Award for Most Obvious Statement: “I don’t believe in teens killing teens.”

We like violence, yes we do!
We like violence — how bout you?

“I don’t believe in teens killing teens.”

Well, congratulations. Your mercy overwhelms me.

So, in my role as pastor, I oversee our teen group at church. We’ve decided to do a movie night tomorrow, and we picked out Hunger Games as the movie to see. It’s got some great messages about self-sacrifice (and some not-so-great ones as well). It’s entertaining and hopefully popular enough that we get a good turnout for the movie.

I happened to mention this to one of the mothers who generally wants her teens to be involved in church in theory but not practice. The mother responded by saying, “I don’t believe in teens killing teens. They won’t be coming.”

I was left a little flabbergasted. If she didn’t want her kids seeing violence, I could get behind that. I understand that. But “I don’t believe in teens killing teens”? Well, neither does the source material! The Hunger Games aren’t promoted in the book as being the good thing for society. A conversation at the beginning of the movie between Katniss and Gale make it very clear that they’re not in favor of the Games at all. (For clarity, I have not yet read the book, so this entire conversation is based on the movie version.)

So, she doesn’t like teens killing teens… so there shouldn’t be a problem seeing the movie, should there? It doesn’t glorify such killing. The hero kills, what, two people in the movie version? And those two killings both have a profound negative affect on her. The movie is against teens killing teens – it doesn’t glorify killing or violence at all!

Sure it doesn’t promote teen violence, but doesn’t it encourage violence merely by showing it?

Yep. It sure does. The same way that George Orwell’s 1984 encourages totalitarian governments. The same way that Neal Shusterman’s Unwind supports the wholesale slaughter of teens. The same way that the Bible encourages sin by showing it in all its realism. (Maybe that last example is a little strong, I’ll grant you!)

1984: Biggest proponent of Big Brother. Remember: Ignorance is strength!

Has the mom seen the movie or read the book? According to her daughter, the mom rented the movie and watched it with her. She even enjoyed the movie, apparently. Is this merely an excuse to keep her children from enjoying things outside her possibly over-protective gaze? Maybe. I don’t know exactly what’s going on here.

I know the book drew a lot of criticism for its plot. Many people said it encouraged violence. I have to disagree; this doesn’t glory in violence the way, say, Die Hard does. I think a large part is the revulsion of seeing children as possibly evil – not just mean as in your typical high school drama, but doing seriously evil things and killing each other.

Is it possible that people were scared of the movie because it showed how dark human nature really is – yes, even in teens? We don’t like admitting how evil we are at our core. We don’t like admitting we have a sinful nature. And seeing it portrayed by those that adults consider children – well, it’s hard to hide from that reality in the movie theater, isn’t it?

I don’t know. I’m hoping the mom changes her mind and lets her kids come to the movie night. It’s good to watch a movie with friends – and then (gasp!) talk about the messages of the movie. Talk about the spiritual undertones – are they good or bad? What is the message?

Either way, I still think the mom’s excuse – “I don’t believe in teens killing teens” – is weak at best. Seriously, if you’re going to dislike something, dislike it for what it is. Dislike it for the violence. Dislike it for not enjoying the genre. But if you’re agreeing with a message from the movie, shouldn’t that mean you actually like the message?

 

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