I was unable to endure more than 15 minutes of the first, much-ballyhooed Hunger Games. Much to the consternation of the company present, I muttered about obedient America in-thrall to DC warfare propaganda. Writes Steve Sailer about the next installment: “Like the Twilight series, Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games young-adult novels are aimed at 12-year-old female readers. This puts the movies squarely in the intellectual wheelhouse of average Americans, a sizable fraction of whom don’t read much at all”:
… Perhaps we might eventually see a smile from Jennifer Lawrence (no relation to Francis), the Oscar-winning (Silver Linings Playbook) actress who plays the PTSD-addled heroine Katniss Everdeen.
Much of Lawrence’s star appeal to teenagers comes from being a normal-looking pretty American girl, a Homecoming-Queen-second-runner-up type. Her apple-cheeked face is distinctive mostly for her wide, well-padded cheekbones.
Since she’s only 23, everybody predicts a great career for her. But she strikes me as a girl built more for comfort than for speed, one whom Hollywood will hound to keep her weight down, with unpredictable consequences. Already, they seem to be doing something strange with her face. Lighting? Makeup? Digital manipulation in postproduction? Collagen injections? Beats me, but ever since X-Men: First Class she hasn’t looked the same as she did in her early low-budget films Winter’s Bone and The Beaver.
… Perhaps The Hunger Games works best as an allegorical critique of poor dumb Red State Americans volunteering to serve in the Capitol’s wars without even getting a cut of the Beltway’s black-budget contracts.
Thus the heroine is never tempted to side with the rich and powerful, although you can’t really credit her for that considering their taste in couture. The Capitol denizens are addicted to godawful conspicuous consumption rather than to the current status system in which you show off what esoterica you notice (how much carbon was emitted bringing your carrots to market, for instance) and all the massive facts you ostentatiously fail to notice.
Conversely, the movie’s portrayal of West Virginians is straight out of a Works Progress Administration writers’ project. The mountaineers are all hardworking coal miners. Nobody is on disability due to morbid obesity. The working class isn’t trapped in a web of invisible debt, they aren’t having their heavy industry jobs outsourced, nor are they having new populations insourced. In other words, there’s little to unsettle contemporary viewers in The Hunger Games. …
UPDATE I (11/29): Facebook thread. I hate allegories; libertarian, left or right. They’re cumbersome, inorganic, artificial—all the more so when done by dumb Hollywood types. A movie has to present a good script and story and be well acted and well-put together. I don’t want symbolism. Stay away from politics, Hollywood. Above all, to please my tastes, it has to resemble reality. That’s the general rule, although I have been known to lose myself in “Avatar” lately. Never watched it when it came out. I think it’s b/c the actual scenario is a possibility; man destroying other civilizations and animals has happened—still does. Kerry: You are right. I deserve a medal for watching the bit of Hunger foolishness I watched.
UPDATE II: Kerry Crowel, I was a kid when Ingmar Bergman was popular in Israel. I recall trying to read subtitles and figure out the agonized themes and plots. (And fiddle the bunny rabbit TV antenna to get a picture.) A lot like a Nordic Chekhov he was. Actually, whatever he did, Bergman was way too sophisticated to compare to “Hunger Games.” More in the league of Fellini, who also delivered plots that made you forget the symbolism behind it. It wasn’t labored. You could still get absorbed in the plot. The reason I like a straightforward plot these days (then I was able to watch Bergman starring Liv Ullmann) was b/c simple is all the current crop can manage. I do like thrillers. I confess.