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Hunger Games

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Otten
 1
 
Nathan
 Otten
 

 
Matthew
 Westra
 

 
PSYC
 245
 

 
06
 March,
 2014
 

 

 


 

Analysis
 of
 the
 Hunger
 Games
 

 
Since
 the
 movie
 The
 Hunger
 Games
 came
 out
 in
 2012,
 it
 has
 been
 a
 popular
 

sensation
 for
 adolescents.
 
 The
 best-­‐selling
 novels
 on
 which
 the
 movies
 are
 based
 
are
 equally
 as
 popular
 among
 teenagers.
 
 Undoubtedly,
 this
 story
 resonates
 with
 
many
 adolescents.
 
 What
 messages
 does
 this
 story
 give
 to
 adolescents
 about
 
adults/parents,
 death
 and
 violence,
 growing
 up,
 and
 gender
 issues?
 
 Why
 do
 these
 
messages
 resonate
 with
 teenagers?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The
 story
 is
 about
 an
 oppressive
 Capitol
 that
 rules
 tyrannically
 over
 twelve
 
districts.
 
 Every
 year,
 the
 Capitol
 hosts
 the
 “hunger
 games”,
 a
 competition
 in
 which
 
two
 teenagers
 from
 each
 district
 gather
 in
 an
 arena
 to
 fight
 till
 the
 death.
 
 They
 fight
 
until
 the
 last
 boy
 or
 girl
 is
 standing.
 
 The
 Capitol
 hosts
 these
 games
 to
 remind
 the
 
districts
 of
 their
 subjugation
 to
 the
 Capitol.
 
 For
 the
 74th
 hunger
 games,
 Katniss
 
Everdeen
 is
 one
 of
 the
 tributes
 from
 district
 twelve.
 
 The
 story
 is
 told
 from
 her
 
perspective.
 
 She
 and
 Peeta
 Mellark
 (the
 other
 tribute
 from
 district
 twelve)
 fight
 in
 
the
 hunger
 games
 and
 survive
 until
 they
 are
 the
 last
 two.
 
 Rather
 than
 kill
 each
 
other,
 they
 decide
 to
 commit
 suicide.
 
 Right
 before
 Katniss
 and
 Peeta
 eat
 poisonous
 
berries
 to
 end
 their
 lives,
 the
 game
 makers
 decide
 to
 let
 both
 of
 them
 be
 victors.
 
 
However,
 their
 act
 of
 attempted
 suicide
 is
 seen
 as
 an
 act
 of
 defiance
 toward
 the
 

Otten
 2
 
capital.
 
 Their
 actions
 inspire
 the
 districts,
 and
 the
 movie
 ends
 with
 seeds
 of
 the
 
rebellion
 forming
 in
 the
 districts.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Firstly,
 how
 does
 this
 movie
 portray
 parents
 and
 adults?
 
 Generally
 speaking,
 
adults
 are
 distant,
 detached,
 untrustworthy,
 and
 unable
 to
 understand
 Katniss.
 
 
Katniss’s
 father
 died
 when
 she
 was
 only
 a
 girl,
 leaving
 her
 fatherless
 for
 the
 entire
 
movie.
 
 After
 her
 father
 died,
 her
 mother
 detached
 from
 life
 and
 took
 no
 
responsibility
 to
 care
 for
 the
 family.
 
 Her
 mom
 has
 moments
 where
 she
 simply
 tunes
 
out.
 
 At
 one
 point
 in
 the
 movie,
 Katniss
 has
 a
 flashback
 of
 a
 moment
 soon
 after
 her
 
father
 died.
 
 In
 her
 flashback,
 her
 mother
 is
 staring
 of
 into
 the
 distance
 and
 Katniss
 
is
 screaming
 her
 name
 trying
 to
 wake
 her
 up.
 
 Her
 mother
 is
 unable
 to
 provide
 for
 
the
 family
 and
 much
 of
 the
 responsibility
 is
 left
 to
 the
 children.
 
 Katniss
 never
 once
 
confides
 in
 her
 mother
 despite
 the
 immense
 difficulty
 of
 her
 life.
 
 Thus,
 her
 father’s
 
death
 and
 her
 mother’s
 detachment
 leave
 her
 essentially
 parentless.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The
 other
 adults
 in
 the
 movie
 are
 not
 much
 better.
 
 There
 are
 very
 few
 adults
 
(maybe
 none)
 that
 are
 portrayed
 as
 positive
 figures.
 
 The
 only
 adults
 we
 see
 from
 
district
 twelve
 are
 Katniss’s
 mother
 and
 Peeta’s
 mother.
 
 Peeta’s
 mother
 has
 one
 
scene
 in
 the
 movie
 in
 which
 she
 slaps
 Peeta
 on
 the
 cheek
 for
 burning
 some
 bread,
 
making
 her
 no
 more
 respectable
 of
 a
 parental
 figure
 than
 Katniss’s
 mother.
 
 
 
Most
 of
 the
 adults
 in
 the
 movie
 are
 from
 the
 Capitol,
 and
 they
 are
 
bloodthirsty,
 irrational,
 selfish,
 and
 shallow.
 
 They
 love
 watching
 the
 violence
 and
 
drama
 of
 the
 hunger
 games
 year
 after
 year.
 
 They
 live
 in
 luxury
 while
 the
 districts
 
live
 in
 poverty.
 
 Their
 wardrobes,
 hairstyles,
 and
 make-­‐up
 are
 flamboyant
 and
 lurid.
 
 
They
 speak
 in
 an
 obnoxious
 accent.
 
 
 There
 does
 not
 appear
 to
 be
 a
 hint
 of
 goodness
 

Otten
 3
 
demonstrated
 by
 the
 Capitol.
 
 It
 is
 typical
 of
 fantasy
 literature
 to
 depict
 the
 “bad
 
guys”
 as
 pure
 evil—think
 for
 instance
 of
 Saroman
 in
 Lord
 of
 the
 Rings
 or
 Voldamort
 
in
 the
 Harry
 Potter
 series.
 
 The
 “bad
 guys”
 in
 this
 type
 of
 literature
 are
 not
 complex
 
characters
 but
 are
 simple
 and
 easily
 discernable.
 
 The
 Hunger
 Games
 is
 no
 exception.
 
 
The
 adults
 in
 the
 Capitol
 are
 pure
 evil.
 
 
 
The
 one
 adult
 that
 is
 not
 portrayed
 this
 way
 is
 Cinna,
 Kaniss’s
 stylist.
 
 He
 is
 
the
 only
 adult
 that
 Katniss
 confides
 in
 throughout
 the
 movie.
 
 He
 has
 a
 way
 of
 
putting
 her
 at
 ease
 and
 giving
 the
 right
 advice
 at
 the
 right
 moment.
 
 However,
 the
 
movie
 depicts
 him
 as
 young-­‐looking;
 he
 appears
 no
 older
 than
 25
 years
 of
 age
 (not
 
much
 older
 than
 Katniss
 herself).
 
 It’s
 almost
 hard
 to
 label
 him
 as
 an
 “adult.”
 
 Katniss
 
also
 sees
 Hammich,
 her
 trainer,
 as
 an
 important
 source
 of
 advice.
 
 However,
 he
 is
 a
 
raging,
 impulsive
 drunk
 who
 has
 a
 temper,
 not
 someone
 who
 is
 looked
 up
 to
 as
 a
 
role
 model.
 
 
Although
 Katniss
 is
 always
 looking
 to
 confide
 in
 someone
 during
 her
 
difficulties,
 she
 mostly
 confides
 in
 her
 peers.
 
 Parental
 guidance
 is
 completely
 
absent.
 
 A
 fatherly
 figure
 is
 completely
 absent.
 
 A
 sage
 is
 completely
 absent.
 
 A
 role
 
model
 is
 completely
 absent.
 
 A
 trustworthy
 authority
 figure
 is
 completely
 absent.
 
 
All
 of
 these
 things
 create
 a
 general
 picture
 of
 adults
 as
 distant
 and
 untrustworthy.
 
Related
 to
 this
 theme
 is
 how
 the
 movie
 portrays
 growing
 up.
 
 By
 and
 large,
 
Katniss
 is
 forced
 to
 grow
 up
 by
 impending
 circumstances.
 
 Her
 district
 is
 stricken
 by
 
poverty,
 and
 she
 does
 not
 have
 a
 father
 to
 provide
 for
 her
 in
 the
 midst
 of
 it.
 
 Her
 
mom
 is
 too
 detached
 to
 provide
 for
 them,
 so
 she
 must
 pick
 up
 the
 reins.
 
 To
 survive,
 
she
 visits
 the
 forest
 to
 hunt.
 
 She
 is
 the
 breadwinner.
 
 Gale,
 who
 is
 Kaniss’s
 best
 

Otten
 4
 
friend,
 likewise
 provides
 for
 his
 family—a
 family
 whose
 father
 has
 also
 died.
 
 They
 
seem
 to
 be
 the
 true
 adults
 while
 their
 mothers’
 are
 unable
 to
 manage
 responsibility.
 
 
 
The
 opening
 scene
 of
 the
 movie
 is
 Katniss
 (not
 the
 mother)
 consoling
 her
 
frightened
 sister
 from
 a
 bad
 dream.
 
 Her
 younger
 sister
 runs
 to
 Katniss
 for
 help
 and
 
not
 their
 mother.
 
 In
 one
 scene,
 Katniss
 tucks-­‐in
 her
 sister’s
 shirttail
 while
 her
 
mother
 stands
 by
 and
 watches.
 
 Katniss
 is
 the
 one
 taking
 on
 the
 motherly
 role
 to
 
help
 her
 sister
 be
 presentable.
 
 At
 one
 point
 in
 the
 movie,
 Katniss
 and
 Gale
 discuss
 
leaving
 the
 district
 with
 their
 families
 to
 survive
 in
 the
 forest.
 
 It
 is
 evident
 from
 this
 
conversation
 that
 they
 are
 the
 ones
 making
 the
 major
 discussions,
 not
 their
 
mothers.
 
 When
 Katniss
 is
 chosen
 for
 the
 hunger
 games,
 she
 has
 a
 final
 conversation
 
with
 her
 mother
 and
 sister
 in
 which
 she
 instructs
 them
 how
 to
 survive
 while
 she
 is
 
gone.
 
 She
 gives
 instructions
 to
 her
 mother
 as
 if
 she
 is
 a
 child.
 
 It’s
 as
 if
 the
 teenagers
 
are
 the
 true
 adults,
 and
 the
 adults
 are
 the
 children.
 
 
 
The
 games
 also
 force
 Katniss
 to
 grow
 up.
 
 She
 must
 heroically
 volunteer
 for
 
her
 sister.
 
 She
 has
 to
 train
 for
 combat,
 experience
 the
 emotional
 trauma
 of
 violence,
 
make
 sound
 decisions
 in
 life-­‐threatening
 situations,
 and
 survive
 in
 a
 hostile
 
environment.
 
 The
 mind
 of
 an
 adult
 is
 necessary.
 
 Generally,
 the
 teenagers
 in
 this
 
film
 are
 forced
 to
 grow
 up
 or
 die.
 
 
 
 
 
Violence
 and
 death
 are
 generally
 portrayed
 as
 tragic
 in
 this
 film.
 
 The
 evil
 
Capitol
 is
 maliciously
 forcing
 the
 teenagers
 to
 act
 violently
 on
 each
 other.
 
 One
 
striking
 line
 that
 Peeta
 says
 is,
 “If
 I
 die,
 I
 wanna
 still
 be
 me.”
 
 In
 other
 words,
 he
 does
 
not
 want
 the
 arena
 to
 turn
 him
 into
 a
 monster;
 he
 wants
 to
 die
 in
 the
 arena
 without
 
succumbing
 to
 the
 Capitol’s
 ploy
 to
 turn
 him
 violent.
 
 Although
 the
 “good
 guys”
 

Otten
 5
 
enact
 violence
 in
 the
 movie,
 they
 do
 so
 reluctantly,
 and
 they
 are
 motived
 by
 self-­‐
defense
 and
 defending
 loved
 ones.
 
 The
 “bad
 guys”
 in
 the
 story
 enact
 violence
 freely
 
and
 seem
 to
 enjoy
 it.
 
 For
 example,
 the
 career
 tributes
 seem
 to
 love
 killing
 people
 in
 
the
 arena
 and
 eagerly
 seek
 it
 out.
 
 
How
 does
 the
 movie
 portray
 gender?
 
 The
 main
 character
 is,
 of
 course,
 a
 
woman.
 
 But,
 she
 is
 a
 woman
 who
 breaks
 out
 of
 all
 the
 traditional
 stereotypes
 and
 
gender
 roles.
 
 Katniss
 is
 the
 primary
 breadwinner
 for
 her
 family.
 
 She
 hunts.
 
 She
 
skins
 animals.
 
 She
 can
 shoot
 a
 bow
 and
 arrow
 with
 supreme
 accuracy.
 
 She
 climbs
 
trees.
 
 She
 is
 tough.
 
 She
 is
 courageous.
 
 She
 survives.
 
 She
 is,
 for
 lack
 of
 a
 better
 
term,
 a
 bad
 ass.
 
 However,
 at
 the
 same
 time,
 she
 is
 also
 extremely
 feminine.
 
 Katniss
 
is
 a
 very
 sexy
 young
 woman
 played
 by
 the
 beautiful
 actress
 Jennifer
 Lawrence.
 
 The
 
stereotype
 is
 that
 women
 like
 her
 are
 “butch”—but
 not
 Katniss.
 
 She
 can
 wear
 a
 
dress
 and
 shoot
 a
 bow
 at
 the
 same
 time.
 
 She
 breaks
 out
 of
 traditional
 gender
 roles
 
and
 stereotypes.
 
 Likewise,
 it
 is
 interesting
 that
 the
 female
 tributes
 are
 depicted
 as
 
equal
 competitors
 with
 the
 male
 tributes
 in
 the
 arena.
 
 The
 female
 ratings
 score
 just
 
as
 high
 as
 the
 male
 ratings.
 
 The
 females
 are
 not
 inferior
 to
 the
 males
 in
 the
 battle.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In
 conclusion,
 it
 is
 not
 hard
 to
 see
 why
 this
 movie
 is
 popular
 among
 
adolescents.
 
 Many
 of
 the
 themes
 discussed
 above
 can
 easily
 resonate
 with
 young
 
adults.
 
 Like
 Katniss,
 it
 is
 common
 for
 teenagers
 to
 feel
 misunderstood
 by
 adults,
 to
 
confide
 in
 peers
 instead
 of
 adults,
 to
 see
 adults
 as
 distant
 and
 detached,
 and
 to
 
mistrust
 adults.
 
 Of
 course,
 this
 applies
 principally
 to
 parents.
 
 It
 is
 easy
 to
 see
 how
 
this
 film
 could
 validate
 those
 feelings.
 
 Also,
 many
 adolescents
 feel
 that
 they
 are
 
ready
 to
 grow
 up
 and
 face
 the
 world
 as
 Katniss
 was
 forced
 to
 do.
 
 It
 seems
 they
 want
 

Otten
 6
 
more
 autonomy
 instead
 of
 their
 mother
 and
 father
 babying
 them
 around
 all
 the
 
time.
 
 However,
 in
 depicting
 this
 message,
 it
 does
 make
 adults
 look
 rather
 like
 
buffoons.
 
 It
 could
 also
 resonate
 easily
 with
 those
 adolescents
 who
 have
 come
 from
 
chaotic
 family
 environments
 and
 have
 had
 to
 grow
 up
 quick.
 
 Finally,
 I
 imagine
 that
 
many
 are
 hungry
 to
 break
 outside
 of
 the
 traditional
 female
 stereotype
 that
 Katniss
 
so
 effortlessly
 does.
 
 This
 film
 could
 give
 them
 courage
 in
 that
 direction.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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