[!!!!!!!V E R Y M I L D S P O I L E R A L E R T!!!!!!!!]
I saw Hunger Games with my friend who is involved in both Twilight and HG fandom. So when he invited me I guess I was expecting another Twilight. I knew next to nothing about the books except that middle-schoolers liked them a lot and it took place in an imaginary world and somehow involved gladiator-children. I don't like horror movies (mostly), I don't like sci-fi or fantasy genres (unless Harrison Ford, Andre the Giant or Stanley Kubrick is involved) and I'd like to see nothing less than children fighting each other to the death. Basically I wasn't expecting much.
OMG y'all, it was AWESOME. It's a Hollywood movie, to be sure. It's got all that good stuff like action, romance, classic hero plot and production value that makes a movie... easy and dazzling, I guess. But it was unabashedly political too-- and not in a remotely hidden or apologetic way. I left the movie feeling revolted with consumer culture, angry with the rich/poor divide, with a visceral aversion to luxury goods and lifestyles that has lingered, so far, two days after leaving the theater. It is the perfect time for this movie, with Occupy Wall Street, the rising popularity of the derogatory term, "the 1%," the recent spotlight on poverty and labor abuses in the production of luxury Apple products, and rioting from London to Egypt.
It addressed so clearly and simply so many things: how marginalized people instinctively understand that when those in charge say citizens, peace, freedom, our country, they are implicitly excluded, and that their exclusion simply does not occur to the dominant class (what people in social justice call being aware of "privilege." It doesn't mean being a spoiled brat, it refers to the advantages one has because of belonging to any dominant class [white, male, straight, rich, able-bodied, etc] even though one never asked for those advantages and one is usually completely unaware that they have those advantages at all. For example, having access to a computer. Or walking through a parking lot without the thought occurring to take precautions against rape. Or Hollywood always catering to your demographic. It's one of the most difficult social justice issues to explain, point out and accept, and Hunger Games did it effortlessly.) Husband remarked that when we left the theater the movie made real life seem more real.
*Can't wait to see what other ppl write about re: Hunger Games and racism, sexism, etc.
Edited a week later to add: Other people have, of course, written awesome stuff about Hunger Games. Here's some of what I couldn't wait to read about: s.e. smith's take at TigerBeatDown and Arturo R. García at Racialicious.
I'm a little surprised that these writers who highlighted race and disability--and many other bloggers-- ignored the military implications of the movie. Sacrificing our teenagers to keep the entrenched hierarchies secure and treating war like entertainment we can all rally behind seems an obvious parallel. It made me think back to the Liz Miller piece I wrote and my ultimate conclusion about her Picturesque Evacuation Ploy installation (if you can make it that far into the post). Maybe everyone's just sick of writing about war?