Just because we like something does not mean that we shouldn’t be critical of it. In general, I like the United States Government. I reap the benefits of centralized government. This does not mean I should just sit back and let them do what they want because I generally agree. I need to remain critical of how the country is managed.
As far as The Hunger Games is concerned, it isn’t the most perfect book ever written. The sequel and third books are on my list, but I’m not rushing off anywhere to obtain a copy. The over-hyped movie has made me frustrated with social media, as it fills both my Facebook and Twitter feeds with such gems as “OMG!! NEW HUNGER GAMES TRAILER!!1!1!!!” over and over. Stop telling me it’s the next Harry Potter. Stop telling me it’s the next Twilight.
Isn’t there anything else going on? Can we talk about something else? Oh, God, now they mentioned Rick Santorum…
Surprisingly, that’s not what this post is about.
At work this weekend, I was sitting in the break room with two coworkers, let’s call them Jo and Abner. Abner asks if he should read The Hunger Games. Poor Abner. He has been swept away by the hype and believes he is missing out on some big secret that everyone else is in on. There is a chunk of cultural literacy missing from his brain. Additionally, Abner suffers from YAphobia (a form of genre-phobia) that means he won’t even open the cover of a book that is considered “Young Adult”. Abner isn’t alone. A great many people won’t venture out of their preferred genres.
(This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As long as you’re reading, does it really matter what? Just be aware that you are most likely missing out on fantastic storytelling.)
Instead of letting Jo, who is quite taken with The Hunger Games, take over, I decided to offer a less biased viewpoint.
Me: “Do you want to read it?” This is essential. If you don’t want to read it, then don’t. If you don’t think you’ll enjoy it, don’t read it.
“Do you want to read The Hunger Games?”
“I guess. I mean, the preview makes it look pretty weird.”
I explain that the thing that made it enjoyable (for me) was more concept than story. A group rebelled against the government, they lost, now the government kills the rebels’ children. Wait, no, it’s actually worse than that. The government takes their children, and forces the kids to kill each other while the entire nation watches. Oh, and guess what? Whoever wins gets to eat.
Yeah, when you put it that way, it’s really cool. Does that interest you? Evil governments kidnapping children and making them kill each other on national television? Where do I sign up?
Abner decided he’d take a look at it.
As I left the break room, Jo caught up with me and said, “So, you really did like it?”
“I told you I did.”
“But, then you criticized it.”
I think this is a problem, this idea that we can’t examine things we enjoy through a critical lens without being accused of hypocrisy. Let me point out that Harry Potter was just a kid and was almost killed at least once a year at the most secure place in the wizarding world, Dobby was the Jar Jar Binks of the HP film franchise, and Hermione was clearly a Ravenclaw.
Twilight…nope. I’m not going there.
But, hey, if you have some time and need something to read, go ahead and take a look at The Hunger Games.