Monday, March 26, 2012
Hunger Games: The Atheist's Utopia Revealed
My Past Week
I've noticed lately that I have a harder and harder time going to see movies purely for the entertainment value of the show. This weekend I went to see one that really made me step back and look at society, not just as portrayed in the movie, but the society of the audience. Last week I had a conversation with a person that was still fresh on my mind, and I finished reading a specific book on the topic. Those allowed my mind to make some interesting connections.
Last week's conversation was a political/worldview discussion with a friend on Facebook. This person was more concerned that he be allowed to believe whatever he wanted to believe rather than be concerned about the truth of the content of his belief. He stated that he was a moral relativist and that nothing could be considered "right" or "wrong" on his view; he also believed that the government and its official documents (the US Constitution, in this case) is from where people derive "intrinsic" rights. When he asked me moral questions, I asked if he was asking from within his worldview or mine. He told me to just answer the question however best suits me.
The book that I finished reading is by Stephen McAndrew. It is "Why It Doesn't Matter What YOU Believe If Its Not True." (My review). The main purpose of the book was to show how a post-modern perspective and worldview, like what my friend above held, is completely incoherent and will logically lead the adherent down extremely dangerous paths.
...And What Movie?
This leads me to the movie I saw this weekend: "The Hunger Games" (no spoilers coming up). It is based on a very popular book series. The story has all people divided between two different societies: those in The Capital and those in the Districts. The ones in The Capital essentially rule over those in the Districts. In order to keep the Districts from rising against The Capital again (it happened once in the past), a yearly "game" takes place that requires two "tributes" from each District. This "game" is reminiscent of today's "Survivor"-style reality shows without the "voting off" and with an abhorrent twist. The way that a tribute wins is for all the other tributes to be dead, either by natural causes or murder by the others- the latter being preferred by those watching the event from The Capital.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the tributes are children. But the immorality doesn't lie only with The Capital. Because of the rewards of winning the game, some of the Districts focus all their training of certain children to quickly carry out murders. What I have described here is only a portion of just how immoral the "Hunger Games" event is. You will have to either read the book or watch the movie to get the other sickening details.
A World of Relativism and Survival of the Fittest
A couple things stood out to me about this world that the writer takes the audience into: the first is that no one in The Capital challenged what was happening- not on utilitarian grounds, not on moral grounds. The Districts (the society being victimized), though they knew that it was wrong, did not make any attempt to challenge The Capital- their only protest was a hand signal that demonstrated that they didn't agree.
The second thing that stood out was the very fact that the people who were in charge of putting on the "Hunger Games" event was of an elite class- those with money and power. They used that money and power to make the poor and weak people be their entertainment- to the point of not just dying, but murdering each other. The rules in the game were set with the expressed purpose of seeing that the Tributes carried out murder, and the very existence of the "Hunger Games" event was to keep one society in submission to another.
I'm Making Moral Judgments
As morally reprehensible as the premise behind the movie is, it is a work of fiction that has no affects on reality....or does it? I find it quite interesting that so many movies are produced that show a morally debauched society "sometime" in the future, yet they never show how society became that way. They make no effort to connect the present world to the future world that they draw the viewer into. I believe that that is because of the fact that that would be a little too scary for people. I mean imagine a story that makes a logical connection and shows how our society not only could lead to the "Hunger Games", but is on that track...then show the "Hunger Games" in all its murderous glory. That would give a whole new meaning to the genre titled "horror".
What YOU Believe?
Today, moral relativism is running rampant. People try to ground morality in themselves or in the thriving of the most humans. The problem is that no two people will agree completely on all moral issues that come up. Each person will react according to their own desires, and when conflict arises between those who don't agree, the stronger will overtake the weaker. If we appeal to the thriving of the most humans, we are still back to a subjective standard. How are we to define "thriving"? It can certainly be defined in such a way that very few humans actually experience it, but it would be the most possible. Either one of these scenarios could be what happened leading up to the story of "The Hunger Games." But these are not just fiction, they are the reality of not having an objective moral standard.
Am I Over-Reacting?
Many are likely thinking that even if our secular society could end up making the "Hunger Games" event a real part of their history, people will not allow it to happen because man is good and would never tolerate this. I beg to differ. I know that for many years people have been saying how modern entertainment glamorizes and desensitizes people to violence, death, and murder. I know that I am a victim of this. One of my thoughts while watching the movie was, "Why did the makers of the film not show the true horror of the murders? Why did they hide the blood? Why did they not show the death strikes in their detail? Why did they drown out the screams of the children as they were brutally killed by one another? Did not the Nazis do the same at the gas chambers when they murdered the Jews?"
It made me sick to my stomach- not the presence of the violence, but the lack of it! How ironic is that? First, I've been so desensitized that I am wondering why its not portrayed accurately or at least more gruesomely than it was! That alone tells me that the constant barrage of violence has done something to me. Second, the director appears to be counting on the prior desensitization to make the murders not appear so bad to the audience. (I could be wrong about this; the censoring could be to keep the movie at a PG-13 rating, be for cinematic/artistic effect, or to leave something to the imagination of the generations who grew up with Mortal Kombat).
What really got to me was that when the movie was over, I did not hear a single word of disgust over the premise of the story from the audience. All I heard was people comparing it to the books. People have been trained to not focus on the moral aspects of movies, but on how accurately the movie follows a book. Our attention has been diverted from what matters to what does not matter. Who focuses on if the movie followed the book while ignoring the possibility that the content of the book and the movie could actually happen? The post-modernist...today's society. We are being led down this road without knowing what we are doing...but I won't let us off so innocently.
Just How Far Are We, Really?
Exactly how many steps are we from actually accepting something like the "Hunger Games" event? Well, you tell me...our society is entertained by death in the fictional world and in the real world. We are entertained by the fact that fictional characters are entertained by the "Hunger Games". There is little to no cries of outrage from our own society on the moral repugnance of "The Hunger Games". People are well aware of what they are entertained by, not just once, but over and over and over and over again. People are also well aware of what they refuse to stand against...perhaps because they are afraid they might lose that entertainment, be seen as a critic of artistic expression, or be seen as intolerant of other people's/societies' views of right and wrong.
What will happen when our society gets bored with death and murder being just a part of fiction? Don't tell me that what I'm insinuating won't happen. Look at the porn industry. Many people are no longer satisfied with what they see just on a screen, they have become bored with experiencing it second-hand...they must experience it for themselves. Let me ask this: what is part of a relativistic society that will keep man from doing what he does with porn with another form of entertainment? It certainly won't be the Constitution, that document can be, has been, and will continue to be changed by those in power: who vote based on the desires of those who put them in power (the society) or their own agendas.
There Will Be Hunger In Utopia
People, we are not far from realizing that we are part of a "drama" movie that should have been labeled a "horror" movie. If our society continues to reject God, they reject the only possible source of objective morality that will keep this possibility in check.
Many of you are aware of the "Reason Rally" that took place in early 2012. It was a celebration of the rejection of God (the only objective moral standard) and a celebration of man's triumphs, knowledge, "wisdom," and utopian dreams for the future. (If there are any Christian screenwriters and movie producers reading this, here is a great starting premise.) If you plan to go see the movie or read the books, I ask that you take a step back to see the logical track that leads to the utopian dream of "The Hunger Games."
I answer critics of this post here: Revisited.
For more movie reviews, check out the NEW Cultural Apologetics page.
See also these posts about "The Hunger Games":
The Hunger Games Movie: A Christian Perspective and Review by J.W. Wartick
The Hunger Games: A Film Review and Reflections by Holly Ordway
The Hunger Games: Tribute to Life by Marcia Montenegro
The Hunger Games: Wall or Bridge- video panel discussion from TC Apologetics
Deeper Hungers and Darker Games- by Anthony Webber