Monday, 26 March 2012

Are you hungry?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you'll recently noticed a veritable avalanche of advertising for a film called The Hunger Games. I didn't take too much notice to begin with, as the trailer seemed a little Harry Potterish for me. Albeit with superior acting skills. Not at all sure how they could be inferior than that particular casting choice. I just don't get how whatsisname, Daniel Radcliffe, is getting work.

Anyway, as I say, I didn't take too much notice of a film that was dubbed by someone or other as 'the next Twilight'. The last thing the world needs, frankly, is another Twilight. One was more than enough. In fact, unless vampires get a LOT cooler, and fast, we can probably do without them altogether. Stephenie Meyers has singlehandedly destroyed nearly 200 years' worth of undead awesome. She should be shot. Actually shot. With a gun.

On second looks though, I noticed that The Hunger Games is some kind of post-apocalyptic dystopian future story (it's difficult to write the word dystopia without prefixing it with 'neo-noir' for reasons that about 12 people in the entire world would understand).

I love a good post apocalyptic dystopia, me. I've always been drawn to films, books and TV series that give me that good old armageddon-is-coming feeling. That emotion where you can almost, but never quite, but almost feel that everything actually is going to end and life as you know it will be over. Whatever the outcome - whether it's a new state run by an evil dictator, or a world where reading is banned, or just a total nightmarish wasteland a la Threads, doesn't really matter. It's that feeling that it's all going to be over, any second now and you're just waiting for it to happen. In slo mo, like at the end of Melancholia.

Maybe it's a response to growing up as a child of Thatcher, always aware of the threat of nuclear war. I used to have nightmares featuring a mushroom cloud over the horizon from about the age of five. Or maybe it's the part of me that thinks the earth would be better off if it did just happen - that we've probably had our time on this earth. We've used up all our lives and we're raping the final resources in manner of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

Either way, the dystopia bit got my attention. Then I read somewhere that it's a franchise of books that have been incredibly popular in America. I also read that it's aimed at the Twilight demographic. There it is again. That cancerous lump of poorly written, badly constructed, anti-feminist bullshit. Tainting everything in its path. Even, at one point, a version of Wuthering Heights, which was reissued with a sticker on it saying 'Bella's favourite book'. I'd really like to meet whichever sad bastard who was responsible for that tidy piece of desecration.

Twilight is a piss poor approximation of literature. It's the repressed sexual fantasies of a middle-aged religious nut, who appears to think that women should subjugate themselves to their partner, no matter what kind of emotional abuse is heaped upon them. Her weak, weak heroine gives up everything - including her actual life - because she can't get over how dreamy her boyfriend is. She would rather be turned into a member of the undead than not go out with the pretty boy. Bella sums up everything I wouldn't want my teenage daughter to identify with - a girl who gives her life up for a man, a girl who can't function without him, a girl who never finds out who she could have been. And then at another point almost goes with a different man because the first man doesn't seem to want her anymore and obviously not having any man would be just unthinkable...

It preaches that the only way to live is part of a couple. It teaches that a boyfriend's will is more important that your own. It teaches that if you really, really want to fuck a guy, like REALLY badly, then it's fine to give up your entire personality.

I have read the first two books of the Twilight saga, lest you think I'm just banging on without facts to back up my rant. They were the most badly written fiction I have ever read since I attempted to read The Da Vinci Code in 2003.

So it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I downloaded the first book of The Hunger Games.

And I'm so glad I did. A heroine to look up to, a well constructed universe, a coherent storyline, a plausible back story with a stark message. There is no flinching from death here. People don't get to live forever while at the same time being, like, breathtakingly sexy and having fabulous hair. Here, people die. There is a distinct lack of supernatural bullshit, which means the writer has to actually, you know, plot when she wants the story to go somewhere.

Tense, engrossing, convincing, The Hunger Games is everything Twilight is not. It's inspiring for girls: always remain independent is its message. Don't just lay down and change who you are. Even if you have the best, most understanding, all round ace boyfriend ever, don't let them have all of you. And learn how to use a bow and arrow. You can save yourself.

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