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From the Wire: Reading 'Hunger Games'' Romance

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by Matt Singer
March 30, 2012 8:14 PM
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"The Hunger Games"
Lionsgate "The Hunger Games."

From our Shameless Self-Promotion Desk, an urgent bulletin: update your bookmarks, RSS feeds, snail mail newsletters, and everything in between to include the brand new movie website ScreenCrush.  And, no, I'm not just telling you this because I'm one of their featured film critics, and I'll be contributing weekly reviews to the site.

Okay, yes, fine, I am just telling you this because I'm one of their featured critics.  But seriously, there's a lot good content on ScreenCrush already, as well as some very talented writers on the staff.  Beyond the film news and reviews, there are longer think pieces as well, including this smart take by Britt Hayes comparing Katniss from "The Hunger Games" and Bella from "Twilight," and the representations of their respective onscreen romances:

"Ultimately the relationship between Katniss and Peeta is one that serves to manipulate the spectators into empathizing with the pair, but it also speaks to the way young adult fiction manipulates its pliable audience. Just like in the film, this form of manipulation leads to a relationship that is undeniably hollow. Those who have focused on Katniss and Peeta’s involvement with one another have unfortunately been just as manipulated as the spectators."

I've seen a lot of critics make blanket statements like "'The Hunger Games' is so much better than 'Twilight,'" or "'The Hunger Games' is good and 'Twilight'" is bad," or "'The Hunger Games' is a decent movie and 'Twilight' is the cinematic equivalent of getting an infected tooth removed over and over without anesthesia," but this is one of the few pieces I've read that actually explores the differences between the two popular franchises and explains why one property is superior to the other.  Frankly, much of the romance between Katniss and Peeta in "The Hunger Games" bored me to tears, in part because it felt so phony and unmotivated by the events in the film (the book may be another story, but I haven't read the book).  Hayes is saying that, on some level, that phoniness was an intentional choice by director Gary Ross to comment on his young adult audience's hunger for romantic subplots.  That theory is almost interesting enough to make me want to see the movie again with that perspective in mind.  Almost.

Read more of Britt Hayes' "Reel Women: 'The Hunger Games' and Romantic Manipulation."  Read my ScreenCrush reviews here.

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