The Hunger Games And Children: Who Should See This Movie?

March 27, 2012 / 6:06 pm • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

The Hunger Games premise is not for the faint of heart: children are offered up as sacrifices to appease the central government gods who control 13 districts. [See more about an explanation of the movie in Part I of my Hunger Games Series.]

Here are the tributes:

You’ll note that some are babies. And, in fact, in a wrenching scene one of the youngest of them dies a brutal death. And the protagonist Katniss Everdine gives the child funeral rites even though she is a competitor.

The kindness in the midst of the brutality causes a riot in the dead girl’s district.

It is a lot to take in for an adult. For a child? Well.

Not all children should see this movie. In fact, children under 10 – 12 shouldn’t see the movie no matter their constitutions. There is some good reasoning here as to why.

One of my older children (14) is especially sensitive and won’t be seeing the movie either until it’s on a small screen, the movie can be stopped, and the issues explained. Also, the books must be read first.

My twelve year old daughter did see the movie. She’d read all the books and didn’t seem to grasp the horror of forcing children to fight each other to the death.

She sat curled into my arms at a couple points during the movie. Seeing is believing, evidently.

While the filmmakers did their best to minimize the blood and gore, the graphic nature of kids breaking necks, stabbing and slashing, poisoning, etc. disturbs all but the most detached.

The books are actually more graphic and distressing. As I shared in my previous post, I was so sickened by the premise that I put the book down.

Many books deal with children as protagonists in life and death situations — Lord of the Rings (in the books the Hobbits were coming of age), Ender’s Game (6 year old protagonist), Black Beauty, Lord of the Flies, etc.

Children read these books, evaluate them, and process them on a different level. Their lack of life experience is a help here. In books, one imagines what one has experienced and apply it to the reading.

The movie gives no such room. The violence is there to see.

There is great risk watching the movie Hunger Games of becoming the voyeur watching the reality game. The American audience, especially, weaned on Survivor, the Bachelor, etc., can be immune to the human difficulty and suffering.

Children are used as pawns and killed while, as a friend stated, trying to hold on to their humanity. This is a subject only the more mature can process. Beware of robbing your child’s innocence with this movie.

If you doubt your child’s ability to handle it, wait.

[More about the cultural relevance in the next installment.]

  • Biggest hunger Games Fan

    Saw it when I was ten it was fine. My dad just HAD to go with me because its PG-13 and he was more scared then I was. The movie was super awesome and I’m  the biggest fan. So many adults are sensitive but i wish they weren’t. I hate being called a child because everyone has judged you on your age. Suck it up and realize a ten year old is not five anymore.

  • Biggest Hunger Games Fan

    And my dads side of the family started COMPLETELY over reacting and said my dad was a horrible parent. My dad is a completely good parent because he trusts me when I say I can handle this movie. 

  • Biggest Hunger Games Fan

    Ok listen to me CLEARLY. AGE DOESNT MATTER. Its a level of maturity. WE may be lacking in life experience, but WE KNOW WHAT WE READ. I’m sure you dont do all those things you said. I’m eleven too. Guess what, I completely understand the series. I have a big mind and I think like someone ten or twenty years older than me. I have always hated this idea of ‘ages’ because it seperates you from the fun of life!!!!!!!!!! You have to be 18 to skydive you have to be 12 to zipline and you should be 13 to read hunger games or your too young!!!!! I dont care what you say, I have to agree with the other person. 

  • LuuunarPixie

    omg! ur such a hater! the movie was good! im 12 and my friends were 7,8,10,11,12,13, and age18. they all liked it… i dont see why u hate this movie!

  • LuuunarPixie

    depends how old ur kids are if it is like 6-7 ish i would probably le them watch it. they cuss a little bit though

  • Luuunarpixie

    umm excuse me i read the books at 10 and i read them to a 5 year old. and on saturday i took that 5 year old (now seven) to see the hunger games movie. 

  • LuuunarPixie

    i also forgot to add everyone was fine but the 7 year old was kindof scared… omg i can’t believe a 8 and a 10 year old can be braver than ur daughters(no offense)

  • Bethha10

    Thank you for your article.  As evident by many of the young people’s comments in this section, our youth have become desensitized to violence.  That is a sad and scary thing.  

  • Berlin Msg

    it’s not really about hating at all.  it’s the fear for what might be going on in the present day child’s mind.  the desensitization to violence and thinking that fighting to the death for an arbitrary reason is cool.

  • Niallmahony2

    ftw if the wanna fight 12 all the way gg

  • podis24

    well im 10 and i watched itl and loved it soo much that i saw it 10 times!  i dont think every one should see it because there is some violence.

  • podis24

    i agree if u are mature u can handle it. its not that bad. i reccomend that everyone read the books first because that gives u an idea of how violent it is.

  • podis24

    the auther of the books wasnt trying to show kids violence she was trying to teach kids or young adults what war is. but i also agree on what ur saying kids shouldnt be seeing violence at such a young age.

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  • Alilybelle

    I turned 11 in August of this year and read the books, and was questioning if I could see the movie, as it has arrived from Netflix. I’ve heard it’s pretty good, but thanks for reassuring that the movie isn’t as graphic as the books. I didn’t think it was awfully gory, but I think the most upsetting part would be the tracker-jackers. (Wasps, for those who haven’t read the book.)

  • uhg

    kids are so nieve these days …. and so defensive when it comes to violence and what it means to be mature :/

  • Anna Windsor

    I am 12 but I haven’t watched the movie because I don’t want to have to watch Rue die. She was so sweet helping Katniss.