The Hunger Games: Entertainment or Addiction?

By Kathleen Pickering http://www.kathleenpickering.com

Saw The Hunger Games this weekend.

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Wished I had not.

You know when Joe Hartlaub last blogged about addiction, it set my mind going on how addicted we are as a culture. (For example, I’ll bet you know EXACTLY where your cell phone is.)

I’m thinking folks don’t quite realize how over-stimulated we are. And, how for the love of another dopamine rush, we may be sacrificing human dignity for entertainment.

Movies and videos with their cinematography are so amazing these days that graphic portrayals can be so very vivid and real.

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They overload the retinas with sparkly, colorful, gorgeous or gruesome, oversized images. These images excite our receptors causing a chemical reaction in the brain of either excitement, pleasure or fear.

After a while, the baseline for tolerance rises and we need more stimulus just to maintain the status quo. What can we create to bring the next thrill level in our entertainment? We chatter about books, movies, video games and crave more, and more and more. While we’re briefly on the topic of video games, it is safe to say many of us do enjoy escaping from the real world and playing a couple of games on the computer or even on the Playstation. With this being said, everything in moderation is fine. If you’ve realised you spend too much time playing these sorts of games, then it is recommended you read these reviews, especially if you feel like you have tried everything to help with your back pains. Not even The Hunger Games is worth experiencing this sort of pain.

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The subjects we choose for audio/visual absorption directly relate to the heightened physiological surges we experience.

Man, oh, man, while viewing The Hunger Games I realized I’d reached my limit. I just couldn’t stomach watching beautiful young men and women accepting the order to kill each other for entertainment’s sake.

I had a really hard time with the premise of kids forced to kill or be killed. Harry Potter is fantasy. Twilight is fantasy. Walking Dead is fantasy. Avatar is fantasy—with a message against war/greed/bigotry through animation. (I LOVE James Cameron’s work.)

Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games is a parody of humanity gone animal. Fully Ego driven. Get them before they get you. Control the masses by entertaining them with the deaths of others while viewers thank their lucky stars it wasn’t them—this year.

Sorry. My visual absorption hit overload.

I’m not into censoring or anything. But, as writers, screenwriters, etc., I think we have an obligation regarding the topics we choose to call entertainment. I just wish we would stop cannibalizing humanity for entertainment’s sake.

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Folks say The Hunger Games is a lesson in ensuring we never allow too much government. I say, bull****. Kids aren’t seeing a political message as much as they are wondering if their world–now and in the future–is really safe.

Will The Hunger Games motivate them to be better human beings, or ignite their craving for more ‘shock’ stimulation, whether they know it or not? (Anybody remember Lord of the Flies? Didn’t see any huge social shift from that one, either.)

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Suzanne Collins’s suggestion of our culture accepting sanctioned murder as ‘reality’ entertainment loosely disguised as political control triggered a profound sense of shame for me. I can not believe that after these thousands of years we still haven’t left the coliseum. All to stimulate our addiction. Our sense of thrill. The adrenaline or dopamine rush to escape . . . what?

I’ll be the first to say I’m a movie addict. I love the stimulation. I love the art and craft of creating words into visuals. I crave the opportunity to lose myself in make-believe worlds. But, after watching The Hunger Games—despite the fact that the acting was excellent, I think I need Stimulus-Anonymous. I’ve hit rock bottom with this one. My psyche and my soul can’t take anymore.

I’m going out to sit in the sun for awhile . . . soak in the fresh, tropical air. Meditate.

Why?

Because I know it’s only a matter of time before I get over the shock from The Hunger Games. The TV will announce the release of another heart-stopping movie. I will resist at first, but not much. I will put on my jeans and perfume, take my glasses and get to the movies early enough to catch all the upcoming trailers before my next thrill hits the silver screen. And, sadly enough, I won’t even need popcorn.

How about you?

xox, Piks

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The Latest Political Hot Potato

I’ve been lying low these days, writing on deadline for my next YA book. I tend to burrow into the pages and not come up for air until I write THE END, but I had to stray from my writing to watch a horrible drama unfold on TV and I wanted to talk about it here with people I respect.

With Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords still clinging to life after Jared Lee Loughner attempted to assassinate her, the debate rages on in the media and in Washington DC about who is to blame for stirring up such violence. It’s become a political hot potato.

The tragedy that left 6 dead and 13 others injured has prompted many to examine the political discourse in our country. I think the debate about how we exchange political views is a valid one, but perhaps our discussion should be more than that.

We have 24 hour news coverage that demands every minute be filled, even if the ‘breaking news’ is about who is in and out of rehab, or who is breaking up with whom. And have you noticed how reporters have become the news? They give opinions meant to stir viewers into posting online comments, often focusing on emotional hot button topics, just to see who is watching them. Our society has become more malicious in its criticism, especially given the anonymity of the Internet. If no one knows your name, does that entitle you to say things online that you wouldn’t to someone’s face?

And with the Internet being in the privacy of our own homes, we have access to people, views, and images from all over the world. It has become a powerful tool and in many ways, it has made the world a much smaller, more accessible place. But has this global fishbowl made us more vulnerable, too? And with reality TV shows thriving on the open abuse of contestants and fueling our voyeuristic hunger for cruelty, is it any wonder this can have an impact on our society over the long haul?

Sure whoever pulls the trigger or detonates the bomb is ultimately to blame for that violence, but maybe it’s not always that simple. In this great country of ours, we are blessed with and empowered by our right to free speech, but doesn’t that right come with some responsibility, too? I’d really love to hear your thoughts while I’m grappling with it myself.

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