the Hunger Games

Seriously?

The idea of people fighting each other to the death for the sport of it and for the amusement of others is nothing new, in fact or fiction. In films, some of my favorite movies with this theme are Spartacus, the Running Man (so bad it’s good), and, of course… Battle Royale.

To diverge from the path a bit, allow me to say this: every person who has ever done a blog, a zine, been in a band, or, really, done anything creative has their target audience in mind. They have a type of person that they are writing for, and that they imagine are the types of person who would read it/listen to it. Sometimes you may even have a specific person in mind when you write something.

Today, I am confounded.

My target audience is not people who are exactly like me (never has been), but they are close. They are the “geeks”. A word that, like “emo”, completely lost all its meaning once it was latched onto by the public and everyone else who never really understood the culture anyway… other than as a way to make some serious moolah.

The geeks that I like to imagine read this blog are smart, witty, perhaps a bit socially inept, out of shape (of course), are into some fairly eccentric stuff (obscure Muppet movies, extinct Disney World rides, stuff like that), but most of all…. they are literate. And by literate, I mean they read. And by read, I mean they read things that are above a middle-school level and would never, ever, be branded with that dreaded acronym: YAF.

Young Adult Fiction.

I enjoy candy as much as the next guy. Occasionally, I will purchase a large bag of candy and eat it (which is why I am not fit for dragon*con). Usually, some sort of gummies (gummy lifesavers, jolly ranchers, and the starburst ones with shit in the middle are the best, imo).

But for my nourishment, and to help me grow up big and strong, I eat vegetables, meat, and drink water and milk. Well, mostly I eat pizza and drink beer, but you get the idea. A man cannot live on candy alone.

To really beat the dead horse: Young Adult Fiction is for Young Adults, but it’s fine occasionally as a fun supplement. The problem comes in when people discover that they prefer candy to meat and potatoes. It is easy to eat, cheap, tastes great, and most of all: it’s fun.

Unfortunately, too much candy makes the belly (and mind) mushy and worthless.

Where am I going with all this?

I have made my disdain for Harry Potter evident in the past, along with my own weakness for hype machines. So I know how you feel, my fellow geek. Don’t get me wrong. I have fallen prey to many a hype machine.

But when I see intelligent people go from Harry Potter, to Twilight, to the Hunger Games, it makes me want to barf.  And when these crazy blockbuster movies are clearly marketed heavily towards my fellow geeks, I get mad, because I feel like innocent geeks are being exploited all over the world by greedy, fake, Hollywood money machines.

Make no mistake about it, geek: they know you. They know what you like, and they will feed it to you in the most easily-digestible form you could ever have imagined. And before you know it, you will be addicted to whatever the next “thing” is: whether it’s pussy vampires or wizarding tweens. You won’t even know it, but the hook will be in your mouth and you are being reeled in.

Here’s the thing: the Hunger Games is a dumbed-down, easily-palatable, Battle Royale. 

What’s worse than that???? You know it is!!!!  But yet you still eat it up.

Sure, humans killing each other for sport and fun is nothing new in movies….

But, a dystopian (a word that gets thrown around way too much these days) society in which the gubment forces teens to battle each other to the death??? That is a direct ripoff and I, for one, refuse to be duped and give my money to a hack writer, and the even more talentless producers who are spoonfeeding my geek brethren this tripe.

The Battle Royale novel, which I admittedly have not read, came out in 1999 (I looked it up, dog). The film, which is awesome and was banned in several countries, came out in 2000.

The Hunger Games novel came out in 2008.

NERDRAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE.

Here’s how we can make some money folks: Take a great idea that is both edgy and original, and write a terrible, dumbed-down version of it and then sell the movie rights.

Voila! We are both rich and popular… but somebody, somewhere, will know that we completely suck and hate us for it. Oh well, ya gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, right?

For me, like the word “emo”, I’m throwing in the towel on the “geek” thing…

Again…

tl;dr

The Hunger Games. Really, yall? Seriously?

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17 Responses to the Hunger Games

  1. Jason says:

    *shrug* It was a very good series of books. And since I (and many others I would assume) had never heard of Battle Royale until people started bringing up the “Yeah, well, Battle Royale did it first” arguments, The Hunger Games achieved was Battle Royale didn’t: a large audience.

    The movie isn’t as good as the book, but it was still an enjoyable 2 hours at the cinema.

    • Jason,

      First off, I want to thank you for stopping by, and especially for leaving a comment!

      However, I don’t know if your statement about achieving a large audience is something I can agree with. Achieving a large audience isn’t hard, nor do I think it is something that is to be “achieved”. There are tons of videos on youtube that have millions of views that depict incredibly stupid stuff and which took absolutely zero talent to produce, just as there are tons of terrible films that have made zillions of dollars. Just because something is successful does not make it good. There’s nothing wrong with success, but when you steal another person’s work to achieve that success is where I have a problem. I may be misinterpreting your comment on that point, though.

      Also, I posted this on the FFDC facebook page (under the comments section for this blogpost), but here goes anyway:

      “My problems with it can pretty much be summed up as:
      1. I do not care for the trend (which has been going on for a good long while now) of adults reading ONLY young adult fiction. As the blog post states: candy is fine every now and then, but too much makes us fat and lazy.
      2. Artistic integrity is very important to me, and I don’t like the idea that people don’t give a shit if it’s a ripoff, as long as it is entertaining.”

      Looking at it from that perspective, my contempt for the Hunger Games really has nothing at all to do with the Hunger Games, specifically. It’s more about what the popularity of the Hunger Games implies about our society as a whole.

      • Jason says:

        I can’t disagree with your first point. I would hope that people use YA fiction as a spring board into other things… however, also keep in mind that a number of classic books from classic authors such as Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Edgar Rice Burroughs and more would probably be classified as YA if written today. Within itself, YA has subgenres.. there is the Twilight level of audience pandering, and then there are books with complex themes that are just written more simply and often with a child/teen main character so that it appeals to a more general (and younger) group. This is where most people jump in with “Yeah, but when I was a kid, I liked reading [insert adult author here]…” but that’s because, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, you are a nerd. 🙂

        As for point two, I think it is important here to recognize that language and country of origin are very big division lines for many people. There are people in the US who would have never seen the foreign version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo who have seen the American version and claim it to be the best film ever made. In addition, as an aspiring writer myself, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve spent a month or more working on a story only to finally break down and tell someone about it and have them say, “Oh, that sounds exactly like [insert something I’ve never heard of and yet apparently I have copied]…” It happens so much more often that you could possibly imagine.

        And that’s really the main thing… theft is a harsh word, and by all accounts, Suzanne Collins didn’t steal anything since she didn’t know Battle Royale existed until after turning in her book and being told “This is kinda similar to…” She simply had the same idea independently.

        I mean, imagine my disappointment, when even though I am a huge fan of zombie related stuff, but had been out of the comic book scene for a long time, learned that The Walking Dead not only existed, but was being made into a TV show, as I sat staring at the scripts I had been writing about survivors in a zombie apocalypse that begins outside Atlanta (only natural, I live here, plus I wanted to use the CDC), moves on to a North Georgia farm, and then to a prison… I was floored.

      • I also agree that many of those authors would be considered YA today, as I read them when I was about the same age as the Hunger Games’ target market. But like you said, I was a bit of a nerdlinger and read above my grade level, like most other nerds I know (though I was horrendous at most arithmetic). I read, and loved, tons of terrible stuff as a youth.

        I can feel your pain when it comes to accidentally ripping someone off. I can speak from experience also that there have been many times, when playing music, that I’ve thought I had a great riff, only to have it pointed out that it was such-and-such song. The main difference here is that the Hunger Games is a huge hit, whereas BR, for the most part, still wallows in somewhat obscurity.

        Louis CK had a bit on his show where Dane Cook comes on the show and Louis CK basically accuses him of stealing his jokes, but eventually admits that he probably stole them unwittingly. Nevertheless, Louis CK is pissed.

        I am not a bit surprised that Suzanne Collins has never heard of Battle Royale. It still means I’m a bit miffed that she’s getting as rich as bread pudding off of it. Which, in a way, is weird because, clearly, it’s no skin off my back either way. I just want to see credit given where credit is due and whatnot.

        And don’t get me started about my fellow American’s general distaste for anything foreign. “I don’t wanna hafta read the movie!” is something I commonly hear at work and elsewhere when someone brings up a subtitled film. There’s a reason why we are stereotyped as being lazy.

        I truly appreciate your thoughts and comments on this post.

        I’m pleased that there are people out there who put genuine thought and time into posting comments, rather than the comments that I read daily on cnn.com or youtube.

        Quality, not quantity and all, ya know?

  2. Donkajin Bubbles says:

    When it comes to the American distaste for foreign entertainment that you mentioned, it’s a mild pet peeve of mine that when a movie full of violence, sex, and all manner of depravity with absolutely zero redeeming moral value is made in the US, it’s garbage. But had the same movie been made in Europe or Asia (or had Tarantino been involved in some way), it’s ART.

    Seems to be a bit of a double edged sword…

    • Indeed it does cut both ways. And I am just as guilty of it as anyone else.

      Take this video, for example:

      Is this better than Lady Gaga? I think so. But why do I think that? The worst part in the song is clearly the “oh my god” part at the beginning… when she speaks English. Why is that? It’s definitely an interesting question about our culture.

  3. Donkajin Bubbles says:

    Pardon my ignorance, but is Lady Gaga *not* popular with the masses any longer, or is it just that this bunch of gals has been deemed the higher end choice for fans to openly profess their admiration for? I’m proud to say that I know next to nothing about her, and wouldn’t even be able to rattle off any of her songs if it weren’t for the recent parodies by one Mr. Yankovic.

    • I don’t know any Lady Gaga songs either (not that I would be ashamed to admit it if I did), but I was watching these Korean gals and the wife dismissed them, saying “That shit sounds like Lady Gaga!” I assume that Lady Gaga is still bigger than Godzilla.
      The point is that I like it more than American pop, even though they apparently sound alike, just because it is foreign.

      • Jason says:

        To be honest, when it comes to most music the lyrics are the single most important part of the song for me, so since I can’t understand what the ladies in 2NE1 are saying, that is reason enough for me to not listen. I mean, it would be fine if I were in a dance club, since the lyrics are less important because now we are dancing, but for keeping on the Zune to listen to in the car or while I work or just lounge around the house, it would irritate me to not understand the words.

        Now, I would never go so far as to take an “it’s foreign therefore it’s shit” attitude, but it being foreign is enough to make it not my first choice. And yes, that includes movies, because yes, sometimes I don’t want to read a movie. (I watched one movie that had so much dialog during an action sequence that I barely saw any of the action since I spent the whole sequence reading the bottom of the screen.) If the option is there, I’ll turn on the English dubbed track instead, which usually makes things worse since dubbing is often awful (if it’s a Korean movie, just get Koreans who speak English to do the dubbing, having Americans who sound like surfer dudes do it ruins everything).

      • Well, I don’t sit ’round the house listening to 2ne1, but I do find it entertaining, and this song is on my workout mix (no shame). Once again, in this case, 2ne1 would be the candy that eventually makes us dull and fat.

        The vast majority of the movies I watch are American, but that’s mostly because Americans have produced way more movies of the type of flick that I enjoy.

      • Jason-
        What do you think about metal? Do you listen to it at all? Many times the lyrics are unintelligible. Just curious…

      • Jason says:

        When metal has good lyrics, I love it. When it doesn’t, it may make decent workout music, but nothing I’d seek out for entertainment or enjoyment. Stress relief at best.

        Funny story… I review stuff for a website, and for some reason the managing editor kept giving me grind-core/metal-core/screamo music to review despite the fact that I repeatedly told him I was incapable of reviewing it. My reviews were funny, but not about the music and I gave every album an F because the screaming/growling makes me want to stab myself in the ears with a pair of scissors. Anyway, one of the bands read my review of their album, which was about how their album would be a perfect soundtrack to kicking the crap out of blameless people in a dark alley, and complained. Now all that music is given to a different writer and I get more DVDs and Blu-rays to review.

      • I listen to a lot of metal, but I listen to a lot of music in general, so I was just curious about what your opinions were on it. I guess metal would be the candy, in this instance, because you just want to rock.

        I would prefer to review movies over music though. I’m probably more forgiving of bad movies than I am of bad music.

  4. Donkajin Bubbles says:

  5. velouria78 says:

    I respect your nerdrage. And I have read nary a Hunger Game. I work at a library and have put every Twilight and Dragon Tattoo and Hungry Competition on our hold shelf so many times that I doubt I will ever have any desire to pick up a copy and judge it for myself. There’s a little snobbery there, but it’s just in my face ALL THE TIME. I can’t help it, I’m just not interested. However, I would totally watch the movie. It would probably entertain me enough for the two hours of my life required, plus air conditioned movie theaters and bags of popcorn are some of my favorite things in this world. So in the end, I’m a total hypocrite. It’s all junk food, but I’m only eating the icing off of my cupcake instead of eating the healthy cake part, too.

    • You are definitely not alone in your hypocrisy. Most of the movies I watch these days could easily be classified as brain candy (KITH movie included, of course). I’m excited by the fact that Zaat is finally coming out on bluray, but at least Zaat makes no pretensions about being original, plus whoever made Zaat is probably in prison right now for meth or something, not profiting off of someone else’s work.
      Your comment about the healthy cake part of the cupcake is totally righteous also, by the way. good to have you back ’round here.

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