As I waded through the previews in the movie theatre on Saturday afternoon, I was second-guessing my decision to let my three daughters watch The Hunger Games. Questions and concerns were bombarding me.
Specifically, I wondered what kind of father would let his daughters watch a movie whose storyline centers on an evil central government bent on quelling dissent from its 12 districts by drafting teenagers from each district who must fight each other to the death before a live television audience.
Ultimately, I am the one who must answer this question. But, others have already weighed in. For some, notably teenagers, my willingness to both read the book and watch the movie with my girls makes me a cool dad. BTW (Parents, check your texting lexicon for the definition), isn’t the phrase “cool dad” an oxymoron? On the other hand, some adults have openly questioned my parenting skills for doing this.
The Hunger Games presents parents with an opportunity to watch a blockbuster movie with their kids that can lead to a meaningful conversation. The function of the Arts is to ask questions rather than answer them. As a result, The Hunger Games asks us to consider the consequences for a culture that feasts on violent entertainment and vacuous reality TV. Moreover, the movie forces us to question the long-term health of a society that’s developed an insatiable appetite for violence. The book’s author, Suzanne Collins, has said in an interview that she finds “the voyeuristic thrill [of reality TV viewers]…very disturbing.”
I would argue that watching The Hunger Games is a redeeming exercise even if the provocative plot initially unsettles you. The movie’s responsible depiction of violence succeeds in preaching a message about the dangers of gratuitous violence packaged as entertainment.
As parents, we should look for teachable moments to help our children develop critical thinking skills. Although books and movies can serve as a mindless escape from the pressures and stresses of everyday life, they can also provide unique opportunities for parents and children to converse about topics ranging from contemporary hot-button issues to soul-searching metaphysical questions. A trip to the movie theatre to see The Hunger Games could do both!