Hunger Games: A Satire on Entertainment and the Ultimate Form of Consumerism

Missy and I watched the Hunger Games. What stood out to us most was what we saw as a satire on American entertainment and the ultimate form of consumerism. In the Hunger Games, the dominant culture has basically enslaved their subjects into 12 districts. Those 12 districts provide raw materials to their overlords and entertainment via the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a mandatory event where each district sends two of their teens to compete in a battle to the death called the Hunger Games. What is more, society watches the battle and is entertained by the violence, bloodshed and drama they see.

In their world, there is no value to human life except what that life can provide for others in the form of raw materials to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the dominant culture and entertainment. There is a conversation in the movie where the president of that country has a conversation with Seneca Crane, the “gamemaster.” They talk about hope and how the purpose of the show is to offer a false hope to the workers to keep them going without stripping so much hope that they revolt. The reality was, there really wasn’t any hope at all if people could just see under the hood at the inner workings and attitudes of the Games and their creators. These are the ultimate consumers…they aren’t just consuming goods. They are consuming peoples.

We think people who act like that are confined to extreme groups in history (like the Nazi’s) who see people as having little to no value. But maybe our culture has embraced that far more than we can imagine. It hasn’t resulted in physical murder but in effect, we have murdered our entertainers with our thoughts. This consumerism and underlying value system is a part of Reality Television. We put people on the screen and form an entire industry around the drama in their lives. Often that drama includes their suffering. They typically aren’t valued for anything but the entertainment they provide. If they stop being entertaining (in the movie, death) they stop being of value to society. Missy and I have watched the Bachelor and Bachelorette from time to time. After watching the Hunger Games we have vowed to never watch it again. We do not want to take part of an entire industry that is profiting of the pain of others. People watch it for the drama, but if you dig beneath the surface the show doesn’t exist solely to produce drama. The show exists to produce an industry off the ups and downs of real people. We laugh at things that if they happened to our best friend we might cry over. We make fun of people we don’t even know. We are, in principle, the same audience you will see if you watch the Hunger Games, just not yet to that extreme…the attitude is the same. People exist for our entertainment. That is not godly and is destructive.

Dallas Willard put it this way,

“Love is not the same thing as desire, for I may desire something without even wishing it well, much less willing its good. I might desire a chocolate ice cream cone, for example. But I do not wish it well; I wish to eat it. This is the different between lust (mere desire) and love, as between a man and a woman. Desire and love are, of course, compatible when desire is ruled by love; but most people today would, unfortunately, not even know the difference between them. Hence, in our world, love constantly falls prey to lust. That is a major part of the deep sickness of contemporary life.” (Renovation of the Heart, 131).

Willard’s point is that true love is concerned with the well being of the other person. Lust is only interested in desire and desirability itself without a genuine interest and concern in the well being of the other person involved. The attitude of love is, “What can I do for you to make your life full?” and lust, “What can you do for me at the expense of your self?” I am afraid our country is addicted to the second.

Anyone else get any “aha’s” from this movie?


Cutting – What Parents, Teachers, and Ministers Need to Know

I am amazed at how few people are aware of this growing trend among young people. We normally think of cutting the arms and wrists and suicidal behavior but more and more teens and young adults are tuning to this habit as a form of emotional release and control. This video explains much of the behavior and it is something that more and more people need to be aware of:

One of the tell tale signs that someone is cutting is the wearing of long sleeves shirts, especially with holes cut in the sleeves for someone to put their thumbs through. This ensures that their sleeves don’t pull up and expose the cuts and scars on their arms. I was at a youth rally a couple of years ago and noticed a teenage girl with her thumbs poked through holes in her sleeves. I found her youth minister and told him that might just be a sign she is cutting and that I thought he or someone else (parents, etc) might at least want a heads up of the possibility. He told me that she had been struggling for some time and had indeed been cutting herself recently. It is out there and is more and more prevalent. Chances are you know someone who is wrestling with this. It is important that we raise awareness on this issue so we can get our teens and young adults the help they need but don’t always know how to ask for.

An example of personal testimony from a teenage girl:

Here is one of the youtube viewer comments on  that video –
“Ive been cutting for 2 years and i hid the scars from my family and friends. It was and still is one of the hardest times in my life. Ive tried to stop but its so addicting and it feels like im draining out all of my pain. My friend found out one week ago and shes been helping me alot but i still think about it all the time.”

And another:

“im 13. i use to cut.
at first i would think, who would ever do that?
and then i did it one day. and after, i felt.. relieved?
like that was a way i could get all my feelings out.
they would be half way up my arms.
whenever a friend or someone found out, they would tease me.

but ive stopped for 5 months now! ;’]
althought sometimes when i feel emotional i have the urge to do it.

More useful information

Ripening Issues in the Church of Christ – Pornography

Another repeated message of the college rally last weekend was that many college students are struggling with pornography addictions. In Randy Harris and Chris Seidman’s question and answer period many of the questions submitted were related to pornography. When fully grown pornography becomes an addiction that can be as powerful as crack cocaine. The behavioral reinforcements that come from the resulting neurotransmitters released upon viewing pornography largely mimic what is produced by drugs like crack.

The Danger of Addiction:

One of the best definitions of addiction I have ever heard is that non-addicts love people and use objects and addicts use people and love objects. Addiction is a distortion of reality and a reshuffling of priorities that results from feeding unhealthy patterns of behavior and the subsequent release of neurotransmitters that brings pleasure from the activity or substance. Like any other sin it is taking something God made for good, sex, and using it in a way it was not intended to be used. Sex is something to be shared in the context of marriage. When it is it is being used as it was intended good results. When it is used outside of marriage or when it is used inside of marriage in a way not intended (ie – with an image alone rather than with your spouse together) it produces deadly spiritual consequences. I believe it was James Dobson who gave the image of godly vs. ungodly sex and sexuality being like a fire in a house. When it is put in the fireplace in the living room, where it was intended to go, it brings light and warmth and goodness but when it is on the couch in the living room, it destroys the whole house. Sex inside the context of marriage is a beautiful thing but when it is abused it can be deadly.

Renewing a Healthy Sense of Sexuality:

We need to renew our sense of healthy sex and sexuality. Our young people have been surrounded by unhealthy images of what it means to be sexy and what the norms are of expressing that sexuality. Where has the voice of the church been on helping our young people get a healthy view of their sexuality? Many have been silent. Many have acted like it is yucky or a taboo subject that is “off limits.” So where do young people go for their information? They don’t have to look any further than the magazine rack at the checkout aisle or the television and movies that are readily accessible (not to mention the internet). We have to start talking about this with our young people in our homes AND churches from an early age. To keep silent is to passively allow a death sentence on our children. We have to renew in our families and churches a healthy sexuality and it needs to start with our men. We need to hear it in our Bible classes, small groups, and from the pulpit. But won’t someone get embarrassed? Of course they will but wouldn’t you rather someone get embarrassed than someone get addicted?

Shon Smith illustrated this situation being like a tourist who traveled to the Nile River. He saw all these people sunbathing on the shore and they were mangled, missing arms and legs. All of a sudden he saw how it had happened. A crocodile come out of the river and bit one of the sunbathers leaving them disfigured and mangled. But no one moved. No one seemed surprised. They just stayed right there and continued to be attacked by the crocodiles. He yelled, “Why don’t you move?!? Why do you just sit there and get devoured by the crocodiles…why doesn’t someone do something? Don’t you know this is killing you?” But they just sat there.

We need some people shouting about this. We need some people raising their voices about how devastating this can be. We need to be made aware of how prevalent this problem actually is – not over there somewhere but right there in your church, in your home, among your family and friends. And like I have said over and over again here, we need safe places to talk about these things where we can express who we really are and what we really struggle with and find accountability and love rather than judgment and wrath.