The Hunger Games . . . It’s Everywhere . . . Make It Stop!

There’s been so much hoopla surrounding The Hunger Games lately. My parents went to Hawaii last week, including during the opening of the movie “the world will be watching.” Neither of my parents are into fiction. Neither of them watch a lot of movies, or really get into current trends. Yet when I talked to them last night, both of them kept saying how everyone over in Hawaii was talking about the film! “The Hunger Games this and The Hunger Games that,” they kept saying.

I went to see the film this past weekend with four friends. I commented on multiple posts by several good blogging friends who saw the film and put in their two cents about it on the blogosphere. I talked to friends at work who want to see it. I noticed that my ten-year-old piano student had started reading the book yesterday. I walked into my old high school a couple weeks ago and talked to a couple students, one of which was reading the third book in the series. When I walked into the gymnasium of my previous church, there was a Hunger Games book sitting on one of the bleachers. I go on Facebook and read that one of my friends is asking for book recommendations . . . except for The Hunger Games (which made me laugh).

Last summer, I walked into a Borders bookstore that would soon be going out of business. One of the first book stands held several copies of the first Hunger Games book. I picked up a copy, never having heard anything about the series except for possibly the name in passing. I noticed that it was only $4 and figured, why not? If I hate the book, I’ve wasted only $4. So I bought it on a whim, never expecting to enjoy it. A month later, I had finished it (I’m not THAT slow of a reader–it just took me a while to get into it.). So I bought the second and then the third book, and by the time I had finished the third (which took me a grand total of 2 days), I was passing the series on to my sister and my friends, who mentioned it to their friends. This past January, I met with five other friends who had read the series and we discussed the themes, asked questions, and came up with “if this had happened, what would you do” type scenarios.

And now it’s all this “the odds will be ever in your favor” and “the world is watching” stuff. And I don’t want to complain about that–it’s marketing, and I think they hit the bullseye when they really pushed it through social media, namely Facebook. It seemed like there was a Hunger Games campaign everywhere, with no escape of it.

I’ll happily admit it–I thoroughly enjoyed the books. Whether I compare the series to other series or not, I can honestly say I enjoyed them. They’re interesting, there is a level of depth to them and to the characters, and I considered the books to be well-written. And despite a few minor quips, I thoroughly enjoyed the film. So much so, that I’ll probably see it again in theaters one more time.

All of this leads me to asking a few questions–when something is so highly marketed, when something is trending so much, gaining so much popularity at the time, do you enjoy riding the popularity wave with it, or would you rather wait it out and then get into it? Or how do you react when you “got” into something far earlier than the rest of the world? Does it frustrate you when people hop the bandwagon because it’s cool or popular, when you actually devoted time to a series way back when few had even heard of it? Is there a different sense of appreciation there?

I had a friend who enjoyed reading the Twilight series, but after it became this HUGE deal that was more about Kristen Stewart and Rob Pattinson, the idea of liking Twilight almost became embarrassing because of the crazy trend that it became. It was no longer some light story Stephanie Meyer composed–it was this tween love triangle that primarily attracted flocks of junior high girls rushing to the theater on opening night.

It seems nearly impossible for a film to take a popular book series (or original source material) and not change the status of the story, and particularly the way its viewed, these days. Would more adults be attracted to The Hunger Games if the series was in the Adult section and not the Young Adult section of a store? Film is a powerful, powerful (so powerful, I had to say it twice three times) medium to tell stories today.

How does marketing play such a huge role today in “who goes to see what” today? Does a popular film make you want to go see it, or does its mass popularity detract you from getting involved? Would you prefer to get into something when it isn’t trending, or do you enjoy being a part of something popular at the time?