HUNGER GAMES: May The Franchise Begin

“THE HUNGER GAMES,” is a phenomenal success as anyone will tell you. “The Huffington Post,” believes it to be a positive step for women in cinema which you can read here.  And “The Economist,” is intrigued by how it handles the disconnect between the viewer and the spectacle which you can read here. It has received the best opening box office since “The Dark Knight” and “Harry Potter.” It is officially part of the culture. So, why should anyone have a problem with “The Hunger Games”?

What is not quite right about “The Hunger Games” is what can happen along the way in the process of something becoming “the next big thing,” the next “book/movie event.” In a perfect world, “The Hunger Games” probably would have made one really good book. As it is, the first book in the trilogy is good enough. It’s not “The Lord of The Flies” but it’s good. The problem is that the book industry, the entertainment industry, constantly want the next “Twilight.” It doesn’t matter if the “Twilight” books are mediocre. What matters is that those books tapped into the teen and tween market. That’s all that matters. Alright, time for the next franchise.

“Harry Potter” and “Twilight” are good enough page-turners. “The Hunger Games,” a work about children killing each other without remorse is much darker and so you wonder if that should have been packaged as the next tween hit. The main characters do not deal with the ramifications of killing, in the first book and movie. That is saved for later in the trilogy. Since this gruesome storyline is aimed at young readers, it is reasonable and responsible to deal with the reality of murder, at the outset.  One is left with the message that killing a human being has no consequence unless someone close to you dies. This is an inventive and creative world yet flawed in ways that are unsettling.

And to say that “The Hunger Games” movie is a great step forward for women because of the strong woman lead character is nonsense. Jennifer Lawrence is on her way as a leading actor but that doesn’t mean she needs to be shouldered with being a voice for women. No need to cloak this as a feminist triumph. It’s not. It could have been a better book, just the one book, not a marketable trilogy. It could have been one decent movie, not a bloated franchise. In the end, it’s a packaged deal that is meant to sell well and is exceeding expectations. The franchise is locked in. May the games begin.

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