The Hunger Games also deals with mass media, reality shows in particular. How it controls, deceives and changes people and their judgment. How nowadays we have everything on screen – live sex on reality shows, shootings and killing people in movies. People actually laugh at ridiculous scenes that show a person being blown off. What else is there to satisfy the hungry watcher/reader? Only death on screen – real death – is left. And this is one of the points of the series – we are so far gone, that we are only one step before killing each other on screen.
On the arenas, the gifts you get from sponsors can literally save your life. You get gifts, if you have sponsors. You get sponsors, if you’re popular. This is a mockery of the superficial world we live in now, for looks are what matters most, looks and the fact that you’re funny and nice. Peeta understands this, Katniss is not able to just smile for the sake of it. Peeta decides to play with the “crossed-lovers” scenario for the cameras. They have to pretend they are in love, to gain more sponsors. The mockery of “judging the book by its cover” continues. I cannot overestimate this – how popularity matters. It always has, but never to the point we have today. It starts early on in school, and never ends. And why does it start in school? Because children are cruel – one of the points of the books. We live in a world where children are glorified in a way, and that certainly does not do them any good – and in my humble opinion, they don’t really deserve that. But that’s for another essay. For now, let me continue with:
5. Psychology & not-so-innocent children
The children going to the arena to be killed and to kill others remind me of mythology and its concept of giving children as a sacrifice. It got me thinking. How would anyone be okay with this? How would the people in the capitol, who watch this and treat this as the greatest entertainment of the year, agree to watch children being killed on air? And how could children kill each other in the first place? Here’s what reminds me of another classic The Lord of the Flies. The Lord of the Flies raises a subject of violence among children; how, when uncontrolled, they are able to do most terrible things. This is also shown in The Hunger Games – plus what survival instinct does to people. Even children. When it’s kill or be killed, most of us would do anything to be the one who kills, instead of the one who gets killed. It shows how regular teenagers are turned into killers. I personally think the behaviors on the arena are perfectly described in the books; all the types of characters, all the ways they wanted to survive this, from hiding in trees – like our heroine Katniss – to forming packs that have to be eventually broken.
Basically, we are animals. This is also shown in the second part (Catching Fire) where on stage, the day between the games, all victors-tributes were holding hands, as if to show they are on one side (against the government). However, the very next day in the games they were killing each other as the government expected them to. The animal instinct won, again.
This not an original idea at all. Yes, on the surface the concept of putting people in one space and waiting till they kill each other off seems appalling and terrible. But people have been killing others for centuries. An obvious example is Holocaust, but it we might say it was the war, it were different times, people were scared. That they were not killing for the sake of having a good show.
Then, what about the Roman Empire? Back them, people were throwing Christians into arenas with wild animals, that would eat them alive. All of this for a good show, people were watching and having fun while other people were dying horrible deaths before their very eyes. Exactly like in these books. The Hunger Games trilogy as I see is, is a warning, let’s not forget our history, let’s not allow this to happen with our culture and civilization.
All in all, when you make others believe a certain group of people is worse, even unworthy of living, you may get surprising and terrifying results.
6. Starvation of the world
Another social criticism deals with food. In the second book, Katniss and Peeta are on the party organized by the capitol and they find out people here take a special pill to get rid of the stuff they eat, so that they can keep on eating. At the same time people in districts are actually starving. Of course, this is a parallel between the western world where people are sick because of excessive eating, and the third world countries, where people die because of lack of food. It’s not the most original point in the world, but I think this cannot be over-used. We have to remind ourselves about this over and over again – food is to be respected, not thrown away. So even if the author is obvious here, I don’t care. She makes a good point.
7. Strong female character
Katniss Everdeen, is not a popular girl. She’s bad at making friends and thinks being nice to people is a waste of time. But she is strong, self-reliant, smart and able to sacrifice herself. In fact, she does that at the very beginning when she volunteers for her sister to take her place on the arena – and ultimately die, as she thinks she doesn’t stand a chance. She’s a female character who has a lot of guts and does not need a guy to keep her alive and breathing. She’s not ruled by romance, but by her family.
Well, there has to be a point in reviewing The Hunger Games where I speak about the love triangle. It’s there. I mean, after all, these are books for teenagers.
The love triangle is between Katniss’ friend from childhood, Gale, and Peeta – another tribute from her district. Apparently, they’re both in love with her. Apparently, she’s not in love with any of them. She thinks she “should” have ended up with Gale – before this whole Hunger Games business – but then her life changes and she has a different perspective on things.
Now, why I don’t mind the love triangle in the first two books, and why I do mind it in the third one.
The love triangles are always welcomed if they are done correctly. Here we have two different guys, both relatable, both full-fleshed, mature people, and Katniss truly cares about both of them. But none is a silly “love at first sight” kind of thing. Gale is a friend and companion, Peeta is this really nice guy.
In the first two books, the author uses aspect of love to show how manipulative the media can be. So why I don’t like the love triangle in the third part? Well, basically because there’s too much of it. Katniss spends too time thinking about it. She thinks and overanalyzes and then thinks some more about whether it should be Peeta or Gale. News flash, if you can’t decide, it’s neither of them. Move on. But I can understand, though – to some extent. After all, she feels pushed to choosing and doesn’t want to disappoint anybody.
9. A male character I really like
Peeta Mellark. Who is a really nice guy. It’s become popular in a way to be attracted to “mysterious, dangerous types” for no reason at all. Here we have a person who’s everything BUT mysterious or dangerous. He’s just a friendly, good-hearted, kind human being, who’s afraid of turning into someone brutal during the games. He is the one who worries whether he will kill or will be able to stay himself and die without causing one death, who wants to stay himself, not to be changed in a beats. What Katniss values most about him is his good heart and I couldn’t be more pleased about this. Finally over with the mysterious types. Finally someone who truly deserves to be loved. Finally a sort of “a boy next door” character. What a relief.
But please don’t think he doesn’t have any balls or that he’s boring. He’s actually pretty courageous himself – and he’s Katniss’ savior from when she was actually, literally starving after her father died and they could barely afford a meal a day. Let me just tell you, though it may not be seen or felt on screen, the books – especially the first one – ARE about hunger and starvation and fighting for survival.