The Hunger Games is the first novel in a trilogy of young adult novels written by Suzanne Collins. It is also the book (and now movie) that everyone is talking about. Even the people who haven’t read it.
The book had an initial print of 200,000 (twice doubled from the original 50,000) Since its initial release, it has has been translated into 26 different languages and rights of production have been sold in 38 countries.
The Hunger Games is based in a post apocalyptic world where the all-powerful rulers in “Capitol” stage a gruesome reality television show as punishment for a previous rebellion.During this show a boy and a girl (aged 12-16) from 12 districts are chosen by lottery to compete in an outdoor arena until only one remains.
In the book 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen takes her younger sisters place in the fight known as The Hunger Games.
Journalist and entertainment columnist Laura Brodnik is a fan of the book and she writes:
“It’s shameful to admit but I’m a glutton for celebrity culture.
I can’t explain exactly why I find the highs and lows of these people so fascinating.
Maybe it’s because their lives are so far removed from my own, perhaps it’s because I can’t differentiate between them and their characters or maybe it’s just because they look so damn put together, carefree and cool while getting papped on coffee runs.
Whatever the reason, I’ve never seen anything particularly devious about my habit of following Lindsay Lohan’s court cases or the plethora of Hollywood relationships that fall apart in a tangle of abuse and headlines.
During my recent morning skim of the new entertainment headlines I came across a comment from Jennifer Lawrence that made me stop in my mouse clicking tracks.
For those of you who don’t know, Ms Lawrence is set to be Hollywoods new It Girl after portraying heroine Katniss Everdeen in the new blockbuster movie franchise The Hunger Games.
While on a publicity tour for the movie Jennifer compared the horrific hunger games to our ever growing culture of negative publicity.
“I was watching the Kardashian girl getting divorced, and that’s a tragedy for anyone,” the actress told Parade magazineof Kim Kardashian filing for divorce from her husband of 72 days, Kris Humphries.
“But they’re using it for entertainment, and we’re watching it. The books hold up a terrible kind of mirror:
“This is what our society could be like if we became desensitized to trauma and to each other’s pain.”
I think the reason this quote made me freeze was my own experience of reading The Hunger Games.
I remember devouring it all in one sitting, curled up on my bed with a sick feeling in my stomach as one after another each of the characters met a violent and sad end.
If you have not read The Hunger Games (and please don’t be put off by this article because it’s a brilliant book) it centres around 24 youths aged 12 to 18 being locked in a vast arena and forced to kill each other until only one is left standing.
Their desperate struggle for survival and ultimate gruesome murders are broadcast across the country as a form of reality entertainment for the mesmerized crowd.
While I can see that pitting children against each other is worlds away from celebrity eating disorders and court cases selling magazines I have to agree with Jennifer that is does “hold up a terrible kind of mirror.”
I’ve never seen myself as a cruel person. I don’t kick puppies; answer my phone in the movies, take my fully-loaded trolley through an express check-out or violently torment the people around me.
But I do click on articles that chronicle the misery of others and buy magazines that glamorise the downward spiral of some performers and until now I’d never given it a second thought.
I can’t even play the ‘blame the media card’, because if people like me didn’t read it they’d have no reason to publish it.
While I do agree celebrities put themselves in the public eye and there is a price to pay for fame and fortune I don’t believe that price should be our desensitisation to suffering.
I don’t know what the solution is to this problem and I’m not naïve enough to think it will stop. Not while divorce; addiction and failure are such big money makers in the entertainment realm.
However, I’m also not so righteous that I’ll stop reading about celebrity love lives, fashions and quirks because I honestly believe there is an element of harmless fun to be had.
But maybe I’ll take a leaf out of Jennifer’s book and try not to be the type of person that devours somebody else’s misery purely for entertainment, without stopping to wonder if there is a deeper issue at play.
Call me shallow but I’d rather swoon over Kim K’s eye makeup then watch her humiliated by constant divorce coverage.”
Laura Brodnik is a features writer who has worked as a news journalist, fashion editor and entertainment columnist.
Have you read The Hunger Games? Plan to see the movie?