I’ve been hearing whispers of a debate going around regarding whether or not The Hunger Games franchise is a “good thing” or a “bad thing.” What is the purpose of watching or reading about a bunch of 12-18 year-old kids thrown together in a slaughter-fest?
If all The Hunger Games was about was kids killing kids for the sport of it, then yeah, there would be cause for concern–especially given the series’ immense popularity. However, while the plot-line for The Hunger Games is the glamorization of violence, that glamorization itself is never justified from the perspective of the main characters nor from the book in general.
The only people who justify the modern-day gladatorial ring that is The Hunger Games are the people in the Capital. The Capital, in turn, is only shown in a light that is at best silly and vapid and at worst selfish and bloodthirsty. The Capital’s taste for death is, in fact, condemned through and through. Even some of the citizens living the high life in the Capital itself find the Hunger Games a terribly tasteless pastime.
Of course, not all the contestants in the Hunger Games find the event horrific and dehumanizing. Some tributes have been trained since they little to specifically compete in the Games. By the time they reach the arena, they’ve already developed their own affinity for cold-blooded killing. But even here, the actions of these characters are not shown to be admirable or worthy of emulation. These contestants are shown to be almost as sick and twisted as the Capital itself. The other tributes just want to survive, and are willing to fight for that survival. Instead of the series making the fate of the tributes enviable, the sheer desperation displayed by these kids deepens the sickening pit of horror that paints this potential future of America.
Not even the winners have a happily ever after, either. They leave with scars: physical, emotional, mental. The Hunger Games haunts them for the rest of their lives.
When all is said and done, there will be people who enjoy The Hunger Games for the same brutality that others condemn the series for. There will always be multiple viewpoints and applications to and for everything. But to trash The Hunger Games as something that encourages bloody entertainment and mindless violence is, in my opinion…rather missing the point.