why are they detergent? Um…because they can’t be controlled. Okay, I get it. They can’t be controlled, because they are detergent, but what, specifically, is it about them that makes them impossible to control? Uh…the writer needs it to be that way to have a story.
Authenticity is the key to real drama. If you don’t believe it, then it’s not deceiving you well enough. Why did I think the story of Divergent was awful when I love The Hunger Games? Well, there’s more than one reason, but the main one is that when you can see the little seams in a story, the story is ruined.