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"The Hunger Games" Is About Today's Society

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.


Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.

— From "The Hunger Games" movie

Hunger to Overcome Bullying, Suicide, Murder and Competition

Reading hundreds of Hubs, major movie critic's sites, and newspaper articles about the books and film The Hunger Games, I see a small percentage of writers that understand that the premise of the story is based on today and not the future. I'd call it a real-life adventure horror tale and we are all Katniss. I knew at age 16 during the Vietnam Conflict. I feel the even more the truth of the situation today.

Just as famous author C.S. Lewis wrote an outer space trilogy to grab readers' attention so he could speak to them about current issues and faith, Suzanne Collins does so to focus on the dangers and decadence of 21st Century society in Western Culture and the world. Her story comes from her impressions of the TV reality show Survivor and the televised material on the War In Iraq.

Undergirding all this is the fact that team- and some individual sports are based on concepts of war. In 21st century America, teens are committing suicide in greater numbers than ever before.

Collins’s trilogy is clearly dystopian because it enhances and distorts current social, cultural and political issues.

— J.J.A.M. Blokker, Identity Formation in the Dystopias of The Hunger Games and Divergent; July 2014


District 12: Where you can starve to death in safety.

— Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Hunger for Political Freedom, Social Ascendance and Self-Actualization

Bullies and cyberbullies are causing teens to die. Did you know that in the 1990s in America, the number one cause of death of children 5-years old and younger (all the way to infancy) was murder? This is according to Healthy People 2000 research materials gathered and published from 1980 to 1999.

In the 1990s, the number one problem in schools from daycare to grade 12 in my region was violence. This problem has remained at the top of youth issues in my area to 2020.

While a frenzy among mostly younger viewers are writing about Team Katniss and Team What's -His-Name and running to buy as much movie paraphernalia as possible, and writers egg them on to make a profit, many viewers do not see or perhaps take seriously, that today's life is dangerous.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts (1850), shows the city burning.

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans Under the Command of Titus, A.D. 70, by David Roberts (1850), shows the city burning.

I’ll spend the rest of my life in this arena, trying to think my way out.

— Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Reality - We Can Use the Lessons of Literature

It's OK to love a movie and go out and buy some related products, but sometime down the line, remember that people just like you are dying right now like the kids in the books and movie. They are dying by their own hand, by murder, but beatings from bullies, by child abuse, by hate crimes, by poverty, by the trafficking of children and teens, and by drug overdoses

Some parents feel that The Hunger Games Trilogy novels and film(s) are too graphically violent for middle- and high school youth. However, if these kids do not experience these materials (parents can join in), then do we have an alternative to use to prepare the young people to face the real world of daily dangers from the problems listed above? It may "never happen to your child", but it will likely happen to a neighbor's or in the nearest school.

It's real. Although many parents tell their children that the YA novel The Hunger Games is fiction, the premise is real and they must have this knowledge. While the story is fictional, the the things that are happening to children and youth in it are more real every day. For a tragic example, many young prostitutes are murdered when they become "too old." Elementary school children are forced to sell drugs.

Competition in school from peers and parents is tremendous, so much that "B" students sometimes commit suicide - and all this among bullying and in some places, child predation among staff; and, the necessity of schools supplying two meals a day because kids are starving.

One of my 17-year-old GED students dropped classes for a year to work full time at both White Castle® and McDonald's® - over 70 hours weekly - to help support his young siblings. I worked two jobs at age 18, because college financial aid laws required the students to be 21 years old at the time in order to receive their help in my state.

First graders are now wearing kids' high heels and makeup to school. Little-kid beauty pageants are a huge industry.

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How is all this not The Hunger Games? -- It is.


Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it.

— Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games

Let the Children Live to Grow Up

Don't let the opportunities of this movie for experience and discussion pass your family by. Have a good time watching the film and reading the books and movie related magazines - there are a lot of them!

Parents can take their children to the theater and read the books in order to be able to answer questions and reassure kids about what they see and read and what is happening in the real word.We need to talk with our children form the day they are born, and probably before their birth. Every decade, the world becomes more complex and fraught with dangers as well as opportunities.

If the kids can't handle the Hunger Games material, then we need to discuss the realities of the dangers in society with them ASAP, a little at a time from an early age. They must have the information in order to know what to do when confronted with these scenarios, either personally or through seeing a friend hurt and suffering.


  • Blokker, J.J.A.M. Identity Formation in the Dystopias of The Hunger Games and Divergent; Submitted for the degree of Master of Arts in English Language and Culture, Faculty of Humanities, University of Leiden. July 2014.
  • Burbage, M. How does The Hunger Games Criticize American Society? April 1, 2018.
  • Collins, S. The Hunger Games. London: Scholastic. 2008.
  • Collins, S. Catching Fire. London: Scholastic. 2009.
  • Inglish, P. The Hunger Games as Expression of Youth Crises, Mockingjay as Hope. March 12, 2012.
  • McAven, E. May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favour: The Sacrificial Logic of The Hunger Games in The Bible & Critical Theory; BOOKS AND CULTURE Vol. 13, No. 2; ppg 49-62. 2017

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 15, 2013:

I wish you and your daughter good lives,despite what is going on in society. Socity is fullof the distraction that keep people from thinking and good action - unhealthy food, drugs, alcohol, strange entertainments, and many more.

Rose Anne Karesh from Virginia on February 15, 2013:

Thanks for writing this. I also felt dismayed that so many people just saw this series as a rollicking adventure and not a serious look at the dangers we are getting ourselves into as a society. In the last book it explained the name "Panem" as a short form of "Panem et circuses" - bread and circuses - meaning that if you feed people and entertain them they will let you get away with anything for a very long time. It's part of what brought down the Roman empire, and it's a trend I see in our society today.

As a parent, my daughter is still preschool age - but I hope that she will read this when she is old enough, and when she does we will have a conversation about what these books mean in terms of the world we live in.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on August 25, 2012:

I am waiting for the second two films to be released - probably a lot more to think about in them.

Karen from The Garden of Eugene (Oregon) on August 25, 2012:

Wow, good points. When I was reading the books I was thinking how close we are with military recruiting right now. The economy is tough and for many kids the military may be the only "job" they can get so they kind of get forced into a situation where they may have to fight/kill/die because if they don't go they will starve. You've opened up that viewpoint with your thoughts about school bullies and violence outside of the military too. Thanks!

Anon on August 20, 2012:

One of the most insightful reviews I have read so far. The thing that struck me speechless was the way the Capitol residents watched the Games without an ounce of compassion or understanding of reality - it was eerie and utterly resounding! There were many scenes in the movie that brought specific and purposeful focus to this- some were rather very pointed.

The fake, superficial and benumbed residents and their denial of truth and reality represented during the Games spoke sheer volumes.

I also do agree that anyone above the age of 10 could read and watch The Hunger Games- toying with perception is never helpful.

Colleen Lyon from Kansas City, Missouri on June 14, 2012:

Yes, life is exactly like this film in so many ways. My personal opinion is that reality TV is the downfall of modern society.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 13, 2012:

Thanks, I appreciate that! The sociological aspects hit me right away. Life is just exactly like this film.

Colleen Lyon from Kansas City, Missouri on June 13, 2012:

Well written article that deals with a very real issue in society. I completely agree with your section on the "not my child" attitude that so many parents have. I have watched the movie and completely enjoyed the strong sociological messages it contained. I was amazed at the number of people who did not see anything past the surface. I am glad you wrote this article, hopefully it will make many think.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on March 27, 2012:

Patty, this is an excellent article. I appreciate your insight so much. It is true that we do live in such a violent society where the young men and women from poorer neighbourhoods are killing each other off through gangs, prostitution and drugs. And we have the songs that glorify it all. I am going to share this. Thanks for writing.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on March 26, 2012:

@Cardisa - The story surely is violent, but more so in the books than on film. Other PG-13 movies I have been sent to, to review, have been more violent and with harsh language that deserves an R, and have been full of kids down to the age of 4 years old with their parents. I'd say age 10 and up is good for this one.

@Lina - I think the nmessag4e is becoming more clear as time passes, too.

@Sally's Trove - Here's to hoping for that good conversation! The book trilogy is pretty good imo.

Sherri from Southeastern Pennsylvania on March 26, 2012:

My daughter and I noticed over the last week that The Hunger Games was enjoying a media blitz, well-designed, I'm sure. My daughter has been up for the last two nights reading the e-books. And now she's looking forward to the film. I have no idea what the whole thing is about, my daughter and I haven't gotten into that conversation so far. So thank you for this, Patty. Who knows, I just might read/see it myself and have a good conversation with her.

Lina on March 26, 2012:

This is exactly how I felt leaving the movie yesterday. I went searching around the internet to find someone else that felt the same way and I'm glad I found one person.

Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on March 26, 2012:

Protecting our children from certain realities will only make them vulnerable to the experiences. I have heard it said the the movie is too graphic. I have not read the novels but I believe that children with parental guidance should be allowed to not only watch the movie but explained what's happening and why they were allowed to watch it.

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