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Hunger Games Satisfies
by Robert Johnson
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The 2008 released book series and recent Hollywood blockbuster movie, “The Hunger Games” is satisfying to our cultures appetite for blood and violence, but when will it be enough? This book series and film combination, penned by Suzanne Collins has taken the nation by storm and greatly expanded our list of victims who are fair game to kill off on the big screen for our entertainment.

How long though, before the “Big Screen” is no longer big enough to contain our appetite for violence. While the Hunger Games was certainly not the first movie in Hollywood history to pit children against children, it has certainly become the most popular and probably one of the most disturbing sci-fi visions imagined.

As the storyline goes, the film is set in a future society many years after war has decimated the American landscape and only the Capitol and twelve districts remain. A legendary thirteenth district was destroyed in a rebellion against the Capitol. As a result of this rebellion, the Capitol has responded each and every year over the past 74 years with the “Hunger Games,” a gladiatorial style game in an outdoor arena much like our current reality TV series, “Survivor,” with the exception that only one of the 24 contestants will survive the bloody experience to be crowned, “The Victor.”

Another striking difference and the heart of the issue is that the contestants are children; two from each district, one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, chosen at the annual holiday style event known as the “Reaping.” This nationally televised reaping calls for the shared sacrifice of children (for the sins of their parents) from all districts with the exception of the Capitol. The eligible children are forced to wear their Sunday’s best and congregate in a heavily guarded stable until the “honored” contestants are chosen and whisked off to the Capitol for preparation to enter the arena.

All the while, the entire affair, from the reaping to the prep and interviews, and ultimately the final kill are televised for the watching enjoyment of the Capitol population and a brutal reminder to those in the districts…, the price of rebellion.

Thus, we are ourselves, subject to both sharing what it might be like for one of the 24 children to be thrust into a hostile environment to butcher one another in the arena, and paradoxically sharing a voyeuristic seat with the Capitol crowd to enjoy every breathtaking moment as entertainment, complete with popcorn and an icy cold drink. Did I mention the NFL quality play by play announcing, complete with commentary and background on the condemned and Vegas level gamble on the results as well?

A side note here, but directly related was one of the previews before the film. It involved a promo for a new TV show complete with interviews of the star-studded cast. The trailer itself consisted of one comedic awkward sexual situation after another that would make a dog blush. One of the lead actress’s reasons for her involvement in the show was its cutting edge script which lends itself exactly to my point about the film.

How long can we continually cut away the edges before the very heart of our society is cut out and and we are reduced to nothing more than a pack of vicious wild animals panting around from one kill to the next with nothing more than an occasional stop to fornicate and high five each other for our superior ability to do both with equal proficiency.

However, please don’t take my comments as somehow placing myself above the fray. While I was there on a mission to preview the film for my 14 year old daughter, I couldn’t help myself from being drawn into the story, for the film itself was technically very sound. The characters were well cast and their rolls well acted, the cinematography was top notch, and of course it’s hard to resist a well told story of survival against all odds. I guess this is both a praise and a criticism rolled into one because I did not want to like this film on any level. I’m just trying to deal with this as honestly as possible.

I also cannot write this piece without giving the author and director some credit as well because both the film and book ask some tough questions, some directly and indirectly by the images presented. “What if people just stopped watching?” one of the film characters asks.

In fact, there are so many more looming questions that waft up from the aroma of this film and far too little space to address them all, but the most pressing one I believe is this – How long will our lust for violence be satisfied on the big screen before fiction is no longer the fix and we want to see the real thing? Or has this already been birthed on our nation’s playgrounds, or in reality television?

If you think I’m assuming too much, check out the rising popularity of “The Ultimate Fight Championships” (UFC) program which just a few short years ago was an underground video sensation, but has also become a cultural hit throughout the United States and around the world.

We know from past experience that God is not please with our obsession with violence as was the reason for our first demise. Genesis 6:11-13 recounts how that worked out:

Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth."

Thus with this in mind, can we evaluate this before we move on, or is it already too late? And though we know that the future is reserved for destruction - does it have to be tomorrow, or should we continue to pray and fight for the heart and soul of this country until the very last trumpet?

But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men (2 Peter 3:5-7).

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