Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hunger Games and Holy Week

With the world still buzzing about The Hunger Games I have a few more thoughts.

As I continue to think about the story (film & book) it haunts me.  I am finding articles and reflections that I file into a folder for the book club discussion we will be having later this month.  And I keep reflecting.

Yes the story is violent.  Yes, there is an oppressive and depressive mood that permeates the story.  Yes, there are many things that as pieces you can point to and be valid in your objections.

But there is more.

What I find wonderful at the very first glance is the female heroes offered to the youth.  In much the same way that I love that the teens in my youth group love the British TV show, Doctor Who, I find comfort in their seeing Katniss as a role model.  Oh, just like every other teen girl she struggles with her identity, her role in life, her understanding of relationships.  Unlike other recent teen novel heroines, she has inner strength, she is intelligent, she fights for what she loves and believes in.  She does not passively sit by while life happens to her; she shapes the world around her in a proactive and thoughtful manner.

Perhaps it takes more thought than the teens initially give the film, but the violence itself is a point of consideration.  While there is violence, the book does not extol the virtues of that violence.  Rather, like the soldiers or those who have lived in violent situations attest, it offers a view of the devastation, chaos, and irrational nature of violence.  The story uses violence to challenge our view on violence as entertainment or a means to an end.  It questions whether that end justifies the means.  Few who read the story or see the film could argue that the conclusion is anything other than a disavowal of violence.

In fact, all the acts of rebellion that are mentioned are those that Gandhi or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would have happily embraced.  The silence of District 12 after Katniss volunteers.  The bread from Rue's district.  The flowers for Rue.  The power of love to over throw the violent, calculating system.  Far from idealizing or promoting violence, The Hunger Games, offers a view where peaceful resistance, silence, and love become earth shattering acts of rebellion.

There is much to consider.  At a time when we in the Catholic Church look to the Lord's Last Supper, his voluntary sacrifice to save us all, and the hope we have in his great, all-encompassing love, we can see how The Hunger Games  will be far from anathema to our beliefs.