Entertainment is also in the Eye of the Beholder
By Stacey Tuttle
“The arenas are historic sites, preserved after the Games. Popular destinations for Capitol residents to visit, to vacation. Go for a month, rewatch the Games, tour the catacombs, visit the sites where the deaths took place. You can even take part in reenactments. They say the food is excellent.”
Have you ever really thought about the things we find entertaining? I mean really thought about it.
It’s pretty awful to think about the people of Panem finding entertainment in The Hunger Games. Think about it—Katniss’ prep team just adores her. They were pulling for her to win, relieved when she did—but relieved as if she was a favorite sports team who just won a big game. It wasn’t the same kind of relief her friends and family back in District 12 felt—that relief that she didn’t die. Katniss noted, “Even though they’re rattling on about the Games, it’s all about where they were or what they were doing or how they felt when a specific event occurred. ‘I was still in bed!’ ‘I had just had my eyebrows dyed!’ ‘I swear I nearly fainted!’ Everything is about them, not the dying boys and girls in the arena.”
It might seem far fetched that anyone could be so selfish, but then one could hardly miss the connection between The Hunger Games and the Gladiator Games—and they really happened. An entire nation was thoroughly entertained by the life and death battles that took place in Roman coliseums. People who were dispensable, or whom the government wanted to dispense of, were forced to die in the name of entertainment. Christians whom the government wanted to silence, prisoners whom society wanted to be free of, athletes who would put up a good fight, political conquests… the list goes on… all sacrificed in the name of good entertainment.
But that was then, you say—we aren’t barbarians like that anymore. That would never fly these days. Well, I don’t know. We do have some things that might be similar, at least. What about dog fights and rooster fights? What about boxing, ultimate fighting, and cage fighting? What about some of our “action” or war movies or any number of video games that are violent and graphic? I know, animals, sports, simulations, reenactments…they aren’t quite the same as real people dying, but the point is, some people, a lot of people, are still entertained by brutality and carnage.
I’m not here to be the moral police or play your Holy Spirit or your conscience. I’m just here to raise the questions. Questions like, where is the line? Why do we find gore, carnage, and brutality entertaining? Is something wrong here? Do we have the right response to the things which entertain us?
Katniss said that the Districts didn’t watch the games with the same sense of delight as the people in the Capitol did. Their perspective was entirely different. Have you ever questioned if you would be so entertained by crime scene dramas if you had been a victim, or by war movies if you had been in war, etc.? How would you feel about death as entertainment if you had watched your best friend get blown to pieces? I have a few dear friends who have lived through hellish times in war—things they still can’t, and won’t, talk about. They tell me they don’t find most of the popular action or war movies entertaining, at all. Death isn’t entertaining to them. They’ve seen enough of it.
I am not against war stories. I think they are important, critical even. But I think their great value isn’t in entertainment, but in teaching. War puts things in perspective and reminds us that there are things that are bigger than us, more important than us. War is sobering. So, it’s not the fact of war which is concerning. I am asking questions about entertainment. Why are we so entertained by brutality and death? And is it appropriate?
What about when that brutality isn’t physical, but emotional or relational? Why on earth do we find shows like Jerry Springer entertaining? What is funny about people who hate each other? I John 3:15 says that “anyone who hates his brother is a murderer.” Is there such a big difference between watching people kill each other physically versus watching them kill each other emotionally and relationally—especially in light of that verse…that hate is pretty much the same as murder?
Paul gives some guidelines for our thoughts that I think might be pretty applicable to this discussion. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” I ask you, how would it change the things you watch/do for entertainment if you let this verse be your standard, your litmus test, if you will?
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you ever really thought about the things we find entertaining?
- Where is the line when it comes to entertainment?
- Why do you think we find gore, carnage, and brutality entertaining? Do you think that maybe something is wrong here?
- Do you think we, as a society, have the right response to the things which entertain us? What about you, personally?
- Why do you think we find shows like Jerry Springer entertaining?
- What is funny about people who hate each other?
- What do you think our response should be to entertainment which focuses on carnage of any sort (physical, emotional, relational, etc.)?
- I John 3:15
- “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” How would it change the things you watch/do for entertainment if you let this verse be your standard, your litmus test, if you will?
- How do you think it might affect our nation/our world if our culture in general adapted this motto about entertainment?
Click here to read more Hunger Games inspired Devotions.