Saturday, March 24, 2012

Behind the Hunger

I have yet to finish reading even the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy and there are no immediate plans to see the movie. Let's get that disclaimer out of the way first. To some of you, it may be enough to question why I would endeavor to write a post on the The Hunger Games without experiencing either the book or the movie (though I usually read a book first). But if you know me at all, you won't be surprised. I am a thinker and an explorer of the mind. Of reactions. Of projections. Of consequences.

My first impression of the Suzanne Collins bestsellers was cautious and critical. I often hold those kind of impressions about blockbusters that a majority of people around me are raving about. Ah, I can be a skeptic. It is true. 

A few weeks ago I downloaded - from Amazon's lending library - the first book, The Hunger Games. After the first 25 pages, I could read no more. Yes, the story is intense, almost from the first page, but that was not the reason I stopped reading. See, I have lived in places where intensity is in the very breath of a society. Oppression, misery, hopelessness reign supreme. As a missionary in both Liberian and Ivory Coast, even in pre-civil war days, the oppression of many of the people we worked with was unbelievable. But when Charles Taylor and his warlords consumed Liberia for more than a decade, the hunger games truly began.

So, here's my initial concern with the concept of The Hunger Games. The fascination, especially of the young adult population, is mainly thin-skinned. Ask a 20-something (or even a teenager) if they saw the movie and what they thought, you'll get impassioned reactions, but so far, I have not heard any of them say: It really made me think about where we are going as a society. OR It was hard to watch. I wondered how many countries already experience things like that. Nope. That's not what you'll hear from the majority of people watching the movie or reading the books. That is disturbing. But more than that, it's just sad. 

Many Americans remain fascinated by the very things that would destroy us (from the inside out) if they became reality. 

Last week, when I was trying to glean from others what the books were about, fantasy or science fiction was the answer I got. Perhaps in America (right now at least), that is true. But for so many people groups, oppression and dehumanization is all they have ever known. It is cold reality. With the apex of gaming and deploringly graphic movies at our fingertips, why would we ever think that those things could actually consume us? Total desensitization looms, I'm afraid.

These posts will continue for a bit. Until I say all I need to say and work what I'm feeling out. Stick with me. Talk to me. Challenge me to think in a different direction. I am up for it. 

Meanwhile, I'm gonna get to know Suzanne Collins and delve into her intentions of writing the books.

HOW THE STORYLINE of The Hunger Games came to her:

“One night I’m sitting there flipping around and on one channel there’s a group of young people competing for, I don’t know, money maybe? And on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting an actual war. And I was tired, and the lines began to blur in this very unsettling way, and I thought of this story.”

Suzanne Collins was asked what was the most difficult part of The Hunger Games to write. Her answer in the video below: