The Hunger Games: Understanding Your Teen's Obsession | Parenting
As many had predicted The Hunger Games was an instant hit the first weekend it hit the box offices.
While certainly people of all ages flocked to their local movie theaters to watch the dark hit based on Suzanne Collin’s book of the same name, it was teenagers who made up the majority of audiences. Many waited on line on Thursday, March 22 to be the first to see the film at midnight showings on Friday, March 23.
So, what is the fascination with this trilogy? Why are our teens obsessed with this story of a dark dystopia in which children are forced to fight to the death in an annual game created and manipulated by the cruel and controlling Capitol which rules the country?
Lacking the romance of the Twilight series, the attraction may be puzzling. When one really thinks it through, however, the answer becomes somewhat apparent.
Adolescence has often been characterized as a time of turmoil. As teens push to assert their autonomy and independence, they typically pull away from their parents in favor of the company of their peers. As they set off on their journey to find their identities, they become more interested in issues and ideas related to the world around them.
This is often a time when they feel invulnerable, excited and energized, they want it all and they want it now!
While they may feel mature enough to take it all on, due to their age, the expectations of them are dictated by the adult authority figures in their lives. Their parents, teachers, and coaches seemingly rule their world. The experience can be frustrating at times. Their natural egocentrism ( a part of normal brain development) may result in the belief that they know better.
The teens portrayed in The Hunger Games are not only strong and intelligent, they take control. They find subtle ways to ‘stick it to the man.’ It is in fact this very defiance that creates the tone of the tale for the next two books in the series. During the games themselves, the players (or ‘tributes’ as they are called) are trying to take control of their own destinies.
It is the Gamemakers who in reality control how the game plays out. The heroine however, flips the script; a very empowering moment.
The Hunger Games provide themes to which teens can truly relate.
Suzanne Collins develops characters filled with the passion and emotion that are often characteristic of the adolescence years. Her story provides her characters with a firm purpose and intent. As they begin to define their identities answers about life and love become more certain. Collins provides a story that reflects an understanding about what it feels like to be a teenager transitioning into a young adult. The heroine’s ability to evoke change is not only admirable but inspiring.
The movie and book connects with teens because it clearly communicates how they think and feel, put simply, Collins seems to ‘get it.’
The world can seem complicated and confusing. The Hunger Games is not only a great read, it offers an opportunity for today’s teens to escape the trials and tribulations of their own lives and immerse themselves into a dark and lonely world in which what the teens do and say really does make all the difference.
Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg are authors of the hit book, "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual." They've set up an interactive website for parents and teens to listen, learn and discuss hot topics and daily dilemmas. You can find it at www.talkingteenage.com.