The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

In which Jason and Kate Sweeney of the True Story Reading Series discuss the trailer for The Hunger Games.

J: Can I just say that the police officers in The Hunger Games trailer look like Woody Allen’s sperm costume from Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask)? I guess if you’re already crazy enough to make teenagers fight each other in a nationally televised deathmatch, it’s not that much crazier to have your cops dress like visual gags from 40 year old sex comedies.

Go ahead and 1970’s it up, oppressive dystopian government! Get a lady to dress like Ziggy Stardust and pull names out of a goldfish bowl. Just turn District 12 into a big old key party. Except instead of leaving with your neighbor’s paunchy Star-Trek-shirt-and-aviator-sunglasses-wearing IBM programmer husband, you’re leaving your family and friends behind to fight for your survival. I guess those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Wow. Not sure how this scenario of 1970’s partner swapping turned out to be so unsavory. You know what? I’m going to go ahead and endorse monogamy. Sorry, everyone who is married but swingle. But this is how gladiator style battles to the death involving children get started. It’s a slippery slope.

K: I think they call it “monagom-ish,” Jason. Ask Dan Savage.

Although I don’t think even he’d approve of Lady Stardust’s antics, here. Or of that pink eyeliner, those barbarous shoulder pads and bloodthirty-yet-cultured lilt to her voice, which say it all: “Hey, wassup? Human shorthand for the dissolute decline of the depraved worldly-world, here. Like my pumps?”

I’m not really into her pumps. Like they’re counting on, I’m a typical audience member: preferring instead, the kids’ wardrobes—the children—the children!!  –Who’re all somehow being raised on a different aesthetic and moral plane here, what with their understated/monochromatic Von-Trappish skirts and cable-knit sweaters. (Luckily, as a member of the over-30 set, it looks like I’ll have a shot at 23 out of 24 of those cute alpine outfits. Sweet! Oh, but they’re all, like, Size Zero. Bummer. Would someone please feed those teens a burger or five for me before doing their hair all pretty and sending them off with their bow-and-arrow sets? Thanks a mil’!)

And from whom are they learning to be all earnestly gift-giving and selfless? This is learned behavior. One does not simply volunteer to take another’s place in the pre-hunt interview by Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me’s Peter Sagel before rushing off to Carousel—err, The Running Ma—err, the woodsy death-battle thing out of the pure goodness of one’s heart.

Still, it’s good to know a public radio game show host can still find work in this non-specific post-apocalyptic-or-whatever time.

Back to the wife-swapping, though—You know, Jason, there’s another version of this trailer that includes Our Heroine’s horrified-and-faintly-eroticized gasp when her legs are waxed in the preparation for her turn in Dancing with the Stars that precedes her participation in the death thing. I wonder why they took that out of this version.

J: I’m surprised there isn’t a better way to wax your legs in the future. Like nano-bots crawling all over your legs punching your lady hair follicles in their stupid faces before they can even think about making any more hair. Is this how we’re getting rid of leg hair? With wax? Listen, if I need to illuminate my bedchambers with candlelight to get a better look at three Christmas ghosts, or make a dead-eyed figure of Tom Cruise straddling the uncanny valley like a Scientology espousing Jolly Green Giant, I’ll call on wax. And you know what? Wax don’t even care. It’s too busy waxing philosophical. It’s all, “What about the silky smooth legs of the mind? Who will shave the bikini area of my soul?”

Molecular robots are the answer to smooth, presentable legs for ladies and fabulous drag queens, and any women’s razor commercials that tell you different are spitting in your face.

K: Whether or not Our Heroine really came here to win, or whether she’s open to also making friends after her GTLWax montage, shown in part here, at least she’ll do so aerodynamically. I mean, you know, even with that primitive waxing technology, 23 out of 24 of her leg hairs will never see the light of day. The 24th, though: it’s got something special. Spunk. Moxie!

Lord.

You know, I’ll probably take my nieces to see this anyway, because this is the sort of reality TV the generations can enjoy together. Sigh. Even though? When I saw this preview with the 13-year-old—after yours and my last email exchange—she took my aimless diatribe about Peter Sagel and Logan’s Run as crazy old-person ranting.

Which it was.

See, her comment: “That whole thing with her giving the little girl the pin wasn’t in the book,” was actual conversation, intending to, well, communicate a clear idea about the world. Mine was too, but it came out as, “How do you solve a problem like the Hunger Gaaames,” and, “Hey, that spooky whistled tune at the very end is gonna have the love theme from Romeo and Juliet lodged in my head for the rest of the damn day, now.”

To which, my smart, kind and well-bred niece just nodded politely. Didn’t even mutter a low, “Uh, whatever.”  Which she had every right to do.

Why? Because the Hunger Games trailer has underscored my apparent inability to have a simple chat across the generations.  I don’t know if anything like this ever happened to you, but when I was six or seven, my mother took me to see this nice animated Disney movie with this old man in a rocking chair singing with a rabbit and a fox and a bear—and, as we left the theater, I was like, “The way they talked to cartoons was so neat!” And my mom, she was like, “No, no, no! Racisty-terrible-bad!”

I had no clue what she meant. Or that this conversation was to set the pattern for our entire pattern of communication until I turned 22. Which is to say that we start over with every generation, don’t we? No wonder they wanted to send those pure children off to slaughter. I mean, they couldn’t even get a simple Woody Allen movie joke.

Kate Sweeney produces radio storieswrites, and runs Atlanta’s True Story Reading Series, which combines the best elements of show & tell and storytelling for free. She also analyzes pretty much everything to death this way.
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