Don’t ban The Hunger Games, ban the parents
|April 17, 2012||Posted by Dan Peacock under culture, lifestyle|
I read in the news last week that several “special interest groups” are trying to get The Hunger Games banned. Legions of concerned parents, among others, are worried that their kids will transform from doe-eyed angels to knife-twirling killing machines after reading a few pages of the chart-topping trilogy.
Initially, you might think that deep down there is a whiff of logic to this. A young adult novel focusing on a group of youngsters systematically slaughtering each other as part of a reality show probably isn’t appropriate for a pre-teen audience. But there’s the crux of it. Young adult novel. Despite the average age of The Hunger Games readers, the books are actually intended for people in their late teens and early twenties. At this age, people are legally allowed to shoot prostitutes on Grand Theft Auto and watch people disassemble each other in Saw IV.
Of course, you hear about remote cases of people old enough to play games like Call of Duty and Manhunt who then try to re-enact them by shooting up their school. But these are very rare exceptions. The vast majority of adults can rationalise what they see, and realise that under no circumstances should they round up two dozen of their mates in a field, hand out kitchen knives and film the whole thing. The target audience can handle the violent content of the books. But it might have a bit more of an effect on nine-year-olds.
I’m not suggesting kids will finish the books and immediately go and stab their parents. But you wouldn’t hand out copies of The Silence of the Lambs in schools, would you?
The problem here isn’t the books. The problem is that a generation of parents bought The Hunger Games for their kids and realised several months later that the books revolve around people killing each other. Suddenly they want the books banned, when they shouldn’t have bought them in the first place.
Think about it: it’s like millions of parents buying Pulp Fiction for their kids and then, upon realising the film actually contains some minor usage of guns and naughty language, trying to get the film banned. I can’t get over how monumentally stupid this is.
This entire farce reminds me of a similar incident a few years ago, when a couple of Christian groups tried to ban the Harry Potter books for “promoting witchcraft.” Sales of cauldrons and broomsticks didn’t change much, though, and the mentalists retreated back into the shadows.
Should violent books come with age certificates? I’m of two minds: it reeks of censorship and the suppression of knowledge and education, which should be available to all. But at the moment a thirteen-year-old can stroll into Waterstones and pick up copies of American Psycho or A Clockwork Orange. Kids can’t walk into HMV and pick up The Godfather on DVD, so why can they buy it unhindered in paperback?
Perhaps the solution doesn’t lie with censorship or age certificates, however. Perhaps the solution lies with parents getting a grip and not buying their children books about people stabbing each other in the face.