That was the summary of the headline of Maclean Magazine’s latest feature story. That the Hunger Games, with all it’s popularity, is fueled by the intense negative emotions spawning in our children. While the writer does not quite come out and say it, one gets the feeling that he has a large distaste for this kind of novel and feels it is detrimental to our youth. He points out many books that have come out over the last 10-20 years which fit the bill, explaining how each one feeds on the emotions.
I won’t deny that it gets into a kids emotions. Heck, as an adult it tugs on my emotions too, and makes my moral compass go into a spinning frenzy trying to grasp at whether or not one should enjoy such a tale.
What the author seemed to have overlooked was that stories like this have existed long before this new onslaught of YA Dystopia’s. While The Lord of the Flies was not about an oppressing government forcing the children to fight to the death, it held the same overall storyline of children losing their innocence and killing each other in order to survive. Yet that book is revered as a literary masterpiece and students are forced to read it in school.
The story is simply that, a story. It is a fictional take on a possible outcome of the future, one that, if you look at human behaviour throughout history, is not all that unbelievable. It would not be the first time that innocent people were used to fight to the death for the entertainment of the rich and ‘classy’. Look at Rome with the Gladiator games. While the theory was that they were all criminals, criminal did not necessarily mean they had done something wrong. There was no real judge and jury.
Had Hitler simply been bent on world domination and not annihilating every other race, I would not be surprised if a similar outcome had happened.
And the worst part is, it’s not just the children that feed on it — adults were the ones who went crazy over these ideas, who cheered and instilled the entertainment value on their kids.
This story simply takes a different perspective. What if, instead of taking criminals and adults, they decided that in order to keep people in line, they would use what is most precious? Their children.
Why does the story generate so much interest? It has nothing to do with the pent up anger of youth, the violent streaks that seem to be insinuated are waiting to burst by this article. It has to do with the fact that such a concept is so terrifying, there is an edge of strange excitement to it. It makes these kids think — What would I do if I were a tribute? Would I be brave enough? They latch onto it because many know that they wouldn’t survive. So they latch on to Katniss, who represents who we all hope we could be if our world took that turn — the one who holds onto her moral compass, who survives, and who takes on the new face of the world to prove that a better one should exist.
When it comes to their emotions, of course kids would latch onto the emotional part — if they didn’t, I would be worried. It would mean that they had been completely desensitized to this kind of thing. Which, if you think about it, many have. And that has less to do with our kids being angry, and more to do with everything we allow our kids to be exposed to.
With stories like Twilight rampaging our youth and destroying their ideas of good writing and good story telling, I hope that more will be exposed to stories like The Hunger Games instead.
If anything, I think this is the kind of story kids SHOULD read.
And as an adult, I am damn proud to have Katniss be a hero to kids.