Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" - April 4, 2012

Talking about the "things that matter most" on April 4

4:00 – Direct to My Desk – “The Hunger Games”
It’s a film that has garnered an immense amount of attention and controversy. It opened with the third-largest opening weekend box office take ever and the largest open in history for a non-sequel. There is no doubt that is has people talking about life, violence, human sacrifice, tyranny, innocence, and human dignity. We spend the day discussing it with you.


  1. Thank you for speaking about this. You should try to revist it later, after having read the next two books, also think about getting Father Robert Barron to speak about it. Just suggesting. :)

  2. Today I listened to the comments regarding "The Hunger Games," which my husband and I saw the first day it opened.

    I would hardly call this movie "edifying." Children today are bombarded with our current sick society, and this movie just reinforces evil. The evil in this movie far outweighed any good you could find in it.

    Worst of all, during the scene of the "mercy killing", some people in the theater actually clapped in approval.

    What are we teaching our children?

  3. I really think you missed the boat on this one, Mr. Kresta. This movie should not be promoted by Catholic Parents. It is a tremendous advertising piece for a series of books that is atrocious.
    Unfortunately, this book has become required reading for 10-12 year olds in many schools. My twelve year old son brought the book to me because he was disturbed by what he was required to read. He showed me some of the things that were in the book, including graphic killings of children. One scene had a young teenage girl stripped down naked before an adult male so that he could decide where she would be shaved for her costume! Do we need these images of young ladies in these exploitive situations put into our children's heads?
    One educator tried to tell me how much value there is in the series. His comments were not unlike yours. My response is this: You can have laid before you a tremendous banquet which has the best cuts of beef, side dishes that would make the French Chef's mouth water, and desserts better than anything that the "cake boss" ever produced.... but if it has a sprinkling of arsnic woven through the meal it is poisened and looses its value. I contend that there is to much poison in this book... and supporting the author by paying for the movie, is in effect asking for more of the same under the guise of ENTERTAINMENT rather than a responsible excersize in exploring ethics, is mis-use of our treasures.... You are supporting something that breaks down our children's sense of the dignity and honor that they deserve as children of God. What happened to the scriptural admonition to focus on all that is GOOD? This falls VERY short of that and going to these productions financially supports those who break down our children's resistance to the abhorrent behaviors in the movie and books....

  4. I am a father of 5 from the ages of 30 to 10. This year I will be a grandfather of 7 and I also have a great deal of experience serving the Christian community. I have learned over that period of time not to be held hostage by sweeping negative judgments about individuals or works of popular or high culture. I returned to the Catholic Church for many reasons, one of which was that the Catholic Church was not held hostage by fundamentalists. While there are legitimate objections that can be raised about certain aspects of the Hunger Games, the overwhelmingly positive response of people, Catholic and non-Catholic, indicates to me that the themes of sacrifice, growth in love, resistance to evil, the proper exercise of lethal force, and the preciousness and dignity of the person far outweigh the negatives.

    The best argument against the Hunger Games, it seems to me, is the intended audience. People I know and love initially reacted negatively because they misunderstood the type of story that was being told or they feared what they imagined the negative effects on young people. So out of respect for these loved ones and friends, I acknowledge that the story can be easily misunderstood. However, the arsenic argument fails. That very argument is being used by liberal theologians to the Bible. It has been applied to CS Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia because he uses a witch. It is used against Tolkien for his use of violence and war. And it is used against Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ. The argument goes like this: Why do we need to expose our children to witches, war, brutality, and violence? Can't God tell his stories without these elements? Any creative work needs to be understood in the light of the author’s intention and that includes considering the intended audience. I have yet to hear from anybody, young or old, who rejoiced in the shedding of innocent blood. I have heard overwhelmingly from those who rejoiced in the moral courage of the protagonist and the portrayal of the decadent anti-life administration in the Capitol. We may come to learn more about this story and its author that would change my opinion. If after reading the 2nd two books I have a change of mind, I will announce it, but for the moment, it would be irresponsible of me to let false judgments and mischaracterizations go un-responded to.

    Al Kresta

  5. The Hunger Games just reminds me of a re-packages "Road Warrior". The thought I have about this is that final "mercy killing".

    Though lauded for some moral points, it is this element that, IMO, push the film into an atheistic realm if we view the film as a whole the utter break-down of he film's society includes the breakdown of religious institutions, and yet here there is a good that resonates with the audience. Had this scene been dropped I think we could maintain a favorable outlook, but with it's inclusion, it pulls it closer to atheistic claims that good can be has without God.

    This doesn't make it a bad cinematic experience, just that, as with a great many things, one need be true in one's faith and that those willing to follow trends and fads have this pointed out in discussions.

  6. Hello,
    I was the author of the anonymous response above which you in turn responded to. You seemed to reframe MY response in a way that was inaccurate. First, I am a cradle catholic - not a "fundamentalist" and my views were NOT formed by being swept up in some wave of objections. I first became aware of the book when my son brought it to me - having heard nothing of it from others - I formed my own opinion. He was disturbed and my kids have been blessed with a fairly solid sense of discernment so I took it into consideration.
    I myself have almost 30 years of experience professionally working with children, having an education in psychology and education. Intelligent and well informed people can have reasonable disagreements on things without having their opinions based on “fear” and “misunderstandings.”
    You did acknowledge my primary concern and that is the target audience of the series: pre-teens. They do not developmentally have the capacity for the higher order thinking to process so much of the stuff in these books. It is my contention that kids have their senses assaulted daily by so much degrading and negative sensory input that they don’t need MORE heaped on them.
    The comparison to the Narnia Chronicles, Tolkien’s work (possibly some of the finest writing in HISTORY), or Passion of the Christ is a non-issue. Its apples and oranges. (First of all, the Passion wasn’t fiction – allowing for artistic interpretation). Secondly, the others are about ultimately overcoming evil on each character’s Christological terms. Hunger Games is about playing on evil terms. And again, I say the destruction of children and their sense of modesty is pervasive. Tolkien and Lewis did not have CHILDREN graphically killed or attack their sense of modesty. Tolkien and Lewis celebrate the sacredness of humanity… they did not exploit it.

    Again, I suggest that reasonable people can disagree without “false judgement and mischaracterization.” It is merely disagreement. As in many other areas, erring on the side of life and beauty is probably advisable if there is any question about what we put into our minds and our children’s minds.