21.3.12

Child Soldiers and Hunger Games

It has been hard, but I have resisted posting any response to the whole Kony2012 debacle. 

If nothing else, it made me take notice. With so many people making the point that raising awareness about child soldiers and world problems is a good thing, no matter what else we think of the video or InvisibleChildren, I decided that I should actually raise my awareness. That is to say, do something other than watch a 30 minute video which is mostly mistaken or lying. I bought, and read, They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children by Romeo Dallaire (who founded the Child Soldiers Initiative; a much better way to get involved and help stop this serious problem). 

I know that I am still in the process of understanding all that Dallaire shares in his book. It broke my heart to learn what is going on in our world, what some children go through. And then something happened. 

The day I finished reading this book I saw a preview for "The Hunger Games." My first thought was 'I'm probably going to have to see that.' You see, I'm a youth pastor. One of my commitments as a youth pastor is to do my best to understand, appreciate, and critique youth culture. That means I listen to strange music, watch odd TV shows, read unusual books, and take in some interesting movies. Things like Glee, the Twilight Series, and the Hunger Games (which I read through last year). 

Later that night, as I lay in bed, it came to me that the book and the preview were related. They are about children, teenagers, being forced to kill. I suddenly realized that I was utterly wrong. I would not be seeing the Hunger Games; not now, maybe not ever. 

When I read the books I had enjoyed the first one (the second and third... not so much). I found it entertaining, if shallow. Collins captures well the "youtube" attitude of some people in a world where others are constantly watching. She does not capture at all how violence affects the psyche of the young, what being forced to kill does to people, or the devastation this would wrought in the lives of those involved. In fact, the entire series is so highly glamorized as to be utterly unreal (the precursor to Hunger Games, Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, is brutal rather than glamorized, and delves partially into what this kind of situation does). 

I started to wonder if The Hunger Games is only entertaining when one is ignorant of the truth of child soldiers. I knew, for myself, that I would not be able to watch it or read it again. If I did it would be with the images and descriptions given to me by Dallaire flashing through my mind. It would be while marveling at the fatuousness of what was before me and grieving the reality of what was not. 

And so I made a decision. I will not be seeing this movie. Instead, I have donated the money I would have spent seeing it ($20) to the Child Soldiers Initiative. I would urge you to do the same. The Hunger Games is guaranteed to be a blockbuster and still seeing it is not going to improve your life even a little. By missing it, however, you might improve the lives of a child somewhere.

1 comment:

Philip A. said...

Great encouragement! That's not a bad idea.
I haven't read the books or even seen the previews for "The Hunger Games", but I would agree with you (If I have understood what you are saying) that these movies may only be entertaining to those of whom have not experienced, read or even heard of the atrocities of the child soldier and that of others.

Must be tough sometimes having to take in the likes of Glee, as well as other forms of entertainment, in order that you may be able to better relate to the youth culture. Oh well, keeps you young, I imagine.
Good Luck! :)