Critic’s Corner: Does violence discredit “The Hunger Games”?


The argument I had heard was that since the book is a critique of a society which receives pleasure from watching the pain of others, watching the movie was stooping to the same level, thus proving that our own society is headed in the same direction.

Before moving forward, I must clarify that I do believe there is far too much violence in the media today. When movies have to get a PG-13 label for audiences to be interested in watching them, whether that label be for violence or sex, we have a problem.

However, I don’t think this is a valid argument against “The Hunger Games.”

Overall, we see violence through the eyes of Katniss, the protagonist. To create a realistic perspective, the film utilizes shaky and hazy camera techniques, as if we were walking, falling or moving with Katniss.

This technique prevents us from seeing all the details, and even from truly understanding what’s going on in the moment. This not only helps us to experience the Hunger Games like Katniss does, because during a battle or an attack, it’s often true that confusion reigns, but it also shields us from seeing as much blood or violent actions.

For example, during the scene at the cornucopia in the start of the games, we see Katniss running toward the supplies, and then a few violent sequences, but all through a blurry and hazy camera, with close to silence as background.

There is no glorification of death in this scene. Through Katniss’s eyes, we are horrified at the murders occurring before our eyes, and we squint and turn away in confusion. There is no glory music to elevate the battle to something greater. We see murder for what it is: taking life from the innocent.

The camera rarely shows us the direct footage of the games which the crowds at the Capitol watch and never during a violent scene. Thus we remain immersed in the games, immersed in the innocence which we retain, viewing the games from a hazy viewpoint.

Additionally, we never get to see the playbacks from years past that we know Katniss and Peeta study in order to learn survival techniques. These would have included many deaths, which the tributes are forced to watch in order to learn more about the games. We only see a snippet before the film moves on, refusing to focus on the violence.

Throughout the film, we see Katniss protecting the innocent and aiding the weak, be it her family, Rue or Peeta. Any acts of violence on her part are in self-defense, for she does not go about seeking to kill.

The only scene in which we see a direct kill on her part is when one of the tributes attacks her and Rue, and she shoots him in the chest in order to defend someone she loves. When we see her weeping after Rue’s death a short time later, we know that she is not merely weeping at the death of her friend. She weeps at the fact that she had to kill and that she has been forced to play a part in the “games” of the Capitol.

While Katniss never makes a promise to abstain from violence, it is made clear through the film that this is simply a part of her because she has so much to live for. She is not like some who would rather die than kill. Perhaps this is wrong of her. But we know that she only kills so that she can return to support the ones she loves.

Throughout the film, we see the people of the Capitol watching the games, placing bets and being entertained by violence and death. Yet it is because of our disgust at their behavior that we remember that there is no glory in violence.

When Cinna, the game announcer, with his smile and jokes, almost makes us laugh the way the desensitized crowd does in the midst of the morbidity of it all, we are horrified at ourselves and take a step back to re-evaluate.

“The Hunger Games,” if it does compare us to the society within the story, can only be for our benefit. We recognize in their faults our own and are challenged to see our own world through the eyes of a hero who protects life rather than taking it.

Thus, in my opinion, it is not faulty of any Christian or Catholic to watch “The Hunger Games.” I cannot speak for the rest of the trilogy, but what I have seen has only served to my edification. We all should seek to turn our eyes from violence, not allowing it to change us into someone who we are not, someone who plays a part in the games of the world.