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This weekend I finally went to see this movie, one I'd been expecting since reading Suzanne Collin's trilogy. And I wasn't disappointed.  The world I'd come to know from the books came alive before my eyes, as did the characters, and soon I found myself reacting to the story as if I ignored how it progressed – which means that the pace and tension were well calibrated.   It felt as if the creators had been reading my mind, there was no jarring sensation brought by differences between the imagined and the filmed.  So I'd rate the experience a very positive one indeed.

Since seeing the movie, though, I have been thinking about the power of television, and the way it can change our approach to the outside world: in the Hunger Games' dystopian society the public (at least in the Capitol) seems to focus on the event itself rather than its cruel implications.  To enjoy the bloody sport of pitching human beings against each other.  Contemporary spectators shudder at such unthinking cruelty, automatically condemning it – but are we really that different from the Capitol's jaded viewers?

What I mean is that – far from relishing other people's gory deaths – TV, and reality shows, seem to have inured us to pain and suffering, the medium of the screen giving the images a sort of remoteness that places real blood on the same level as a movie's special effects.

On TV there are many so-called reality programs that show footage of terrible accidents, or massive catastrophes: what shocks me, every time I happen to stumble on one of them, is that the horror of what is happening on screen is filtered through the lens of sensationalism, the need to present what is essentially a tragedy as something spectacular. To stress the entertainment value of the images, diminishing – or worse, ignoring – the human factors involved.

Which means that given the... proper direction probably we wouldn't react so differently from the Capitol citizens if, over a given period of time, we were to be presented with sacrificial victims as they have in Ms. Collins' fictional universe, if the spotlights were focused on the entertainment value of the proceedings, distracting us from its implications and consequences. 

And it's not a comforting thought.

What do you think?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-28 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vinegar-dog.livejournal.com
Hi Nym, good to know you enjoyed the movie, I was reluctant to go see it because I loved the books so much, I didn't want to be disappointed but since I know you loved them too and I know our tastes tend to be on the same wave length I think I will give the movie a chance. I have been disappointed so many times by the film versions of my favourite books that I am like a scolded cat when it comes to giving the screen versions a chance!

As for the rest of your reflections, I cannot agree more. I too sadly believe that the masses under the right circumstances and conditioning would come to like the gladiatorial feel of such games - after all the ancient Romans already did and I don't think human nature has changed and evolved much since then (if any!)

That's one of the reasons why I absolutely abhor reality tv - the thought of human beings willing to humiliate themselves in public for some perceived "fame" but even more the willingness of the viewing public to bestow said celebrity based on the appreciation of, in some cases, debasing displays makes me shudder and wish for a wormhole out of here on a daily basis! :(

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-28 09:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
I understand your reluctance to see a loved book mishandled on screen, but this is not the case: of course, many elements of the book have been left aside, or glossed over - the time constraints of filming being what they are... But they did a good job by concentrating on Katniss alone, and I must say the actress who portrays her did carry herself very well.
I look forward to your comments on the movie!

No, human nature has not evolved very much... And your comparison with the ancient Romans is just right: it took me a while to make the connection, but in the end I realized that the name of the state - Panem - came from the phrase "panem et circenses".
Which is tailor-made for the situation :-(

Reality TV is (IMHO) the negation of coherent and intelligent thought. It's frightening to consider we might be just a few steps removed from what we read in the books and saw on screen. And that friendly wormhole looks even more inviting! :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-28 09:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vinegar-dog.livejournal.com
Uh I had not made that connection, Nym - the Panem name coming from panem et circenses but of course now that you said it, it makes complete sense! I wonder how many people would have actually picked up on that. See, I love discussing things with you, you always make me think! :)
Edited Date: 2012-05-28 09:39 pm (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-29 04:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
It took me a while... Neury (my lone surviving neuron) is never too cooperative these days... LOL

I love discussing things with you, you always make me think!

WE LIVE TO SERVE...

:-D :-D

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-29 09:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] diarmi.livejournal.com
You're a Hunger Games fan? Yay! I enjoyed books and I liked the movie a lot - very good adaptation, it kept me engaged and nervous even though I know the plot.

About people and violence - it's true that this need for sensation can be horrifying but I wouldn't demonize it. I'm not saying it's ok but psychology could be at use here I'm sure (the need to tame the death for example). I immediately thought about what vinegar_dog said - how people enjoyed watching other dying on arenas. Or how in Medieval times executions were the main source of entertainment. Today many of us (the lucky ones living in relatively safe Western world and the ones that managed to avoid violence in life) are rather sheltered from horrors of direct violence so observing it on tv can be seen almost as something unreal, and definitely distant - so there goes some kind of emotional anesthesia.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-05-29 04:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
Loved the books, yes. And I'm still surprised they were labeled as YA fiction!

It's exactly the emotional anesthesia that scares me. Already we have news programs that show terrible tragedies back to back with, for example, the Oscar ceremony. I'm exaggerating a bit here, true, but TV taught us removal from reality.
Somehow it seems to me that there could be only a few steps from this attitude to the one shown by the Capitol citizens: they cheered the Tributes as people now do with soccer players, or Olympics gymnasts, and did not seem to focus on the fact that these young people were *forced* to kill each other in order to survive.

This is one of the sides of the books - and movie - that I enjoy: that it makes me *think*.
My conclusions might be off the mark by several miles, but still the old brain cells are working, and that's good! :-)

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-02 12:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] officersun524.livejournal.com
Nym, I agree with both you and vinegardog; I too abhor reality TV, be it Jersey Shore, The Kardashians or anything else that features people doing stupid stuff for money. It really cheapens our society to see people act in such a way. Usually when you see it in fiction, there's a moral, for lack of a better word, a consequence for the characters. that's what makes good fiction. Alas, with reality TV, all you get are people being famous for...being famous.

I exempt the talent type shows because you actually need skills for those.

And, Nym--I am so glad you liked The Hunger Games. I thought they did the material justice, much like HBO has with A Game of Thrones.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-06-02 09:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nymeria-55.livejournal.com
Alas, with reality TV, all you get are people being famous for...being famous.

Great summation, indeed. And a sad commentary on a society that doesn't care about substance...


As for Hunger Games, I agree with your comparison with GoT: in both cases the translation from book to screen was operated with care and respect. I can hardly wait for the DVD to come out!

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