The O'Reilly Factor Laments Violence in The Hunger Games

Discussion in 'Media & Commentators' started by Polly Minx, Mar 25, 2012.

  1. Polly Minx

    Polly Minx New Member

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    (The following was originally posted (by yours truly of course) in a social group, but I've to take the subject public for discussion.)

    A few days back, on the day before the film's opening, Bill O'Reilly of Fox News included in his program a segment where two guests of conveniently unspecified background endeavored to criticize the level of violence in the new movie, The Hunger Games, which is based on the best-selling book trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I recently had the opportunity to see the movie in question. Here's my response:

    The Hunger Games is one of the relatively few movies in which I think that large doses of fairly intense violence are morally justified. Why? Because one of the main points, both of the book series and of this movie, is precisely that our society is losing its moral compass. The Hunger Games is about a distant-future, post-nuclear-war/post-ecological-disaster North America called Panem in which selected teenagers from poor and desperate backgrounds are required to annually entertain the affluent residents of the Capitol in a gladiator-style, life-and-death reality show/contest called the Hunger Games.

    The author of the book series, Collins, says that the inspiration to write the books came from channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. The two, she says, "began to blur in this very unsettling way" and the idea for the book was formed. The Greek myth of Theseus served as basis for the story, with Collins describing Katniss (the main protagonist) as a futuristic Theseus, and that Roman gladiatorial games formed the framework. The sense of loss that Collins developed through her father's service in the Vietnam War also affected the story, whose heroine lost her father at age eleven, five years before the story begins. Collins has stated that the deaths of the young characters and other "dark passages" were the hardest parts of the book to write, but she had accepted she would be writing such scenes. She considered the moments where Katniss reflects on happier moments in her past to be the more enjoyable passages to write. In an interview with Collins, it was noted that the books "[tackle] issues like severe poverty, starvation, oppression, and the effects of war, among others". I personally observe that the nation of Panem Collins presents can be in many respects compared to the shape of the contemporary world if we mentally substitute the individual districts for countries instead. The Hunger Games are a form of punishment for a rebellion that was waged at an earlier point by the 13 impoverished districts against the wealthy Capitol and a source of entertainment for a privileged Capitol populace whose principal life concern seems to be the resolving its own boredom...in ANY way possible. If mentally juxtaposed to a world scale in the aforementioned way, this plot says a lot about imperialism.

    Ultimately, the book series, and this movie, are about hope on the one hand and about a society that has completely lost all moral sensitivity on the other. The irony of such productions, of course, is that, while lamenting the use of violence as entertainment, the artists are forced to employ it in the process. And it is THAT aspect which Fox criticizes. But the criticism is offered in a remarkably de-contextualized way. None of the main plot points I just highlighted are discussed on Bill O'Reilly's program. The Factor portrays the film as motivated by bloodthirsty sensationalism rather than by the obvious aim of PROTESTING bloodthirsty sensationalism. In thus separating the means from the ends in this strict way, we are presented with the argument that this is a film too violent for the intended audience. On the contrary, I'd argue that the ends clearly justify the means in this case because one important aim of the film in question is precisely TO sensitize the next generation to the question of violence-as-entertainment! It is in just such exceptional cases that I believe the conveyance of heavy violence to the youth can be justified. It is notable and convenient that the Factor hardly seems to bother critiquing the levels of violence in films and TV programs that DON'T involve such a progressive message, by contrast.

    If anything, the film pulls too many punches. The book on which this movie is based contains qualitatively heavier doses of violence and mutilation; the kind that would surely have gotten the movie rated R. The filmmakers thus opted to water down the level of violence somewhat in order to render the contents more accessible to the main target audience. Some critics on the other (liberal) side contend that that amounts to compromising the message of the book. Maybe and maybe not. The author of the book series is also a producer of the film though. If the result of these alterations is sufficiently true to the book for her, it is sufficiently true for me. She is the artist. It is her story to tell, not mine or anyone else's. The only times I insist that films should duplicate something exactly are when we are talking about either real-world history or a book written by a deceased author (who thus cannot have input into the film's contents). Artists have the right to reinvent their own stories in any way they see fit. They do not have the right to reinvent OTHER PEOPLE'S stories without their consent, IMO. But this isn't one of those latter cases.

    Conservatives believe The Hunger Games should be rated R with its PRESENT contents. Many liberals believe the movie should be rated R with MORE GRUESOME contents that are truer to the corresponding book. I say it should be rated PG-13 with the present contents, as it is, because that is apparently what the original author herself believes is best.
     
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  2. MisLed

    MisLed New Member

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    I'm having a bit of difficulty trying to determine if some of the sentences are you own analysis or Collin's remarks.

    for instance...just to be sure. is this YOUR analysis?

    I personally observe that the nation of Panem Collins presents can be in many respects compared to the shape of the contemporary world if we mentally substitute the individual districts for countries instead. The Hunger Games are a form of punishment for a rebellion that was waged at an earlier point by the 13 impoverished districts against the wealthy Capitol and a source of entertainment for a privileged Capitol populace whose principal life concern seems to be the resolving its own boredom...in ANY way possible. If mentally juxtaposed to a world scale in the aforementioned way, this plot says a lot about imperialism.
     
  3. MisLed

    MisLed New Member

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    If what appears to be collins' explanation of what she's written i'm extremely disappointed in HER. BUT, her book, haven't seen the movie, says something quite different to me. And perhaps something that she did not intend.
     
  4. Polly Minx

    Polly Minx New Member

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    Yep, those are my original words. Google it or something if you don't believe me. Why?

    The specific quote you highlighted happened to be, in part, a personal interpretation of the contents, as indicated by the word "personally". The author is not necessarily saying everything I'm saying. I quoted and referenced her on what she herself has said. The Panem = world analogy is my own. The back-story is not. That is the author's.

    Artistic works mean different things to different people. I understand that. I hear that some conservatives are even interpreting the film as featuring a sort of anti-government message they like. I was just highlighting some of what the author has said she was trying to get at, while also providing some personal commentary/interpretation of my own. Going to see the movie yourself is recommended. It will make these matters a lot easier to flesh out.
     
  5. MisLed

    MisLed New Member

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    I've read the book(s). And i wasn't criticizing your interpretation. I saw the personally but i wanted to be sure.

    In the book, I do see it as an anti-government message. I even see the Panem government as marxist, definitely socialist in the control of its citizens and it's treatment of it's domestic enemies. Other elements of a leftist regime are present also. Seems to be an atheistic society.
     
  6. Wildjoker5

    Wildjoker5 Well-Known Member

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    I wanted more violence in the movie. It lost some of the effect when they cut so much out during the beginning of the competition. I hope they include an unrated version when it is released to bluray.

    And really, I don't like when bill o' tries to look down on others for their way of life. He is pompous and arrogant prude that tries to judge others that don't live as he does.
     
  7. Sadanie

    Sadanie Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Thank you for this summary. I haven't seen the movie yet (waiting for the theatres to be less crowded!), but I have read the whole series and loved it. And although the books were violent in place, there were enough character development, instance of human compassion and self-sacrifice to make it a learning experience for a young adult or mature child.

    I actually sent these series to my grand son's Kindle (he is 13) and he loved it too.

    I believe that some of the reality shows and many of the programs seen by young people these days are more damaging than this series because they rarely include ANY positive human feelings or character growth to counter balance the violence displayed.

    I am certainly looking forward to seeing the movie and making up my own mind. But I will continue to recommend the books to any young adult or mature teenager!
     
  8. Sadanie

    Sadanie Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Are you kidding?

    I see the Panem government as the EXTREME end of RUN AWAY CAPITALISM, where a very few ELITE LIVE ONLY for material luxury and comfort, off the labor of an EXTREMELY poor and oppressed working/slave class.

    Yes. . .I agree with the "atheistic society" part. . .The rest is BS!
     
  9. Rapunzel

    Rapunzel New Member Past Donor

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  10. CKW

    CKW Well-Known Member

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    Well my 12 year old read the book--library book from school. And now she's hyped for the movie.
     
  11. MisLed

    MisLed New Member

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    Where was capitalism? The capitol forced the districts to furnish them with goods and services and the district people were all poor. All in misery. As is the way with socialism. They were prevented from hunting on pain of death. The bakers were not able to eat their own goods except for the inferior products.

    Where's the capitalism in that?

    The Atheism ought to be a big clue for ya.
     
  12. Polly Minx

    Polly Minx New Member

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    It's in the eye of the beholder. People usually just interpret things so that "the artist's views" match their own outlook. That often includes me, admittedly.

    I don't think this series is essentially about economic systems. It is about the immorality of certain conditions (like poverty and hunger), of war, of exploitation (in this case, forcing teenagers to kill each other for the entertainment of the wealthy), and such like this. The rest is all personal inference. If you think that socialism is really that exploitative and oppressive, then it is socialism. If you think capitalism is really that exploitative and oppressive (and I do), then it is capitalism.

    There are plenty of programs on TV that bear out the author's point on the directionality of society quite well. For example, I often watch The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Well right after her program, there is a show called Lock-Up, which seeks to make entertainment out of the plight of actual prisoners. Or remember that program, I don't recall the name, they tried to get on TV a few years back that was to be a reality show where little children were taken away from their parents out into a deserted town to see if they could organize a functioning society without any help from adults? Remember the lawsuits? Do you kind of see what I'm getting at here?

    Well anyhow, my main criticism of the film is that, unlike the books, it doesn't involve enough, you know, hunger! The word "hunger" is even in the title! The hunger issue is one of those things that really brings home to the reader that we're not "just" talking about poverty per se, but specifically desperate poverty: the kind common in Third World countries, not the kind we see in the contemporary First World. That is one reason I choose to see a message about imperialism here as well. IMO people are still basically only thinking of themselves and their own plights here. There is a much, much poorer world outside our respective countries and this series might just be touching on that subject indirectly. Today's America is a fat, fat country, not a truly desperate and hungry one. We have troubles, but basically we are pampered and privileged compared to most of the world. Almost every single American belongs to the world's richest 10%. Pampered, privileged, and bored.
     
  13. septimine

    septimine New Member

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    Totally agreed. I think its about our media appatites moreso than our economics. It's a commentary, and unfortunately I think it's also somewhat prophetic -- at least in that I think our reality TV shows are more about exploiting human pain as entertainment -- and thus about the stuff we'd choose to watch on TV. I think we really might see something similar, as we already are pretty darn comfortable with people experiencing emotional pain for our entertainment (as a rather extreme example, one of the real housewives' husbands committed suicide after the end of a season) and further, our stunt-based reality TV is going in a rather extreme direction as well. We aren't even uncomfortable with showing re-enacted deaths on TV (1000_Ways_to_Die) so I'm not having a hard time imagining something like Hunger Games happening in America. We're like 3/4 there.

    That's what I got from it -- we're so used to exploiting the pain of other people that we're losing sight of the fact that they are real people.
     
  14. Cubed

    Cubed Well-Known Member Donor

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    What this movie is trying to do, has been done much better in films like Battle Royale or The Running Man. These movies better encapsulated the absurd yet almost precient views on the exploitation of people for the sake of entertainment, a practice harkening back to the Roman Coliseum.

    If this movie is a gateway for young people to find movies like that, then I welcome films like this. I haven't see THG so I am unaware of how 'satirical' it is, or if it really tries to be a 'serius filmz', but I really hope its more the latter then the former.
     
  15. Makedde

    Makedde New Member Past Donor

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    I'd give the book an M rating and probably the same for the movie, even though I haven't seen it yet. Can't wait to, though.
     
  16. Polly Minx

    Polly Minx New Member

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    If you haven't seen it, how do you know it's inferior to other films of somewhat comparable themes?

    The Hunger Games is at least three times more compelling than The Running Man, IMO.
     
  17. Cubed

    Cubed Well-Known Member Donor

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    Actually I wouldn't be surprised by that. The Running man isn't a very 'good' or compelling movie at all. It (and Battle Royale) both took the theme to an over the top extreme. All the reviews and previews and even the trailer conveyed a more serious tone. I'm not judging the films quality itself, as yes, I have not seen it. What I was speaking more to was the serious vrs absurd views on a futuristic setting that has reached the point of violence-as-entertainment.
    I'm very curious to see it though, based on everything I've heard.
     
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