Discussion: Behind the Hunger Games

Welcome to my first discussion board.

The Hunger Games is one of my favorite films (among Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter). I love epics and films that have stories and/or characters that make me stop and think or inspire me. The Hunger Games is one those films. I’ve read the books and seeing the films so carefully imagined for the screen was definitely great.

There are many reasons why I love Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen who I connect with on a personal level, the dystopian world, the author’s creative analysis of the human condition, and the truly epic journey the characters travel.

Katniss Everdeen is by far my favorite female character in any film I’ve watched. I’m personally very introverted and rarely, if ever, have I seen a female character exhibit traits similar to my own. Katniss was a breath of fresh air. Her character showcased a truly unique female character that had no archetypes. It’s honestly so exhausting seeing female characters drawn up as having either romantic intentions, easily fits into some sort of crowd, is a fashionista, weak or some other stereotype. Like Katniss, I don’t make friends easily if I make them at all, I have zero interest in clothes or looking pretty, I don’t trust people easily, and I rarely display emotions or thoughts unless I have a reason to do so. So a character like her really meant a lot to me.

I love post-apocalyptic worlds. I like seeing the creativity and the thought processes that go into it. Honestly, it’s one of the best studies into humans, besides war. The true test of humankind is usually met when the rule book is thrown out. How do we react when our government, laws and institutions can no longer be relied on. In that terrifying freedom the individual becomes their own ruler and they must decide whether to hold on to their past ideals or create their own. The creation of Panem really makes a person think. It was an American civilization torn apart to by its own civil war. The victors of the war had to contend with the huge amount of POW’s from the losing side. They could place them in districts, treat them like prisoners working for the capital, but they needed to keep a revolt from happening again. So they created the Hunger Games; a sure-fire way to break the spirit in the districts.

The author really delves into the human condition in these books. The Capital is really quite interesting. It’s clear that what the people there believe has been carefully crafted by the government through propaganda. Even the Hunger Games were very carefully showcased to the capital as an ‘honorable’ sort of Gladiator games. Honestly, when you compare Roman culture to that of Panem it’s easy to some similarities. They lived lavishly and through years of conditioning from the government thoroughly believe that the people in the districts are as happy as they can be and that the Hunger Games are merely feats of honor by the districts. I mean honestly, think about the Native Americans. Our history books downplay significantly the horror that these people went through. For years it was common to play “cowboys and Indians”. Without really knowing what they went through or are going through now we dress up like them on Halloween, we stereotype them in television. It’s easy to think that were would be no way our current civilizations could be anything like the people in the Capital, but even looking at our current situation how often have we ignored or downplayed horrible atrocities for the sake of our convenience and lavish lifestyles?

In any case, the Hunger Games is one of my favorite films because besides being beautifully done with amazing actors, an in-depth storyline, it really makes me stop and think. Whenever I feel caught up in life I watch the movies. They ground me back to reality. They make me look at my life and make me think about the world and where we are heading as a people. The Hunger Games helps me reevaluate my priorities. I don’t know if it’s the rebellion or the heartache the people in the districts go through. I don’t know if it’s the true atrocity of children killing children in a broadcast game. Whatever it is it’s something that I feel reminds me of my own humanity.

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Charmed

Charmed was a show from the 90s about three sister witches. It was a classic to some and others just another 90s flick, like Buffy or Angel. I feel the show had a lot more distinction then that. It did take a while for it to REALLY come into its own, but the story was always there. It was fairly well thought out and the characters were well-rounded. The Halliwell sisters were a pinnacle to its time. Despite being the 90s they distinctly showed the feminist zeal of today in the limited allowance they were given. The sisters were not only witches. They were hard-working women who balanced full careers and family life. They had men in their lives they loved, but it wasn’t just this all-consuming thing; love gave them balance, it didn’t “complete” them. They were first and foremost the Charmed Ones, the most powerful witches that ever were.

I think considering the time frame they did an exemplary job at the story. Could it have been more diverse or went over more topics? Sure, but most shows today still struggle with that. It’s hard to expect a show from 20 years ago to branch out when it’s only just barely begun today. I only say this because of the impending reboot that seems to be saying that the original Charmed didn’t even try. They did. (Small SPOILERS ahead) The girls had careers of their own that they didn’t give up for a man, that they worked hard for despite the toll of their roles as witches. Phoebe spent years in school during the show to get a degree. Piper balanced being a witch, a club owner, a wife, sole provider of the money more often then not and a mother. Prue had been a top curator of historical items. Paige was a social worker. And it that wasn’t feminist enough, one episode stands out when Phoebe makes a social stand at a business that wouldn’t let Piper breastfeed her child (who was covered to boot) in a very bold statement (naked on a horse). Did the girls have romances? Yeah. But I think where feminism sometimes goes wonky is in the thought that women shouldn’t care as much as we do about finding love. That’s not true. Love can be great, but as women we don’t always make the right choice (love is blind and all that). I think with the romances in Charmed they more then show that. It shows how complicated love can be and that sometimes when it feels the most right is when it’s the most wrong. But also that despite the relationships they could still be strong women as long as they were with someone who didn’t try and take that away from them.

With all that being said,, below are some synopses of the seasons. It is a good show and definitely worth a watch. Just remember that it was the 90s, they did their best but there are going to be a few hijinks and things that seem outdated.

 

Charmed 1-3

The first season of this show was a bit slow and very 90s. There wasn’t the flow yet that later seasons would project, but it’s still enough to hook an audience to the unusual (at the time) story line. Throughout the next three seasons relationships and magic build between the sisters but there is still a lack of growth and depth that isn’t felt until later seasons. SPOILERS Ahead! Throughout the first three seasons Prue is the glue that holds that sisters together, but it feels a little empty. Watching this time, there just seems to be a disconnect on how Piper and Phoebe look up to Prue and how Prue actually acts. They view her as a mother, but through most of the show she feels more arrogant and bossy, then ‘motherly’. It’s clear through a few episodes that she doesn’t really view herself on the same level as her sisters. She seems to hold over them that she knew their mother longer, that they couldn’t possibly understand the full loss of their mother as they can barely remember her. I think this emotional separation keeps Phoebe and Piper from growing as witches and as women. They have been trained to rely on Prue for how they should react and what they should do, which ultimately turns Prue into the great “Charmed One” with her two sisters lagging behind. I liked Prue, don’t get me wrong, but I feel, in the end, it hurt the show more for her to be so disconnected from everything. She had her moments of sensitivity, but she’d always turn back to the way she acted before. A show needs emotional growth from the characters, especially a fantasy show like this needs to humanize the story and make it more real.

Charmed 4-5

After Prue’s death the sisters are dealt a major blow. With her demon murderer still on the loose, the girls are faced with the extinction of the Charmed Ones and without their strongest sister as their leader. Their lives get even more complicated when they find out that their mom and her white-lighter (guardian angel of witches and future white-lighters) not only had a romance but a baby who they put up for adoption to protect her. They aren’t even able to process this as the demon who killed Prue goes after Paige, their half-sister.

Once the drama unfolds, the Charmed Ones are united once more. Paige is thrown for the loop of a lifetime. Not only does she have sisters, but she is also a witch. Piper has to become the strong big sister and Phoebe has to accept the role of the middle sibling. Together they have to figure out how to be sisters and witches in what feels like a whole new world of magic.

By season 5, though, they’ve grown together as sisters but they all have their own individual hurdles. Piper is faced with having a child of her own. Phoebe is struggling to find herself after her separation from Cole without relying on just being a witch. Paige struggles with finding her balance between her who she was and her desire to become a strong witch.

Season 6-8 FINAL

The girls have been through a lot at this point. Piper and Phoebe are especially feeling the weight of the years and it’s made them cynical to a happy future. Paige is coming into herself as both a witch and as a sister. The comradery between the sisters has grown to a comfortable level and all of them have matured. The last few seasons the sisters face some of their worst fears and battle against some of their most difficult enemies.

Season 8 is probably my least favorite, not only because it was a rushed finale, but the sisters seemed to lose themselves a little bit in the complex stories going on. They wrapped it up in a nice way that was fulfilling, but the season itself felt forced. The finale was definitely a whopper, but it would have been nice if WB (the channel company Charmed was on) would’ve given them a chance to work out the storylines a little better.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Find it on: Netflix

Year: 2018

I keep leaning towards teen romances lately, I don’t know why. It may be because of the innocence and naivety. So many romcoms are just so unreal that it’s hard to take any stock into it; it’s all so modern fairy tale. But, teen romances are more believable. Hormones are going crazy and everything does feel like it’s world-stopping amazing or horrible. It’s relatable. “To all the boys I’ve loved before” had that feeling. It was down-to-earth though, simple but real, and the emotions felt on-point. The diversity didn’t feel forced either, it felt realistic. I hope other movies mimic that natural diversity in the future.

The plot itself is cute, although a familiar trope. Lara Jean is a simple high school student, not in the popular crowd and has mainly one best friend, but she’s secure and mainly has her feet on the ground. Besides her affinity for romance novels, she’s pretty much avoided all-things love related. Any crushes have been carefully hidden, known only to her in love letters she’s never sent. But Lara Jean’s life is turned upside down when somehow those forbidden letters are sent. Five embarrassing letters have been sent out and she now has to deal with the overwhelming and even detrimental consequences they have caused.

Honestly, it’s so fun. Lara Jean is such a great character because she really has this vivid imagination, but she’s still working out how her inner self relates to how she acts on the outside. In general, she’s such an easy going character it’s easy to love her. Being a Netflix movie it’s not surprising that there are a couple things that could’ve flowed better or been expanded on, but all in all it was very well done. I don’t have many complaints on the actual actors either. They all played their parts very well. I think her friend, Josh, could’ve been a touch better; he just felt awkward at times and it doesn’t feel like it was supposed to be intentional.

Supernatural

So, I just finished watching the 13th season of this still-going-strong show. I have to say, by far, one of the most amazing and consistent shows out there. While many shows waver, if not completely die off, and lose their charm after so many seasons this show has really hit the top shelf with consistent characters, evolving storylines and strong dialogue.

The show is about Sam and Dean Winchester, hunters of the supernatural. When Sam, the youngest brother, was only one year old their mother was murdered by a mysterious yellow-eyed demon. The boy’s father becomes obsessed with getting justice, dragging his two young boys across the United States fighting the things that go bump in the night along the way. Adults now, Sam is in college separated from the hunter’s life when his brother shows up. Their father was on a “hunting trip” and Dean hadn’t heard from him in a while. They go looking for him but only find more questions. And Sam soon realizes that maybe there is no “getting away” from the life.

My goal originally with long shows was to write snippets for each season to give a more well-rounded view of the ups-and-downs; unfortunately, some life things had me distracted and it just didn’t happen for Supernatural. What I can say is the show is a journey of truly epic proportions. It does have ups and downs in a couple seasons, some not so favorable plot twists and undesirable-for-even-an-antagonist bad guys. But the producers really listen to feedback from the fans and have always brought the story back with an even better season. For me, I felt even with the rougher seasons there were still some great episodes in between and in the end the character development was just an added advantage.

Sam and Dean are truly amazing characters. The actors (Jenson Ackles and Jared Paladecki) have embraced the characters to their core. I think for me after 13 seasons it’s just so amazing the growth alone the brothers have born. If you don’t believe me watch the 13th season and then the very first again. Most people can’t help but love them. Along with them are truly iconic characters: Bobby, Castiel, Crowley, Rowena, Judy. All of them have such in-depth stories that only add to the realness effect Supernatural has.

In the exploration of the supernatural I think the boys have really opened intriguing doors. They’ve more then just battled the weird, they are a part of it. They’ve seen the beginnings and the ends of almost of creatures. They’ve explored mythology and folklore. They’ve even taken the huge step into entering the world of religion lore, such as angels, God, heaven and hell. A leap like that could’ve hurt them, but I think they’ve found a way to explore those worlds in a way that is so hugely creative and interesting, it is to say the least intriguing and thought-provoking. Facing the big what-if of God and Death they’ve really opened doors into the scope of the universe.

The show is a lot of times dark, sinister and painful for the heart to watch, but I think, especially in these times, the Winchesters shine a much-needed light into their audience. They’ve faced horrible things, even their own deaths, but still they never give up. It’s something that anyone can watch and perhaps even find their own ass-kicking power to face their demons.

Girl Meets World

Ah, man. All the feels for this show. I really thought that I was going to hate the show, but it really became this great continuation of the Boy Meets World phenomenon. The first few episodes were really hard, then it aged like a fine wine and really struck a chord with my heart. It breaks my heart that it was cancelled after only 3 seasons when it actually had really good ratings and had a high volume of people watching it (curse you Disney).

It’s been a little over 15 years since Cory and Topanga went off to start their lives in New York City. They have two children, Riley and Auggie. Riley is a combination of her parents, completely optimistic, a little odd, and a complete ray of sunshine. She has a best friend, Maya; a troubled young woman who relies on Riley to keep her hopeful. Together they balance off one another. Riley’s father, Cory, is her middle-school home room/history teacher. In class, he teaches Riley, Maya and their other friends, Farkle and Lucas life lessons as they go through new and sometimes difficult changes growing up.

It’s really hard to not love the show. They balanced well what made Boy Meets World great and made it appropriate for a new world. Although it ended before its time they wrapped up well the storylines of everyone with hope and optimism, including characters from the old show. It showed some difficult situations that you really don’t see in Disney shows anymore; they weren’t afraid to ask difficult questions. It’s just disappointing that they weren’t able to ask more. We don’t need more Miley Cyrus for our youth; we need the shows that grow with them and help them learn to traverse life’s challenges. As the show grew, the characters expanded as well. They changed and evolved to become more. Some grew up, some learned to overcome pain from the past, some found hope for their future. And it really spoke to a lot of different aspects of life. I want to just blab about the great discoveries the characters went through, but it’s something you really need to see for yourself. It’s not just about growing up though. It’s about facing challenges and change. It’s about discovering our heritage and who we are. It’s about so many great things in a really wholesome family show that is a credit to its forebear, Boy Meets World.

Mamma Mia!

So just watched this film and I was pleasantly surprised. I’d watched it before years ago, but I found myself finding new realizations. The first time I thought it had such a basic plot, but it’s really not so. A lot, I feel, was kept for in-between-the-lines, but honestly I was surprised once I found it and it really seemed to run deep. It is a musical based on Abba and would usually be something more for the theatre, but I think that vibe is what made it great. If you’ve ever been to a great theatrical performance you’ll know that there is a longing for more; a way for the stage to become more, to step into the world. Mamma Mia does that.

The base of the movie is that a young woman, Sophie, is about to get married, but she doesn’t know who her father is. She was raised by her mother on an island villa in Greece, but she’s always longed to know who her father was especially as she’s about to walk down the aisle. When she finds her mom’s diary she founds out that there are three possibilities. Desperate, she invites them all to her wedding, assuming she’d know which one once they arrived. Sophie’s mother becomes more then startled when her three summer time romances of 20 years ago appear at her villa. It arouses feelings she’d put aside in all her years being a single mom and a business owner. But the question remains: who is Sophie’s father and should the past just stay in the past?

I think this movie speaks volumes. You have Sophie’s mother and her two best friends; they’re older in years but they all are fiery, saucy, independent women. Honestly, it’s refreshing. If you want feminism embodied then these are a few great examples. They aren’t ashamed of their sexuality, they take risks and they are proud, independent women. If you watch the movie really watch and look. Sophie’s mom alone is a shining example. When she got pregnant she didn’t chase down one of the three men and straddle them with the responsibility, her own mother told her to never come home, but she didn’t give up. She raised Sophie on her own, even buying her own villa hotel within 5 years. But you can also see how her past has haunted her. Her first romance was really the one that stuck with her. The pain and resentment when it ended becomes obvious throughout the film. She goes through so many levels of emotion. Happiness, sadness, anger, confusion and finally during one song at the end she finally tells him how it destroyed her (it’s the song “Winner takes it all”). You can see through natural progression how after he left her 20 years ago she probably ran to the other two relationships for comfort and out of anger towards him.

Sophie is also interesting. She’s clearly the doting daughter, but she’s also confused. She wants to be there for her mom and help her out at the villa, but she feels this emptiness inside. Sophie thinks that emptiness will be filled if she finds her father, but when faced with three real possibilities she becomes panicked. She doesn’t know which one is her father, and she’s terrified of her mom founding out. Sophie’s conflicted. Too many things are happening all at once and it throws everything into confusion. She grows to like all three men and she connects with each on a different level. But she’s also faced with her own wedding. She feels she’s doing the right thing. but learning about her mom’s past makes her feel uneasy. She wants to prove she’s not her mother, but also she begins to realize how special and beautiful her mother’s past was.

Throughout the film there’s a lot of little things. I think if you watched it once and didn’t see some of those things then you need to watch it again. Look for the meaning behind the words, look at their faces. These are some great actors in these films and a great actor not only use his/her words but can also speak with facial expressions and body movement. So, keep an eye out. There is a lot more to this movie then Abba music.

Boy Meets World

So, I finally finished this show. Seven seasons of hijinks, laughter and life lessons through the eyes of Cory Matthews and his friends. This classic 90s series was what I grew up with. A phenomenal series that literally grew up with me. Before Harry Potter and growing up a wizard, it was Cory, Shawn and Topanga and growing up to be a decent, honest person. Although the show could be childish at times (obviously, being a children/teen show) it was still uplifting and enjoyable to watch as an adult.

The show is about Cory Matthews, a 13-year-old middle schooler, trying to figure out life and how to grow up. He has his best friend Shawn, a young troubled boy, who looks to Cory as the only solid and good thing in his life. And Topanga, at first, an odd little duckling who blossomed into a strong-willed and impassioned woman. Cory has strong influences in his life. Two caring parents who are always there for him. Mr. Feeny his constant teacher and mentor. Characters come and go in the show, but the resounding moral is friendship, family and doing good.

I really love this show. I think this sort of thing is what is lacking in television today, especially in teen shows. It was funny, but it had a lesson about life. And it wasn’t polarizing either. They were solid lessons about just being a good human being. When you watch the show you learn the lessons right along with them about acceptance, love and overcoming challenges. Unfortunately, Disney didn’t want to continue those lessons for today. They did continue the show with Cory and Topanga’s daughter years later in Girl Meets World; I watched it and it was good. It really should’ve been allowed to continue for today’s generation, but it was cancelled after three seasons, despite decent ratings.