The Hunger Games and other things

2 04 2012


Do not even want to care

I’ll start off admitting that I read the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins (as well as her Gregor the Overlander series) and enjoyed it.  [And if I cared about Joel Stein‘s view I might suggest that my role as a parent required that I read this pretty fantastic series before my kids–but I don’t care…not really…]

They just can-/not see that there is anything to wonder at

If you haven’t noticed there is a debate ongoing about who should read The Hunger Games.  There are, of course, the moderators of adult taste such as Klein, who suggest adults should read adult fiction–I’m not jumping into this fray since it is silly.

Fire, in time

I’d going to write a tiny bit about kids <12 years old reading the books and seeing the films.  This seems a more interesting debate. What we are asking about in this debate is what we allow our kids to know about brutality.  Because it is about how children mature and what seeing violence does as they mature

And it is about what we let them discover about cruelty

a sanctum of all there is to lose 

though, of course, unless they are enclosed and protected, as was the Buddha as a child, so that they never know illness or suffering or death, they actually are wise to cruelty as children.

we are a form of a form dismantled

My son is nine.  He will be 10 on Shakespeare’s birthday, at the end of this month.  His reading of the series happened a bit by accident–the books were purchased as a gift for him when he pointed them out to the gift-giver at a bookstore.  He loved Gregor the Overlander and wanted more books by Suzanne Collins.

At the point he brought them home, it was near futile for me to stop him from reading them.  That would, if you know how it works with kids or anyone, have made them more desirable and would, perhaps, not be worth the difficulty.

Although, for another child, it might have been more important to slow down their entry into the Hunger Games world.  For whatever reason, my son, sensitive to other people’s feelings, to other living creatures (at one point wanted to stop eating carrots because they kill the plant), seems able to engage fantasy like the Hunger Games without being traumatized or losing his ability to care.

I’ve been wondering about this–about what is different between different kids and about why I think the Hunger Games would have fed me as a child my son’s age.

These are small thoughts below–I do not think every child is ready for THG at age nine or ten or even thirteen.  But I think I would have been–I think they would have fed me.

a scream is better

I had my own bit of trauma under the knife before I could speak and, as I got older, as happens, there came a time that I was so deeply alienated that tales of connection and comfort made me feel pushed farther outside.

than a thesis

I’d reached that place where you either turn your alienation onto yourself and try to excise that part of you that is what you think is causing it or you excise the world.  I did a bit of both.

One night 

And while fairy tales did feed me, with the traumatic casting away and subsequent empowerment of children in a cruel, violent and horrifying world (think Hansel and Gretel, the abandoning parents and the cannibalistic old woman), perhaps something more akin to the Hunger Games would have touched on that part of me that knew something about horror and cruelty even as a child but knew it pre-verbally, where it is hard for our post verbal selves to go.

you traded places with/ your sadness

I don’t know if it would have desensitized me though sometimes I wonder if it might be easier if I had had a bit of desensitization to violence and cruelty as a child.  It might make things easier for me now.

Stare at me with the soft terrible eyes in which there is always snow

I wonder also whether early trauma is needed for the Hunger Games to be healing or good or a place where a child might connect.  I hope not, of course, because my son seems to have gotten something profound from the books and the movie, and I’d like to think he hasn’t suffered the sort of trauma I did as a toddler.  Perhaps the sheer anxiety of the world we’ve created for our kids–where they know about global climate change, and extreme weather and mass extinction and worry about these things even as they are utterly powerless in their face–has created a need for texts that engage their anxiety and trauma and tell them they have some power in the face of horror and cruelty.

I know that agitation is prohibited/ That’s why I’m writing


Quotes are by Inger Christensen, Andrew Grace, Zinsudra of Sumer,