20 November, 2012

The Hunger Games - Glorified Gore !!


(Picture courtesy : nytimes.com via Google)

Sundays have invariably turned into one of those “family movie” days. It’s quite nice, actually. All four of us, sitting together to watch a movie. There will be the odd interpretations flying around, Vic throwing his one liners (especially while watching a Hindi movie)or maybe some translations for the kids, again if it happens to be a Hindi movie – all in all, it’s time well spent together.  

Yesterday was no different.  The kids already seemed to have made up their minds and for once, actually seemed to concur on a movie.  They wanted to watch "The Hunger Games".  Little did we know what we were in for.


At the very onset, I found myself struggling to cope with the very concept. For The Hunger Games uneducated ones (I was one until my eyes were rather rudely opened yesterday), the story is set in Panem (a fictional name for North America) and there’s The Capitol, which happens to be the oppressive government. Then there are the 12 districts, which, many decades ago, had revolted against The Capitol. As a punishment and to set an example, the 12 districts which transgressed The Capitol had to “offer” one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18, to be a part of the annual Hunger Games.



It was rather sickening, truth be told. It may be a piece of fiction but I have to say, at the danger of incurring the wrath of the die hard Suzanne Collins fans out there, it is gruesome fiction, at its very best. In this case, I am not using the word “best” in the complimentary sense. Not at all.


What I saw on screen yesterday was a state sponsored sanction to kill and shed blood. It was an olden day gladiator kind of scenario plying to the desperate need among people nowadays to watch reality shows. Who in their right mind gets off on watching teens and pre-teens hack each other to death ? It was gruesome, it was grisly, it was hideous and rather macabre and I for one, found it rather repugnant.


What message is the movie trying to send across to the youth of today – given the fact that this is classified as juvenile fiction ?  Yes, it is a dog-eat-dog world they have inherited but, one has to draw a line somewhere?!  But, the movie actually promulgates the 'fittest will survive' theory to such an extreme that, civilized human beings are reduced to the level of animals of the same species out for each other's blood.  And this is not a war we are talking about.  It is a form of state sponsored and licenced right to kill; or be killed.


People might argue that the main protagonist Katniss Everdeen is a symbol hope of a revolutionary as she sets in motion the wheels of protest and change in Panem. All this said and done, one cannot dispute the fact that the whole concept and the execution of the entire concept – be it in terms of the book or the movie – is disturbingly dark
Even more so given the fact that this is entertainment aimed at the young population.  What's even more disturbing and scary is the fact that due to peer pressure (or not), they seem to actually like it and seem addicted to the series.


This movie is a perfect example of everything that’s going wrong with the world of today. There’s this scene in the movie where all 24 contestants have been lined up and they’re waiting for the cue to start The Hunger Games. In the middle of the field is what they call the Cornucopia where all the weapons are laid out for the kids to choose from. Nice !! Weapons of your choice – there are daggers, machetes, bows and arrows and god knows what else. I guess I was too flipped out to notice. Once the “games” start, one sees teens rushing towards the middle to pick up a weapon of their choice and then begins the bloodbath. Teens quite literally hacking other teens to death. I could feel the contents of my stomach churning and to be honest, I could not bring myself to look. It was perverse, it was dark – way too dark for my liking. Through it all, the one question that I kept asking myself was whether we should be watching this movie at all – that too with the kids.


Macadamia caught the look of disgust on my face and said softly “the book’s much better. Not as gruesome”. As far as I’m concerned, it is pretty much the same. Maybe the author of the trilogy was trying to convey a message in saying that these are the evils of a government as autocratic as the one in The Capitol but as far as I go, this was a very very morbid way of getting the message across. 

Kids, I guess, react to written words differently than they do with images. Images have this rather disturbing quality of being able to imprint themselves on teen minds. Out here, in this movie, it is not just people killing each other – it is basically a whole load of teens around the world, watching one teen hack another teen to death – without any remorse whatsoever. In fact, there are a couple of scenes in the movie where a bunch of teens are actually shown enjoying “hunting” other teens down. Sadism at its very best and morality breached through every single pore in the human body.


There are scenes which left me praying – literally praying – I don’t know for what. I could simply not stomach what was being shown on screen. Kids hacking each other to death, throwing knives at each other with the sole intent to kill, tracking and hunting each other down – and here’s the worst part – people watching on these huge giant television screens and actually feeding off and getting off on all this gore and violence.


There isn’t much of a difference between the humans of today and those in the Roman era of days bygone when people jeered and cheered and rooted and screamed themselves hoarse with the excitement of watching fellow human beings being ripped to shreds by wild animals or by other people. Those were gladiators in coliseums and now we have teenagers in the movies.


Have we, as a human race, become that desensitized ? Have we, as a human race, actually begun to enjoy watching bloodshed and gore – all in the name of fiction and reality TV ? Have we, as a human race, begun enjoying such monstrosity to such an extent that authors and moviemakers have made this their favourite hunting ground ? Does the human race silently hunger for such violence ? 
Have we, as humans, crossed that divide between right and wrong, good and evil ? Have our minds been numbed to such an extent that this movie has actually been deemed “awesome” ? 


These questions and many many more are still racing through my mind and while I still find myself battling with the very concept on which the book and the movie are based, the visual images that seem imprinted on my mind.


They just don’t seem to go away !


After watching the movie, Vic summarized his thoughts by saying "If this is what the world is heading towards, it is 2012 and it's high time GOD hit the reset button".  Something's really wrong in the configuration of his creations.

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