Last night I took my 10 year-old to see The Hunger Games. Okay, obviously I should have read the book first or at least some reviews because the subject matter was disturbing. I don’t want to give spoilers but basically the entire plot is one based on survival of the best and the players are children and teens. I do have to say I thought the producers did a great job of not glorifying the kills and there really was limited blood shown and all in all we both enjoyed it. I must say the conversation we had on the way home stayed with me.
My son wanted reassurances that something fictional like that movie couldn’t happen today. It was on the tip of my tongue to say, no way. But, then I recalled what happened to the children in the 11 year-old Sierra Leone civil war, and the children in Kenya and the 100,000 children stolen from their villages and forced to carry machine guns in the Congo war so instead of saying no we talked about war. I wanted him to know that in Canada I’m fairly certain we’re okay (even though our current leader reminds me of a Nazi dictator) but I kept that thought in my head. War is having two bullies who can’t sit down and talk things out and they end up dragging people to their sides.
In my third nitty gritty book Off Stroke my male character Eje, is a refugee from Sierra Leone who came to Halifax with his family. I did a fair bit of research about the civil war in Sierra Leone and what struck me was how faith and family and even traditions get carried over from one country to another. I wanted to show how Eje is just a teen coping with living in a new country, but even he makes stupid mistakes. Teens are teens and while each come with their own baggage right and wrong are fundamental.
I liked how Katniss showed right from wrong in the beginning of The Hunger Games by volunteering to take her sister’s place in the games. She showed mercy a number of times but when hunted her survival instincts kicked in. That’s exactly what Eje does in Off Stroke.
So to get back to my son’s original question, could something like The Hunger Games happen today. I’d like to say no but I think the lure of this series and the movie is that it’s not so far removed from our psyche. We get that’s it’s fictional, but a hundred years from now the scary thing is this could be true.
What do you think? Is the Hunger Games something that could happen in the not so distant future?