Gearing up for its midnight debut, “The Hunger Games” will be going global tomorrow, and predictions are for the opening to spark a billion-dollar enterprise for reticent and reclusive author, Suzanne Collins. Regardless of what ratings dictate, under age audiences are always present, as tag-along siblings, or included in whole families. Despite all the hype extolling its virtues, the story sends the wrong message to young minds unable to grasp its abstract ideals.
The anticipation of the film’s launch has blitzed all media, and overtaken table conversation. Author Suzanne Collins continues to shun the glare of the spotlight, but in recently released discussions aimed at her young devotees, she describes how the concept of the novels came to her, as episodes of reality TV and news footage of the Iraq war merged in her mind in “unsettling ways.” She urges readers to question choices of the government in this country and around the world, and admonishes them to examine how they relate to popular media versus real events in news. Those efforts are noble for tweens through young adults, but young children can conceptualize only what is before them on the screen, which includes violent acts condoned and carried out by all sexes and ages. The youngest combatants in the story are eight years old. It is a noble endeavor to create a feminine heroine making powerful decisions to fight the system, but a young child understands nothing of totalitarian governments called The Capitol, and could easily conceive that harm might come from the hands of any gender, or any age, as an answer. Meanwhile, a film depicting real lives of children besieged by all forms of modern assault, “The Bully Project,” gets a restricted rating.
Parents are the best and ultimate judge in deciding what children are ready for at the theater, and they must be prepared for the questions and mental images that linger after leaving the parking lot. Before packing up the car with the kids and plunking down the bucks for the big popcorn, parents should consider who is really ready for “The Hunger Games.”