Dear Smug Jerks,
Sure, both properties have an authoritarian government forcing teenagers to do battle-to-the-death. And sure, both have serious political undertones and social satire. Nobody can deny this, and I think it’s reasonable to assume Battle Royale, either in film or manga form, was a considerable influence on The Hunger Games.
But The Hunger Games is not merely the sum of a bunch of influences. While I am not the biggest proponent of the novels—I find them entertaining, but also quite poorly written—I do think they cover really interesting thematic and allegorical ground in a unique and accessible way.
If all we ever did was dismiss films or books for having similarities to earlier works, then we would never watch or read anything new. This mindset among people who would like to think that a teen novel is beneath them bothers me. It’s not enough to just say, “I’m not interested in teen-lit.” People have to find a way to completely dismiss the property. Apparently the reason they don’t want to read the book has nothing to do with their personal taste or narrow-mindedness; it’s because they somehow know that the book is entirely derivative of something great that came before.
The people who do this, the people who outright dismiss The Hunger Games as little more than an Americanized, sanitized version of Battle Royale, do nothing more than show their smugness and ignorance. They obviously know nothing about the series other than the most superficial aspects, and they refuse to even educate themselves on the difference, instead choosing to portray themselves as better than the material they’re denouncing.
This kind of dismissal pisses me off. I experience the same thing with War Horse. Sure, the trailers weren’t very good, and superficially the idea of the movie sounded silly. Fine. But too many people simply refused to see it, even after I told them it was actually very good. Instead they dismissed the movie outright, referring to the stupidity of a movie about a horse in WWI, even though they hadn’t seen it. They complain that Spielberg is too manipulative a director, this despite not actually knowing how his manipulation plays in the context of this one film. If you don’t want to see a movie, fine, but don’t start finding broad ways of dismissing the film just to make yourself feel secure in your decision to be closed-minded.
That’s how I feel about the constant dismissal of The Hunger Games. If you don’t want to read the books or see the movie that’s your prerogative, but when people tell you it’s good or worthwhile and your only response is to dismiss the entire series outright based purely on your own ignorance, you just look like an ass.
So do yourself a favour. Don’t be an ass. Be open-minded about stuff like The Hunger Games. Don’t fall back on easy dismissals and ignorant statements. You don’t have to go see every new movie that comes out, but you also don’t have to look like a snob who doesn’t accept anything new.