Volatility of Youth

Posted: December 2, 2013 in The Hunger Games Op Eds

By Zak Hembree

The Hunger Games is a commentary on general desensitization due to Hollywood and its variance of truth and glamorization of violence. Collins’ uses the analogy of the Hunger Games as a televised event to comment on an aspect of society that is plaguing it, similarly to George Orwell’s infamous novel, Animal Farm. Slipping into the periphery of the story, the Hunger Games is televised. Filmmakers want the audience to forget that the Hunger Games is a televised event, creating an immediate culture identical to Panem’s. The event is living tribute used as entertainment for the citizens and the capital, “You root for your favorites, you cry when they get killed. It’s sick!”* Romanticizing the event to make it a competition, the tributes are not supposed to be fighting for their lives but rather for glory, money and honor to remind themselves of the tribulations of the past. Romanticizing reality and violence is harmful to society, reproductions of reality skew perceptions of realism.

The ultimate desensitization of Americans; children don’t view death and infringement of personal rights and autonomy as an atrocity but rather a source of entertainment. Suzanne Collins worked with film makers to create a message similar to that of the book. Emphasizing the overwhelming sensation of revolution, a term that has been contorted by American phrasing to have a negative connotation. Collins presents a dystopian society conveys a feeling of helplessness and desperation. In this desperation the only possibility for hope is in revolution. While the fear of violence is imminent and pressing the possibility of stability through change is too compelling to ignore. Katniss does not kill to win, she kills out of necessity, (a common theme amongst noble characters in literature) forming alliances to protect those that she loves. The Hunger Games trilogy romanticizes hardship and at its core it is a movie about love and nobility. Collins knows Roman-style gladiator fighting for entertainment set in post-modernity is barbaric enough to display the convoluted perception of reality. Collins illustrates the inevitable intertwining of perception and reality.

The event, The Hunger Games is a glorified reality television. A guilty pleasure of many Americans. In a way, reality television has had a share in eliminating hope from the lexicon of impressionable futures. Leaving susceptible audience members striving for an ideal of material wealth almost unachievable. Eliminating or taming empathy from many in the viewing audience could have catastrophic implications resulting in a culture founded in cynicism and hatred. Ponoma, California sits 15 minutes east of Los Angeles in an area plagued by the same type of gang-related violence that afflicts most of Southern California. Youth Pastor Daniel Diaz of New Beginnings Community Church was one of 200 attending an anti-violence rally held by community leaders. Diaz was tragically murdered after dropping off several teens who he had brought to the event with him (Pamer). The volatility of at-risk youth is stoked by the instability of institutions intended to steady their lives and potential. An incogruency in ideology has sparked action; much darker and more disastrous than the acceptable civil disobedience which was instrumental in the establishment of the United States. The inability to distinguish between the acceptable actions of civil disobedience and pure cultural violence is a direct result of the brutality and atrocity of popular culture. This hatred is cultural violence, and while it may not be direct or structural it is limiting the potential of our society. Our lack of empathy on a personal level is alarming. As a society, we have learned to speak and act pejoratively rather than complimentary. This inability to distinguish between reality and personal cynicism leads to irrational and abrupt decision making which could ultimately lead to primal methods of maintaining stability, through coercion and intimidation.

Our perception becomes our reality. For 73 years prior to Katniss and Peeta’s stand in the Hunger Games people have participated in this inhuman competition without any effort to change it. Children have been brought into the world knowing nothing other than watching poor people fight to the death for the unlikely outcome of becoming one of societies elites. Katniss and her cohorts fight Panem’s cultural ideal of elitism. The Hunger Games strikes fear into Panem, eliminating hope and twisting reality for the benefit of the controlling class. The movie is shaky, dynamic and intense, however Collins and film makers abstain from showing brutal deaths. Refusing to show the casual brutality forces an audience to imagine it, making the death of innocent teens intimate.

Essentially, many humans all want the same things, everybody loves to laugh and have fun but with our twisted perceptions of reality, Hollywood has made our bizarre and erratic consciousness our realities. Katniss lives in Panem, an absolute dystopia, not to dissimilar from the future. Our lives have been redefined, rather than creating our own narratives culture has obtusely created an alternative narrative for which reality is perceived through. And this sensationalism has limited our quality of life by diluting tragedy and the implications of reality and violence.

** Pamer, Melissa. “Advertisement.” KTLA 5. N.p., 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Dec. 2013. *The Hunger Games. Dir. Gary Ross. Perf. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Lion’s Gate, 2012.

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