THE HUNGER GAMES: Dystopian fiction & Predictive Programming
The following piece is by Richard Louv, Author of Last Child in the Woods. I’m glad he’s weighed in on the Hunger Games. One might also google Predictive Programming to learn more about why such movies are made. (ed.)
Stuck Inside Apocalypse with Dystopic Blues Again
By Richard Louv
“The Hunger Games,” the book, is a page-turner and the movie is gripping. Some of my colleagues, working hard to reconnect young people to nature, believe the popularity of the book and movie will, like the film “Avatar,” stimulate a deeper interest in the natural world. I hope they’re right, but after leaving the movie theater on Friday (having already read the book), I was, well, ambivalent.
In this story, there are two forests. The first forest is as natural as a forest can be with an electrified fence to keep the largest carnivores out of District 12, Katniss Everdeen’s starving Appalachian homeland.
At the beginning of the book, she describes sitting in a nook in the rocks with her hunting partner, Gale, looking out at a forest that sustains them: “From this place we are invisible but have a clear view of the valley, which is teeming with summer life, greens to gather, roots to dig, fish iridescent in the sunlight.” This forest keeps her family alive.
The second forest is where a totalitarian government stages its Hunger Games. Periodically, twenty-four teenagers are taken from their home districts and sent into this forest to murder one another. At the end of the game, one teenager remains. He or she is rewarded with riches and fame. “Survivor” meets “American Idol” meets “Gladiator.”
The domed forest is a genetically and electronically altered nightmare. In it, the government has planted “tracker jackers,” as Collins writes, killer wasps “spawned in a lab and strategically placed, like land mines, around the districts during war.” And when the game overseers want to change the odds, they drop in a few virtual hounds from hell.
Katniss does get to use her archery, hunting and tracking skills, but this second forest is an extreme-sport theme park, which, according to some outdoor industry experts, isn’t far off the mark for how many Americans view nature, if they view it at all.
For many, nature is less about nurture than about danger and dystopia. “The Hunger Games” reflects that view of nature and of the future.
Ask Americans what images first come to mind, when they think about the far future, and they’ll likely describe “Blade Runner” or “Mad Max.” Dystopian fiction is the hottest genre in young adult novels… read the rest of this story…