ON HUNGER GAMES AND INSATIABILITY
Should adults/parents of today worry about their teenagers watching the movie "Hunger Games" because of its gory and violent themes?
Hunger Games - The Movie
With 152.5 million USD in revenue just for its premier showing and still on the top list in the box office for 2 weeks in a row, “Hunger Games” truly continues to amaze young generations of today. I am not so far behind when it comes to trilogies myself, “Hunger Games” being one of them, and so the thrill of really watching it did not grow on me only until recently. Given the hype, I cannot but oblige myself to watch the movie for fear that I might not have the answers to seemingly unimportant but profound questions later on. I say "unimportant" as I expect it to be of no reference whatsoever from where I’m coming from, but "profound" as those fanatics would deem every bit of queries pertaining to the movie as "dogma" in their own language. But is there anything good that could come from a film that’s plotted with violence and oppression? Should I be worried that teenagers of today watch films, which are thematic of modern-day-video-game-like violence which most of our teens are so much exposed to? My role in writing this article is not simply to answer these questions as anyone is entitled to their own opinions, but as a minister, encouraging people to make the most of the Holy Week celebration, I see it as a mandate to present the spiritual side of the matter (if there's such thing).
Among basic human characteristics, “insatiability” holds very true to human beings. What is insatiability? Insatiability is no less than the inability to be satisfied just about anything. For example the basic necessities of man: FOOD – when you are hungry you would grab something to eat until you are full; then after sometime you get hungry again and so you grab another bite to eat and so the cycle goes on; CLOTHING – you buy a set of clothing good for a month, weeks, days, and to some even just for hours and then you buy again as the season changes and as you see the need to buy them; WATER – you get thirsty, you drink water, it quenches your thirst then at some point you get thirsty again; SHELTER – you buy or you rent a place to stay, for some reasons you lose your place and then look for another, to the rich among us they buy one house after the other etc. These examples simply prove my point: man cannot fully be satisfied. Our needs increase but they can never be FULLY SATISFIED.
Obviously, the movie presents rich people from the Capitol to be the most “satisfied” individuals in the entire district. In all the basic necessities of the 12 districts, the richer districts have it all and so those who live in poverty are under their mercy. Sponsorship is seen not as charity, but rather a condition ONLY IF one succeeds at “pleasing” the sponsors.
But what TRULY satisfies?
First thing that satisfies is LOVE. It is a kind of love that which is seen as a commitment - the decision to sacrifice our personal comfort and pleasure for the sake of others. St. Paul, in the Acts of the Apostles says, "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (14:22) He was speaking about courage, of commitment, and of constancy. He was speaking of love as something far beyond the feeling of affection. It is love that lies in the will (Agape) and therefore entails hard work, and in arduous journeys. Such love was portrayed in the film when Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence – Winter’s Bone) sacrificed her life and freedom (the movie used the word “volunteer” though obviously not in the Christian motive or sense) by taking the place of her younger sister Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields – In Plain Sight) to spare her life from the death match.
Maintaining a close relationship with someone you love requires effort, sometimes hard work. It demands self-disclosing, self-emptying, and self-sacrificing actions. More importantly, any genuine love relationship is composed of long and arduous journeys, patience, passages, and travels into uncharted and unknown territories. I must say, that it was the power of love that moved Katniss to overcome her fears and to win the game even if the odds may not be to her favor. Truly, LOVE is hard to do, but LOVE moves and satisfies!
Second thing that satisfies is NEWNESS OF LIFE. The film is filled with deceit, masks and hypocrisy all in order to survive. But, newness and freshness -- the awe and wonder of seeing life in a totally new way -- comes to us only when we genuinely experience love. Life without love is dull and routinary (just like the cycle we have to satisfy our needs) in which we are imprisoned and trapped by the same old patterns that leads to nowhere. Many people live in a dreadful loneliness that causes them to want to die. We are, in fact, spiritually dying when we find ourselves living in such a way.
Peeta Mellark (Josh Hucherson – Journey to the Center of the Earth) on the night before the games pointed out a very interesting remark to Katniss about his identity that seems to be lost by fate and cruel circumstances. Even in death, he said, “I want to still be me.” Newness of life allows us to live out our true identity especially if we knit it together with our source – with God. The “identity” that the Capitol imposes upon them forces them to be a different person. When one’s identity is confused, stolen, and forgotten, the same goes with his/her own purpose. Truly, we “die” in such a situation and we become lost in the arena of life.
Finally, there's GLORY. St. Irenaeus, a great saint who lived from around the year 115A.D. to 202A.D., once wrote: "The glory of God is man fully alive." The Capitol has covered those made in God's image and likeness with temporal happiness, dark degradation, and shame. It instills into the minds of its people, a wrong concept of glory. In other words, it sells them cheap happiness.
Glory reveals what is within us. The glory that Jesus speaks of in the Gospels is a glory that reveals what God has placed deep within our humanity. He has placed His Holy Spirit there -- our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. The humanity of Jesus Christ risen from the dead is a glorified humanity, one that is present within you and within me because we have shared in the Sacraments of Christ's Body.
The true glory, which fully satisfies, is that glory of the Presence of God, present within your humanity is something that the Evil One hates. His goal is to smear it over with degradation, cover it with shame, and cheapen it to the point that we can easily discard it. Unless we achieve such glory, we cannot fully be satisfied.
And so, am I worried that teenagers of today watch films such as this? Well, my take on that is this, for as long they find their true identity as a child of God, I won’t be worried for not matter what the film presents upon them, “they can still be them” as God's children. More importantly, for as long as they can distinguish what can truly satisfy their “hunger” in this game we call life, films such as this won’t be of any harm.
May the odds be ever in your favor or MUST I say simply, “MAY GOD BE WITH YOU!”