Why I Didn't See The Hunger Games

(This will be a rambling and most inarticulated post. You have been warned)

A few of you know that I was planning to go see "The Hunger Games" movie with my cousin and some friends from church last week. You also know how much I was looking forward to it as time grew nearer. Well, something happened.

I didn't go.

It wasn't because the car got a flat tyre or the movie was cancelled. I didn't go because at the very last minute, God convicted me not to.

Now before all the Hunger Games fans pull out their weapons of self-defence against me, let me first get these points out of the way:

  • I have read all the books so I know exactly what I was going to be in for before I decided to go and see the movie.
  • In spite of this decision, I hold nothing against The Hunger Games plot, characters, author, the lot. I still fully appreciate the story, and I believe it has great moral lessons and thought-provoking points to share.
  • Just because God convicted me of something about this movie does not mean it applies to everyone. I believe that God can often show different things to different people and - depending on the circumstance - can apply differently as well. (i.e., you don't need to feel guilty about anything I'm about to say if you've seen it!)
  •  I may end up seeing the movie at a later date. (big maybe, but still a maybe regardless)
So. What changed? Here is how it happened -

The night before the designated movie date, I went to bed feeling a little trepidation. Knowing what I did about the book, I knew there were some points that could potentially be quite graphic, and some of the aspects - though portrayed as wrong - could be quite disturbing. How would it come across in the movie? I thought. How was it shown? Could I handle it?
Waking up the next morning after a restless night, I was still fully planning to go. I reminded myself I had seen violent movies before, this one really wouldn't be that much different. Besides, I had heard from reliable people that the violence was quite tastefully done and it wasn't overly gory. I could handle it.

Later in the day I ended up talking about it with Mum, and she made an excellent point that, though a plot might be wholesome, characters righteous, and the circumstances they find themselves in evil, doesn't make it necessary to view. Just because bad things happen, does it mean we have to see it? We know about terrible things that happen on a daily basis around the world, not just in fiction. But does it do us any ultimate good to be a witness of it? It was a good point, and I took it on. However, I thought that the story was worth telling, and knowing what the story was, I still wanted to see it.

I don't really know why I did this next thing, but I did. I went on IMDB and read the content advisory on the violence. Their content advisories tell you everything that happens that is violent. It doesn't mask how it is done, but tells you exactly what happens in each violent scene. Reading it, my stomach turned. There were a few things that happened that I suddenly felt dread about. After reading it, I felt a sudden loss of innocence and ignorance. 

This was one of the main things that strongly convicted me not to go: could I walk into a cinema to watch a movie where I knew full well someone was going to get their neck broken by another, or beaten to death with a brick?

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to justify what I had just read. I knew that the filming was done in a handheld camera kind of way, and that all these horrific points were perceived in the briefest moments. However, I still knew. I knew what was going to happen regardless of how the camera caught it. Could I feel good about it? Or would I feel like a murderer by willingly witnessing it?

Also, I have siblings all within the age range of the hunger games tributes. How would watching a group of people the same age as my loved ones killing and being killed effect me?

Adding to this inner turmoil and struggle, I was talking to a friend of mine online, and he happened to mention he had published a new post on his blog. It turned out to be all about finding Godly entertainment, and one of the last paragraphs hit me square in the conscience:

"When you’re in heaven, which are you going to regret: That you were careful to find entertainment that was pleasing to God, or that you watched entertainment that the world adored and God hated? If you ask yourself that before you consume any entertainment, the choice may not always be easy, but it should always be clear." - Jonathan Garner

Ouch. This also hit my heart's bullseye because aside from these doubts and worries, I was concerned about how my cousin and the girls from church would react. We had been planning to go see this movie for almost two weeks. What they thought of me wasn't what concerned me most. Would I offend them? I didn't want to hurt them. And truthfully, I also didn't want to look like a coward by chickening out at the last second.

But all this stacked up to be too much prodding from God to ignore. No matter how I reasoned, justified, or tried to explain it away, I was simply not %100 comfortable about going.

Even after I told the girls I couldn't go, I still felt torn. Their understanding was a huge relief and blessing, and that added to the sense that I had done the right thing. However a lack of substantial reasoning made it difficult for me to see just why I had decided this way.

Was it the fact I felt guilty about seeing people die horrible deaths I knew about in advance? Was it the fact that they were teens, not adults that disturbed me most? Was it the fact that killing played a key part in the overall plot, and wasn't simply a means to an end? Was it the fact it didn't ring true enough with Philippians 4:8 for me?

I'm still not certain. But for now, the best excuse I have is an old one: better safe, than sorry. What it finally boiled down to was that I did not want to commit to doing something that I felt I may have to ask God's forgiveness for afterwords. And looking at it this way, I'm glad that I didn't go. 

Though I know many others who have seen - and enjoyed! - The Hunger Games, in God's eyes, I believe it just wasn't for me this time. I may never know why, because even now, I would still like to see the movie! But so long as God convicts me not to, I'll abide by His will. 

Romans 6:25 came to my mind after writing this: "What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!"

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  1. You made the right decision Bushmaid. It is right to be careful, especially in such things as this.

  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :D This helps me to decide if I'll go with my friend to watch it.Great post! And I also agree with that Godly entertainment.

    1. Thankyou for reading! May God guide you in your decision. :)

  3. WOW!!!! Thats so powerful!!! May God Bless you for been so sensitive to His Holy Spirt's leading. Rosie M.

    1. Thankyou so much, Rosie! Your comment was very encouraging. God bless you too! :D

  4. As you know, I love the books and the movie... but I'm not going to pull the "rabid fan" thing on you. :) I respect your decision not to watch it, but I respect it even more because you acknowledged this:

    "Just because God convicted me of something about this movie does not mean it applies to everyone. I believe that God can often show different things to different people and - depending on the circumstance - can apply differently as well."

    That's a whole different attitude than I've seen exhibited by many people on this issue. One critic (I think you know which one) even ventured to say that those who watch the movie are turning into "little Nazis." *facepalm*

    At any rate, I respect your decision to abide by your conscience and skip the movie for now. (And if you ever do watch it, I'd love to hear your opinion). :D

    1. Yes, little Nazis... *rolls eyes* Honestly, I think that's taking things a little too far. The story is far from moral-less; it has a very thought-provoking and worthy message. I have absolutely nothing against anybody who has seen it, because I still believe it is a good story.

      However like I said, at this stage, it just simply wasn't right for me. :)

      Thankyou for your comment, Corey, and for your understanding. :) If I ever do see it, you'll be one of the first to know. ;)

  5. What a wonderful post, Aussie! And it was quite well-articulated to me. ('Course, I often ramble and think it's totally incoherent, yet my readers say it's not, so... Hmm.) I think your reasoning was quite good, but above all, it is absolutely wonderful and wise that you followed God's conviction. Nothing else matters, if you felt led of Him and obeyed. Thank you for sharing your experiences as a testimony and encouragement for the rest of us!

    On a more personal note, The Hunger Games are still on my "maybe" list because of the violence. I haven't decided where it falls on my scale, either.

    1. Thankyou so much, my Philly! :D (I know... how is it others understand us when we ourselves don't? o.O) The most difficult thing about this situation was that I didn't have a clear reason, I only had my conscience to go by. However I guess that's all God needed me to know. :)

      Thankyou for reading, and for your encouraging comment, Philly! *hugs* Whichever way you decide, I'd be interested to hear about it.

  6. I read the whole post.
    I probably will never see this movie, but then again I haven't read the books either.
    However, in MY opinion I think you made a good decision.


    1. Thankyou, Rosie! Your opinion means a lot to me. :)

  7. Oh my darling Aussie!! I am so proud of you! I am still determining my thoughts on the Hunger Games and have not gone to see it. To be honest, I have no desire to.

    Hearing your thoughts has not swayed me one way or another, but it has made me intensly proud of you!!! I love this post!

    1. *pinks* Thankyou so much, my dear Kaitlyn. :) You made me feel so much more at peace about my decision! :D

  8. Good, because you did the right thing, my darling. You did what God led you to do. :D

  9. *Smiles* I am so proud of you, Bushy! You know, you are such a good example even to older people like me. :D I would have found making that decision very hard, so well done. *Hugs*

    I did see it, and I did like it; but my brother said it was sadistic and he hated it, as did his GF. I actually can't watch too much violence without stopping watching the film, or looking away in horror; I found The Hunger Games to be very mild in my book, which is saying a lot for me. I thought the way they showed the violence was tasteful, some of it off screen with just the sound.

    Everyone's different of course, and I am really touched by you making this decision, especially if you really deep down feel like seeing it. :)

    1. Awww... *hugs back* Thankyou so much, Stephanie. :) I didn't think this ramble would be so encouraging to people, so hearing your comment was a real blessing. So Thankyou!

  10. I'm glad to hear about this, and how frank you are about it!

    I have a few things wrong with the plot (which I read, although I have read neither the book or the movie). If I am inaccurate as to what happens in specifics, correct me. In concept, here they are:

    Authors who want to create storylines that draw readers will permit anything, even a survival game where children (yes, they are that) kill each other to survive. The author has purposely made murder into a type of "self-defense" so it can be justified, and then blames it upon the horrid epicenter of all the viewer's rage, the state.

    The "love story" cannot be expressly discounted as wrong, but again, the author has gone extra lengths to create a scenario in which a guy and girl spend a great deal of time interacting without any parent or chaperone being involved.

    All of my "rage" against the state is turned instead to the author. These sorts of "specialized scenarios" are reminiscent of the immodesty of Princess Leia which is apparently supposed to be blamed on Jabba the Hut. Who should we really blame? George Lucas and his team. They are the ones who have lust in their hearts, and they cannot wait to play it out before the audiences of America. They set up a "straw-man" named Jabba, who they can blame as cruel, so that you don't feel so bad when you ogle the slave girl.

    George Lucas himself said (I can't find the quote, I will post it when I find it; I read it in a book on the Phantom Menace - episode 1) a quote about his role as a type of creator, which I will paraphrase here: "I realized that this was my world, which I had the power to do anything I wanted with."

    Since unregenerate man is a sinful creator, he begets sinful creatures when he writes. Although the Hunger Games is not worse that other similar releases, I do not measure the yardstick by the cloth.

    1. I'm not trying to start a debate, and I'll shut up if BushMaid tells me to, but... :)

      Just to be clear, there's a difference between murder and self-defense (I don't think you would dispute that). And one of the big misconceptions about The Hunger Games seems to be that Collins is confusing (or blurring) the two. Not so.

      Katniss, the protagonist, does everything in her power to avoid a confrontation with the other Tributes; when she does kill, it's in self-defense, when someone is attacking her. That, to my mind, is completely and utterly justified.

      In the case of the other Tributes, the ones who actively hunt down and slaughter their fellow human beings, Collins makes the evil of their actions clear. It's murder. It's grievous. And it's sickening.

      One of the remarkable things about Katniss is her respect for life in the ultimate Darwinian environment. All around her, the rule of thumb is "survival of the fittest;" yet Katniss doesn't play by that rule. She even takes time to give one of the dead Tributes a proper burial. And when she kneels by the frail little body and weeps, the message is clear: life is precious. It's loss is always a tragedy.

      Suzanne Collins' books aren't perfect; they have flaws (both aesthetic and moral), but I'm convinced that they have much of value to offer the discerning Christian reader.

    2. I can't reply to everything here.
      Maybe you should listen to Kevin Swanson's take on it at Generationswithvision.com.

      I don't agree with everything he says, but much of it I do agree with. It might help you understand where I'm coming from.

      Just for the record, I came to the conclusion I came to before I heard Swanson's take: I'm not just parroting what I've heard.

    3. You might be interested to read one of Corey's blog posts on that very person's take, Pinecone. :)

    4. @Pinecone: Actually, I've listened to Swanson's take, too. See my response here: http://inkslingerblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/on-the-hunger-games-a-response-to-kevin-swanson/

  11. I tagged you, so now you're "it"!!


    1. I got tagged by you AND David! I shall have to make a mega post for that! :D

  12. I'm not going to watch/read Hunger Games, myself. Too much violence for my taste.

    By the way, I just wanted to say that the illustrations for Peter's Angel that you did are amazing! Saw them on Aubrey's facebook and I was blown away.

    God bless you! :-D

    1. That is a wise decision on your part, Aquill. :D

      And wow, thankyou! *blush* I'm very flattered that you like them. :D

  13. To the comments: MAN. I am SO looking forward to seeing this film... hopefully it will give me a bit more knowledge to sort through all this controversy!

    People I really respect are on both sides, saying totally contradictory stuff about it.

    This I must see for myself.

    To the article: didn't seem rambling at all, to me. :-) Further, it's a wonderful thing to make a choice to crucify the flesh on faith that that is God's desire for you.

    1. I think one of the most fun things I've gotten out of the movie is the discussion: and I didn't even have to see it! :D

      Thankyou for your kind words, for reading and for commenting, Gabriel. :) I'm glad it wasn't too rambling. :)

  14. Praise the Lord for your willingness to obey Him even though it seemed hard. God WILL bless you for it even if He hasn't already!! What a blessing to know that there are still Christian young women who ARE CHRISTIAN and are walking close to the Lord and are responsive to His voice.

    Keep walking close to the Lord, and keep your eyes on Him and listening to the "still small voice".

    You have encouraged me to have a closer relationship with the Lord and and to be more willing to obey when He asks me to do difficult things.

    May the Lord bless you.

    Love you heaps!!!!

    1. Thankyou so much for reading and for commenting, Bethany! I was so encouraged by your words. :)

      God's blessings upon you too, my friend.

      Love you!!! xox

  15. Great post!
    I have friends who have read the hunger games and have told me about it, and I have to say that personally? I don't think a book/movie that largely contains teenagers killing other teenagers is something that Jesus would be reading and or watching.
    Like how Paul writes "Whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of a good report...think on these things" And for me, the Hunger Games just doesn't seem to fit that grid of goodness.
    On top of that, I work in a non-profit called the African Well Fund, and I, personally can never get over the name of the book. Because I know that hunger is NOT a game. Hunger is a horrible thing. I understand that the title may not be referring to this, but still. It makes my skin crawl.
    Anyway, wow, that was a rant! Lol. This was a great post. I think you did the right thing. God has convicted me in these ways too when it comes to movies and books.

  16. Hello Kate! Thankyou so much for your awesome comment. I have to say, I never thought of the title in such a way, but you are right. It numbs down the true meaning of hunger, and displaces it with something that is merely a catchy name. :P Thankyou for making a stand on what you believe! It's a blessing to see.

  17. I agree with you, BushMaid! It's so true. & Thank you too, for taking a stand.

  18. Thank you! This was very encouraging. The amount of times I've watch movies where I've felt uneasy about what I was exposing myself to, has been too many. And it's easy to feel stupid about getting all sensitive about a movie but really it's the Holy Spirit giving us the warning signs.

    1. You're welcome, thankyou for taking the time read this post! Though this is a time I obeyed, I have had times where I have ignored God's prompting, and have paid for it. :P It pays to listen, because God always has our best interests at heart. :)


Please feel free to share your thoughts. I would love to hear your perspective. Let's learn from each other.