Some parents are objecting to the violent premise of The Hunger Games. “It’s kids killing other kids!” In actuality, The Hunger Games compels the audience to value life, mourn death, and literally gasp at violence.
A lot of parents would argue that they don’t want their kids watching a movie about kids killing other kids. The Hunger Games is brutal and violent, but given that it’s set in a dystopian future with a totalitarian nation, the storyline is pretty justified. The Hunger Games is part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, and it’s televised throughout the nation of Panem. There are 12 districts and there is one boy and one girl chosen to represent their district in the games. The games go until there’s only one tribute remaining. These kids have no choice but to fight for their lives by killing each other off.
Of course, parents don’t want their kids to watch anything that has to do with violence, especially when it’s other kids portraying the violence. The film itself doesn’t have very many scenes of violence and the scenes that do, aren’t very explicit. The scene with the most violence is at the beginning of the actual Hunger Games, when everyone is just starting out, it’s also known as “the blood bath”. In this scene you see everyone running towards the middle to grab supplies creating more opportunity for them to start killing right from the get go. Gary Ross, the director of the film uses a handheld camera in this part to keep it fast pace which conveys a sense of panic but it doesn’t stay on one moment for too long.
Another more explicit scene is when Rue, a young girl from one of the districts, is shot with an arrow. In this moment you’re not really focused on the terror of her being shot by a bow and arrow. You’re focused on the fact that Rue just died, she’s a character that everyone has an emotional connection with and your heart breaks at the fact that this young, innocent girl just died. In the article, “The Hunger Games, Violence Children should See” it says, “If we care about the characters who die in a film; if those deaths are integral to the plot; if we’re moved by these people’s on-screen demise in any way-THAT’S what sensitizes children to violence.” What desensitizes children is the fact that there might be too much violence or death in a movie and they don’t have emotional connections making the death seem normal or okay.
The film does a great job at making good look good and evil look evil. It seems like today’s media really likes to make bad look good. But in The Hunger Games they make it very clear that the actions are wrong. This isn’t a film where you’re in your seat cheering at the fact that someone has died. Even though in the film there is a group of kids who would be considered “the bad guys” and eventually they are all killed, you’re still heartbroken at the fact that they were even put into this situation. In some scenes they show the faces of parents and the effect it’s having on them that their kids are being killed, which brings the audience back to the realization that the whole situation is very messed up. It shows that it is very obvious that the only reason these kids are killing each other is solely because of the government, they have no other choice.
In a post called, “After Seeing Hunger Games…” by Jonathan McKee he talks about how he has four important questions for parents to ask about films to help them teach their kids discernment:
- 1. Is the story glorifying violence or inappropriate sexual situations?
- 2. Is this story making “bad” look “good” or enticing?
- 3. Does this story irresponsibility display limitable attitudes and behaviors that our kids will absorb and eventually emulate?
- 4. Does this story needlessly sell out to showing “eye candy” like nudity or gratuitous violence?
McKee then states,
“Now that I have seen The Hunger Games, I not only vehemently express my approval for the film, I can also attest that it didn’t include any of those four inappropriate or irresponsible elements.”
I can also agree to this last statement. The first question, “is the story glorifying violence?” I believe that it’s not glorifying violence at all, in fact, I would say that it’s doing the opposite. Even though the whole movie is centered on violence there never is a moment where it’s showing that it’s okay. Any violence or any of the killings are all frowned upon. The second and third question go along with making bad look bad and good look good. The audience is able to recognize that the games are bad, the government is bad, the living situations of some of the districts are bad.
This film isn’t showing kids that violence and evil is okay. It’s showing them exactly the opposite and how wrong it really is. I think that this is a film that parents should let their kids see. Of course parents know their kids better than anyone else and know whether or not their kids are mature enough to watch a movie like this. But the fact that this film has the theme of kids killing kids, the most important thing to remember is that it’s teaching kids that it is wrong.