The Hunger Games: Once More Into the Fray

Posted: March 27, 2012 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The people have spoken–especially the pre-teens and teens!  The Hunger Games set the box office opening weekend record for a non-sequel film, making a whopping $155 million dollars.  And, according to rottentomatoes.com, 95% of the moviegoers recommend the movie.  This sort of response demands just one more post, so once more into the fray we go.  If you haven’t read the two other reviews yet, please look at post one and post two first, since this one will build on those thoughts.

A couple of opening comments.  First, these posts on The Hunger Games are about the first movie/book only, not the entire trilogy.  Second, the goal here is to do our best to illuminate movies with the light of Scripture in order to encourage Biblical thinking–not to either recommend or not recommend.  And finally, since this movie/book is written for and marketed to pre-teens, the reviews have been primarily written with their minds “in mind.”

So, for all of you who have, or will watch The Hunger Games, here are ten discussion questions–especially for parents who are training your teens and pre-teens to think as Christians:

1.  Suzanne Collins has commented that she wrote this book as a critique of war (especially the Iraq War).  In that light, what does she want us to think about war?  Do you agree with her?

2.  If you came out of this movie saying that it was “great” or “awesome,” why was it great?  Because the story was so sad/distressing/painful?  Because the heroes “won?”  Because of the characters?  Because of the action?  Because it showed you how horrible life is without God?  Why?

3.  There are reviewers of this movie that believe our children need to see even more violent movies because we shelter them too much from violence.  Do you agree or disagree?  And, how does that square with the research that estimates children see approximately 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence on TV shows/movies by the age of eighteen?

4.  Some have suggested that the extreme violence of The Hunger Games is okay for children because the Bible is filled with violence.  So, what’s the difference between a story of a violent world without God and one with God?

5.  Some also believe that the film teaches children how miserable a world without God really is.  Is this what you took away from the film?  Before you answer, consider this: When will our children actually experience a world without God?  Even in the most evil of times in Scripture (think the days of Noah or the Judges), God was still in control, and God still intervened and delivered His people.  So how does a totally naturalistic story teach us anything about our own reality?

6.  My apologies if this offends all of you friends-of-Katniss: But what makes her the heroine of the story?  I know, it’s written from her perspective, and the author wants us to view her as the hero.  And she is certainly very heroic.  But, aren’t all twenty-four children “innocent?”  Don’t they have parents and loved ones too?  Shouldn’t we be rooting for all of them?  Are there really any “good” guys or “bad” guys in the Games?

7.  The storyteller wants us to believe that Katniss does absolutely all that she can do in this miserable situation.  Maybe so.  She doesn’t really want to kill anyone.  She actually wants to figure out a way to destroy the Games.  But could she have done something else?  For example, what about just refusing to play?  In other words, what about martyrdom?  Think of it this way, if someone told you to kill an innocent 15 year old girl or you will be killed, what would you do?  Or how about this way…how do we compare Katniss’ choices to the choices of Joseph, Daniel, or especially Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego?

8.  We are also led to believe that the adults in the districts are absolutely unable to resist the Hunger Games.  Since they lost the rebellion, this is the only way to survive.  But is this realistic (I know, it’s fiction)?  Consider that, even in the most repressive regimes in history, there have always been people who refuse to go along with the program.  Shouldn’t there have been adults who gave their lives for these children (you’ll have to kill me before you take my kid sort of thing)?

9.  Many have said this story, at its core, is really just about surviving.  That’s certainly true.  But is life for the Christian in this world ever just about surviving?  Do we embrace a Darwinian worldview and believe deep-down in the “survival of the fittest?”  Think about first century Christians and their Roman oppressors.  Were they exhorted by God’s Word just to survive a hopeless situation, or to strive for something more (See I Peter)?

10.  Effie introduces the Games this way: “And may the odds be ever in your favor!”  Is this your view of life?  Is it all just random?  Or, to put it another way, do the rich and powerful always have the best odds in this life?  Is life just a game of chance?

That should be plenty to think about.  May The Hunger Games make us all the more thankful that we have a loving, gracious, and all-powerful God in control of our world!

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