On the Many Offensive Reviews of The Hunger Games

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Experiencing a tv show or movie a week later than everyone else has its advantages. You meet a work after the hype cycle deflates.

In the case of The Hunger Games, the early reviews tempered my (admittedly stratospheric) expectations. End result: true love was ever in my favor.

Unfortunately, the hype cycle didn't totally pass me by. In fact, I was more than a little flummoxed to see so much attention paid to something that I personally adore. It's not like when a band goes mainstream, as they've usually changed their sound by the time that happens. A TV show either reboots or evolves. A novel (or film), on the other hand, remains in-state forever (George Lucas notwithstanding).

Being a lifetime geek-of-all-trades, I'm not so accustomed to so much attention being paid to something I love for what it is. These circumstances must surround every over-hyped event, but it's the first time it's happened with something I love.

And I'm still surprised how much ugliness that attention inspires. The racism around the casting of Rue and Cinna, the misogyny from even the most blue-striped reviewers, the total lack of interest in understanding why a phenomenon becomes a phenomenon. The whole "I don't care what statistics you show me, I don't want to read this book, therefore it must be a romance, read by evil female tweens."

It's difficult to engage with the speakers of these words, because all evidence to the contrary exists in the text. Rue's dark-skinned, the story's a brutal dystopian action thriller, and Katniss is a goddamn superhero who's only interested in romance as a tool to help her win this most gory of reality shows. Again, all in the text (and by text, I mean both the movie and the novel).

I'm not saying you have to like the Hunger Games. Plenty of people hated the novels, for legitimate reasons (too much violence and brutality, mainly). But if, as a reviewer, you choose to attack the fans rather than explicate why it's a good or bad movie, I wish that you find a swarm of tracker-jackers in your bed.

Finally, after reading so much carping about world-building, about neutered violence, about Twilight for some reason I've yet to understand, I'm left with just one question. Does anyone really have a problem with staring at Jennifer Lawrence's face for 2.5 hours?

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9 Responses to “ On the Many Offensive Reviews of The Hunger Games ”

  1. I wasn't keen on the Hunger Games movie, but it seems to have brought out the worst in people, whether those racist cretins on Twitter or even professional writers complaining about Jennifer Lawrence's weight, instead of noting her powerhouse performance. As for the fans, I have no problem with teenage girls reading/watching something akin to First Blood meets Battle Royale! Better that than Stephenie Meyer any day...

    http://xandermarkham.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/movies-hunger-games-review-pirates-in.html

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  2. There is a certain class of people that are attracted to big event movies precisely because they know they will get attention by saying controversial things about it (and it's not just amateurs).  For the most part I simply ignore them.

    For what it's worth: I'm male, in my 40s, read the books a couple years ago, liked them very much, and am just so-so on the movie.  The horrible shakycam cinematography seriously downgraded the movie experience for me.  I was left wishing they could make the film again with normal camera work because there was so much potential for it to be great.

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  3. theoncominghope9 April 2012 06:01

    I think it's totally fair to dislike it for the reasons you mentioned. The shakycam didn't bother me too much, and as a choice, I can see why they made it.

    It really worries me when so-called professionals get into the name-calling, however. I feel like a basic criteria for any reviewer should be a love of the medium, and any criticism should come from that perspective, not from curmugeonliness (if it's not a word, it should be!)

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  4. theoncominghope9 April 2012 06:01

    Thanks for sharing! I cannot even contain my hatred for the writers complaining about Lawrence's weight! Bunch of assholes.

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  5. I disliked the film only in the OVERLY violent actions. Not my taste. I went to see what the hype was about. The acting was MOST excellent though and the costumes. I do agree with Chip ( my background is in Film)  and the shakiness was too much. I know they were trying to get the reality show look but it wasn't necessary. I'm not sure if I would see the sequels though.  I think if the fans love it, hey it is very unique and morbidly realistic story.  I do think the story is very profound. I have much respect for that. so don't worry about sad critics... Normal smart folks make their own opinions. 

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  6. Julikinsbooks12 April 2012 09:43

    have people been saying lawerence is too fat? i've totally missed that! how horrible! :(
     
    the only thing i've seen is people saying that she is too womanly--too big of hips, too big of breasts--to convincingly play a 16-year-old. and that i have to agree with. her body is that of a young woman in her early 20s, not that of a teenager. casting her as katniss seems like a definite attempt to sex up the role, which i personally find super annoying. sex appeal isn't what the role of katniss is about! and it's not what society should make it about either! 

    that said, i do think lawerance turned in an awesome performance. top notch acting, for sure! :)

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  7. theoncominghope18 April 2012 15:42

    Are you kidding? TONS of outlets have been saying she's fat. Even the NYTIMES!

    I'd rather an awesome actress who doesn't quite fit the body shape anyday. She was awesome.

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  8. theoncominghope18 April 2012 15:43

    I try not to worry about the "sad critics", but unfortunately, when they find consensus I feel like it says something ugly about our society. These are people whose jobs involve objectivity and critical detachment, and I'm always astonished at which circumstances cause them to ignore that.

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  9. Thoughts?

    http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/04/whats_wrong_with_the_hunger_ga_1.html

    http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2012/04/the_hunger_games_is_sexist_fai.html

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