Weighing in on "Hunger Games"

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  March 23, 2012 06:00 AM

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Barbara, can you weigh in on "The Hunger Games" movie? I'm one of those parents with a 10-year-old who is as determined as the ones in the Page 1 story in the Globe today and I'm the mother who's opposed. I know you've written about this in the past and I'd really value your opinion.

From: Tina, Wakefield, MA

Hi Tina,

Here's the page 1 story from Wednesday's Globe that Tina's talking about. In the accompanying boston.com poll question -- "Will you let your elementary school-aged child(ren) watch the movie "The Hunger Games"? -- as of this writing (updated, 7 pm Thurs, 34% say they won't let their kids watch it, but another 33% say they will, if the child has read the books.

I agree with Common Sense Media which points out in its review, that there's a big difference between reading a book and seeing a movie, especially for a preteen or young teen. Funny, Michael Rich of the Media Center at Children's Hospital makes the same point. This seems like an obvious point -- we know that -- but I think the reminders are helpful.

Children under 13 are not developmentally capable of handling the scenes (not to mention the themes) this move presents, including fighting one another to the death. Having that in one's imagination is not nearly as vivid or frightening -- or real -- as seeing it unfold on the screen. So to all of you who think your child will be OK to see the movie if she/he has read the book, I say: rethink. In fact, more to the point: do you even know the story line? Do you know it's set in post-apocalyptic America? The concept of that alone is enough to frighten some children.

. To parents like you, Tina, whose child is intent on wearing down, stick to your position: "Sorry, honey, this movie is not appropriate for you." If you're a parent who feels you owe your child an explanation, try this one: "I'm the parent and this is my decision. Sometimes, it's my job to make unpopular decisions. I can live with it if you're not happy with me."

By the way, here's what will make this easier: Talk to the parents of your children's friends, even the ones you don't know very well, and see if you can't agree to all stand together on the not-viewing side. That makes it pretty darn difficult for your child to mount the "but John's mom is letting him see it" argument. "You know what? I talked to John's mom. She's not letting him see it, either."

Are there exceptions? Are there some preteens/tweens for whom this movie might be OK? Sure, there might be. You know your child best. Still, the nightmare potential from this would make me want to err on the cautious side.

The movie opens today. In colleague Ty Burr's review, he writes,
"...The violence is not overly graphic, but leave the little ones at home. Scenes of carnage visited upon the weak and unlucky by stronger gamers ... are harrowing."


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31 comments so far...
  1. I cannot believe that Barbara has apparently written this response without first seeing the movie, and hasn't even suggested that parents should see it themselves first before making a decision.

    Posted by geocool March 23, 12 11:27 AM
  1. Well, if it is rated PG 13 I am guessing that means parents should follows these guidelines and actually set a limit with their child. She does not need to see a movie to understand the rating system in place.

    Posted by Mm March 23, 12 12:31 PM
  1. I guess im not understanding the difficulty some parents are having. This really isnt a hard decision. You either allow your children to watch such movies or you dont. Dont change your rules. If you know the premise of the book make a decision, if you dont, do your homework and then make a decision. Kids want to do/see/have things all the time that they dont get because the parent said no, why is this so different? and why does it seem that parents are asking permission to tell their children NO? Really.

    Posted by rren1972 March 23, 12 01:18 PM
  1. She hasn't even seen the film!!!

    Posted by TheHungerGames March 23, 12 01:19 PM
  1. Sometimes you don't need to see a movie to know it is inappropriate for children. If you have read the books, you would understand that even if they toned it down, this movie is not appropriate for young children. It is rated PG-13 for a reason, and honestly, if I had a thirteen year old, I probably would not allow them to see the movie, either. I know I would not approve of them reading the books. If you are inclined to let your children watch it then yes, use your common sense and preview it before making that decision to insure that your children will be able to handle it. But Barbara is absolutely correct in saying that most children are developmentally not prepared for this regardless of whether or not she has seen the movie.


    Posted by kangajb March 23, 12 01:24 PM
  1. I was much more lenient with my kids when the movie came out in video. I always watched it first to make sure they could handle the violence and intensity but I think at home on a small screen where you can talk about it, fast forward it, walk out is much more palpable than a movie theater. My daughter has never seen a Harry Potter movie at the theater but we watched them at home even though they were PG-13 and she wasn't 13.

    We loved the movie, but even I blocked my eyes several times. I would not let 13 and under see at the movies. Plus the previews were ridiculously violent.

    Posted by Jayne March 23, 12 05:03 PM
  1. This is really one of those times you don't need to see the movie to know kids under 13 probably shouldn't see it. I've read the books, so have my kids, but my youngest isn't allowed to see the movie. It's about 24 children forced into a large arena and made to fight each other to the death. The deaths are brutal. One death in particular is harrowing - lasts all night long. My teenager can certainly see it. I'll see it with him. But not my 11 year old. (Seriously, for borderline movies, I'll view it first and then tell my child if he can see it; not all movies are borderline. Sometimes, you can just know.)

    Really, LW, it is okay to say no. It is okay to go with your gut that it isn't appropriate, that you are not comfortable with it. Your child will be mad, but that's okay.

    Posted by jjlen March 24, 12 11:58 AM
  1. I agree that she doesn't need to see the movie to make a decision. If you have ever seen Common Sense Media they do an excellent job of describing in detail what goes on in the movie. That's why the website was created, so parents don't need to see the movies themselves to make a decision. Let's face it, not every parent has the time to do this.

    Posted by Dad March 24, 12 01:43 PM
  1. The argument "most children are not prepared..." is misleading. This is not a matter regarding "most children." We parents deal with one child (or a few). And our duty is to know whether that child (or those few) is prepared to watch the movie and under what conditions. Personally, my kids watched every movie that was legal for them to enter the theater. And I was there with them, to show my real disgust, my unfaked horror, or my honest sarcasm, or my candid joy. I never cared about most children. I cared about my children. That was my duty.
    To argue an individual level decision in basis of population data will led us to not go to the pyssician any more, because "most of the population do not have this disease..." See my point? Consider the characteristics of your child, how has s/he evolved, watch the movie in advance if you need it to make a better decision, and make that decision. If you have a computer connected to internet at home, your child will soon watch anything s/he wants..., because that is what most children do ;-)

    Posted by Manny March 25, 12 07:34 AM
  1. First, every parent must make their own decision and what's right for one family may not be right for another, period. As a parent who actually read the books and discussed its messages with her children before seeing the movie together, we were much more scared by the darn previews than the film itself! We were "treated" to 3 horror movie previews which were very frightening. The movie was well done and lived up to our expectations!

    Posted by Maniaq March 25, 12 09:07 AM
  1. Here in Newton, a large number of middle-schoolers, classmates of our 6th grader, went to the midnight showing Thursday night/Friday AM.

    Putting aside the visual and emotional content of the movie versus the book, I am more concerned about the abdication of parenting to even consider a midnight movie on a school night. No parent wanted to be the one who deprived their kids of joining their peers and in effect, enabled their kids to succumb to peer pressure at the expense of a good night's sleep and poor performance the next day. Nice life lesson.

    Posted by PeregrinesBoat March 25, 12 09:21 AM
  1. There's violence but it's not gratuitous violence. It doesn't celebrate violence. It's an action adventure movie laden with an added dimension of relationships, consequences and issues of personal responsibility.

    I took my twelve year old, who earned the right by reading all of the books. But I'm also having my child read more serious reviews that explore some of the underlying themes and that try to show the narrative in a larger context.

    Overall I think this is a good movie with a socializing element for older children. But a ten year old doesn't need to see this movie now. Making a stand against the tide shows you care and demonstrates a commitment to your responsibility that I respect and that I'm sure your child will appreciate sooner or later.

    Posted by trendy March 25, 12 09:47 AM
  1. Of course as the parent she has the right to put her foot down, but I do think that if the mom is on the fence, seeing the movie would give her a more educated basis for making this decision. "No, you can't see the movie now, but you can see it when you are XX age" may be a better response than just a plain old "no."

    Posted by rml March 25, 12 10:05 AM
  1. My son's school is taking all the 8th graders to it. they read the book. I find this to be questionable judgment since this is obviously not appropriate for every child. And even though they've given us permission slips(which I will use) many will go because parents just sign those things. Apparently the decision maker at the school doesn't realize how controversial the film is.

    Posted by Cathy March 25, 12 10:47 AM
  1. Second (well third) That this woman hasn't even read the book.

    "I'm the parent and this is my decision. Sometimes, it's my job to make unpopular decisions. I can live with it if you're not happy with me."

    Typical fallback of a weak mind. But it's more politically correct than the more succinct "I cannot justify my position but I have the power to enforce it against you." Maybe you don't like this story because it is the logical culmination of your personal values?

    Yep. New England mentality all the way. Pardon me while I back button into the more rational parts of the Internet

    Posted by Terry March 25, 12 12:54 PM
  1. Wow Terry, pretty rude and judgmental comment. I guess you are better than all of us other New Englanders, congrats.

    Posted by Dad March 26, 12 08:01 AM
  1. Thank you Terry! My mother would forbid me from seeing a movie based on no knowledge except what it was rated. She never bothered to read reviews or talk to other parents or see the film herself. I found it insulting and belittling and it definitely damaged our relationship. Now, as a parent, I do not look back on those days and say I respect her decision. I take the time to understand my kids and what I think they can handle. I read the books, read the reviews and talk to my kids. We all read the Hunger Games series and yes, on Saturday we all went to the movie, even my 12 year old. I believe that if a child has read the book, they go into the movie much more prepared to deal with what they see on screen and are less frightened. The books are excellent and the movie was fantastic.

    Posted by Cordelia March 26, 12 09:17 AM
  1. This isn't a children's book and this isn't a children's movie.
    My husband and I have both read all of the books, my 12 year old daughter is about halfway through the third. I'm going to see the movie WITH her, and I totally support any parent that doesn't think this is appropriate for their child.
    I hope that parents on both sides are making informed decisions. Too much of the media stories seem to be parents giving in, "Well, if all of the kids in her class are going then I guess it is okay." It may be okay for some of the kids in the class, and it may be okay for your kid, but it may not. Make the right decision for your family, even if it isn't popular. Maybe that decision is to wait until the DVD comes out so that you can watch it, and then watch it together in a more controlled and safe environment. A safe environment away from peers where the decision that it is too much is as easy as pushing the stop button on the remote.
    Know your kids. Know what they are watching and reading. Make the decision that is right for your family.

    Posted by Mary March 26, 12 11:49 AM
  1. I'd give these worries some credit if I saw the same level of concern over other PG-13 movies that are geared for a YA audience, like the Transformers franchise, Batman Begins, or other film franchises that showed way more intense violence than the HG movie. Nothing in the HG was anything like Harvey Dent having his set on fire and burnt off, yet that movie was PG-13 and a lot of kids wanted to see that as well. The pearl-clutching over *this* particular film is. . .interesting.

    Posted by PCM March 26, 12 01:32 PM
  1. kangajb, so parents should see the movie first if they're inclined to let their kids see it, but not if they're not? Is it lonely in double standard town?

    To everyone else who thinks you don't have to see it yourself to know if it's appropriate, let me just say that children come in a huge array of ages and maturity levels, not just G, PG, PG-13, and R. There is a big range of content variation within each rating group. And what one parent finds objectionable might not be the same things that the MPAA finds objectionable.

    I think that for 11 or 12 year olds who have read and loved the books and were mature enough to do so, taking them to see the film *might* be a great way to reward their literacy, and seeing the film first before making your decision is an essential part of giving their request the respect that it probably deserves.

    Posted by geocool March 26, 12 02:32 PM
  1. I think a lot of people making this decision are completely missing the point. Hunger Games is MEANT to be scary. It's meant to show the complete horrors of a totalitarian government that seeks to maintain ultimate control and power over its people via murder, brainwashing, torture, starvation, and bombing, against which the people are powerless to resist.

    In a day and age where despotic leaders reign or are fighting for power in Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea, and huge swaths of Africa; when our own country is hashing out the decision as to the appropriate size and scope of our own federal government, I think the Hunger Games is exceptionally relevant. Life's ugly for most of the world, and sheltering kids from that reality does more harm than good.

    Posted by AP March 26, 12 03:36 PM
  1. Terry,

    "I'm the parent (who is charged with keeping you healthy and safe) and this is my decision. Sometimes, it's my job to make unpopular decisions (because I have more life experience than you and therefore have reasons that you do not yet understand). I can live with it if you're not happy with me (because my decision to keep you healthy and safe will last a lifetime, and your dislike will not)."

    "I cannot (or will not spend the time arguing with you to) justify my position (because your life experience has not yet allowed you to understand my rationale) but I have the power to enforce it against you (in order to keep you healthy and safe)."

    That's what parenting is. Parents make unpopular decisions in the interest of their child's health and safety, beginning with not allowing a toddler to eat only pizza for months and continuing to making your high schooler go to bed before 2AM on a school night. Parents outside of New England do it, too.

    Posted by -- March 26, 12 03:56 PM
  1. Terry, To lump the residents of six different states into a group and suggest that they all have the same "mentality" is horrifyingly ignorant. Please do "backbutton" your way to another site. This site is normally populated by people who live in New England that share intelligent thoughts about parenting.

    Posted by Kay March 26, 12 05:02 PM
  1. Geographical location aside (we currently reside in Tennessee, but have lived in new england, california, and oregon), simply bowing to whatever is the "new Harry Potter" of the moment is foolhardy in my opinion.

    My wife was going to let my children (6, 9, 10, and 13) watch it tonight...I read the plot summary and quickly put the brakes on. I don't care what it is rated, the subject content is the point, and until I have decided whether or not the film assaults the values that I want my children to learn (doesn't even have to back them up, but can't attempt to murder them), I say no, they can't watch it, and I don't care if they are mad.

    Kids get angry about everything a parent says, so shouldn't a parent at least try to give them the satisfaction of being rightfully mad, when they are stopped from something that could be harmful?

    After reading a few reviews, it may not be as bad as the plot summary made it sound on IMDB, but a film which (as the summaries make it sound) basically celebrates the hedonistic, sadistic, maniacal, sick, twisted, bloodthirsty, gratuitously violent, subjective, morally devoid, inhumane, Roman tradition of the coliseum games, deserves either a preview, or even a downright dismissal, depending upon a parents POV.

    Posted by Jens March 26, 12 07:25 PM
  1. The topics this movie covers (see comment #21) are adult, and the movie is violent. The brutal scenes are speeded up, but they are still brutal. It is NOT a children's movie, and children under age 14 will not get many of the themes and irony. Think: the Nazis create a Holocaust-like reality TV show... It should be rated R. I don't know how they can get away with PG-13, or how the publishers could have chosen to market these books to kids and young teenagers.

    Posted by Junebug March 26, 12 08:51 PM
  1. geocool: "To everyone else who thinks you don't have to see it yourself to know if it's appropriate, let me just say that children come in a huge array of ages and maturity..."

    Well, obviously. But why does that have anything to do with whether or not a parent needs to see a movie first? My opinion on not letting my younger son watch isn't based on the MPAA rating - the MPAA doesn't know my children and they have horrible "standards" to boot, with ratings that (I think) have nothing to do with rational thinking. I don't think there are too many people who base their decisions strictly on MPAA ratings.

    But in this case, I am saying no need to see the movie to make the call because there is a book, and I've read the book, and so I understand the sort of movie I'm dealing with. Also understanding my son, I said no. There are plenty of cases in which a parent can know enough about a movie to make a call like that.

    Posted by jjlen March 26, 12 10:16 PM
  1. "kangajb, so parents should see the movie first if they're inclined to let their kids see it, but not if they're not? Is it lonely in double standard town?"

    Terry, that is not the point I was making. The point I was making is that this is clearly a movie that a parent can make a judgement call that it is not appropriate for their child without seeing (whether through reading the books, knowing the content of the movie through reviews, or just by the PG-13 rating - regardless of your personal views on the rating system). However, if a parent was thinking about letting their child see the movie, they should view it to make sure it is appropriate for their child beforehand. There is no double standard there. It is just due diligence on the part of the parent. Don't blindly allow things that may be harmful to your children without doing your research. Sometimes not a lot of research needs to be done to know something is not a good fit.

    Posted by kangajb March 27, 12 09:28 AM
  1. I'm a 37 year old woman who hasn't (and won't) read the books, nor will I see the movies. I know myself well enough to know that certain genres and subject matter will give ME nightmares - and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm overly-empathic about certain things and kids battling to the death in a post-apocalyptic world is one of them. My mum recommended the books to me some years ago but I took a look and opted out.

    I don't hink I understand, however, the backlash against Barbara here. If some parents are willing to let their kids see the movie, then that's their choice and those parents can live with the repercussions of that choice. If some parents, like the LW, are choosing to disallow their child (and I would not allow my child to see it if she was older and still has the sensitivity and hyper-imagination that she has now at almost 4) from viewing this, then that's *their* choice.

    All the LW was doing was asking for some assistance regarding standing her ground. Any parent of a child from about age 2 on should know that sometimes, it's not always easy to stand firm against a relentless battering of "But why?" and "I want!" Somehow, this has been turned into a "You're a terrible parent for not letting your kid see a movie!" bash-fest and I really don't get it.

    Frankly, I'd rather be a terrible parent for not letting my kid see or do something that I don't feel she is ready for or can handle than be a parent who is perceived to be hip and awesome because I let my kid do whatever the he** they want to, whenever they want to.

    So, here's a thought: The LW has made her choice, for her daughter, as a parent. You don't know the daughter in question, only that the daughter wants to see something because everyone else is, and the mother feels the daughter isn't ready for it. Instead of making the mother feel like [expletive] because you don't think she's an awesome mom for her decision, why don't you chime in with ways you've found to help explain her decision. I mean, you must have said "No" and stood your ground and been unpopular with your kid(s) at least once, right? Maybe you have a way of explaining things that has worked and you could share it. Or maybe you could support a parent who's making an unpopular decision and just let her know that she did the right thing *because she knows her kid best (and you don't)*. Sometimes, that moral support is enough to buoy a parent against the tide of tween anger and resentment.

    Or, you know, the next time we hear you telling your kid no because you know them and what's best to keep them happy and healthy, why don't we just come along and tell you what a bad parent you are.

    Posted by Phe March 27, 12 09:48 AM
  1. Hi there. Read the books and saw the movie. A mature 13 year old could absolutely handle it (especially if they've already read the books) A 10 year old? I would say no. It was a great movie, with very good representations of the characters, in my opinion, that did a very good job of mirroring the books but your mind's eye is different than a director's eye.

    Having said that, people are being quite melodramatic about the content of the books and the movies. There's no reason to have a Puritan attitude about a decently written book that has very solid, admirable and moral characters. Choosing to have your kids wait to watch something too mature for them is perfectly reasonable. Judging the material for them, particularly if you've never read or seen it, borders on being overprotective. What's wrong with simply telling them they need to wait to check it out instead of bashing the material or making up what you think it's about? For instance, this movie/these books in NO WAY celebrate "the hedonistic, sadistic, maniacal, sick, twisted, bloodthirsty, gratuitously violent, subjective, morally devoid, inhumane, Roman tradition of the coliseum games." In actuality, the whole point of the series is to point out how terrible that kind of society is. To boot, a heroine leads the way, which I find really refreshing.

    Posted by Linney March 29, 12 03:38 PM
  1. I watched it today....and no surprise, a family with three very young children were in there. I told the parents what I thought and got back racial and other offensive epithets. I truly to my heart don't understand what parents are thinking. This is a movie young children should not see.

    Posted by AM March 30, 12 02:04 AM
  1. Im 11 years of age i read the triology and saw the movie with my dad to tell you the truth in my perspective the movie was not bloody at all. And if you read the books and you were fine with it the movie is not going to be all that diffrent i mean i saw immortal, dont be afraid of the dark,and shark night. Now, not all 11 year olds will be mature and not all of them should see it. But some are mature enough to see it. I personally think she should have seen the movie though.

    Posted by Jasmine May 1, 12 03:00 PM
 
31 comments so far...
  1. I cannot believe that Barbara has apparently written this response without first seeing the movie, and hasn't even suggested that parents should see it themselves first before making a decision.

    Posted by geocool March 23, 12 11:27 AM
  1. Well, if it is rated PG 13 I am guessing that means parents should follows these guidelines and actually set a limit with their child. She does not need to see a movie to understand the rating system in place.

    Posted by Mm March 23, 12 12:31 PM
  1. I guess im not understanding the difficulty some parents are having. This really isnt a hard decision. You either allow your children to watch such movies or you dont. Dont change your rules. If you know the premise of the book make a decision, if you dont, do your homework and then make a decision. Kids want to do/see/have things all the time that they dont get because the parent said no, why is this so different? and why does it seem that parents are asking permission to tell their children NO? Really.

    Posted by rren1972 March 23, 12 01:18 PM
  1. She hasn't even seen the film!!!

    Posted by TheHungerGames March 23, 12 01:19 PM
  1. Sometimes you don't need to see a movie to know it is inappropriate for children. If you have read the books, you would understand that even if they toned it down, this movie is not appropriate for young children. It is rated PG-13 for a reason, and honestly, if I had a thirteen year old, I probably would not allow them to see the movie, either. I know I would not approve of them reading the books. If you are inclined to let your children watch it then yes, use your common sense and preview it before making that decision to insure that your children will be able to handle it. But Barbara is absolutely correct in saying that most children are developmentally not prepared for this regardless of whether or not she has seen the movie.


    Posted by kangajb March 23, 12 01:24 PM
  1. I was much more lenient with my kids when the movie came out in video. I always watched it first to make sure they could handle the violence and intensity but I think at home on a small screen where you can talk about it, fast forward it, walk out is much more palpable than a movie theater. My daughter has never seen a Harry Potter movie at the theater but we watched them at home even though they were PG-13 and she wasn't 13.

    We loved the movie, but even I blocked my eyes several times. I would not let 13 and under see at the movies. Plus the previews were ridiculously violent.

    Posted by Jayne March 23, 12 05:03 PM
  1. This is really one of those times you don't need to see the movie to know kids under 13 probably shouldn't see it. I've read the books, so have my kids, but my youngest isn't allowed to see the movie. It's about 24 children forced into a large arena and made to fight each other to the death. The deaths are brutal. One death in particular is harrowing - lasts all night long. My teenager can certainly see it. I'll see it with him. But not my 11 year old. (Seriously, for borderline movies, I'll view it first and then tell my child if he can see it; not all movies are borderline. Sometimes, you can just know.)

    Really, LW, it is okay to say no. It is okay to go with your gut that it isn't appropriate, that you are not comfortable with it. Your child will be mad, but that's okay.

    Posted by jjlen March 24, 12 11:58 AM
  1. I agree that she doesn't need to see the movie to make a decision. If you have ever seen Common Sense Media they do an excellent job of describing in detail what goes on in the movie. That's why the website was created, so parents don't need to see the movies themselves to make a decision. Let's face it, not every parent has the time to do this.

    Posted by Dad March 24, 12 01:43 PM
  1. The argument "most children are not prepared..." is misleading. This is not a matter regarding "most children." We parents deal with one child (or a few). And our duty is to know whether that child (or those few) is prepared to watch the movie and under what conditions. Personally, my kids watched every movie that was legal for them to enter the theater. And I was there with them, to show my real disgust, my unfaked horror, or my honest sarcasm, or my candid joy. I never cared about most children. I cared about my children. That was my duty.
    To argue an individual level decision in basis of population data will led us to not go to the pyssician any more, because "most of the population do not have this disease..." See my point? Consider the characteristics of your child, how has s/he evolved, watch the movie in advance if you need it to make a better decision, and make that decision. If you have a computer connected to internet at home, your child will soon watch anything s/he wants..., because that is what most children do ;-)

    Posted by Manny March 25, 12 07:34 AM
  1. First, every parent must make their own decision and what's right for one family may not be right for another, period. As a parent who actually read the books and discussed its messages with her children before seeing the movie together, we were much more scared by the darn previews than the film itself! We were "treated" to 3 horror movie previews which were very frightening. The movie was well done and lived up to our expectations!

    Posted by Maniaq March 25, 12 09:07 AM
  1. Here in Newton, a large number of middle-schoolers, classmates of our 6th grader, went to the midnight showing Thursday night/Friday AM.

    Putting aside the visual and emotional content of the movie versus the book, I am more concerned about the abdication of parenting to even consider a midnight movie on a school night. No parent wanted to be the one who deprived their kids of joining their peers and in effect, enabled their kids to succumb to peer pressure at the expense of a good night's sleep and poor performance the next day. Nice life lesson.

    Posted by PeregrinesBoat March 25, 12 09:21 AM
  1. There's violence but it's not gratuitous violence. It doesn't celebrate violence. It's an action adventure movie laden with an added dimension of relationships, consequences and issues of personal responsibility.

    I took my twelve year old, who earned the right by reading all of the books. But I'm also having my child read more serious reviews that explore some of the underlying themes and that try to show the narrative in a larger context.

    Overall I think this is a good movie with a socializing element for older children. But a ten year old doesn't need to see this movie now. Making a stand against the tide shows you care and demonstrates a commitment to your responsibility that I respect and that I'm sure your child will appreciate sooner or later.

    Posted by trendy March 25, 12 09:47 AM
  1. Of course as the parent she has the right to put her foot down, but I do think that if the mom is on the fence, seeing the movie would give her a more educated basis for making this decision. "No, you can't see the movie now, but you can see it when you are XX age" may be a better response than just a plain old "no."

    Posted by rml March 25, 12 10:05 AM
  1. My son's school is taking all the 8th graders to it. they read the book. I find this to be questionable judgment since this is obviously not appropriate for every child. And even though they've given us permission slips(which I will use) many will go because parents just sign those things. Apparently the decision maker at the school doesn't realize how controversial the film is.

    Posted by Cathy March 25, 12 10:47 AM
  1. Second (well third) That this woman hasn't even read the book.

    "I'm the parent and this is my decision. Sometimes, it's my job to make unpopular decisions. I can live with it if you're not happy with me."

    Typical fallback of a weak mind. But it's more politically correct than the more succinct "I cannot justify my position but I have the power to enforce it against you." Maybe you don't like this story because it is the logical culmination of your personal values?

    Yep. New England mentality all the way. Pardon me while I back button into the more rational parts of the Internet

    Posted by Terry March 25, 12 12:54 PM
  1. Wow Terry, pretty rude and judgmental comment. I guess you are better than all of us other New Englanders, congrats.

    Posted by Dad March 26, 12 08:01 AM
  1. Thank you Terry! My mother would forbid me from seeing a movie based on no knowledge except what it was rated. She never bothered to read reviews or talk to other parents or see the film herself. I found it insulting and belittling and it definitely damaged our relationship. Now, as a parent, I do not look back on those days and say I respect her decision. I take the time to understand my kids and what I think they can handle. I read the books, read the reviews and talk to my kids. We all read the Hunger Games series and yes, on Saturday we all went to the movie, even my 12 year old. I believe that if a child has read the book, they go into the movie much more prepared to deal with what they see on screen and are less frightened. The books are excellent and the movie was fantastic.

    Posted by Cordelia March 26, 12 09:17 AM
  1. This isn't a children's book and this isn't a children's movie.
    My husband and I have both read all of the books, my 12 year old daughter is about halfway through the third. I'm going to see the movie WITH her, and I totally support any parent that doesn't think this is appropriate for their child.
    I hope that parents on both sides are making informed decisions. Too much of the media stories seem to be parents giving in, "Well, if all of the kids in her class are going then I guess it is okay." It may be okay for some of the kids in the class, and it may be okay for your kid, but it may not. Make the right decision for your family, even if it isn't popular. Maybe that decision is to wait until the DVD comes out so that you can watch it, and then watch it together in a more controlled and safe environment. A safe environment away from peers where the decision that it is too much is as easy as pushing the stop button on the remote.
    Know your kids. Know what they are watching and reading. Make the decision that is right for your family.

    Posted by Mary March 26, 12 11:49 AM
  1. I'd give these worries some credit if I saw the same level of concern over other PG-13 movies that are geared for a YA audience, like the Transformers franchise, Batman Begins, or other film franchises that showed way more intense violence than the HG movie. Nothing in the HG was anything like Harvey Dent having his set on fire and burnt off, yet that movie was PG-13 and a lot of kids wanted to see that as well. The pearl-clutching over *this* particular film is. . .interesting.

    Posted by PCM March 26, 12 01:32 PM
  1. kangajb, so parents should see the movie first if they're inclined to let their kids see it, but not if they're not? Is it lonely in double standard town?

    To everyone else who thinks you don't have to see it yourself to know if it's appropriate, let me just say that children come in a huge array of ages and maturity levels, not just G, PG, PG-13, and R. There is a big range of content variation within each rating group. And what one parent finds objectionable might not be the same things that the MPAA finds objectionable.

    I think that for 11 or 12 year olds who have read and loved the books and were mature enough to do so, taking them to see the film *might* be a great way to reward their literacy, and seeing the film first before making your decision is an essential part of giving their request the respect that it probably deserves.

    Posted by geocool March 26, 12 02:32 PM
  1. I think a lot of people making this decision are completely missing the point. Hunger Games is MEANT to be scary. It's meant to show the complete horrors of a totalitarian government that seeks to maintain ultimate control and power over its people via murder, brainwashing, torture, starvation, and bombing, against which the people are powerless to resist.

    In a day and age where despotic leaders reign or are fighting for power in Iran, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea, and huge swaths of Africa; when our own country is hashing out the decision as to the appropriate size and scope of our own federal government, I think the Hunger Games is exceptionally relevant. Life's ugly for most of the world, and sheltering kids from that reality does more harm than good.

    Posted by AP March 26, 12 03:36 PM
  1. Terry,

    "I'm the parent (who is charged with keeping you healthy and safe) and this is my decision. Sometimes, it's my job to make unpopular decisions (because I have more life experience than you and therefore have reasons that you do not yet understand). I can live with it if you're not happy with me (because my decision to keep you healthy and safe will last a lifetime, and your dislike will not)."

    "I cannot (or will not spend the time arguing with you to) justify my position (because your life experience has not yet allowed you to understand my rationale) but I have the power to enforce it against you (in order to keep you healthy and safe)."

    That's what parenting is. Parents make unpopular decisions in the interest of their child's health and safety, beginning with not allowing a toddler to eat only pizza for months and continuing to making your high schooler go to bed before 2AM on a school night. Parents outside of New England do it, too.

    Posted by -- March 26, 12 03:56 PM
  1. Terry, To lump the residents of six different states into a group and suggest that they all have the same "mentality" is horrifyingly ignorant. Please do "backbutton" your way to another site. This site is normally populated by people who live in New England that share intelligent thoughts about parenting.

    Posted by Kay March 26, 12 05:02 PM
  1. Geographical location aside (we currently reside in Tennessee, but have lived in new england, california, and oregon), simply bowing to whatever is the "new Harry Potter" of the moment is foolhardy in my opinion.

    My wife was going to let my children (6, 9, 10, and 13) watch it tonight...I read the plot summary and quickly put the brakes on. I don't care what it is rated, the subject content is the point, and until I have decided whether or not the film assaults the values that I want my children to learn (doesn't even have to back them up, but can't attempt to murder them), I say no, they can't watch it, and I don't care if they are mad.

    Kids get angry about everything a parent says, so shouldn't a parent at least try to give them the satisfaction of being rightfully mad, when they are stopped from something that could be harmful?

    After reading a few reviews, it may not be as bad as the plot summary made it sound on IMDB, but a film which (as the summaries make it sound) basically celebrates the hedonistic, sadistic, maniacal, sick, twisted, bloodthirsty, gratuitously violent, subjective, morally devoid, inhumane, Roman tradition of the coliseum games, deserves either a preview, or even a downright dismissal, depending upon a parents POV.

    Posted by Jens March 26, 12 07:25 PM
  1. The topics this movie covers (see comment #21) are adult, and the movie is violent. The brutal scenes are speeded up, but they are still brutal. It is NOT a children's movie, and children under age 14 will not get many of the themes and irony. Think: the Nazis create a Holocaust-like reality TV show... It should be rated R. I don't know how they can get away with PG-13, or how the publishers could have chosen to market these books to kids and young teenagers.

    Posted by Junebug March 26, 12 08:51 PM
  1. geocool: "To everyone else who thinks you don't have to see it yourself to know if it's appropriate, let me just say that children come in a huge array of ages and maturity..."

    Well, obviously. But why does that have anything to do with whether or not a parent needs to see a movie first? My opinion on not letting my younger son watch isn't based on the MPAA rating - the MPAA doesn't know my children and they have horrible "standards" to boot, with ratings that (I think) have nothing to do with rational thinking. I don't think there are too many people who base their decisions strictly on MPAA ratings.

    But in this case, I am saying no need to see the movie to make the call because there is a book, and I've read the book, and so I understand the sort of movie I'm dealing with. Also understanding my son, I said no. There are plenty of cases in which a parent can know enough about a movie to make a call like that.

    Posted by jjlen March 26, 12 10:16 PM
  1. "kangajb, so parents should see the movie first if they're inclined to let their kids see it, but not if they're not? Is it lonely in double standard town?"

    Terry, that is not the point I was making. The point I was making is that this is clearly a movie that a parent can make a judgement call that it is not appropriate for their child without seeing (whether through reading the books, knowing the content of the movie through reviews, or just by the PG-13 rating - regardless of your personal views on the rating system). However, if a parent was thinking about letting their child see the movie, they should view it to make sure it is appropriate for their child beforehand. There is no double standard there. It is just due diligence on the part of the parent. Don't blindly allow things that may be harmful to your children without doing your research. Sometimes not a lot of research needs to be done to know something is not a good fit.

    Posted by kangajb March 27, 12 09:28 AM
  1. I'm a 37 year old woman who hasn't (and won't) read the books, nor will I see the movies. I know myself well enough to know that certain genres and subject matter will give ME nightmares - and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I'm overly-empathic about certain things and kids battling to the death in a post-apocalyptic world is one of them. My mum recommended the books to me some years ago but I took a look and opted out.

    I don't hink I understand, however, the backlash against Barbara here. If some parents are willing to let their kids see the movie, then that's their choice and those parents can live with the repercussions of that choice. If some parents, like the LW, are choosing to disallow their child (and I would not allow my child to see it if she was older and still has the sensitivity and hyper-imagination that she has now at almost 4) from viewing this, then that's *their* choice.

    All the LW was doing was asking for some assistance regarding standing her ground. Any parent of a child from about age 2 on should know that sometimes, it's not always easy to stand firm against a relentless battering of "But why?" and "I want!" Somehow, this has been turned into a "You're a terrible parent for not letting your kid see a movie!" bash-fest and I really don't get it.

    Frankly, I'd rather be a terrible parent for not letting my kid see or do something that I don't feel she is ready for or can handle than be a parent who is perceived to be hip and awesome because I let my kid do whatever the he** they want to, whenever they want to.

    So, here's a thought: The LW has made her choice, for her daughter, as a parent. You don't know the daughter in question, only that the daughter wants to see something because everyone else is, and the mother feels the daughter isn't ready for it. Instead of making the mother feel like [expletive] because you don't think she's an awesome mom for her decision, why don't you chime in with ways you've found to help explain her decision. I mean, you must have said "No" and stood your ground and been unpopular with your kid(s) at least once, right? Maybe you have a way of explaining things that has worked and you could share it. Or maybe you could support a parent who's making an unpopular decision and just let her know that she did the right thing *because she knows her kid best (and you don't)*. Sometimes, that moral support is enough to buoy a parent against the tide of tween anger and resentment.

    Or, you know, the next time we hear you telling your kid no because you know them and what's best to keep them happy and healthy, why don't we just come along and tell you what a bad parent you are.

    Posted by Phe March 27, 12 09:48 AM
  1. Hi there. Read the books and saw the movie. A mature 13 year old could absolutely handle it (especially if they've already read the books) A 10 year old? I would say no. It was a great movie, with very good representations of the characters, in my opinion, that did a very good job of mirroring the books but your mind's eye is different than a director's eye.

    Having said that, people are being quite melodramatic about the content of the books and the movies. There's no reason to have a Puritan attitude about a decently written book that has very solid, admirable and moral characters. Choosing to have your kids wait to watch something too mature for them is perfectly reasonable. Judging the material for them, particularly if you've never read or seen it, borders on being overprotective. What's wrong with simply telling them they need to wait to check it out instead of bashing the material or making up what you think it's about? For instance, this movie/these books in NO WAY celebrate "the hedonistic, sadistic, maniacal, sick, twisted, bloodthirsty, gratuitously violent, subjective, morally devoid, inhumane, Roman tradition of the coliseum games." In actuality, the whole point of the series is to point out how terrible that kind of society is. To boot, a heroine leads the way, which I find really refreshing.

    Posted by Linney March 29, 12 03:38 PM
  1. I watched it today....and no surprise, a family with three very young children were in there. I told the parents what I thought and got back racial and other offensive epithets. I truly to my heart don't understand what parents are thinking. This is a movie young children should not see.

    Posted by AM March 30, 12 02:04 AM
  1. Im 11 years of age i read the triology and saw the movie with my dad to tell you the truth in my perspective the movie was not bloody at all. And if you read the books and you were fine with it the movie is not going to be all that diffrent i mean i saw immortal, dont be afraid of the dark,and shark night. Now, not all 11 year olds will be mature and not all of them should see it. But some are mature enough to see it. I personally think she should have seen the movie though.

    Posted by Jasmine May 1, 12 03:00 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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