I was so concerned about the popularity of a story focused around “kids killing kids” that I read the books myself and saw the movie. I’m still concerned about the negatives, but placed in the context of our current culture, this could turn into a generational fad that actually does a lot of good.

Yes, the idea of gladiator children should give all of us serious concern. But real events during the days of the Roman gladiators and the arena murders of Christians (including children), as well as Hitler’s Nazi scourge, were far worse than anything depicted in this movie.

Important lessons came through loud and clear in the movie, while other lessons are more subtle. Smart parents can use this movie and a few dinnertime conversations to drive home these important points.

  1. Totalitarian states lead to blind barbarism where the rules favor only the rulers and laws change at the whims of those in power. History has shown this begins with a government big enough to provide everything for you and then that government begins taking those things away from you as it controls every aspect of your life. Hunger Games will give an entire generation a very healthy skepticism of controls from a far distant capitol.
  2. Life is precious and valuing life respectfully changes hearts. Katniss only takes life when forced to do so in self-defense, she protects life by sacrificing herself for her sister, and does everything she can to protect the lives of others such as Rue. Defying tradition and at risk to her own life, she respects and honors the life of Rue in a way that reminds the entire nation of the value of life and shakes many of them out of their slumber. Her own pain at the loss of Rue is depicted in a way that prevents the viewer from reveling in the taking of life (something I feared would make the movie very dangerous if not displayed correctly) but instead realizing how wrong is this whole theatrical display of death. Katniss’ actions in Hunger Games are much like the story of the 1st Century Roman Monk, Telemachus, whose brave actions in speaking out against the barbaric practice of gladiator events brought them to an end.
  3. A spoiled generation that avoids hard work and focuses entirely on entertainment will become soft and deceived to the point of no longer recognizing right from wrong. The people in “the capitol” are clueless to the evils they now view as entertainment. When being entertained and living in convenience is more important than the basic value of life, a culture can be so deceived that even the murder of children is acceptable. In the movie, this happens in “the arena.”  In America, this happens in abortion clinics around the nation as we sacrifice our children on the altar of convenience. In Hunger Games, 23 kids a year are murdered. In America, we murder that many children every fifteen minutes.The pretentious, oblivious “capitol” residents are so focused on appearances and entertainment, they do nothing to stop the murder of children and oppression of other people. Is it not even worse that 100 million Americans chose to not even cast a vote in the last election while our laws and government not only allow, but actively participate in the murder of 1.2 million babies every year? If just 10% of non-voting Christians would show up and cast informed, Biblically based votes, we could save millions of lives and stop America’s slide towards the same callousness and tyranny found in Hunger Games.
  4. An unarmed people can be forced to do unthinkable things. The makers of Hunger Games did a superb job of depicting the “reaping” scenes as reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camps. The empty, hollow eyes of the children and parents depict a defeated and helpless people who have known nothing but despotism and oppression. You may find it impossible to imagine allowing your fifteen year old ripped from your arms to be forced to fight for their life in a gladiator event. The reason you cannot imagine it is because the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees you are NOT helpless and unable to defend your family from such totalitarianism.

Should you let your kids see this movie? Definitely not children under 11 and only 11 to 14 if you wait for Clear Play or you know the handful of violent scenes in which you should prevent them from watching (yes, the old fashioned covering of your kids eyes is still allowed in movie theaters!).

15 and up SHOULD watch this movie if you plan to follow up the movie with discussions about the values of life and liberty and what can be learned from the story.