A few people pointed me at this wonderfully abysmal “comment” on the Hunger Games books, which I have not read myself but have on the book-buying list.
The author gets fairly preachy about the terrible violence being done and how there should be another way and, despite allegedly being an editor of a reading-related website, doesn’t understand the entire point of dystopic fiction.
Where it gets interesting is where Bob McCoskrie reposts the article, without comment, on the Patriarchy First website. One can only assume from this that Bob agrees with the arguments of the author, those arguments roughly being:
- Who cares about the stated facts of the setting, Violence Should Never Be The Answer
- Who cares about the stated facts of the setting, Killing Is Always Wrong
- Who cares about the stated facts of the setting, What About The Children
- Who cares about the stated facts of the setting, The Protagonist Is Just Making Excuses
- Who cares about the usefulness of dramatic graphic description in conveying emotion and tension and conflict, Blood Is Icky
And you know what, I can slightly sympathize. Well, no, not really. But as an avowed fan of gratuitous gore and bleak futuristic settings, I totally understand there are people out there who just don’t like violence in their media, don’t like dark character development, etc etc.
Those people probably shouldn’t be reading The Hunger Games.
But we’re not talking about a review saying “Wasn’t my cup of tea, will appeal more to people who like X Y and Z”. The reviewer herself claims she’s not against violence or moral ambivalence.
But I sadly do not believe her.
Because what we have is a sanctimonious whinge by someone whose chief displeasure is that a dystopic novel about children killing each other for food contained, you know .. bad stuff. Contained conflict. Contained a main character forced into a shitty situation, submitting herself to humiliation and danger for the good of her whole society, and yeah, above all, justifying it to herself instead of, presumably, the preferable option of an eternity of self-flagellation over acts necessary to her survival. (And it was all so well-written and compelling that, you know, she enjoyed reading it.)
Oh shit. There it is.
Modern Christian fundamentalism in a nutshell. Judge other people according to an absolutely rigid, unforgiving (irony!) “morality” which allows no room for the basic facts of human existence, for individual circumstances; and refuse to acknowledge that when all your options are shit, and you pick the least stinky one, you’ve got every fucking right to come to terms with that instead of beating yourself up over some mythical Perfect Option.
And when they do allow that you might pick something non-perfect, you better not feel okay about it. You better not acknowledge your situation and accept you had no better alternative. You better sit the fuck down and hate yourself for not being Gandhi. Apparently.
And it all makes perfect sense to me. Because that’s exactly how fundies act about issues like abortion (bit of a swerve there, sorry). They firstly lack the ability to understand that people can get into shitty situations, that people’s circumstances can be so severe that none of their choices are good, that they can only do the best they can given a crap set of options.
They secondly lack the basic empathy for other human beings to let someone who has made a shitty choice come to terms with it.
They basically refuse to put themselves into another person’s shoes and go, “Well shit. I’m Katniss Everdeen and my options are (a) let my people starve horribly or (b) do my best to help them, even though I know the people I’m going to kill are in exactly the same spot as me, because if I refuse to go along with the regime I’ll be dead AND my people will starve horribly. That’s crap, but I’m not going to add to my distress and trauma by hating myself for things outside my control.”
Gods forbid that a person in that situation make a decision, acknowledge it’s not perfect, and live with it.
Christianity: it’s the forgiving religion. Unless you’re a controlling fundy wanker, then that becomes a little inconvenient.