Moms Talk: Hunger Games Hype

The Hunger Games are taking the world by storm; are you letting your teen buy in?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, you’re probably aware that a little movie called The Hunger Games came out this past weekend. Based on the best selling trilogy books by Suzanne Collins, the movie has already grossed $155 million at the box office and had the third highest opening weekend of all time. Teens at local movie theaters camped out for hours (some all day) to get the best seats in the theater at the midnight opening, and even a few adults came armed with their Starbucks and lawn chairs, too. Yet a few parents aren’t too keen on the movie’s premise, which involves kids killing kids. Isn’t this exactly the sort of stuff we don’t want to promote?

The Hunger Games’ story involves Katniss Everdeen, an average teen girl who bravely volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the annual Hunger Games. The Games are put on by the evil Capitol and are a Survivor-type game show in which two teens from each “district” are chosen by lottery to fight to the death in a man-made arena while the world looks on. Some contenders die of natural causes, while others are forced to kill, and in the end there is only one survivor. The premise sounds gruesome, but the movie is presented beautifully, and there’s a lot more to the story than a blood bath.

I bought into the hype and read all three books last year in a week. I found them intriguing, well written and even poignant. Since the beginning of time, the theme of good versus evil has prevailed in books and movies, and Hunger Games is no exception. The teens are forced to fight one another, but the real enemy is the Capitol, a futuristic place in which greed, gluttony and evil prevails. There’s even a sweet love story (OK, love triangle) that rivals Bella’s in the popular Twilight series. There’s also unity as the different districts, oppressed for years, band together and revolt to fight for justice. The books bring up a pressing and relevant question: “What would you do if you found yourself a victim of such an evil society?”

I understand parents’ concern, however, with the books and the movie. Personally, I believe that, as with all things, we should scope out the stuff first and not make a rash judgment until we do.

After reading the books, I deemed them appropriate for my 15-year-old (who loved them) but decided to hold off on letting my 11-year-old read them. The books specifically say they’re geared toward 13 and up, as the themes in them might be too mature for kids younger than this. The Hunger Games has generated some great discussion on these themes between me and my 15-year-old, including unity, loyalty and justice, and it was enjoyable for us to find a book and movie we could both enjoy and discuss.

Moms, when it comes to popular movies and books, do you scope them out first with your kids before letting them watch or read? Do you find the Hunger Games appropriate for your kids, and if so, what ages? Have you had any good discussions with your kids as the result of these popular books?

Shawn Gordon March 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Why is this just moms? I get really tired of dads being excluded and thought of as dunderheads and uninvolved. I'm happily married 19 years and took my 13 year old daughter to this. We had a great time, she enjoyed it and is now reading the book. We talked about the plausibility of the premise (not much), the technology used, the relationships and the violence.
Martin Henderson March 29, 2012 at 08:45 PM
@smga3000: Often the call goes out for Dads to respond as well, It just so happens this particular column didn't include that language. Moms Talk is simply a name (Karen, by the way, is a mom). We value the response of all parents and guardians regardless of gender, especially when they have as much to offer on the subject as you. Please, keep reading in the future, and look back at some of the past columns from 2012; they're very thought-provoking.
Dayna Budde March 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Nice Article Karen! :) While I haven't read either series (Hunger Games or Twilight), my 19 year old daughter has. She read Twilight 2-3 years ago (I think) and was initially completely swept away with all 4 books. And then the movies came out and seemed to ruin it for her. I'm sure the negative response on social sites like Facebook and Tumblr didn't help- example: "When the love of Hermione's life left her, she continued to search for the keys to destroying the world's most powerful Dark Wizard. When the love of Bella's life left her, she curled up in the fetal position, went numb for months and then jumped off a cliff." And even though she's 19, I'm pretty certain I wouldn't want her to have seen the 'headboard breaking' sex scene or the gory birth scene. I'm also not comfortable with Edward's obsession with Bella. Megan is now as 'anti' Twilight as she was previously 'pro.' This didn't happen with The Hunger Games. She found the movie an almost dead-on representation of the book (a gripe that I've endured throughout the Harry Potter movies - "it's nothing like the book!") and very well done. The characters felt more real to her, and more believable. I'm making a guess here, but from what little I know about Hunger Games, its themes seem to parallel Harry Potter on good vs evil, and I'm okay with that. I think kids can see how wrong The Capitol is and 'get it.' Kids today are way more savvy than we'd like them to be.
Karen Koczwara March 30, 2012 at 02:07 AM
Thank you, Dayna for your input! I agree that the movie was almost spot on to the book. I was really impressed. smg3000, thanks for checking out this site! Though the column is called "Moms Talk" we are always happy to have input from dads! :)


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