With the film opening Friday, the internet hype machine surrounding The Hunger Games seems to be reaching its climax. As with almost any other fan of the books, I’m excited for what looks to be a (mostly) faithful, well-casted, and worthy adaptation. However, an annoying trend emerged really early on in the run-up to the release and has grown in intensity to the point it may well drive men unfamiliar with the story away from seeing the film, thinking it’s “for teenage girls.” I’m talking of course about the “Team Peeta v. Team Gale” meme circulating pretty much everywhere that reframes the story as a love triangle a la Twilight revolving around a teen girl and her choice between two hunky tough guys.
While the Twilightization is not wholly unencouraged by the official marketing campaign and licensed tie-ins that play up the sexiness of the young men in the heroine’s life, it is mostly a fan-created and unlicensed merchandise-driven phenomenon that then carried over to some of the most esteemed media outlets in the world. While it probably began as a dig at Twilight, it has grown far beyond such clever snarkiness. The problem with all of this is that, unless the film veers strongly from the primary concerns of the first book of the trilogy (which would be a mistake for a studio setting up a four film series based on works with a strong fanbase), such framing of the book’s story is flat-out wrong.
Additionally, it leads to the kind of head-scratching and outright dismissal for guys like redditor jellytime:
So, with the belief that some may dismiss the film because of this ubiquitous and dangerous meme, I’m going to outline a few reasons why men who like stereotypically male themes/characters/plot elements/etc. should give the film (and books) a chance despite it being pushed as something you are supposed to hate (minor spoilers follow, obviously).
Katniss is no Bella Swan: Unlike the clumsy young lady from those conservative romance novels and films with the trappings of monster stories, the heroine of The Hunger Games is capable and a legitimate badass from the outset. She’s adept with a bow and arrows, the only long-range weapon in these games. There is absolutely no doubt in the reader’s mind that she will bury an arrow in some steroided-out, thuggish bro’s brain when necessary, and that when she does it will be awesome. You do like attractive, tough ladies, don’t you?
The family theme: If you somehow haven’t seen the trailer, this may be news, but the reason Katniss is even in an arena where everyone is trying to kill everyone else is that she took the place of her baby sister, who likely would’ve lost the game in the opening seconds. Really, her decision to save her sister is the most important and real love story in the first book. If you can’t get behind rooting for someone who is standing up for their family and killing to save them, you must be a real monster.
Panem is a first-rate example of a post-apocalyptic dystopia and guys are supposed to love that stuff: Anyone who is at all a fan of dystopian films/books will appreciate the well-constructed world of The Hunger Games, set up with a classical division between a cruel, bloodthirsty ruling class and the capable but oppressed underclasses who dream of rebellion. Additionally, if the film follows the books, viewers will not be beat over the head with explanations of why the world went to shit and an oppressive regime took over.
The Woody Harrelson guy will be entertaining ’cause he’s just like that one funny drunk bro of yours: There’s a fair amount of comedy in the book, but Haymitch Abernathy should steal a few scenes and produce a lot of laughs. He’s the kids from District 12′s mentor and a previous winner of the Hunger Games, but for the most part he is wasted all the time and makes and ass of himself because he basically doesn’t give a shit.
Blood and guts and bodycount: One of the things that baffles me most about how some guys are reacting to this film is how they overlook the promise of the basic premise: 24 people, armed with simple weapons, locked in an arena, fighting to the death until only one is left. Despite the fact that it’s PG-13, you don’t think they get to the end of the story by everyone quietly committing suicide in a corner, do you?