So I went to see The Hunger Games. Not just that, I actually went to one of the midnight screenings on the opening weekend, which proves how hardcore I am.
Okay, not really. I actually went because I got an invite from my nephew Nathan, and honestly, midnight Thursday really seemed like the most convenient time to go. I wanted to see it because Ben and I had read the books awhile back and had both been looking forward to the movie, somewhat aware of the new youth phenom status it's been enjoying. I also knew that the studio was doing its best to exacerbate that by doing irritating things like taking its cast on a US-wide mall tour.
What we were not aware of was the zeal with which the movie was being anticipated by a certain portion of the population. That portion, from what I could see at the theatre that night, is largely made up of eleven and twelve year old girls and their moms. Yes, like Twilight , this movie's fans do include an upsetting number of very sad women over 20 (and even sadder ladies over 30 and even 40). Though, to be fair, the mom sitting behind us seemed to be along as ride and chaperone, as she spent the hour before showtime being briefed on every aspect of the plot, the characters, and which girls in their peer group had crushes on which actors in the movie.
Interesting fact: many of them seem to have crushes on the young actor who plays Peeta, Josh Hutcherson. This was a bit of a surprise to me, since the kid looks like a young and slightly puffy Will Forte character (kind of like if Will Forte had an SNL character based on Rocky Dennis from Mask). The other one makes more sense to me. Gale, played by Thor's brother, has a rugged outdoorsy look to him, and also he looks like Thor's brother.
I have no particular crushes on any of the actors in the movie, not even Elizabeth Banks or Trixie from Deadwood. And, at the risk of sounding like the 46 year old man that I admit I am, I find the whole Hunger Games crowd to be a bit dispiriting. I mean, here's this series of books about youthful rebellion against a heartless, fascist government that, despite its lead character being an independent, smart girl who does not need to define herself through the boy she is in love with, has somehow found a huge following among young teens, and what do they take from it? Well, mainly fashions, from what I could see. The girls behind us spoke at great length about what their friends were wearing, including some “epic” boots. At one point one of them also used the term “Bieber Fever” with absolutely no irony.
We are lost as a people.
And to top it off, the most common costume choice I could see in the lobby after the show was girls dressed as Effie Trinket. Now, for those of you not familiar, let me fill you in: Effie Trinket is a representative from the Capital which, in the movie, is populated by the casts of Dune and Brazil given makeovers by Tim Burton in a Crayola factory. Effie herself looks like some kind of twisted Coco Chanel Kabuki performer.
You would think that a book that so clearly throws into focus the inequities in our own society might spur some kids into social and political awareness. Maybe not into outright activism, but it would be nice if it set off some worthy conversations about how the Hunger Games world echoes our own. Instead, just today, I spotted this headline on MTV.com:
"Which "Twilight" character would win the Hunger Games?"
So yes, this young-adult successor to films like The 10th Victim, Battle Royale, Series 7: The Contenders, and even Spartacus has somehow become the new refuge for Twilight fans who, with the final instalment coming soon, are wildly grasping for something new and cool to obsess over. And diminishing it in the process.
And how did the night go you ask? Well the movie turned out to be pretty good while maintaining its PG13 rating, though the decision to go with hand-held cameras induced Blair Witch levels of nausea on my companions.
But, despite a prediction that I tweeted before the movie began, neither I nor Nathan had to punch a 12-year old in the head.
Because that would be wrong.