Hunger Games Month: What The Hunger Games is and isn’t

19 Mar

Since The Hunger Games entered popular consciousness, there’s been a lot of confusion over what the franchise actually is. Frankly, it’s kind of annoying. So today is my frank rundown of what The Hunger Games franchise is and isn’t.

Let’s start with…

The Hunger Games ISN’T Battle Royale rip-off – This is the one I’ve heard the most. Despite the fact the battle to the death trope has existed since the beginning of drama, people most cling to comparing The Hunger Games to Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale. Even so far as to call the entire concept of The Hunger Games a rip off of the BR act.

Which is complete BS.

Years ago, I saw Battle Royale on Google Video back when it had no US distributor. I had heard so many rumors about the violence of the film, so I expected something hyperviolent and brutal. Instead, I got a very solemn film from Kinji Fukasaku about the struggle of a group of teenagers with no experience in this situation trying to survive and the baggage they bring to the island. Maybe it’s a bit more prevalent in the book, but there wasn’t a whole lot about the government program behind the Battle in the film.

It’s inverse in The Hunger Games. We know of the struggles of the others around Katniss, but it’s mostly focused on Katniss. Through Katniss, however, we get a in-depth look at the ways Panem keeps those in the Districts under their control. Not just through the Games, but through everything else.

Though, to be fair, if The Hunger Games is what finally brought Battle Royale to the US, then who am I to argue?

The Hunger Games IS the dystopian counterpart of Winter’s Bone – I finished watching Winter’s Bone about an hour before writing this post and I finally understood why Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss. In that movie, she plays Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old girl from rural Missouri who is on a search for her meth cooker father in order to save her family home. It’s a lot more subtle than The Hunger Games, but there are a lot of similar themes of survival and family throughout both works. If Ree and Katniss were in each other’s positions, I imagine that they would be following similar paths. If you’re a fan of The Hunger Games, check out Winter’s Bone, if only for Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscar-nominated performance.

The Hunger Games ISN’T The Twilight Saga – This comes up a lot due to the fact that the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games is coming out right as Twilight is about to see the door. Many people who haven’t read the books look at the fact that the three main characters are a teenage girl and two guys that she’s interested in and assume that it’s a Twilight-like series revolving around the love triangle. The black cover of the first book probably doesn’t help.

To be frank, but As-fucking-if.

The series isn’t about Team Gale or Team Peeta. It’s Team Katniss. It is about her survival and her struggle through the Games and the following war. Yes, there’s a love triangle, but there’s not a lot of focus on it. It’s a part of the story, but it’s not the whole story. Besides, one side of that triangle feels like something of convenience for Katniss and is irreparable by the end of Mockingjay. 

Gary Ross has the right idea. Stop with this team junk. It’s all about Katniss.

The Hunger Games IS a lead up to war – Maybe I’ve covered this enough in the past few weeks, but The Hunger Games is just the beginning of an escalating series of events that spans the next two books in the trilogy. There were several times reading the books that I seriously wondered if  this was actually a series for young adults. Even in those moments, it gives a very clear and understandable look at the damages of war and living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. If you think The Hunger Games is intense, just wait. When we get to Catching Fire, this is going to get a lot more serious…

Wednesday, I get to do something I’ve been waiting to do for ages: I’ll be reviewing the soundtrack!


Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Books, Film


Tags: , , , ,

3 responses to “Hunger Games Month: What The Hunger Games is and isn’t

  1. Ike

    March 20, 2012 at 1:19 am

    I rarely see Oscar-nominated films in theaters but last year I watched Winter’s Bone at my local theater. I absolutely loved it and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was stunning. “The Hunger Games IS the dystopian counterpart of Winter’s Bone” is something I never thought about but you’re totally right. Ree and Katniss have this natural instinct to survive and they’ll do anything to protect their family.

    Twilight was a young adult book series adapted for the big screen and so was The Hunger Games. That’s where the similarities start and end.

    Love the article!

  2. Raymond Frazee

    March 20, 2012 at 6:33 am

    I have Battle Royal in novel form, and my daughter–who has read the Hunger Games trilogy–read it. Her opinion was, “Yeah, same sort of concept, but no way the same.” The novel is also just a little different from the movie, but a . . . well, can we say, “good read”?

    • Liesel Hindmann

      March 22, 2012 at 1:19 am

      I haven’t read the book yet, though it’s on my list. I was incapable of doing a real in-depth analysis because of that, but it’s been said better by so many others.


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