The One About The Hunger Games

May the odds be ever in your favor.

If you are one of the millions hooked on The Hunger Games, just reading that simple phrase will send shivers down your spine.  Anticipation, fear, excitement, horror, romance, and terror, all wrapped up in one.  But why?  What is the craze all about?

I have been asked multiple times why anyone would want to read a book or watch a movie that features kids killing other kids.  It got me to thinking.  Why does everyone love this concept so much?  And more importantly, why do I love it so much?

In order to answer this question, we may have to go back to the beginning.  Not the very beginning…I wasn’t there then.  No, we must return to the fateful night that I first set eyes on Katniss Everdeen.  Mom and Sierra were at a photography class, and I was in charge of the young ones.  After putting everyone to bed I decided to start reading a book we’d just gotten.  I probably wouldn’t have even heard about this book until after the movie came out, except for (duh, na, na!) FATE.  A friend of ours was hosting a book club and had invited us to attend.  The title of the book: The Hunger Games.

Nine o’clock at night I began.  “When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold“. Captured by the characters, enraptured with the writing, there was no turning back.  Mom and Sierra got home, hugged me, went to bed.  I remained on the couch, reading furiously.

Three o’clock in the morning (six hours later), four words remained.  “END OF BOOK ONE“. In a daze I wandered to bed.  Images of burnt bread, mockingjays, mutts, and fire floated through my mind.  It was like my brain had been consumed.  All that remained was the hollow remnants of a captivating plot.

In truth, The Hunger Games does not have much literary merit.  I tell people, reading these books is barely one step above watching TV.  So how do I (someone who is in love with authors such as  Dickens, Twain, Austen, Stowe, and Alcott) find such great pleasure in the writings of Suzanne Collins?

Perhaps her style, if not her content, is what originally drew me in.  Up until that point I had read very few books written in present tense.  If you compare the sentences “I looked into his icy blue eyes” and “I gaze into his icy blue eyes”, which one do you enjoy more?  Most people do not even realize what tense they’re reading (and a skillful writer will make you forget), but subconsciously, do we notice?

Back to the original question.  How can anyone enjoy a book that features the murder of kids?  Maybe because it’s not that far-fetched. 

Our society already takes great pleasure in “Reality Shows”.  What could be more fun than watching bratty kids with two tons of makeup prance around stage in ruffles and bows?  Or brides that will kill anyone that gets in their way?  Or (for the guys) cops tackle that ever elusive drug dealer?  The one I grew up with was FEAR FACTOR.  What’s not entertaining about watching a girl in a bikini get in a glass coffin filled with tarantulas?  And those guys that have to drink the putrified liquid they squeeze out of cow intestines?  I really liked them.

WE’RE SICK!

If people ever revolted against the government, how far of a stretch would it be for them to throw kids in an arena to kill each other off?  And how far of a stretch for people to enjoy watching it?  Ask yourself, how great do you feel right now?

Returning to the question, I don’t think it’s only the despair and disgust that attracts such a following. As President Snow says in the movie, “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear.”

The girls (and even guys) of our generation are constantly bombarded with images of what they should look like, what they should wear, who they should date, and most importantly – how to be important.  “Drive an awesome car, become a movie star, and you too could have a fan club”.  Disney Princesses are the worst.  Cinderella is never noticed until she’s all decked out in jewels and silks.  Sleeping Beauty is Sleeping Beauty (or what Hollywood thinks is beautiful).  I especially love the lyrics in the catchy tune that the women sing in Mulan when they’re getting her ready (read carefully).

Wait and see

When we’re through

Boys will gladly go to war for you

With good fortune and a great hairdo

You’ll bring honor to us all

I love this stanza:

Men want girls with good taste

Calm

Obedient

Who work fast-paced

With good breeding

And a tiny waist

You’ll bring honor to us all

(You know you sang this!  It really is catchy!)

And now to the point that I was making with all this.  In the story, it’s not the super-model with perfect hair that gets the guy and saves the day.  It is an ordinary girl, who is not spectacular at all, and thinks nothing of herself.  Yet she ends up doing amazing things and winning an extraordinary love.  The best part – he loved her before she was made to be beautiful.  The starving, unattractive, harsh, wounded girl is the one that Peeta fell in love with.  Not the Mockingjay.  Not the Girl on Fire.  Just Katniss.

The biggest thing that I was enraptured with was the portrayal of the (very flawed) main character.  She is shown as this selfish person who uses other people to survive.  This appears to be true to a fault.  Do not touch this girl’s loved ones.  Risking her life every day to feed her family.  When Prim is reaped she volunteers, expecting fully to die.  And at the end (spoiler warning!) kills President Coin in return for Coin killing Prim.  I identify largely with Katniss because of this.  The thing that drives her is keeping her loved ones safe.

Several years ago in theater, Isaiah (5 at the time) was supposed to wait in the green room for me to come get him and take him on stage.  Someone else’s mom got him and (instead of bringing him to me) stood in the front hallway talking.  I practically screamed at her when I found my little brother standing with her and a guy I didn’t know in the front of the old CAST building (you know, by the ABC store).  One time a kid was picking on my siblings during Simon Says by making them spin until nauseous, then having them try to jump up and down (all the while laughing maliciously).  It did not bode well for him.  Point being, hurt my family, and I just may hunt you down and shoot you.

Can an ordinary person, who is in no way perfect, still be honorable and heroic?  Is it possible to find a spectacular love, even when you don’t love yourself?  Could people of no consequence rise up and change the injustices they are forced to endure?  Will hope outlive every horror we are subjected to?

Suzanne Collins has captured something very important.  Not just a cool story.  Not just a fun romance.  Not even a great dystopian message.  She has embodied one of the things we all strive for.

Nobody wants to go through life overlooked, unnoticed, blown off as someone not worthy of attention.  We all want to do something.  To make and impact on the world around us.

This is our need to be.

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THE GREATEST NEWS ON EARTH!

Okay, guess what? 

I just got the GREATEST NEWS ON EARTH! 

I mean seriously, this is awesome.

Are you ready for it?

I JUST WON THE LOTTERY FOR 6.2 MILLION DOLLORS!!!!!!

 

First thing I’m doing – buying my mom a diamond necklace.  Like, a HUGE one.

 

Next, I’m getting ALL my siblings their own laptops.

 

After that, I’m renting out Disney Land for a whole week, and you ARE ALL INVITED TO COME AND JOIN ME THERE!!!

 

TELL YOUR FRIENDS!  HAVE THEM TELL THEIR FRIENDS!

 

THIS IS THE BEST NEWS EVER!!!!!!!

 

Okay, so I didn’t really win the lottery.  But wouldn’t it be cool if I did?  I would be telling EVERYONE I know.  And they would be telling everyone THEY know.  Because, like, wouldn’t that be the coolest thing ever?

So, while I’m at it, let me give you another scenario.  You walk into your house and find your boyfriend kissing your arch nemesis.  Talk about the biggest cheat in the world!  You’re so angry, that without thinking, you grab the butcher knife sitting on the counter and stab them both! 

Of course the police find you hiding out at your mom’s house and haul you off to jail.  Found guilty of two counts of murder in the first degree, you have been given a death sentence, with only one day left to live. 

Sitting in your jail cell all alone, one of the guards comes and tells you that you have a visitor.  This guy comes in, and as soon as you see him, you want to tell him EVERYTHING that you’ve EVER done wrong.  You want to tell him how sorry you are that you killed those two people, because he looks like the kind of guy that could forgive you for anything.  But you’re still going to die.  There’s nothing he can do about that.

Then he comes and sits next to you and says “You know, I’m going to take your place and die for what you did.  All you have to do is say that you’ll let me.”

WHAT IN THE WORLD??????  DID THIS DUDE JUST SAY THAT HE WOULD DIE FOR YOU???  YOU WOULD BE CRAZY TO TURN DOWN AN OFFER LIKE THAT!!!!!!!

Thing is, this isn’t just a fun story.  We’ve ALL done HORRIBLE things, but One Person DIED, to take our places, and if we’d just accept that gift, we’d get to live FOREVER in the most AWESOME place anyone could EVER imagine (like Disney World, but BETTER!). 

 

SO WHY AREN’T WE TELLING EVERYONE WE KNOW ABOUT THIS?????  WHY AREN’T WE SCREAMING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS!

 

I WON THE LOTTERY BUT BETTER!!!!!!

 

JESUS CHRIST LAID DOWN HIS LIFE SO THAT I DON’T HAVE TO BE ON DEATH ROW!  I CAN GO AND LIVE FOREVER IN A PLACE SO AWESOME, WE CAN’T EVEN START TO DREAM OF WHAT IT WILL BE LIKE!

 

And yet we who have already heard this great news and have accepted it as our own aren’t sharing it.  Heck, we’re not even sharing it with our FRIENDS AND FAMILY!  We should be telling EVERYONE we see on the streets!  Did you hear the great news?!?!?!?  JESUS DIED SO WE DON’T HAVE TO!  ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS ACCEPT THAT HE DIED AND THAT GOD BROUGHT HIM BACK TO LIFE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO HEAVEN! 

 

So why aren’t we screaming this from the mountain tops?  Are we afraid?  Scared of being judged?  Scared of offending people?  THEY’RE ALREADY GOING TO HELL!!!  What are we going to do?  Offend them into second hell???

Are people going to be angry at me for writing this?  YES!  Will people say nasty and hurtful things about me?  Probably.  I mean, I’m being so politically incorrect.  I said that people are going to hell!  I wouldn’t be surprised if my comments fill with horrible things about me (and my mom). 

But you know what?  I DON’T CARE.  I DON’T CARE!!

 

 

You can say whatever you want about me.  YOU CAN EVEN THROW ME IN PRISON AND TORTURE OR KILL ME!  Because there would be no greater honor than to die for my Lord, the Risen Jesus Christ.  And I know that whatever happens as a result of me obeying the greatest command ever given, HE will be there with me through it all. 

 

And if the Holy Spirit ever causes you to come into the Family because of something I said or did, then, well, I guess I’ll see you in Heaven.

LORD JESUS, TAKE THIS MESSAGE, TAKE MY HEART, TAKE MY LIFE.  DO WHATEVER YOU WILL WITH THEM.  FOR I AM YOURS AND YOURS ALONE. 

So.

Have you heard the great news?

/sīˈkädik/

Because murdering people is frowned upon, a blog is much safer for everyone.

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