CPN | I truly can't handle The Hunger Games

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I truly can't handle The Hunger Games

hunger games

I resisted The Hunger Games for years. My oldest daughter became a Young Adult  reader (it is YA literature) right as the first book came out (2008). Hearing of the premise – kids under 18 having to kill or be killed in a dystopian society – I immediately rejected the series as something I could not abide. It made no sense to me. Having seen my second daughter die of a disease, why would I ever choose to watch other children die by the hands of other children, mandated by a demented government? I appreciated that the author, Susanne Collins, was making a serious statement with her series, but I didn’t have the emotional reservoirs to do the work and make the connections and find resolution. It just felt wrong to me. In my core. Wrong.


My daughter read it, but I didn’t. Nor, I acknowledge, did I listen to interviews with the author to see what she was intending to convey with the sick premise of her series. My rejection was instantaneous and complete. It was enough to know that I could not handle a story about children killing children in a piece of made-for-Hollywood (and then made BY Hollywood) fiction.


Fast-forward 6 years. My younger daughter, age 13, is now reading the series and is totally into it.  She and I have a mother-daughter night together and I take the DVD of the movie out from the library to watch together and make her happy. Uh-oh. Without realizing it, I’ve let my guard down. Big mistake. I was right the first time around.


I’m all for suspension of disbelief and for drama. And I’m a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence specifically and female protagonists generally. But this was really a bridge too far for me. I just Can Not – aka No Can Do — get my mind around the dramatization of deaths of children for No Good Reason. Notice how the movie never shows you the parents of these children, these ‘tributes.’ We don’t see how these parents feel or respond. Of course not. That would make the movie unbearable.


But for those of us who have had to see our children die, or who are currently caring for children who we know we will have to bury or cremate, this movie IS unbearable. At least it was for me. I return to where I started – which is often the essence of it (aka trust your gut): I just don’t get it. Or more accurately, I definitely get it, I just can’t abide it.