A month ago, I’d never heard of The Hunger Games. Now, I can’t stop hearing about it.
You’re probably in the same boat. Whether you’re a parent, you can hardly miss the media frenzy over the blockbuster movie’s recent opening.
The Hunger Games movie– based on the first novel in a wildly successful trilogy – is getting rave reviews. The movie depicts a grim future in which a dozen girls and a dozen boys are selected annually by the government to fight to the death.
The grisly wilderness battle – featuring knives, bows and arrows, and fistfights – is telecast to a rapt nationwide audience.
Gruesome? Yes. Sadistic? Yes.
Then why in the world would you let your young son or daughter see The Hunger Games, which is rated PG-13?
The movie, despite the off-putting story line, has some powerful lessons for kids and adults alike. It touches on bravery, loyalty, individual freedom and standing up to oppressive authority.
To appreciate The Hunger Games, parents need to dig a little. Too often, overprotective parents hear about a violent, dark movie – such as the Harry Potter series – and make a snap judgment that it’s inappropriate for kids.
Instead, parents should consider why a movie has gained such popularity. Could it be that it has some redeeming value? Usually, yes.
If you question whether your child should see The Hunger Games, see it yourself first. That’s what I did. I loved it. The action was intense and the plot full of surprises.
My Hunger Games verdict and the reasoning behind it
I’ll allow my 12-year-old son, Connor, to see it – with me, of course. He’s already badgering me.
“I want to see it tonight,” Connor said when I picked him up from school Monday.
“Not tonight,” I said, “but before the end of the week.”
I haven’t read the book on which the movie is based, but he has. He asked me about a few key characters and scenes from the book.
“Are they in the movie?” Connor asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Don’t tell me anymore!” he said.
He said a lot of kids at school were talking about The Hunger Games. I’m not surprised.
Connor had a good observation about the dire story of kids killing kids for adults’ enjoyment.
“I hope the United States never gets like that,” he said. “I don’t think it will.”
“I don’t either,” I said.
Kids have more insight that we often assume. Connor’s comment assured me that he’s prepared to see The Hunger Games. He can look beyond the surface violence to see themes and lessons.
Can your child? That’s for you to decide. I would never recommend that you let your child see a film that concerns you just because it’s popular.
Parenting isn’t an exact science. On many decisions, such as what movies to allow your child to see, you have to know your child and your values to make the right call.
Trust your judgment and you will.
Parenting involves countless decisions, some big and some small. Learn to differentiate between the two. You won’t be a horrible parent if you let your kid see The Hunger Games or if you don’t. But the decision can be an opportunity to weigh your values and discuss them with your child.
Photo by Murray Close via The Hunger Games Official Website.