In Defense of the Hunger Games Franchise

””Suzanne Collins, the author of The Hunger Games trilogy, recently announced the release of a new prequel to her hit series. The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is expected to reach bookshelves in May 2020. The film series has briefly resurged in popularity following Freeform’s Hunger Games Weekend – a marathon of all four movies which aired April 25th and 26th. Lionsgate also streamed the series for their "Lionsgate Live! A Night at the Movies" fundraising event on April 17th. It’s no secret that The Hunger Games is no longer the buzz-worthy, popular series it was around 2012. In my own experience, bringing it up in casual conversation is a little awkward for everyone involved, but it shouldn’t be. There are a lot of amazing feats that this franchise and its respective books have accomplished. Even if it’s been a few years since it peaked in popularity, there are still reasons to support this series. Here are just a few:

  1. The Books are Addictive.

Back in high school, I remember I couldn’t put these books down. The instant I finished one book, I needed to start the next one. Collins has a brilliant way of making every single chapter end with a cliff hanger so it’s nearly impossible to put the book down. Modern readers, especially young adult audiences, have trouble focusing on a book for too long or simply lose interest quickly. The Hunger Games trilogy captures a reader’s attention quickly and doesn’t lose it by describing a scene in too many pages, like the red room in Jane Eyre or the chapel in Moby Dick. This is not to say that these classic novels are inferior in any way, but rather that they appeal to different audiences.

  1. Excellent World Building

Panem is a dystopian version of the U.S. with a convincing and well-thought-out history that serves as the premise for the Hunger Games themselves. The districts all have unique characteristics and a detailed history with the Capitol. Even the political and economic climate that Katniss is in effectively convinces the reader that her situation is real, as well as inescapable and hopeless. Every detail in this trilogy makes it easy for the reader to escape the real world, a trait of excellent writing.

  1. Perfect for Young Millennials (Apparently)

An article in Vox breaks down all of the reasons why millennials could relate with Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of the series. When the first Hunger Games film came out in 2012, the millennial generation made up the young adult audience. That was a time following the post-2008 recession era in a country where competition was (and still is) on TV half of the time – from America’s Got Talent to Survivor – and news about international conflict were on the other half of the time. The generation’s fascination with violence and its anxiety about growing up in a competitive atmosphere made the Hunger Games series a perfect platform to channel all those hopes and fears. Katniss is an average girl when her life is changed by a higher power. The books follow her journey away from home and into a strange, dangerous environment. The story is a bildungsroman analogous to the more common journey from home to college or a stable job, something that the average millennial was going through when the first movie was released.

  1. Powerful but not Gory

Writer-director Gary Ross limited on-screen violence enough to make the first film PG-13. Considering a significant portion of the movie is about a group of young people killing each other, keeping most of the gore off-screen was an interesting decision. The reason this is a positive characteristic and not a negative one is that Ross’s decision allowed the film to stay true to the books by addressing more than just violence. The story is ultimately about a lot more than the trauma that the Games cause. As discussed earlier, it’s about the injustice and oppression in Panem and about a single girl’s power to threaten that order. If the gory scenes were poorly executed either because of cheap special effects or because of bad acting, then the hilarity would greatly ruin the momentum and that scene would problematically become the most memorable part of the movie.

  1. Breath of Fresh Air after the Twilight Saga

Speaking of hilarity, bad acting, and cheap special effects, it is important to note that the Twilight Saga was nearing its last film installment when the first Hunger Games movie was released. Maybe I’ll write an ensuing article in the defense of Twilight, but at the moment it is fair to admit that it is the butt of countless jokes. The Hunger Games franchise was the first big young adult film series to follow the Twilight Saga and by comparison the former looks like Oscar-worthy material. Maybe the differences between the two films were due to their production budgets. Twilight cost $37 million whereas The Hunger Games cost $78 million. However, it’s likely that the reason that one series succeeded and the other flopped was their subject matter and how it appealed to different genders. Twilight is about a girl whose most prominent personality trait is her obsession over a guy. The central conflict stems from how forbidden their love is. These characteristics set it apart from the Hunger Games series, which has characteristics that can appeal to male audiences too. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the quick pace, strong characters and blood sport of author Suzanne Collins's trilogy helped attract a robust male readership,” which helped boost ratings for the Hunger Games.

In case these details aren’t enough, there is one last reason to give these books and movies a try. Schools and libraries across the country have banned The Hunger Games for being “anti-ethnic; anti-family; insensitivity; offensive language; occult/satanic; violence.” So if you feel like being a rebel yourself and picking up a forbidden book, check out Collins’s series. If you already have, release the stigma against the series for its age and find The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.

Written by: Isabella Massardi | Instagram

Art by: Al Kilkelly | Instagram