A lot of people feel that The Hunger Games is too brutal. They say the book is nothing more than glorified violence, that real people would never let something that horrific happen.
I respectfully agree. And disagree. Here’s why.
In the early 1960s, the United States increased their support of a war that was already in progress halfway across the globe. We didn’t have nearly enough soldiers to make a difference in that war, so in 1969a televised lottery was held. The draft. (Reaping, anyone?) Many of the young men sent to fight in Vietnam were poor; they had no means to avoid the draft. And according to a popular song from the 80s, the average age of those soldiers was 19.
The Vietnam War was the first televised war. Unlike the newsreels sent home from previous wars, the government didn’t get to edit the footage that was released to the American public. Technology had advanced too far and a growing mistrust of our elected leaders made news services all too eager to exercise their freedom of speech.
But here’s where we differ from the people of Panem. Those nightly images served up with a thawed out tray of mystery meat got to be more than Americans could tolerate. Rather than accept that this was our fate, that we had to send more of our children to die, people started protesting the war and demanding that our soldiers come home. It didn’t take twenty-four years for people to start a Rue Riot. Thank goodness.
I know the parallels aren’t exactly the same. But when people say the Hunger Games is too violent, I wonder if they’ve watched the nightly news. Because those smiling hosts are always happy to dish from the scene of the crime and replay the carnage until we’re numb. When people say that we would never let that happen, I say we already did.
And we still do.
Only these days, no one’s forcing us to watch. And I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or not.