3.30.2012

Missing the Hunger and other stories

I haven't seen The Hunger Games.

Oh, I read the books, and found them flawed but compelling. I watched the trailer several times; it gave me chills. I wondered whether Jennifer Lawrence would make a believable Katniss and how Lenny Kravitz would do as the gentle Cinna. And as people all over the blogosphere and Facebook have cheered or ranted or both this week, part of me has felt out of it, that I'm missing something.

Usually, I tell people I don't want the nightmares. So far, so true. But it's more than that, and it's hard to explain. The books were compelling, but they were also unbearable. For me, even the first. I don't want to sit through that as translated to screen. Also, I resent the marketing buzz's attempt to cast me as a citizen of the Capitol; Hollywood knows nothing about how I live my life. Much as I loved Peeta—partly because I hurt for him so badly—I don't want his name stamped on my underwear. Nor will I be buying nail polish named for the tributes, or whatever else they're selling. This is one phenomenon that I understand (believe me, I am sorely tempted at every turn in a Harry Potter shop) and yet I sincerely don't at the same time.

In case it needs to be said, I'm not judging a single person who walked into the theater, not even if they wore a pink Effie Trinket wig and gold spots on their face. People are drawn to a work of fiction for thousands of possible reasons, and there are good reasons to be drawn to The Hunger Games. I get it.

And yet I don't. I really don't. And I don't know why. All I know is that I can hardly think of that story without feeling like crying. Tears are not something I go to the theater for.

But here are three thoughtful articles by people who saw the movie, people whose responses I respected: Maggie Stiefvater fangirls the film but is floored by the irony, Danielle Tumminio asks "What if we didn't watch?" (I'm good at not watching, but not necessarily so good at taking the action she calls for; believe me, I found this piece convicting, though I think protesting is the weakest of the actions available to us), and Amy Simpson looks for the Bread of Life in the story (thanks for the link, Arabella.)

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Fans of The Hunger Games may be interested to know that I followed Katniss all around the grocery [incongruity!] this week. Not Jennifer Lawrence—just a wiry young woman with a narrow, sorrowful face and long dark brown hair braided slightly off to the side. It was her, I say.

Later, I went home and braided my own hair slightly off to the side.

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My seedlings are coming up!

Basil! See those little guys peering over the edge of the pot?
Chives! I love the way they poke up, all doubled over.
Other happy gardening thoughts:

Blooming peace lily! Even though Maia broke off three of the leaves last night.
Blueberry bushes in the brand-new raised bed...
Peonies and grape hyacinths...
Lou actually found rhubarb and a peony plant in the lawn. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of those before it started pouring rain again.

Flowering quince! Actually, it's technically the neighbors', but
it's partly growing into our yard.
Currant bushes!
Helping things grow: one of the best feelings in the world.

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Writers' link of the week: Michael Wallace's How to Eat an Elephant, which is perhaps the most practical post on how to finish a novel that I've ever read. Two of my three current novels have reached completion on that basic principle, and the third follows closely. I might go look up that Freedom program, too...

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Music of the week: Maurice Duruflé's arrangement of the Ubi Caritas—some good Holy Week music, there. Lou and I have sung this in choir.



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Random amusement of the week: What's your architectural style? (I like my bungalow.)

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All right, I think this post is long enough. Happy weekend!

12 comments:

  1. I completely understand where you're coming from. I loved loved loved the books, and because I loved the characters and actors so much, I went to see the movie, but I have never had such a strong emotional reaction a novel as I did with this trilogy. I read all three in one week, and by the time I was finished, I was thoroughly depressed. EVery time I think about it, I want to cry because of the despair I felt the stories left Katniss in the midst of. It was painful, but they are such amazing characters and I loved them too much to turn away, and I think Suzanne Collins really did a great job.

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    1. I can sympathize... I think it's the characters that keep me from simply not caring about the books and movie. Katniss and Peeta and Rue and Haymitch and Gale and Prim and a number of others affected me deeply. As you say, I loved them too much to just turn away.

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  2. Very moving piece, Jenna. About The Hunger Games, that is. I haven't listened to the Holy Week music. I did at least get my sermon for Holy Thursday done. Now just three more to write for the week.

    Anyway, I'm not going to see the movie but perhaps for different reasons. I didn't have the same visceral reaction to the books as you did, & I don't think the movie would have an overwhelming affect on me, although it'd probably be difficult to watch. I just don't think Hollywood can get it right, and while I don't go as far as John Granger in thinking Hollywood has totally hijacked the movies, I still think he might be more right than wrong.

    Of the three books I thought the first was by far & away the best. The most moving and the most at capturing the sense of what it was like to live in Panem. The second was okay, but Mockingjay? Well, I hesitate to go on a rant about it.

    Arabella's comment over at The Hogshead kind of sums it up for me: "Artistic Mockingjay may have been, but its expansive, unending brutality and abrupt ending that left too much hanging were infuriating. Though I read HG and CF several times, and might read them again, yes, in a sense, it hijacked the series for me and I can’t recommend it either."

    About the only part of Mockingjay that resonated with me in any sort of redemptive way was Katniss's reconciliation with Buttercup & then bits of the Epilogue. And her declaration of love for Peeta. But the rest of the book was a wash. And it's pretty much ruined the prior two books for me.

    The epilogue for the series may be more "realistic" in a worldly sense than the Potter books epilogue but the Potter epilogue is more spiritually real, if you know what I mean.

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    1. Thanks, George. "Visceral reaction"--that's the right word choice, there. And I'm really with you in your thoughts here. I keep meaning to go over and comment on the latest Hog's Head post about it, and just haven't found the time, but Arabella makes a good point.

      Those few tidbits of Mockingjay are stunningly beautiful. Flowers amid carnage. Which was the point; it was just perhaps the most devastating point I've ever read.

      "The epilogue for the series may be more "realistic" in a worldly sense than the Potter books epilogue but the Potter epilogue is more spiritually real, if you know what I mean."

      Yes, I do, and it's true--so true.

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  3. i saw the movie from the front row, and therefore didnt' really see it, due to overuse of shaky-cam dizziness. (why the shakycam? this is supposed to be Big-brother-style filming, not Amazing Race. Katniss isn't being followed by a film crew.)

    While i probably need to see it from further back in the theater to really see the composition of the film, i have to say the movie was FAR less moving than the books, for me. VERY FAR. i had very little reason to love or feel attached to Rue, and almost less for Cinna or Peeta, though they were given more screentime. it really left me cold on both negative and positive extremes, although technically it stayed fairly close to the book. The thing is, although i felt the book was made for the screen, i really missed Katniss's voice, and most of the meaningful moments happen from her voice, her perspective.

    I put it this way to Katrina; i was never bored, but i didn't walk away with anything to think about later. In some ways, The Hunger Games movie perpetuated the thinking the books ostensibly decry.

    therefore, i say that you aren't missing as much as you might feel you are, and to just enjoy your garden (need any strawberries? i need to split mine out)

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    1. jana.kaye, you rock. :) I do love enjoying my garden. I'd be all over taking some strawberries if I didn't have a good-sized patch of them already, but thanks for the offer!

      I think I would miss Katniss' voice, too, and a few hints about certain changes to Peeta's scenes worried me. While I try to understand the difference between film and books when I see adaptations, I've never been able to understand the failure to retain the words and motivation and overall nature of a beloved character.

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  4. You have sun?? I am so jealous. Here in Spokane we broke the March rain record yesterday and it's still pouring. I think we've had maybe four days of sun all month.

    But I digress.

    The visuals in my head reading the books were vivid enough for me. I got weepy over every HG trailer I saw and that music! I'd have to be a masochist to see it. But I'm not sorry I read the first two books; I just wish Mockingjay hadn't been so ruinous to the saga for me (thanks for the hat tip, George). And like you, Jenna, I'm fine with people wanting to see it. Seeing it doesn't make you the Capitol and not seeing it doesn't convey righteousness. I hope it sparks good conversation.

    --Arabella

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    1. We had sun for about an hour, just long enough to take the pictures. For which I was grateful. :) It's pouring right now. I don't know if we're getting a record, but it's certainly true that March has been almost entirely wet here.

      Part of me wishes I hadn't read the books and yet, part of me is glad I did--to be in on the conversation, if nothing else, though as noted above, I did love the characters. And yeah, seeing the movie would be masochism for me, too.

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  5. Beautiful plants! I'm glad you avoided the nightmares too! I know very little about the books but they do sound ill-suited to springtime. Enjoy the sun and the blooming things - I hope to have some of my own as soon as our latest cold-spell breaks. :)

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    1. Thanks, Masha! No, the books aren't springy at all unless you count a few lines toward the end of Mockingjay. They're more late-summer or fall. :)

      We've had a lot of late cold spells, too--I'm hopeful that we're beyond frost, but we've got a good three weeks where the temperature could still drop. Hope you get some blooms soon!

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  6. As for architectural style, I didn't really match any of the ones listed, so I scrolled around his site until I found one that called out to me. It's called "tree house" :o)

    http://www.houzz.com/photos/763693/Blue-Forest-Tree-House-eclectic-exterior-

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