I have a confession…
It is one I have only dared to make to the most understanding of friends. And even they, with their broad mindedness, eclectic tastes, and tolerance for the whackiest of ideas in the name of intellectualism, hear this confession with sadness, shame, and utter bewilderment. Still, truth is truth. And the truth is this….
I HATE the Hunger Games.
I don’t hate the movies because “the books were so good.” I have never seen the movies and won’t because I hated the books so thoroughly. I don’t hate the Hunger Games because I hate the hype, I picked them up on the front side of the hype to see what they were all about. I don’t hate the Hunger Games because I didn’t give them a chance. I patiently gave DAYS of my life up (that tragically will never be returned to me) reading books that I started off feeling “iffy” about and ended up loathing, because I understood that they were the biggest literary pop culture phenomena since Harry Potter and it was my professional responsibility to know them well.
You cannot write my feelings off to some careless fault or omission. I read the books…carefully…and I flat out hate them.
But before you conclude that I am a joyless hatemonger with no soul or sense of entertainment, at least let me explain why. You may disagree with me when all is said and done, but hopefully you will get a more holistic sense of my vitriol…and while I chose to blog about it after all this time.
A few disclaimers (BECAUSE MY BLOGS ARE ALWAYS REQUIRING SOME DAMNED DISCLAIMERS)
- The title of this blog post does not reveal any sort of animosity toward Libertarianism as a political philosophy. In fact I have a bit if a politico-crush on libertarians, but for reasons of my own, I must stick to my own “godless”, “anti-American”, “totally unnatural” socialism. Rather, this title points out a contradiction in the reception of the book that many insist on perpetuating.
- I don’t believe that a female protagonist with a below average level of agency, an active love triangle, and weapons = feminism. Yeah yeah yeah girl power…but pass.
- I come from a literary background. My first degree is in literature and my first stint in graduate school was in an Creative Writing MFA program. I care about literary craft, the integrity of literary history, and I am PICKY. My standards in books are downright fussy, some might even say impossible.
Now that you understand where I am coming from, I will say that my hated of the Hunger Games franchise can be summarized by one extraordinarily dated concept–“false consciousness.” False consciousness is a term rooted in Marxist thought (*gasp*) that refers to the way in which particular material and ideological processes in (presumptively capitalist) society mislead the people. These processes are said to hide the true nature of the forces that structure human sociality. To be honest, I am an not really thinking anything as highfalutin is universally applicable and, to be honest, have a ton of issues with this concept.
Still I find it extraordinarily apt for the Hunger Games.
I don’t dislike the franchise for what it IS, but for what is is positioned (both by it’s author and it’s fans) to be–for what it is believed to be. That is, the Hunger Games as an artifact is utterly forgettable, but the rhetoric surrounding it is infuriating and worth a second thought. My arguments have little to do with FACT (whatever the hell that is), but with taste…specifically my own. These are, after all feeble options. Feel free to shoot them down at will.
Specifically, I believe the Hunger Games is a sensationalist, entertaining (if wildly derivative), and highly formulaic series of novels whose literary value ranks far above Twilight but far below Harry Potter (which for the record, I don’t love either). I see why they are widely read, why they have made widely profitable movies and video games, and why they are described as the most entertaining books of the decade. What I don’t agree with–vehemently–are the following contentions:
- The Hunger Games is well written and original.
- The Hunger Games narrates a radically progressive or “revolutionary” leftist politics.
- The Hunger Games offers a nuanced critique of contemporary mediatization (with an emphasis on reality TV).
- The Hunger Games puts forward a valuable feminist politics.