Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hunger Games - A Metaphor for Life

Hunger Games - What can we learn from them?

Hunger Games Trailer part 1:

Hunger Game Trailer part 2:

We went to watch the second movie in the Hunger Games story.  It was great.  In just the opening scenes I was reminded of why the Hunger Games is such a good all round metaphor for humanity, with lessons for us all.

Firstly - Lessons For Life 

1. Stand up for what you believe in

When you see things that are not right, when you see or hear something that goes against what you believe in - have the courage to stand up for the injustices of the world.  If you don't then who will?  Does standing idly by watching, make the idle watcher as complicit as those who perpertrate the injustice?  Food for thought.

2. Bullies are everywhere and they take many forms

In the books/movies, we see a number of different bullies - from President Snow,  the game makers themselves and the vindictive way they manipulate players in the 'Games', right down to the people who enforce the laws of the Capitol.   What it teaches us is that you can either let those bullies bring you down and let them rob you of your humanity, your dignity and your self esteem.  Or, you can stand up, (see lesson 1), learn, adapt, become stronger and use those experiences to practice compassion and kindness.  Most importantly, know who your enemy is, seek to find their agendas, and be loyal to your friends and family.

3. That team work and having allies is a way of achieving your goal 

Sometimes going alone is not enough to achieve your goals and you need help and supporters to ensure you reach where you are going.  How long you work with a team or have allies depends on the context and the goal you are wanting to achieve.  Whats important here, is finding and having a team that has a shared vision and understanding of where they are and where they are going.   Take the time to make the connections and the relationships, and you will benefit.

4. Good role models don't have to fit into a 'stereotype'

Popular culture/media tends to portray woman as skinny, well groomed and of a certain personality.  What is powerful in the books/movies, is that both girls and boys have role models from a wide range of backgrounds - both sexes - and across the social spectrum.  In itself, it gives people hope.  There is a character that most people can relate to - from Rue, right through to Peeta and Katniss.  One of my favourites is Cinna.  As her stylist he is clever, he is talented and his character is one of the few that back Katniss from the beginning.  His creations make her popular, he gives her the MockingJay pin and this gives her hope.  Despite his own neck being on the line, he uses his position to make a stand against the regime, standing up for freedom and what he believes in.  Your challenge is to find these role models in real life - who do you know that can inspire you?  What can you do to be that person for yourself and others?

5. Equality is important 

Boys and girls are held in an even light in the Hunger Games.  Both male and female tributes are selected from each district, and the people are open to either winning.  For the most part, male and female characters are on an equal fitting.  If only this was the case in real life.

6. Equity is a hard road to find

Society sets up roadblocks and divisions all the time, and the challenge is to find ways to overcome these barriers.  Money, politics, race and class.  All are designed to set up divisions that stop humanity from being free.  We see many examples of these in the Hunger Games.  Breaking these barriers are difficult and oftentimes the main reason it is difficult is that people suffer from NIMBY, (not in my backyard) and therefore turn a blind eye.  It is too hard to make a stand when that stand will bring disapproval from others or if they believe to give, and break down the barrier, will involve them losing something or not being as well off themselves.   What do you do to ensure an equal playing field?  How do you make the 'games of life' equal?

7. The ability to be self sufficient is important for survival

Like the old adage 'be prepared' (as any young cub, scout, brownie or guide would know, survival is often about the ability to adapt, to be independent and to be self sufficient.  Knowing the basics about how to look after yourself is a lesson we can all learn from.  How independent, self sufficient and prepared are you?  Could you survive is there was a disaster?

8. Hope reigns eternal

'Hope is the only thing stronger than fear'.  Acts of kindness, compassion and love leave people with hope, hope that things will and can be better.  Hope is the spark that can set a world on fire.  The Hunger Games is a powerful story where hope underpins everything.  It starts a revolution and it brings people together.  There is a very strong message and lesson for us all here - that regardless of how tough a situation is, look for the thread of hope, and use this to guide you out the other end.  Hope is the spawning ground of all that is good about humanity.  With hope there is light.

Finally, 2 lessons about reading the books vs seeing the movies.

1. Do not read the book right before seeing the movie

I found the first one a bit of a nuisance and at times frustrating - don't get me wrong - I loved it - but the thing that made me cross was the lack of the finer details (like how Katniss got the MockingJay Pin).  I understand the detail behind the pin was not relevant to the screen play and those little details would only make the movie twice as long, but at the time, I had not long finished reading all the books and the finer details were still imprinted on my mind.  There is nothing more irritating than having just read a book and finding out the movie - whilst good - left details hanging.  The lesson here is not to read the book and almost immediately watch the movie.  Dumb idea - it takes the enjoyment away and leaves you frustrated and you end up dismissing the movie to some degree.

2. Don't let having read a book or a series dissuade you from going to the movie

It has been a year since I read the series and the second movie was brilliant this time because I had forgotten the finer details.  Here is the lesson - sometimes, we need to realise that the reason the finer details are missed out of a movie is because they are superfluous to the meaning and intent of the actual story.  Sure, they are nice to have in the book, but a book is not constrained by how much time it takes for you to read it.  A movie must be done and dusted within an appropriate 'movie' formula.   Here I think the producers and screenwriters did a particularly good job of reconstructing the story to remain true to its intent and the little bits they left out were not important enough to ruin the story.  Whats more, on the screen they are able to show intent with some characters and story lines with more depth than in the actual books.

Most importantly, I am looking forward to seeing the final instalment in the Hunger Games.

I have enjoyed the books and watching them come to life on the big screen.  If you have not read the books or seen the movies - then I would recommend them with a 4.5 out of 5.  Whilst they are teen fiction - the messages, the imagery and the metaphors are all powerful and ones that we can all take heed from.

May the odds be ever in your favour.  

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