Friday, March 14, 2014

Violence in Movies and in Books

I am often asked my opinion about the super popular book series Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Is it too violent for younger students? I have read all the books in the series and I have seen the first two movies. I feel like the content of the books is appropriate for mature 11 and 12 year olds and this is why.

The books do not glamorize violence but show the devastating effects of violence on a family and on a nation. I do not feel that the violence is gratuitous. While Katniss is the book's hero, she is devastated by the violence of the Hunger Games and Collins does not shy away from showing the negative consequences in her heroine's life. Fans have been critical of the ending of the third book in the series Mocking Jay because it does not end "happily ever after." Instead, it ends with a sober reminder that the main characters continue to be affected by the violence as they continue their lives. 

Much of the research that I have read about the impact of violent movies and violent video games distinguishes between two types of violent media. The harmful type does not show any negative consequences for the violence that it portrays. "Shoot em up" video games that glamorize violence fall into this category. On the other hand, helpful media shows the negative consequences of violence even as it portrays that violence in some way. I loved the movie The Saratov Approach for this reason. 

The Saratov Approach is such a powerful film. It is based on a true story about LDS missionaries who are kidnapped in Russia. I love how the two main characters choose not to use violence even in an attempt to escape from their captors. Seeing this movie would provide such a powerful teaching opportunity for parents. Would violence have been justified in that situation? Would behaving violently have made the missionaries just like their captors? I know The Satatov Approach has just been released on DVD and should be available at Redbox and in Netflix soon. I think watching this movie as a family would provide a terrific opportunity to talk about violence in our lives. I love the part in the movie where members of many churches come together to pray and use nonviolence, peace, and love to combat the violence that has shattered their world. 

This is a choice we can encourage in our children whatever we allow them to read.

P.S. We use a Clear Play filtering system for the Hunger Games movies and many others. Find more about it here.

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