The fourth of July joins Memorial Day and Veterans day as the three times a year I feel out of step with the rest of American culture. While I’m grateful for my country’s freedoms and opportunities, and I want to mourn with those who mourn the losses of war, I cannot participate in rituals that glorify war.
If you want to filter your/your child's movie viewing through some fairly granular rules about sex, nudity and profanity, the Motion Picture Assocation of America's rating system is your friend. If, like me, you have a weak stomach for depictions of violence--glorified or not, realistic or not--you kind of have to do your own research.
In Suzanne Collins's trilogy, and the recent movie
adaptation of the first book, the Hunger Games are a nationally-televised
spectacle in which 24 randomly chosen teenagers are forced to fight to the
death in a man-made arena. The annual Hunger Games are an instrument of
oppression by the Capitol--the center of totalitarian power that survived a
rebellion--to remind the 12 districts under its power just how powerless they
The citizens of the Capitol love the Hunger Games. To
them it is pure entertainment. To the citizens of the 12 subservient districts,
it is a form of torture. Their children and neighbors become murderers or
victims, and they are forced to watch (literally--viewing is mandatory).
There is a paradox at the heart of The Hunger Games' appeal.
Lately there has been a surge of studies variously construed as focused on "religion and violence," "the Bible and violence" or "God and violence." Most of these studies are not very helpful, for they dismiss the shrill reality of violence in facile ways.