Comment of the Day: Anti-Bullying Mis-steps: The Perils of Changing Cultural Norms (Part 2)

From Penn, excellent and valuable insight on “The Hunger Games” controversy, going into relevant issues and facts that my post did not. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Anti-Bullying Mis-steps: The Perils of Changing Cultural Norms (Part 2):

“The purpose of this argument scares the hell out of me. As one press-screener’s review had it, and as the trailers make clear, “The Hunger Games” tells the story of a televised fight to the death between(sic) a group of youngsters in which only one can survive.” If I believed there were any merit to the MPAA system, yes, R is what it should be. [“This Film is Not Yet Rated” is the movie to see on this subject.]

“The Hunger Games” appears to be a compendium of TV-reality shows excised from a solid body of work (‘ripped from the headlines” as it were). What happens on the screen has little to do with bullying and everything to do with box office. It is a spectacle calling for an audience, an audience in the position of watching (not being, not identifying with) the fictional “Hunger Games” contestants.

“Anyone can learn the real lessons of “The Hunger Games.” Since 2008, the BOOK has been out in hardcover, paperback (cheaper than the movie!), eBook and even audiobook. It’s about power and poverty, “big brother,” war, pollution, sophisticated manipulation of personality, torn loyalties, hidden motives, betrayal, discrimination, torture … and bullying … at heart, about children forced to kill other children. — A great deal of the thought and feelings engendered by this fictionalized society appears to be extrapolated from our own. It’s the motivations and the emotions that are missing.

“Reading a well written story is a creative process of imagining and interpreting. The book has some terrifyingly vivid scenes of butchery and unassuageable grief — but it’s the ideas that are harrowing; they are not illustrated, nor do they need to be. The ideas promote thought and lead (hopefully) to insight; the cinematic visions are slated to promote nightmares.

“Am I guessing? Of course. Based on trailers and pre-reviews. If it’s true to the book, I’m right (and don’t forget the game app on your iPhone!); if it’s not, it’s a bomb. I would much rather the latter than a denatured plot package wrapped up in 142 minutes, fait accompli, of violence and unremitting loss. There are children-killing-children (and adults) happening outside science fiction, today. Bolivia, Uganda, Indonesia, Yemen, and on and on. Nothing colorful, courageous or romantic about it.

“Least of all, do I want to see an R rating. Which sounds hypocritical since if I hadn’t finagled as many as I could of the books that were “banned in Boston” and forbidden by the Catholic Index, I would have missed an early start on literature at its greatest and most entertaining. But the economic lesson learned from those lists (and some “parents’” lists still today) is that proscribing anything is the surest way to sell it, especially to youngsters.

“Young Adult  books are exploring their readership further every day — there is little more varied, thought-provoking, enticing and enlightening in adult reading; meanwhile, cinema and television are backing further into dark corners, poking at the same envelopes, fearing criticism (and rightfully so, given the knee-jerk political interference of the likes of Rep. Honda), and exploiting the YA books and the teen market built on “Twilight” mentality.

“I thought I had an answer when I began writing this. But I don’t, Jack. I think your son is very fortunate — to be growing up in your family … during the period prior to “Hunger Games”.

6 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: Anti-Bullying Mis-steps: The Perils of Changing Cultural Norms (Part 2)

  1. What a day and age we live in that motion pictures like this can even be conceived; much less made and foistered onto other kids.

    I said that about the “Hounddog” movie five years ago. It seems appropriate for what I’ve learned about “Hunger Games” as well. Using children (real or simulated) in the worst possible scenarios of psychosis and suffering reveals a cultural sickness of a level once unimaginable.

  2. What a day and age we live in that motion pictures like this can even be conceived; much less made and foistered onto other kids.

    The motion picture was based on a book. I had skimmed the book, and it certainly does not glorify kids killing each other.

    • Maybe you should have READ it instead of SKIMMED it. Language is a powerful tool, and actually reading words instead of “skimming” for some general gist or idea doesn’t enable you to really know what was said, or think with any acumen about the book’s meaning and implications.

      So now it’s all okay if we’re a population of “skimmers?” Lazy, lazy, and to comment on your “skimming” is intellectually dishonest.

      • Elizabeth, One of the lesser reasons I trust this blog is that I have learned to respect the opinions of most of its regular responders — in spite of having major disagreements with a number of them. Often including yours and Michael Ejercito’s.

        You READ a great deal into Michael’s comment that doesn’t seem to be there. In dictionary and in popular usage, “skimming” can have neutral or positive connotations (skimming the “cream” can be a criminal act, or a yummy high-calorie one) as in speed reading, or picking up on keywords so you can check out one particular theme or thought. Or in deciding whether to read the book or not. In the post you object to, the result happens to be correct.

        I can draw conclusions of attitude and read a number of emotions into this excerpt http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/top_right/2011/07/thanks_for_the_knife.html
        … but glorification would not be one of them. And that one page — which I read before doing a cover-to-cover job on the book — gave me a good idea of how the book was dealing with the subject.

        — “. . .if we’re a population of “skimmers?” . . .”

        The post was in first person.

        –” . . . .Lazy, lazy . . . .”

        Would you consider yourself lazy — or intelligent — if among the tens of thousands of books and articles you’ve touched you have ever read only an abstract or summary or synopsis? Those are “skimmed” for you, no? If these are trustworthy, do they not engage your valid opinion?

        — ” . . . and to comment on your “skimming” is intellectually dishonest. . . .”

        Well, now you have someone else to accuse of intellectual dishonesty because I state categorically that skimming is a legitimate form of reading, often a necessity and sometimes a joy. I wouldn’t skip around Thucydides, but I might thumb through Herodotus. And feel equally able to comment, compare-and-contrast, or elucidate either one.

        In other words, one can pop in and out of a book without clothing the bits in full word regalia: It’s called “skimmy dipping” Sometimes called immoral, but never …. uh oh … I suppose it could be seen as ILLEGAL.

  3. From Penn’s description of the book and from what I have seen in the movie trailers, Hunger Games seems a little like a dystopian sequel to William Golding’s book, Lord of the Flies. I never saw the related 1963 movie or its 1990 re-make, but read the book to my kids.

    “Gladiator kids” (shorthand for my prejudice against Hunger Games) is a revolting notion to me, so I probably will neither read the book nor see the movie. U.S. culture really is rotting, and is ruining kids’ childhoods.

    • From Penn’s description of the book and from what I have seen in the movie trailers, Hunger Games seems a little like a dystopian sequel to William Golding’s book, Lord of the Flies. I never saw the related 1963 movie or its 1990 re-make, but read the book to my kids.

      In the Hunger Games, adults were still around.

      The TV series Jeremiah would be more like a sequel to Lord of the Flies.

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