“The Hunger Games” series has grown in popularity across all ages, but has particularly dominated with young adults. The fandom has grown larger with each movie released and with the final installment out, it’s important to look at why this franchise should be regarded as so much more than a teen fad. CAUTION: CONTAINS SPOILERS.
The Hunger Games addresses real issues found in today’s society. Even though the setting is a dystopian future, it serves as a warning for how we treat media. A huge issue in this series is the desperate desire for entertainment—and it’s done in an incredibly sick way. The pitting of children against each other in a fight to the death as a spectacle elicits feelings of horror because we see what the media is like currently. Could this happen in the future? There’s also the issue of people in poverty being oppressed by a hierarchical and even dictatorial government. Katniss comes from one of the poorest districts, and because of this, kids like Gale had to put their names in the reaping more than once each year in order to get more food for their families. And at any sign of rebellion, the Capitol does not hesitate to kill immediately, like in District 11 after Rue’s death. President Snow will do anything to stop Katniss from spreading rebellion, so he takes people from her life. The government in this series is extremely corrupt and needs to be overthrown by the “smaller” people in order to get out from under it.
Human morals are questioned. The idea is raised of how far one would go to protect one’s own life and for the sake of one’s family. Katniss inadvertently sacrifices her life so that her sister does not have to. Katniss questions the entire time in the arena if she’ll be able to kill anyone, and she struggles to cope when she ends up killing someone. She has some level of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following the first games. She relives killing Marvel in her head because she’s so horrified by what she’s done. Others (mostly the Careers, or those from Districts 1 and 2) show no issue with killing if it’s to save their own life. This makes us wonder whether this is excusable simply because they’ve been brought up this way (brainwashed on a certain level), or do we still struggle to see them as human? How far would we go to protect and provide for the ones we love?
It’s about more than a love triangle. A huge staple of teen fandom of a character caught in between two potential suitors is choosing a “team” to be on. Team Gale or Team Peeta? How about neither? While both guys offer Katniss love in ways that she really needs, that should not be the main focus. Katniss is a strong woman who took the step in volunteering in place of her sister, knows how to use a bow and arrow, and makes her own decisions based on who she is. While both Gale and Peeta are great characters, the love triangle they’re contained in is more about Katniss figuring out who she is and what she wants and standing up for that.
Warfare is portrayed as ugly and tragic. Just as it is in real life. There is nothing romantic or clean about death and the battle that causes it. Lines are blurred—is Peeta really fighting against Katniss with the Careers? Who can be trusted in the Quarter Quell? Is everyone just looking to defend themselves? *SPOILER ALERT* Did Gale really spur the attack that killed Prim? There are so many deaths in the series, one of the most memorable being that of Rue. While Katniss places flowers around her body, it’s more of a sign of respect to Rue’s family and her district and a defiant act against the Capitol rather than just making her look pretty. Viewers additionally get to see Katniss’s reaction to the death, which is definitely heartbreaking to see, just as the scene in Mockingjay Part 2 where Katniss yells at Prim’s cat, Buttercup, that Prim is never coming back. Peeta’s tortured self is another hard sight to see because he completely changes, and it’s because of actions the government took in response to the rebellion. There are so many other instances in which the circumstances of war cause people to hurt in ways that only times like that could.
Overall, “The Hunger Games” series is so much more than what the popular fan base makes it seem to be. There’s so much more to it. And you should definitely check out Mockingjay Part 2, in theaters now!
All photos found on The Hunger Games official Facebook page