I hope you go see The Hunger Games. But I hope you don’t have to see it in the company of dozens of 14-year old girls. At my theater, they was audible weeping (I mean, sobbing!) when a much loved character was killed, and there were screeches of delight every time someone “bad” was killed. That was a little disturbing. I’m going to chalk it up to the developmental stage, where propensity for tribalism and bloodlust is common.
Most of us adults, I think, were horrified throughout most of the movie. But spellbound, because of course, it’s a critique of our own media-addicted, competitive, consumerist society. I didn’t expect to feel as inspired by the heroine, Katniss, as I did, watching her make the choices she does. She stands against a system that dehumanizes people. As a pastor, it makes me wish I were more brave in the work I do.
But there is one moment that I wish could’ve been different. Katniss memorializes a dead child by surrounding her with flowers. And yet, the body of another dead child, the one who killed the first, and who Katniss, herself, has killed, lies nearby. How powerful would it have been if she’d surrounded both bodies with flowers? Both children were destroyed by the system.
Treyvon Martin was on my mind a lot during the movie, speaking of children killed by a system. There are scenes, in the movie, of black people protesting and even rioting after the death of a black child in the Games. There’s more mixing of black and white people in this movie than in any I’ve seen in a while. Including many moments of physical tenderness between Katniss, a white child, and Rue, a black child — very powerful to watch. Watching a white teenager kiss the forehead of a black child… I just don’t think I’ve ever seen that in movie before.
This quote from the movie “The Mission” has stuck in my mind — “If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so, it may be so. But I don’t have the strength to live in a world like that…” Those are words spoken by Gabriel, a priest preparing to stand with the tribal people he has chosen to make his life with, as the Church and State approach with arms to destroy their community. Unlike Katniss, he doesn’t fight back – so, he’s killed along with most of the Indians.
Love and might. Like the 14 year olds, it’s so easy for any of us to cheer for might — when the bad guys die, when the sword prevails, when anger, force, or scorn seem so much easier than love, courage, or connection. Thanks to Katniss and Father Gabriel for showing a different way.