The Hunger Games – Hungry for more…substance?

I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty excited for the Hunger Games movie. Oh, I know, I’m a little late with a review, but then again, whatever. Admittedly, I haven’t read the books, and I am still not sure if I actually want to. I thought it was a pretty decent movie. WHAAAAT? Y’all are screaming now, cause how can I think it was only decent? Well, let me explain.

via wikipedia.org

I have exactly three problems with the movie. Two minor ones and one major big-ass problem.
The first minor one concerns the characterization of the people living in the capitol. For my taste it steers a little to far into the territory of glorifying simplicity (apparently equaling plain fashion and little make-up) as a sign of moral superiority. I get it, the people in the capitol are supposed to be over the top and their running after the latest fashion fad is supposed to underline how they have lost sight for what is really important. But then again, we are watching the movie in our days, and that sort of statement seems to imply that people who are interested in fashion and whose style is unconventional by most standards are – what? Stupid, selfish, ignorant? I am sorry, but wearing a pair of jeans and a black T-shirt does not signify that you are a better person. Nor does wearing Haute Couture by Alexander McQueen and shaving your head signify that you have no respect for the life and fate of others. It’s a twisted and complicated message, which is not helped AT ALL that the men are portrayed as more effeminate than their counterparts in the outer districts. It all reeks of a pretty conservative worldview. Work hard, dress plain and adhere to gender-conventions – then you’ll be the perfect human being. Ermh, whud?

The second minor problem is the love-story bullshit. Now, having not read the book I only heard that in the novel she fakes the affection for Peeta in order to gain the viewers’ sympathy and thus medicine and gets confused over her own actions. In the movie that does not come across. Neither does the supposed relationship with her buddy Gale. I am mostly ok with the portrayal of the relationships here, and I think the complexity of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta is delivered rather well, but I cringe at the love-triangle crap that awaits us in future instalments of the series. Cause they are just too predictable. Now throw me a twist and I’m in, but seeing her be like “oh, Peeta?” or “oh, Gale?” is boring before it even happens.

via buboblog.blogspot.com

The major problem is on a whole different level. It’s the movies supposed message of how perverted the Hunger Games as an event are, how the viewers are jaded and emotionally blind, because they accept and celebrate the violence and don’t bother for a second to question the games and their problematic morale. While that is what the movie is trying to get across –it makes the same mistake. There are deaths we are supposed to feel sad about and those characters get a sympathetic characterization. But then, when Katniss has to actually kill someone, it is always the ones who have been portrayed as assholes. The movie, via its characterizations, tries to justify why she kills the ones she kills instead of daring to ask the question why it should be ok for her to do it – when it is not for the others and it is actually not ok at all. Her killings are portrayed as a necessity, as self-defense, as acts of selflessness, but with the right backstory and editing that would have worked for every tribute, but just like in the reality TV formats of our time, it doesn’t happen, because the story and the way it is told, relies on the editing to create pro- and antagonists to make us care for some and hate others.

via myhungergames.com

And that is weak, because it diminishes the message the movie is trying to get across. If a movie tries to tell you how this whole reality-TV stuff is horrible and how it creates viewers that are emotional monsters and then employs just the very same techniques without questioning them – then that is just bigoted. It acts like it wants to stand in for something but does exactly the opposite, act the way it allegedly wants to criticize. And that leaves a horribly bitter taste in my mouth, because if they had avoided that route in the making of this movie it would actually have a really powerful message and would be a great feature film instead of a merely decent one which is nice to watch but extremely problematic in what it is trying to say.

via hungergamesgermany.de

All of this, plus the love-triangle-crapfest awaiting us, make me wait for the sequels with a little fear in my innocent little heart.

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6 thoughts on “The Hunger Games – Hungry for more…substance?

  1. I highly recommend you read the books. There are emotional things not covered in the movie as you have mentioned- for instance, how she feels about killing other children. The inner conflict is not well shown in the film, however, in the book, Katniss does think about their famllies and what she has done. The love ‘triangle’ also is not a big thing in the books. I will be cringing if they make it a bigger deal than it is in the next installments.

    However, insightful review!

    1. Thank you!

      Interesting to hear your opinion on the books. Mmmh, I guess I will pick them up sooner or later. All this wondering if I’d like them can only be settled this way. What I’ve often heard is that people liked the first one best and then the second and third book decidedly less. Do you agree with that?

      1. Hi again. I really enjoyed the books and I’m an adult. The 2nd was my least favorite because I felt it lacked the same gravitas as the first one. You already knew what was going to happen.

        The kids in the game fell into 3 categories: good people, bad people, and quickly dead/we don’t know them people. Katniss and Peeta don’t want to kill, but they realize to survive they have to protect themselves. The book is better at pointing this out. It also explains the confusion Katniss has with playing the star crossed lover. To help Peeta survive, she has to give the audience what they want.

        The little girl she saves had more time in the book. Rue and Katniss develop a quick friendship and she reminds Katniss of her little sister.

        Besides that, I agree with you on the lI’ve triangle thing. It’s not super blatant in the book. Katniss is just a teenage girl who is confused.

        The idea of the costumes for the capital is that they are all garish dandies who don’t really care about true fashion, but only in a certain level of unique vulgarity and excess. Where Princess Diana would wear a single chain and look elegant, the Capital is Mr T wearing 50 gold chains just because. Vulgar.

        They are also people who eat so much at parties that they have special drinks to make them throw up so they can keep eating. (book 2). The other disrtricts (especially the further out you get) are starving.

        Anyhow, I don’t see it as slamming the beauty of fashion as much as just showing how poor the are. Like in Rio where the rich live next door to the worst slums imaginable.

      2. Well, I can see that they are trying to do that, I just find it very unfortunate that they fall back on stereotypes prevalent in society to make their point. It’s like: “Yeah, I get it, I’m just really not happy with the imagery you are using.”

  2. Hello,

    I do really enjoy reading your blog and this review is very insightful.
    I haven`t read the books either, but I intend to.
    I couldn`t agree with you more if it comes to men from the ‘capital’ who are portrayed as more effeminate than those in the outer districts. It`s very stereotypical, especially if we think of nowadays fashion. Anyway, I think that the odd fashion thing is just another way of showing how extravagant life they all lead in the ‘capital’, their wealth, superficiality etc. in comparison to plain lives in the districts (notice that even the colours of those two ‘worlds’, capital and the districts, stay in great contrast, respectively we have all colours of rainbow and brownish-whitish- slightly bluish-grey).
    What I cannot understand is your confusion about the love triangle. I think the movie shows pretty straightforwardly that Katniss is not really into Peeta and all she does is for saving his life`s sake. It is he who definitely is more keen to believe that her help meant something more, in romantic sense, than it really did. And hey, there are hints in some scenes that something serious was going on back at her ‘homeplace’ with Gale 🙂 I guess everybody sees what s/he wants to see. 🙂

    Please keep up the good job with your reviews, I do really like reading them.
    Have a marvellous day,
    Karolina

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement and praise! Makes my heart (hopefully not my head) swell.

      The love triangle doesn’t bother me so much in terms of what it is in this movie. I get, that she is not so much into Peeta, that it is really more of a scheme on her part, but nonetheless even here it already screams “trouble in paradise ahead” because ther is going to be jealousy on Gale’s part, confusion and expectation on Peeta’s part and Katniss probably seeing the better sides of Peeta and having fights with Gale so confusion about her feelings will ensue… Argh. I don’t know, maybe I am completely wrong, but that is what I sense coming our ways, and I’m really not into that.

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