What does the author of one of America’s best-selling novels about children killing each other for sport and the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting have in common? The answer is both of them claim Newtown, Conn., as their residence.
Suzanne Collins, the award winning best-selling author of The Hunger Games trilogy, lives with her family and writes in the quaint Northeast community of Newtown. She shares her picturesque town with the 27 victims who were murdered – 20 of whom were children – in the tragic massacre that took place there on Dec. 14.
Before I go any further or before anyone jumps to a baseless conclusion, let me be clear about something. I am not blaming the Sandy Hook shootings on Suzanne Collins.
I’m sure she is grieving for those who lost their lives just like the rest of the nation; maybe more because she might have known or socialized with some of the parents whose children died.
However, I am going to question why Hollywood, book publishers and the entertainment industry as a whole, write and produce scripts where people, including children, randomly and with no emotion, callously murder others with “assault” weapons and then wonder why like scenarios are playing out in real life.
If you have not seen or read The Hunger Games, you have undoubtedly heard of it, given both the book and the movie received rave reviews. Collins said she was inspired to pen the novel after channel surfing and catching various reality television shows and footage of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
It’s a story about children who live in desperate poverty within one of 12 districts in the nation known as Panem. As punishment for a past rebellion, children between the ages of 12 and 18 are forced to hunt down and kill one another in a televised contest – similar to gladiator events of ancient Rome – until only one child remains. In contrast to the multiple murders, it revolves around a love story between two of the contestants pitted against one another.
Here is a portion of a review of the movie by Kenneth Turan, the film critic for The Los Angeles Times.
“As to the kid-on-kid violence that has been the subject of so much talk, [Director Gary] Ross has managed to adroitly downplay that, keeping the mayhem to a PG-13 level. Most of the children in the film want nothing to do with killing, and the ones who do look considerably older than the heroines of previous ultra-violent films like “Hanna” and “Kick-Ass.”
“Katniss, of course, is one of the reluctant participants, and Lawrence’s ability to involve us in her struggle is a key to the effectiveness of ‘Hunger Games.’ The film’s strengths are not so much in its underlying themes or its romantic elements, (the weakest aspect, in fact) but its recognition of the book’s narrative strengths and its ability play them straight. If, as the ads suggest, the whole world will be watching this, viewers will likely be satisfied with what they see.”
Entertainment Weekly‘s Lisa Schwartzbaum gave the film an A-, writing:
“This ‘Hunger Games’ is a muscular, honorable, unflinching translation of Collins’ vision. It’s brutal where it needs to be, particularly when children fight and bleed. It conveys both the miseries of the oppressed, represented by the poorly fed and clothed citizens of Panem’s 12 suffering districts, and the rotted values of the oppressors, evident in the gaudy decadence of those who live in the Capitol. Best of all, the movie effectively showcases the allure of the story’s remarkable, kick-ass 16-year-old heroine, Katniss Everdeen.”
And believe me, children fight and bleed in “The Hunger Games.”
I saw the movie with my then 12-year-old son this past summer when we had several hours to kill in a small town between tournament baseball games. He had already read the book and seen the movie, describing it as a “great action flick.”
It was no more than 30 minutes into the movie before I realized what I was witnessing on the screen. I turned to my son in the darkened theatre and said, “This is what a society without God looks like.” It was also the only time his mother and my ex-wife have disagreed about what is and is not appropriate for him to watch.
Believe me, I am no prude when it comes to watching movies. I mean, my favorite trilogy is the “Godfather” series and I would argue it contains as much murder and lack of God’s presence as does “The Hunger Games.” The difference is, I am an adult and after watching Al Pacino run his family operation at least a hundred times, I have no desire to duplicate his business practices or the tactics he chooses to enforce them.
But if Hollywood and the liberal elites who so often host million dollar plus fundraisers for President Obama and MoveOn.org want to get serious about curbing youth violence – and violence in general – they should examine their own products before, or at least at the same time as, rushing to criticize the National Rifle Association and law-abiding gun owners for suggesting that an armed police or security officer be stationed in every school in America.
Unfortunately, Newtown, Conn., and other communities such as Aurora and Columbine, Colo., will never be the same after such senseless and horrific acts of violence have tainted their streets.
Still, it is my desire that our nation’s children be protected at schools with adults trained to stop or slow down the criminally and mentally insane and at home with fewer opportunities to view needless acts of violence on television, movie screens and computer monitors.
Only then should we convene and decide what guns to prohibit responsible citizens from owning while irresponsible elitist decide what acts of violence are appropriate for our children to see and hear.
My children have an armed police officer that is stationed at his Germantown, Tenn., elementary school every day. Why can’t the rest of the country be as fortunate?