Hunger Games is Chick-Lit and Why That Sucks
When Caleb's 5th grade teacher began reading Hunger Games in class last August, I knew I had to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, as well as the other two in the trilogy. I had a vague sense it was thinly disguised chick-lit and my suspicion has been confirmed.
Haley says so here. Be warned her post contains all kinds of spoilers, as does mine. Haley is a Christian blogger who writes about the dynamics of game (how men can attract women). Her site is a legend of awesomeness.
Before Caleb's teacher finished reading the book to the class, half the girls in the class had bought the rest of the trilogy and finished it. Cue comparisons to Twilight and Harry Potter.
What makes Hunger Games unconventional is that Katniss Everdeen is portrayed as a masculine protagonist who doesn't know how to be feminine. So she has to learn to be a woman kicking and screaming. The trilogy is a coming of age story for the modern woman. It portrays Katniss on a journey towards gender equality - she has to negotiate the difficult feminine terrain of socially-constructed beauty (Cinna's makeover), hide her emotions from the camera, and rescue the dudes (Peeta and Gale) in distress. She seems reluctant and ambivalent about all the attention she receives and all the killing she has to do. Her life is a tension between the masculine and feminine and in the end, she gets to have her cake and eat it too.
I remember Judy warning me not to let Abby watch Taylor Swift's "You belong with me" music video lest she get a false idea of what love is about. I would offer similar advice to young female (and male) readers of the Hunger Games trilogy. Here are some observations:
1) You are not Katniss Everdeen: I'm not talking about archery skills. I'm talking about her personality. I have hard time believing girls that hate killing can do it without an enormous emotional toll. I have hard time believing that tomboys can hate makeovers and having attention showered on them. Heck, I want a Cinna makeover. Stick me in a chariot and set me on fire in front of a million people. I'd kill for that kind of attention.
2) Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne don't exist either: Peeta is the Christ figure who doesn't have the guts to tell Katniss about his crush on her (pre-arena) but has the courage to risk his life for others. Right. Ditto for Gale but Gale never gave her bread ala Matthew 25 so he's a lesser Christ figure. Guess who Katniss chooses?
So what do we learn about this female fantasy? Women enjoy an idealized perception of themselves which translates into unrealistic expectations of men and what romantic love is about. Sounds like the classic chick-lit and chick-flick.