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Warning: minor spoilers included in the following post.
As someone who loves movies, I have been increasingly disappointed over recent years as Hollywood has showcased an almost total inability to produce films not based on comic books that are original, intelligent, compelling, and don’t viciously attack my core values. At this point, I’ll settle for just one or two of the four (with emphasis on the fourth), but even something that simple is rare. Every so often, though, a movie nails all four, producing a deeply satisfying and thought-provoking experience.
The Hunger Games is one of those movies.
Okay, disclaimer time: I understand I’m opening myself to being labeled a bad Christian for choosing a violent movie that depicts children killing each other when I could have chosen the more uplifting October Baby, which celebrates the sanctity of the life, especially that of children. If you’re one of the potential labelers, please hear me out. What I have to say will probably surprise you.
Let me start with this: I hate violence. I generally avoid R-rated movies and often close my eyes when I know blood’s about to splatter the screen.
So why did I pick The Hunger Games? First, I had been told that it shared some similarities to my own novel, Fatal Reality, which is about a reality show host who takes the contestants hostage and pits them against each other in an anything-goes race where only the winner will be allowed to live. (I promise that I wrote this novel well before I’d even heard of The Hunger Games.) Naturally I was intrigued by the parallels. And based on what I’d heard about The Hunger Games, I also suspected it would not glorify violence, but instead condemn it, as I did in Fatal Reality.
I’m happy to report that I was correct. Big time.
But The Hunger Games aims much higher than simply condemning violence by illustrating how extreme it can get. It also illustrates the intense brutality and oppression made possible under a society where God apparently does not exist, as there is never a mention or implication of any higher power operating in The Hunger Games’s futuristic reality. The only authority is government—one that does not recognize any rights of its citizens.
This manifests itself in a class-driven society where the rich, ruling class (driven by a government/media complex) live separately and above the commoners who rely on the government for their sustenance (sound familiar?). And to scare them into submission and prevent rebellion, every year the government randomly selects 24 children ages 12-18 and pits them against each other in a battle for survival that does not end until only one child still stands. The commoners have no recourse against the ruling class—one so indifferent to the value of human life that it will even force innocent children into mortal combat in order to maintain its wealth and power structure, all while entertaining itself.
America was founded on the ideal that all men are created equal and endowed by God with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He is Ruler, and because he has stamped his image on every human, government has no authority to oppress its (God’s) people.
The Hunger Games brilliantly depicts what happens when government, not God, becomes Ruler.
The phrase uttered throughout the movie by those in power to those under their oppression is, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” This reflects the worldview of a godless society. People must rely on “odds” or luck in order to survive, because God doesn’t exist to intervene in human affairs.
I’m too lazy right now to research Suzanne Collins—the author of the novel the movie is based on—and what her beliefs may be, so I have no idea if she intended to perfectly illustrate exactly what happens when a society ignores God and instead submits to the Almighty Government. Intentional or not, though, that’s what she did, teaching that in a godless society there is no freedom, only oppression.
Every American 13 or older should see this movie. And while on the surface The Hunger Games and October Baby seem to be advancing conflicting messages, I believe they are actually advancing the identical message, using opposite approaches.
Life is sacred.
My novel, Fatal Reality, also advances this message, though it more closely aligns with The Hunger Games in approach. In Fatal Reality, the antagonist, Daniel Vats, tells the contestants that there is no God in their race to help them; Vats is the ultimate authority. He shows them how an existence that ignores fundamental human rights would operate. One of the underlying questions I pose to America through this story is, How far away are we from creating that type of existence?
Whether intentional or not, I believe The Hunger Games poses the same question.