MARK HOLMBERG: ‘The Hunger Games’ hysteria

Posted at 12:51 AM, Mar 23, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-23 00:51:09-04

Unlike other blockbuster movies for young people, “The Hunger Games” brings a heavy dose of reality.

“I think that’s why it reaches a more mature audience,” said Haley Huson, who came to midnight premiere Thursday at Bowtie Cinemas Movieland in Richmond, in costume with her friends – complete with bows and arrows and trademark side braids.

“There are parallels to now,” said her companion, Jessi Gower. “You think about Wall Street and everything going on.”

“It kind of talks about the gap that going in the U.S.” said another fan, Lora Price. “Either you have money or you don’t.”

“The Hunger Games,” a predicted smash-hit movie based on the first novel in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, is based on a future North America in which all the districts live in near starvation, while the ruling elite gorge themselves.

“And it’s popular at parties to pass out, basically, Ipecac serum, and they can puke so they can keep eating all the food in the capitol,” said Kay Harding as she waited for the movie to start.

The ruling elite control everything. “They control the TVs,” Haley said.

Each year a selection of young boys and girls from the districts compete to the death.

“The winner of this tournament has their entire village fed for a year,” Kay said.

Part of the series’ secret to success is the unusual arc of the heroine. “The main character is a really badass chick,” said Allison Romeo, who made medallions worn by the movies character for herself and her friends.

“She’s just strong in herself,” Jessi Gower said, “and isn’t, like, ohmygod, I’m going to kill myself if I lose my boyfriend . . .  take over and totally be a truly independent female.”

The book, and movie, also develops a “1984” theme of a society where the ruled are carefully watched, separated and manipulated by the rulers. The annual hunger games themselves are a way to ease the hunger pangs for freedom – to keep the masses in control.

It also riffs on the heartless elimination-style reality TV shows and talent competitions that pit one citizen against another.

That’s why this first movie, like the novel it’s based on, is expected to resonate with young people in this country, and around the world.

Read more on "The Hunger Games."