A recent article by Leanne Italie reveals how children (mostly girls) across the nation, after seeing The Hunger Games, have enthusiastically taken up archery. There has been an obvious sales increase in archery-related products as girls, inspired by Katniss’ deadly skills with a bow, continue to flock to archery stores to purchase bows that resemble the one in the movie. The article gives various accounts of girls’ experiences with the unique sport, the majority of which seem positive. One girl likes “the fact you can ignore the world around you and just focus on where the arrow is going to go.” Parents seem to be on board with their children’s fascination with archery, claiming “they’re a little more dedicated” than with sports that primarily consist of chasing a ball.
Katniss in action. This image, among others, has inspired thousands of children to take up archery.
Compared to the article we discussed in class that asserts underlying immoralities in The Hunger Games, reading this article was refreshing. I say this because its information is based on a large number of actual reactions rather than Timothy Noah’s sole opinion of the movie (instead of the book). In class we established that The Hunger Games novel contains a good deal of information that was cut from the movie. Contrary to Noah, Italie presents numerous positive outcomes of children (girls in particular) seeing The Hunger Games. Because of Katniss, thousands of girls have taken up a hobby that exercises focus, dedication, and confidence. Archery offers an alternative to team sports. As someone who played high school football and hated it, I can understand why some kids would rather take up a sport that focuses on individual skills. After reading this article, my standpoint is that most children do not search for underlying themes concerning morality in movies like The Hunger Games. They search for identity in a virtual space that will never be available to them in reality. As this article clearly demonstrates, thousands of young girls have found identity through Katniss’ heroic archery skills. In conclusion, I think its okay for children to see The Hunger Games with parents since they are evidently more likely to imitate impressive qualities in the characters than to contemplate the human potential to do evil deeds.
In the introduction to her book Raising Your Kids Right: Children’s Literature and American Political Conservatism, Michelle Abate briefly discusses conservative themes present in Young Adult fiction (9), but does not extensively discuss the genre. This exclusion led me to examine a topical Young Adult novel, Susan Collins’ The Hunger Games (and by extension, the recent film adaptation), and its relationship to conservatism. At first thought I was sure that there was little connection, but further investigation has changed my mind.
dystopian The first conservative connection agrees with Abate’s assertion of children’s literature affirming libertarianism. The novel is set in a future where North America is governed by a ruthless totalitarian regime that constantly oppresses its citizens sense of self and has direct control over all production and manufacturing. Throughout the book and series the main protagonist, Katniss, constantly rebels against the government, making her a compelling hero for a political group “concerned that the United States is rapidly drifting toward socialism and that the size and strength of government is infringing on individual freedoms.” (11) This theme of rebelling against big government is often seen in many YA dystopian novels.
Christianity has also been closely connected to the American conservative movement, especially since the rise of evangelical Christians in the 70s and 80s. Since the release of the novel’s film adaptation, several reviewers have cited elements of the film and novel that seem to connect to Christian themes. Reviewers at The Washington Times and The Christian Post point out the main protagonist’s self sacrifice asserts Christian ideals and connects her to Jesus. Another review connects another character, Peeta, to Jesus, drawing from “the Bread of Life” that he offers to Katniss, and the fact that he was left for dead, spent several days in a cave, and emerged “resurrected.” Although some of these connections may be a stretch, the fact that Christian groups across the nation are appropriating the novel and the film into sermons and bible study are evidence that some similar themes are present.
Perhaps it’s the fact that many of these stories can be interpreted in different ways that allows scholars to align them with specific ideals (although Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed probably can’t be argued many different ways). Conservative propaganda or not, Michelle Abate has definitely been successful in making me take closer looks at the literature children, and adults, are exposed to.
Peeta Bread, get it? From Starryskye.org