Last evening I went to see the movie Catching Fire, the sequel to The Hunger Games with students in my media literacy class. As you all no doubt know, Suzanne Collins wrote the hugely successful young adult three-volume series that tells the story of a young woman forced to fight to the death with other teens in a televised arena. The series sold more than 9.6 million copies even before the first movie based on the books was released. Both Catching Fire and The Hunger Games have been made into top grossing movies as well. In case you are interested, here is what I wrote about The Hunger Games back in April of 2012.
So the movie of The Hunger Games is out, and it’s been an enormous success. Here are some questions the movie might raise:
- That whole death lottery things seems familiar. Haven’t I read that kind of story before?
Yes, in high school or freshman English. It’s a story by author Shirley Jackson called The Lottery. Hunger Games is in no way a “rip off” of The Lottery, but the premise of it does have some common thematic elements with the Jackson story.There was a short film made of The Lottery back in the 1960s. You can see it in two parts here.
- Did Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins just come out of nowhere to write her bestselling trilogy?
Nope. She had a well-regarded children’s series she had written before, and she was a staff writer for Nickelodeon children’s television series. As a side note, the central premise of the series, according to Collins, is that it is about children and war. The deepest roots of the story go back to when her father came home from Vietnam.
- Are fans really upset about the race of certain Hunger Games characters in the movie?
Maybe. At least a few moviegoers have tweeted their unhappiness with the fact that the characters Rue, Thresh, and Cinna are all black in the movie. Should they have been surprised? Probably not. Rue and Thresh are both described by Collins as having very dark skin, so the fact that they were played by black actors should come as no surprise. Cinna’s race is not described, but Lenny Kravitz certainly has the attractive, stylish look the character requires. The story even rose to the level of being covered in The New YorkerBut this isn’t the first movie to have raised questions about the race of the actors cast in the film.
- Are there really racist tweets out there about the casting of the film?
Yes, but I don’t know that it really was that many people making them. Keep in mind, the movie had a huge opening. The fact that something about the movie would upset a few of them, and that they would post that displeasure to the Internet should not be surprising. The above link is to a Tumblr blog that deals with the issues of the tweets.
- How is The Hunger Games movie affecting young people?
Hard to say, though it would seem that it is making them more interested in archery.
- What does a libertarian/conservative/law professor parent have to think about Hunger Games and sci-fi/fantasy in general?
Ilya Somin has had some great posts on the politics of Hunger Games and other sci-fi/fantasy stories up on the libertarian-focused legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. Well worth reading.