What does Entertainment Say About Us?

Friday, November 9, 2012

America loves going to the movies. That is no secret. We get a thrill walking into the Cineplex, buying an over-priced but oh-so-yummy bag of calorie laden popcorn and handing the ticket person our stubs before walking into the theater door they specify will show our movie. The anticipation of the opening credits build while we munch on that popcorn and watch the endless, worthless bunch of advertisements and then… the theater goes black and the HD screen lights up with the first frames. I am one of those people who don’t go to the theater much in comparison to average America but I love every second of it. For me, it is an “innocent” afternoon out without being “extravagant” and since I am a simple girl anyway, it is a fun activity that satisfies my need to enjoy an outing. But is that really “all” that an afternoon in a dark theater is?

How do our entertainment choices reflect on us?

Perhaps it is pc or the mistaken mentality to have – or maybe I am just naive, but I do not feel that by seeing a movie I am placing my stamp of approval on it. It has never felt like that though I am, in essence supporting the movie at the box office by buying that ticket or purchasing the DVD that I am “approving” of the material. In fact, 99% of the time, I find something that I disagree with in a script – sometimes it's an ethical issue, other times it's nothing more than disagreement with how a parental character raises their children. One of the recent blockbusters that sparked this thought process was The Hunger Games. I was one of the (few) people who did not run out to see it at the theater. Even if you have not read the best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins or seen the film, I suspect you know what the story is. If you do not, typical to any teen novel, the story is set in a futuristic, dystopian world and involves the makings of a love triangle with an unusually dull heroine who grew up too fast. Oh, yeah! And did I mention her county of Panem holds an annual “Hunger Games” in which twenty-four randomly selected teens fight to survive in a computer manipulated forest just to obtain the title of “winner”…all while killing each other?

First, I read this book because with the promotion of the major motion picture adaptation, everyone was all a-twitter about how awesome the book was and it seemed it was destined to be the next “it” series for teens. Plain and simple, I was curious. That curiosity of mine wasn’t met as the book left me with more questions than answers about its draw. In writing my analysis of the film and book, my great (Twitter) friend, Amber also shared her conclusions and had this to say about the film in her movie review:

"[This is a] terrifying look at a futuristic world that forces people to face evil and then decide what - if anything - they are going to do about it.

It honors sacrifice and condemns corruption. It depicts the power of hope and the quest for the definition and realization of safety.
Also like the book, the ending is ‘satisfying’ on some level, but still a sort of cliffhanger. The rebellion has only just begun. And while the movie illustrates growth through ‘fire’ and persevering inner strength, it doesn't answer many of the questions it raises. In that way, it's more beneficial for pointing out important issues (like the theme of true ‘safety’ vs. constant outward danger, and struggling awareness vs. uncaring oblivion) than for giving us set definitions and resolutions.”

I’d not thought of the story as she so eloquently describes but what an interesting way to look at it. Despite being about teenagers survival dependent upon killing and set in a world where redemption seems always out of reach, her opinions forced me to look at the concept anew. I am not sure that I agree that this condemns evil or “corruption” but it certainly parallels an interesting thought about politics and the world we live in today. The ensuing stories perhaps do (which I have not yet read) punish evil but The Hunger Games seems to care little for the good (little)  guys glorifying the Capitol. The only reason the heroine, Katniss and her fellow tribute, Peeta are spared was for a purpose – the Capitol couldn’t afford to lose face and as such they were forced into allowing District 12 to return home.

Watching certain shows or films have left me with a bad taste but I still don’t believe I am giving my approval to them. Am I contributing to their success? Absolutely. Does that mean the same thing? I don’t believe so. Should we demand more from our entertainment? Perhaps but I rarely feel that my intelligence is being insulted after watching yet another scenario in which boy-meets-girl, even though I’ve seen it dozens of times before because the key is that I chose to watch the movie and no matter what, subconsciously, I “knew” that it wasn’t going to be anything different than all of the other films I find endearing. In specifically picking on The Hunger Games for its corrupting premises, perhaps what really “frightens” those who look beyond the “romanticism” of it is how easily a country could slip into a dictator like world in which we have lost freedoms and our right to chose. And perhaps, what the troubling series does is confront us in ways entertainment never does – and discovering that we don’t like it says a lot about the society we live is, one that is sadly, compliant. 


  1. There are times when I won't go see a movie because I don't approve of the director or of one of the actors in it. But all of Hollywood is corrupt so if I were to not support that corruption at all I'd have to bury my head in the sand and never see another movie again. And so help me I am going to be in a movie theater on December 14th for "The Hobbit" regardless of life choices made by the cast/crew.

    But I didn't go see "Dark Shadows" because I knew I would disapprove of it. Why spend my money offering approval to something I already knew I would hate. Now I'm on hold for it at the library which means I won't be spending anything for it. Discernment is important in going to the theater or renting something from redbox because whether we approve of it in the end or not isn't necessarily the issue. It's more of whether we're giving them the funds to make more garbage and that's not a good use for my money.

    1. Hey, there, Carissa! Lovely to see you dropping by here. :)

      I agree with what you said. Having said that, let me clarify. I do my research prior to seeing films also. I don't randomly go to the theater without knowing something about the film. After appropriate reading, I make the decision if it will be worth the money - some you just *have* to see on the big-screen. For you, one is 'Les Mis' (it does look stunning!), for me, it'd be the Narnia trilogy or The Avengers. Sometimes I do rent movies knowing little about them but I am much more selective when purchasing a ten-dollar ticket at the box office.

      "But all of Hollywood is corrupt so if I were to not support that corruption at all I'd have to bury my head in the sand and never see another movie again."

      This^ is SO right! Unfortunately. Hollywood is corrupt and we have to filter out our film choices. I was brought up in a very strict, conservative home when it came to movies and even now, mom and I still watch a lot of movies together. It's sort of our "tradition" and a guilty pleasure. :)

      Hope you like Dark Shadows. I saw it and wasn't in love hence the reason I've never reviewed it. Perhaps I'll write up a short one yet. :) I'd be curious to know what you thought...

    2. We'll see if I even decide to watch "Dark Shadows." There are times when holds come in for me and I think twice before watching them even then. Like "Machine Gun Preacher." Had it for a week and sent it back unwatched. Poor Gerard Butler.

      I'm very picky about movies I see in theaters because, as I'm sure you know too, money resources are rather limited. "The Avengers" was awesome, speaking of! But right now I have 2 movies planned. "The Hobbit" and "Le Mis." Kind of sad really because I'd like to go see more movies but I just can't afford it. Even ones I know I'll like I have to skip until they're out on dvd.

    3. Some movies capture my attentions and still I never get around to watching them, others don't interest me until I see them available to rent. I've heard of Machine Gun Preacher but wasn't that intrigued plus I am not Gerard Butler's biggest fan. ;)

      I tend to be more picky than not about my entertainment but I've certainly loosened up now I am an adult. Before hand, I knew basically anything that had a PG13 rating wouldn't be something my mother would want me to see unless she had previewed it. Now, I do make split decisions at the video store whereas the theater I only see movies that will be impressive (to me) on the big-screen (i.e. The Avengers), something worthy of support (i.e. Amazing Grace) and/or the film HAS to have a happy ending - I won't go if it'll leave me in tears. For me, if a film has a redeeming quality - be it a well-learned lesson or well-respected character, the script retains some morals.

      No matter what genres we all prefer, it behooves us to chose carefully what we do see. :)

  2. Interesting post! I only go to the theater a couple times a year, normally when it's a movie I really want to see. I'd probably go more often if I had the resources. XD Most movies just won't be perfect. I think it's good to be able to get past those flaws if possible, and take the movie for what it's worth.

    Personally, I thought "The Hunger Games" movie didn't have a strong point. In it, I saw a film that just has most things teens want to watch (ie, Love triangles (it was much worse in the book), fighting, a male lead most girls find attractive...) I don't know...I guess it's just the way you take things sometimes. For instance, my sister and brother enjoy the hunger games. They take good messages from it, and I know other people who do as well. I can't actually see those "good messages" clearly, but they can and that's fine. :) For me, most of my favorite movies have a point that stares you in the face and that's how I like it. :)

    1. Well said, Maria. I appreciate and respect those views and am in fact much the same as you. If I can glean some redeeming quality from a film or television show it's more worth my time.

      The Hunger Games didn't hold much point for me either. It seemed, well, pointless. I didn't "get" its popularity and was in fact saddened that it was targeted to such a young audience. I agree though that the adaptation was also targeted to young girls who will swoon at the sight of Liam and enjoy the "romantics" of it all. Unfortunately, the film does speak ill of what is going on in today's world both socially and politically.

      Thanks for sharing your input, Maria - it is always welcome!

  3. You bring up some interesting points about the value of our entertainment and how it reflects us. I hardly ever go to the theatres (last time I went was...earlier this year (March?) to see A Dangerous Method with my best friend) and am ridiculously behind in movies but I guess it's applicable to any form of entertainment. I think I'm with Maria about it, I try to take the movie for what it is or what it's worth.

    As an aside, lol, I haven't read The Hunger Games nor have seen the movie xP

    1. Going to the movies is a favorite activity but I don't go a lot and that's fine by me. Maria has an excellent point: I always appreciate entertainment more if there is something good in its premise. :)

      Never did see A Dangerous Method but have always liked Kiera Knightly.

      In my opinion HG wasn't worth all the hype but I liked the film lots more and am looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy. Yeah, what a way to contradict myself, right?


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