Why I Wasn’t Hungry For the Hungry Games – And Why I’m Not Full Now, Either…

I admit, I went into the movie for The Hunger Games not expecting to like it.  So, yeah, maybe there was a bit of dislike there to help inform my opinion.  But I’ve walked into other movies lukewarm and wound up liking (or even loving) them.  Hunger Games was not one of those movies…

Now for the spoilers (assuming anyone could spoil the movie).

First, even if I had never seen any ads – and I’d only seen one, over and over and over again – the first scene, where the 12 year old has a nightmare that she’s picked, and her sister assures her she won’t be picked…well, yeah, you kinda knew at that moment that, yes, the 12 year old would be picked and her sister would try (and probably succeed) at taking her place, especially since we see the older sister bowhunting.  You also know that the older sister will win because otherwise there ain’t much to the movie.

Second, I don’t think I even bothered learning the main character’s name because I just didn’t care.  It was an hour in when I realized that I’d been sitting there for an hour and I was letting the movie play out because I didn’t have any way to get myself home since I had come with a group.

Third, what was up with the tech? Seriously, people, if you can make animals out of thin air, conjure fireballs, and all that fancy shit, then aren’t they *really* the ones killing the kids?  Cause I don’t know about you, but if I’m doing good surviving and someone throws a forest fire at me to force me into my enemies who want to stab me to death…I’m blaming the people who start the fire.  And the screen of a sky?  Yeah, who else thought “Truman Show” gone bad?

Fourth, what was the point of the sponsors?  I felt like I was re-reading “Rendezvous with RAMA,” trying to figure out the point of the simps.  “You need to be liked…you need sponsors,” repeated like a mantra, yet the only help she gets is from the ex-winner (whose name I never bothered to learn, either…a drunk Woody Harrleson doesn’t need any other name, imho).

Fifth, she isn’t much of a champion.  Yes, yes, I know, I’m bad to root for kids to kill kids, but it’s nothing new.  Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, etc., etc.  Kids killing kids for sport, entertainment, or survival is nothing new in the YA world.  But the main character only really kills three people – one by dropping wasps to do her dirty work, one as instinct, and one out of kindness, since he’s being eaten by the magic dogs they created out of thin air.  (Really, what happened to those foolish laws of matter not being created or destroyed?)  I would have liked to see her really forced to kill someone and then have it change her.  Seeing her going home having had to turn on her “boyfriend” would have made the movie for me.  

Sixth, cinematography.  Shaky cam is great.  Really, I love it.  Wait, no, I don’t.  I hate it.  It gives me headaches and makes me want to throw up.  So the introductory and close up scenes that looked like they were shot by “a drunk holding an iPhone with the video on, chasing a rat who had stolen his hamburger” (thanks, Patrick!), really didn’t do it for me.  And the heavy, heavy overtones of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery mixed with a nice selection scene at Auschwitz really didn’t help me want to watch the movie too much.  I felt like we’d suddenly gone Sophie’s Choice, but this time I didn’t care who they chose.

I could probably go on and on, naming all the problems I had and the boredom I faced, but by now, you’re probably as bored as I was.  Will I still read the book?  Maybe.  I know that books and movies aren’t exactly mirror images, and maybe the book will save the day.  For now, I’ll hope this was just another bad adaptation that took out the good parts.


Ruining My Childhood Reading

One of the first SF authors I was introduced to was Heinlein (“I learned it from watching you, Dad!” – the reference for those who get it).  And for years and years, I fondly remembered the short story “The Roads Must Roll.”  It was a story I’d recommended to others.  Fun.  Interesting.  Awesome starter for anyone who wanted to read SF.  I looked back on it and loved it.

Then, almost 20 years later, I read it again, this time for a grad-level class on SF.  And oh my god! Suddenly I realized that this excellent, amazing, classic of a story was awful.  No, not the writing or the plot.  But the treatment of women! 

As an uber-feminist, I was shocked that 12 year old me didn’t notice just how badly the women were treated – and ignored – as human beings in the story.

Amazing what happens when we read something from a new perspective.  Which is why I now find myself in possession of the 75th Anniversary Edition of “Is Sex Necessary?” by James Thurber and E.B. White.  This version, unlike the one I read as a child, has a forward by John Updike that discusses many of Thurber’s issues and sheds light on why this comedic masterpiece may not be as funny as all that after all.

So here I go, plunging into the depth of another memory and seeing if I’ll emerge unscathed or soaking wet.  Wish me luck!


Wonder Woman…Maybe Not So Wonderful…

Yeah, it’s from 1975, and, yeah, we can’t be all too surprised that it’s horribly sexist, but wow.  Just wow.

The group of us have recently begun watching the original Wonder Woman series.  And the lines in it make all of us groan and shake our heads.  In the first episode, Woman Woman is hired as a secretary to replace the evil Nazi secretary for the “Air Force” Major Steve Trevor after she is ousted and found out.  They hire her because they need to find an ugly woman who won’t distract them with their looks – so they hire her because, while she’s good at typing, she’s a dog.  (Okay, maybe they didn’t call her a dog…wait, no, I think they did!)

And, shockingly, the episode was written by William Marsten and Stanley Ralph Ross.

We’re only on episode four, but each episode has at least a few lines that seem to be completely against the point of Wonder Woman – there is no female empowerment.  While she may have to save Steve (who seems awfully incompetent…which might explain how he managed to become a Major) in just about every episode, Woman Wonder does such classic things as lose her lasso and enter a beauty contest.

Out of these four episodes, only one – Wonder Woman Meets Baroness Von Gunther – includes a woman in the writing credits: Margaret Armen.

They recently tried to do a reboot, which, sadly, was not even as good as the original series.

So will we keep watching?  Yeah.  And will we keep being shocked and horrified by the view of women in 1975?  Definitely.

And that’s probably a very good thing.  If nothing else, it lets us know quite how far we’ve come.