The Hunger Games is a blockbuster! My 12-year-old and I read the book then saw the movie together.
We were at first reluctant. We don’t enjoy extreme violence or nauseating romance. Thankfully, this film teeters just this side of both.
But it also does something else. It mentions the power of hope. And it portrays a heroine who chooses to do the right thing even when it costs her.
A few weeks before, my son asked to see the movie Chronicle. I didn’t know much about it. But recalled the trailer depicting some teens who obtain ESP-like powers from an undetermined, most likely alien, glowing crystal found buried in a field.
At first they enjoy their newfound power to move objects with their minds. But soon this ability turns sinister for one of the teens who can’t overcome his anger issues. He’s troubled. His mother is dying. His father is a drunk. He’s been unpopular and taunted up until his new “power” helps make him seem “cool.”
As the saying goes, hurt people hurt people. And Chronicle becomes a revenge fest evocative of the Stephen King classic, Carrie. My son was disturbed and saddened. He had hoped for something more X-Men. Instead, he got a brutal psychology lesson all too real in this age of school violence and bullying.
So for us, The Hunger Games seemed more uplifting. Despite its brutality and tyranny, the film delivers what we hunger for, HOPE and a glimmer of morality.
The story’s heroine, Katniss, has also endured a difficult life. But she doesn’t use her hardship to justify bad behavior. In a scene where she risks her life to aid a fellow games participant, he asks her, “Why are you doing this?” I wanted to shout, “Because it’s the right thing to do!”
Katniss doesn’t respond to the question. But hopefully moviegoers get it. Feel it. Are able to ponder what they viscerally appreciate about this film.
That we need hope.
And we need more modeling of ordinary people coming to the aid of others because it’s the right thing to do.
I enjoyed The Hunger Games. But in our era of endless victims, celebrities and bullies behaving badly, I recommend not leaving your children’s moral and ethical education to be determined by Hollywood movies.
This week, our son will take his first communion after weeks of studying the life, death and resurrection of a man who brought real hope into the world.
A man who demonstrated what sacrifice, loving your neighbor and doing the right thing looks like. As a family we’ll celebrate that hope found on Easter morning. An empty tomb. An indication of a better life available here and now and yet to come.
Give your family a genuine message of hope offered by one of many Easter celebrations in and around Woodbury this Sunday. I believe that by seeking what humanity is truly hungry for, the odds of finding it will be ever in your favor.