Category Archives: Movies

On Violence and Bloodthirsty Americans

No, this blog post is not about vampires. Though I suppose it could be, with that title.

Joining in with the rest of America (so it seemed), Elaine and I saw The Hunger Games in theaters. Normally, I wouldn’t go see a movie before reading the book, but I just couldn’t help myself. To be honest, I heard lots of great things about it – even from those who read the books, which is surprising – so I convinced Elaine to go with me. Before getting into any kind of analysis, I should say that I really enjoyed the movie. I thought it was very well made, and had some excellent acting. That in itself was surprising, considering many of the actors weren’t well-known.

As Elaine and I walked out of the theater, we did the typical, “So, what did you think of the movie?” As you can obviously tell, I was pretty happy about spending the previous 2 1/2 hours with Katniss Everdeen. Elaine surprised me, however, by saying she was unhappy with the movie. I was a little baffled, so I asked her to clarify. Her initial reaction (and I think rightfully so) was general disgust. Or perhaps, at the very least, she was quite disturbed by watching children between the ages of 12-18 killing each other. The fact that movies look so realistic now really doesn’t help. In particular, there is a scene at the beginning of the actual Games in the movie when a large portion of the children run towards a specific location, and the entire scene is a bloodbath. I must admit, I was quite disturbed myself.

One of the things Elaine said that caught my attention was that she felt like the audience of the movie actually became the audience of the Hunger Games. The general premise of the movie is that children are chosen to compete (and kill each other) in a game of survival, where there can only be one winner. The citizens of Panem (the nation) are forced to watch, and many find entertainment in the Games. The problem Elaine noticed is that the majority of the movie – and the book – focus specifically on what actually happens during the Games. Not only that, but because the focus is on a specific person (Katniss Everdeen), the movie audience finds itself actually cheering Katniss on in her quest to win. What we may not realize, however, is that in cheering Katniss on, we’re actually cheering for her to kill others. This is a problem that, I’m willing to bet, most Americans won’t even realize. It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of thinking violence is alright simply because “the good guy” might “win.”

Fortunately, I think both the moviemakers and the author were trying to convey something (or perhaps I’m simply being overly optimistic here). I think the attempt to force the audience to cheer Katniss on actually shows something deeply depraved within humanity – and especially Americans. You see, we enjoy violence quite a bit, whether we want to admit it or not. Seriously, look at just most Evangelicals. If a movie is rated R for sexuality or nudity, we’re so quick to condemn it and say that it’s a distortion of something beautiful God has created. Coincidentally, however, we’re also quick to say, “Oh, it’s only rated R for violence? No big deal.” Isn’t this just as much of a distortion of creation as a movie that objectifies women or distorts sexuality?

I’m not trying to be condemning or judgmental here. Actually, I’m willing to freely admit that I’m guilty of this exact issue. I think I may have even said those words before. The problem is, if I believe God has truly created the world and is actively reconciling and redeeming it, violence is equally as culpable as distorted sexuality.

What do you think? Have you noticed this trend in American culture? Do you think violence is alright to witness, even if only in a movie? Or do you think it should be treated as a problem in our society?