What The Hunger Games Teaches Us About Love


For a blockbuster motion picture to impress me these days, I need to learn something. I’m not satisfied being visually fellated by a cornucopia of gratuitous explosions. I require more than just severed limbs, robots that turn into cars that turn back into robots or the occasional sexual innuendo; which, as you can tell, I love.

I yearn for something didactic, preachy and blatant in its attempts to sell me on a particular worldview. That’s probably why two of my favorite movies of all-time are Triumph of the Will and Avatar. I was so glad to watch The Hunger Games this last weekend, because it fulfilled my every wish for the cinema- going experience. I learned a ton from this film, but not exactly what I expected. I was not enlightened on the evils of fascism, the inherent barbarism of mankind or the negative effects of reality TV on the human psyche.

No, I learned about…love.

The Hunger Games has much to impart on the audience in the realm of the romantic. As I am sure you are aware, the movie and the book it is based on contain a major subplot concerning the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, choosing between two handsome young suitors. Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne compete for the affection of sexiest murderer on the planet. Within that saucy love triangle is the first thing I learned from The Hunger Games.

Men are constantly fighting over women, and women have no idea what they want from life except to survive.

Katniss could take a second to decide between Peeta and Gale, but much like her fellow Young Adult Lit heroine, Bella Swan of Twilight, she’s way too busy looking sad or trying to not get killed. Being sad takes up most of my day as it is, so I can’t even fathom having to add ‘getting eaten by wolves’ or ‘not stepping on a giant landmine’ to the docket. The decision to date Peeta or Gale isn’t even a decision to ‘date,’ as there’s no dating in Panem as far as I can tell. Attraction doesn’t come from which guy has the nicest car or most hair on his head. I’m fairly certain the decision-making goes a little something like this:

“I am likely going to die of starvation in the next 2 years. I better have a child so someone is around to inherit the tiny plot of land where I keep my stuff.”

Guys are pretty low on the totem pole, especially if they are both going to die soon too.

Love tends to take place between very attractive people.

When was the last time you saw two ugly folks hook up in a movie besides anything starring Joan Cusack? Exactly. The lead actors in The Hunger Games are smoking hot! It might sound sad to accept this lesson, but it actually frees me from worrying about whether I’ll have a successful relationship. I won’t, because I’m not hot enough. Case closed.

People pretend to love you.

We lie to each other constantly. I dated a girl who told me I didn’t look fat in stripes, but I knew. I knew I looked fat in stripes. She swore up and down that stripes were ‘complimentary to my figure.’ Thankfully, I had an honest friend who referred to me as a ‘grotesquely overweight Hamburglar.’ Honesty is the most necessary of virtues, but Katniss Everdeen is perfectly comfortable pretending to love Peeta in order to survive the Hunger Games. I don’t care if the whole world is watching. If I look fat, you better say so.

The rules of courtship are now dictated by women.

If a girl doesn’t have time to date you because she’s fighting for her survival in an elaborate reality TV show in the distant future, then a guy just needs to understand. Modern women are ambitious. They have their own lives and their own desires. Katniss sets the expectations in her love triangle.

As stated earlier, she’s a bit conflicted about who to choose, but she chooses on her own time. If your gal wants to hunt on the first date, then you do it without asking questions. Here we see the influence of feminist scholar and intellectual Sarah Palin on the 21st century woman. Not only will your sweetheart make your dinner, she will kill the animal, skin it and make you a coat from its fur. When dinner is over, she’s going to lead an uprising against her oppressive government, but she’ll also be thinking about you the whole time.

The best venue to admit you are in love with someone is on TV.

This should go without saying, but I will reiterate the obvious. Being noticed for being in love is more important than being in love. Facebook allows us to note our relationship status for our friends and potential friends to see whenever they choose. I appreciate being able to know which friends of mine are available and which aren’t. More importantly, I like everyone knowing I’m involved with someone. It sends a signal to the world saying “I am better than you. Someone loves me.” That’s why Peeta revealing his love for Katniss in public, on the air, was so astute. In essence, Peeta says to Panem:

“See this hot lady that can kill people with her bare hands? She’s all mine, so stay away.”

Who would want to hide that? That’s right, no one would. Granted, it takes Katniss forever to reciprocate his affection, but Peeta comes out the winner in this horserace. Self-centered displays of grandiose emotion are very modern and very hip. So, the last lesson to learn from The Hunger Games is…

We have no shame.

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image – The Hunger Games