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