Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games and Hope

I read a comment on a blog today about The Hunger Games series that really made me think. Again, I realize that other people have their own opinions, but here's my reaction to one.

The comment basically was that the series was pretty hopeless, in that, there was a lack of hope-for the characters, for the nation, for their lives. She didn't go into this detail, I'm elaborating. But you get the idea. 

This struck me as so odd. I've read all the books, and the first isn't the bleakest if you haven't. It's going to get grittier and worse before it gets even a modicum of better. Know that, and if you can't handle it, that's ok. 

But no hope? Really? I felt like hope was a thematic element throughout the books. Here are a few examples:

1. Katniss was able to survive the actual death of her father in a mining accident and the emotional death of her mother as a result. She was a child and yet she was still able to stand tall, provide for her family, and be a support system for her sister when her mother was unavailable. This girl has little in the way of proper adult role models and has been betrayed by so many adults in her life-her government, her father (not intentionally, but still), her mother. And the rest of the people in the Seam can only do so much when they are all struggling just to survive. I think that she was able to keep going proves that she had hope. Her mother didn't have hope, she lost her will to live. There is a difference to me there.

2. Katniss volunteers herself in place of her sister and allows herself hope that she will win and come back to her. 

3. Katniss not only plays the game to win, but she shows signs of political rebellion that she's not even aware of. She doesn't really see what's driving her to make the decisions she makes, but I think it's hope. Hope for a better life, a better future. That doesn't seem so endlessly bleak to me.

4. Katniss continues to fight. There are plenty of obstacles planted in her way, but she doesn't back down and give up. She presses on and fights for something. Why would you fight if it's hopeless?

5. The ending. I won't tell you what it is but I will give you a few details. It's not happy. It doesn't end with sunshine and roses and whole people. Many people in this series live terrible lives, have terrible things happen to them and they just can't be whole. However, I don't think it ends leaving you with a feeling of hopelessness. It ends leaving you with a feeling of closure and hope for what's to come. Or at least, that's how I felt and how I thought Collins wanted me to feel.

The blog the comment came from was a really refreshing point of view, but I didn't agree with that one piece and wanted to put my opinion into words. 

I also wanted to cover a few other thoughts I had about the story after talking to people who watched the movie but hadn't read the book. I heard a few comments that it wouldn't really happen, it could but most likely wouldn't. I don't' agree with that at all. It could, very easily happen. It has happened. And, in all truthfulness, it's happening right now. There are governments around the world who are putting their people through so much more than we can ever imagine-maybe not reapings and arena games to punish them for rebelling, but other just as terrible things. And the rebels fighting to save these people, a lot of times they aren't doing anything better. They are still hurting those they are trying to help in an effort to make a difference. And that's still not ok. The basis of this story is fictional of course, but it's not out of the question just because it isn't happening here, it's happening in other places and has been for centuries.

I came across this quote today, and I'm so jealous I didn't word my sentiments so well. This blogger stated my exact feelings, and her thoughts were stirred after her son's comment at the dinner table.

"I've heard the Hunger Game haters say these books are vile and send a horrible message to young people.  They are uncomfortable with the society Collins depicts.  'It won't be long and this world could be as evil and inhumane as the world in the Hunger Games,' they argue.  To this I say, as long as innocent children are kidnapped and enslaved to make our chocolate and eight year olds are killing other eight year olds so that we can wear shiny rocks on our fingers, we are already living in the world of the Hunger Games.  Welcome to Panem."

We will all have our own interpretation on the books and ideals within of course, but felt that hope was a main character and that these books could be non-fiction. Not in the future, but now. 

If you haven't read them, read them and form your own opinion! 

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Friday, March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games: A film review

It's 2:30 in the morning, and I'm blogging. Why you ask? Shouldn't a pregnant mother of a vivacious toddler be asleep by this ungodly hour? Yeah, I should. But, if you know me, you can imagine what I might have been doing that would keep me up this late. If you guessed The Hunger Games midnight show, you are correct. If you're my mother, who went with me, your guess doesn't count. :)

Now, on to my thoughts before I lose all coherent ability to think.

The movie was excellent. The story was on track with the books, the dialog was similar, and the things that were left out were done so appropriately. The things that were changed were done well and I didn't leave thinking, "I read that book?" (ahem, Twilight and Percy Jackson)

There's just something really good about watching a favorite story come to life on screen-well, not just done, but done well.

What did I love? I loved Woody Harrelson, much to my own surprise. I didn't think he fit, but he managed to fit the part of Haymitch and be a good actor while doing it. I loved Josh Hutcherson, he is a great Peeta and I believed him. Jennifer Lawrence was great, as expected. The gore was toned down, which I'm fine with. The capitol is spot on, costumes, make-up, garishness-all true to text. 

Here's a part from the movie that I loved, that I apparently didn't consider while reading. District 11 (Rue and Thrush's district) was primarily African American, which makes sense considering it cuts a large swath through states that currently have a higher African American population. Suzanne Collins stated when the characters for Rue and Thresh were chosen that she described them as African American, and apparently I missed that description. There was lots of diversity in other characters as well, but District 11 is highlighted, and the citizens of the district are shown as African American and I thought that was a really important aspect of the film. It's not often that I enjoy something from the film more than the book, but this pleasantly surprised me.

There were a few things I didn't love. I have to agree with a few early reviews that stated they played up the love triangle. There were a few shots of Gale looking a little disturbed at the closeness between Katniss and Peeta. While I'm sure he did feel that way, we didn't know that in book 1. I also went with two people who hadn't read the book (shame on them, right?) and they were a bit lost. They weren't sure if it was current/past/present time. They didn't understand why some districts had more than others, and why District 12 had electricity sometimes, but not always. I don't really think this was obvious without knowing the back story. It gave a quick run down at the beginning, but it was quick. My mom's bff went with us and she didn't realize it was telling a story, and by the time she did we'd already missed 2 screens of text. I explained to her as best I could, but I thought that was a missed opportunity. I also thought that we didn't really get enough of life in District 12. We see that it's dark and dingy, that life generally sucks; but we didn't see any story that really developed the characters enough. I know they crammed as much in as they could, it was a long movie (which I love anyway) but I just wanted, for the sake of non-readers, the chance to know what's happening without guessing all through the movie and then asking later. 

I also didn't like that the movie didn't quite include enough of the negative feedback or social ramifications of what the Capitol was doing. It didn't make you feel guilty for watching, in fact, it almost made me want to see what it was like from a district viewer-which makes me want to throw up. I want to feel sick and guilty because people in real life want to see other people hurting, because humans enjoying watching blood sports (we have for over a thousand years and counting) but they just didn't convey how wrong it was. Or, not enough for me anyway. 

Then, there was one thing I hated. Hated. Loathed. Many of the action scenes were filled with this jerky, nearly home camera style filming that was next to impossible to follow, and made me want to close my eyes to avoid being sick. It moved to quickly, panned to fast, bobbed all over, and didn't give you clear image of what was happening. It gave you a clear image of panic and hurry, which I understand the need for; but it was just too much for me. 

Overall, I was impressed. It was true to the original story in the most important ways. It improved on a few ways that I felt the book didn't really just come out and say (and lets face it, I'm pretty concrete; I need things spelled out sometimes), and it didn't really disappoint in any major ways. I paid $11 total (to get in and snacks) and I will most likely go again before the run is over. 

So, my recommendation is for you to go watch it. Enjoy. 

And may the odds be ever in your favor. :)

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book list review and thoughts

I came across this blog today (on this dark, rainy day) and I enjoyed reading the list of books. I love books, and always request them for my son's birthday. I would much rather him have an exploding bookshelf than an exploding toy box. 

The list from this blog includes 75 character building stories. There are a few I've read (Giraffes Can't Dance, Where the Wild Things Are, Alexander And The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day) and many I hope to research and add to our collection. 

The very first thing I notice is a complete lack of Dr. Seuss from this list. I get that it's author's preference, but wow. The Sneetches, The Lorax? Nope. The Sneetches seems to be a lesser known book, one that I hadn't read until I had a child of my own. It comes (I think) only in a collection with other stories (What Was I Scared of, The Zax, et al); but I still think it's one of the most important Dr. Seuss books available. 

I perused the comment section of the blog, seeing that other commenters noted the same absence as myself, but was a little disappointed to see a few say "It teachers that physical appearance shouldn't matter." or something to that affect, because really, it teaches so much more. The first time I read it, I was a little blown away by the fact that Dr. Seuss wrote The Sneetches in the middle of the civil rights crisis in the US. It's about so much more than physical appearance. It's about prejudice, tolerance, and treating people equally. Or, treating Sneetches equally. :) Dr. Seuss snuck this gem of a story-a huge character builder if you ask me, into our children during a time when it was needed most. I read it often to my son, and I impress upon him the importance of being nice to everyone, no matter how they look or how others treat them; he is to treat everyone the way he wants to be treated.

A side quirk I noted from this blog that I just wanted to discuss was a mother who commented that she did not like the book Pinkalicious, and didn’t think it earned a spot on the list of character building books. She said that the first time they read it, she didn’t like that the main character (and forgive me, because I’ve never read it) talked to her mother, stating that her daughter was very impressionable and she didn’t think it was appropriate for her to see someone else doing it and try to mimic the behavior.

That is all fine and dandy to me, it really is. There are books I don’t like, and books I don’t care to read to my children. However, I will choose not to read them and leave it at that. The commenter I’m speaking of specifically chose to glue the pages that she didn’t like together and continue to read the rest of the book.

Hmm. I’m all for personal choice, it’s your kids, your life, your books. But why not just put it away until your daughter can better understand that the little girl is acting badly and know better than to act that way? That just seemed a little odd to me. For one, that’s nearly sacrilegious to a book lover like me to damage a book permanently by gluing the pages together. And another, that’s just an odd form of censorship to me. I had a few friends in elementary school whose parents recorded over scary parts, sad parts, or swearing in children’s movies. It would just switch to a blank screen while that particular moment passed. Again, I’m all for ensuring what your children see isn’t harmful to them, but I can’t help but wonder why you wouldn’t just skip it or just not show it?

No judgment, I just really thought that was interesting. 

Just a few bits for thought today. As I said, it's rainy, and cold. And spring break, so I'm sitting in a quite house all alone while the boy is with his grandma.   

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nursery ideas

Because my male husband doesn't care about room decorations, crib styles, paint colors, etc etc I need a place to talk about it. 

For a girl nursery, I am loving the vintage feel. I want a light aqua paint color with pink and red accents. I'm debating between the first option and this one. The last time I chose a richer paint color I ended up with dark turquoise walls so I'm thinking maybe paler would be better. 

I found this bedding set. But I'm considering not ordering the bumper and just ordering it by piece. It will be a little cheaper, and apparently bumpers aren't safe anymore? 

I found and pinned this nursery months ago, before even thinking about having more kids. I just love this classic photo wall. I love including old family photos. I also found this banner on etsy. I'm really hoping to buy as much stuff from etsy as possible. I like the idea of using hand made items.

For a boy room, I am thinking nature or something similar. Archer's room was rustic. He had the bears, moose, cabin-y stuff. Of course, since we re-did his room for his birthday, I gave all of that stuff away. 

This time I'm leaning more toward foxes and bears, maybe a few other forest creatures. 

I love these prints, they are the inspiration for my idea. I don't like the owl, just because it's so over-hyped, but I do love the other two. I like the other options here too as well as the wall color. 

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