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Hunger Games Opens Friday – Why We Can’t Wait

Hunger Games Opens Friday – Why We Can’t Wait

The Hunger Games opens in theatres everywhere this Friday, and literally months of buzz are beginning to reach a crescendo. It’s expected to be a blockbuster success, and it’s also the first of a trilogy, so it could be the next major movie franchise.

Besides eager cinemaphiles, other groups are watching carefully to see how the film is both promoted and received (not to say that any of these other interested parties can’t be movie-lovers, too). Genre fans are interested to see yet another speculative fiction blockbuster. Science fiction fans are pleased to see a science fictional work grabbing the same massive demographic that has previously been dominated by fantasy series like Twilight and Harry Potter. At the same time, SF readers are cautiously optimistic at what is looking so far like a faithful reproduction of the books.

Advocates of young adult fiction (which were once upon a time described, perhaps a bit derisively, as juveniles) and champions of literacy in young people in general, are always interested in any teen publishing phenomenon; even better if it happens to be well-written. Teachers, librarians and parents therefore also have a stake in the success of this film, and its potential to bring reluctant readers into the fold.

Heck, even archery clubs might be enthused, since the ass-kicking portrayal of Katniss may encourage teens to string their bows and hit the practice range.

But there’s one other reason to be excited about the Hunger Games. Its significance for gender roles in media. The comparisons to Twilight have been, well, odd. While the Twilight books and films are geared towards young women, especially teens, The Hunger Games is not so gender-specific. While Twilight is somewhat of a fluffy romance (with fantasy elements), The Hunger Games is thoughtful science fiction. I could go on, but it’s easily seen that the only reason to mention Twilight in talking about The Hunger Games is to point out how two media franchises with a strong female following might nevertheless be completely dissimilar.

The fact that comparisons are still being made then is no doubt a strong indicator of the shortage of female leads in general audience films, especially action roles. Off the top of my head I can think of Ripley from the Alien franchise and Sarah Connor from Terminator and Terminator 2. That’s about it for the last few decades.

Any trend towards correcting this disparity is welcome, simply on quality grounds. Audiences are, I think, interested in a new generation of heroic roles that isn’t just a rehash of what Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger did in the ’80s and ’90s. That means heroes of color, women, frankly anything that’s different than what we’ve all seen before.

The strong and resourceful Katniss also performs a dual role for teen readers. It gets more girls reading genre fiction, perhaps bringing a bit more balance in readers (and future authors) in a traditionally male-dominated field. Girls who, perhaps, didn’t know what they were missing. Meanwhile, it gives boys a chance to identify with a character who isn’t exactly like them. After all, changing social attitudes about male and female gender roles requires educating both sexes.

None of this has to be uppermost in your mind when you head to the movies this weekend, however. It looks to be a fantastic ride whether you’re actively thinking about the cultural ramifications or not.

Related stories:

Katniss vs Bella: Why Must We Compare?

Banned Books: Hunger Games

“There’s No Market for LGBT Fiction”: Are You Sure?

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Photo credit: Lionsgate

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46 comments

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11:05AM PDT on Mar 29, 2012

Liam Hemsworth is an Aussie...

"C'mon, Aussie, c'mon. c'mon.."

};-p

8:21PM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

Thanks for the post.

7:57AM PDT on Mar 27, 2012

(: cant wait to see it.

11:11AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

Thanks. I love the Hunger Games :)

6:25AM PDT on Mar 26, 2012

there is a video on YT called "everything is a remix"

even the Lion king can be called a rip off of Hamlet with some biblical allagories, and of course ganking a lot from Kimba.

Nobody wants to be proud of, and admit if that they created a 90% dirivitie work. So can it be believed that the author/authress of "The Hunger Games" did become inspired by history?

http://www.uproxx.com/webculture/2012/03/dear-internet-stop-calling-the-hunger-games-a-battle-royale-rip-off/

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/the-hunger-games-a-japanese-original/

http://1057thexrocks.com/is-the-hunger-games-a-rip-off-of-battle-royal-5-reasons-it-isnt/

12:10PM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

@Jez So you wouldn't watch The Magnificent Seven because it's copied from the Seven Samurai? Or conversely, would you refuse to watch Ran because it was copied from King Lear?

11:38AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

I won't be watching. For one thing 'the hunger games' was copied from an oriental movie, so it's plagiarism. And for another - Care2 is against men showing violence to women but it's okay to watch a guy beaten up by a girl?

10:56AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Personally I love sci fi and action movies and am bored by romantic comedies while my husband actually finds rom-coms watchable.

But, on the topic of The Hunger Games, there were a few things about the books that made me roll my eyes. Sometimes Katniss is a bit naive, but I suppose that's to be expected due to her age. But I agree with the article and hope that it helps to get kids interested in reading. Though if they keep making movies out of every popular series of books, one day they might just stop the book part of the equation :-/

5:52AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

Thanks

3:47AM PDT on Mar 24, 2012

In all the discussion of different female leads, let's not forget Lisabeth Salader from "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series. She's not a brilliant woman, she's a survivor of rape and child abuse who's past helps her understand crimes against women. She changes not only the way female leads are portrayed on screen, but the way rape and abuse survivors are too.

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