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?

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16 thoughts on “The Hunger Games . . . It’s Everywhere . . . Make It Stop!

  1. You think it’s bad now? Just wait until the sequel comes out. The marketing and advertising will most likely much bigger the second time around. We may even see some Hunger Games cups and toy from one of those fast food restaurants.

    I love the Twilight picture you posted by the way. I’m sure a lot of people want to see Blade pay them a special visit.

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    • Good call, Jaskee. I can imagine it definitely becoming “bigger” in terms of marketing with the sequels too. I’m sure HG gear will be out by then. It’s only a matter of time!

      Haha, yeah, a friend sent that picture to me. I know, right? Pretty funny stuff.

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  2. Great post Kristin! I don’t mind all the hype but then again I’m usually slow to jump on bandwagons. I love to see things I love get popular. It’s a shame it takes relentless marketing but it’s all part of the game. And I find as I get older I rely more on the marketing machine cause I don’t have time to seek out the ‘next big things’.

    I find it strange when people decide they don’t like something any more when it gets too popular. I see it all the time with people and bands. ‘I loved them 5 years ago but I hate them now’. I can understand it sometimes. Sometimes the music changes and you don’t like the new stuff but then I’m sure other times people just decide they won’t listen to the stuff anymore just cause it’s popular!

    As for the Hunger Games I hope everyone reads it. I think it’s pretty much a book for adults as much as teens.

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    • Thanks, Pete! I have to admit, I’m there with you – I’m typically a latecomer to popular series, so being “ahead of the times” with HG is definitely a new feeling for me. That’s so true–there just isn’t enough time in the day to find out about what’s going to be the “next big thing.”

      I’m totally with you on that! I think a lot of people enjoy that exclusive feeling of enjoying something, that when it becomes a mass phenomenon, that feeling of exclusivity and individuality aren’t present anymore. Instead, he feels like “one of the many.” I definitely understand what you’re saying, and I’ve seen many people, from acquaintances to good friends, immediately revert to something different if the current book or band or film he’s into gets massively popular.

      I’m glad you’re loyal to the series, Pete. Same here. I would agree, and I think theater attendance stats back that up.

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  3. Such significant questions.

    I’m waiting to see Hunger Games partly so I don’t have to deal with the early rush crowds and also because I kind of want to see it after all this initial Hunger Games all the time talk has died down and I can just see it away from all that and form an opinion on my own.

    That said, I do get VERY possessive of little bands that I love. And it’s ridiculous and unfair because they deserve success and to make their millions but when something means so much to you……well, we’re only human.

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    • I get that. Although I will tell you, Nick, there is something fun about seeing it with a big crowd. I thought I would be the last to admit that given my annoyances with the teenagers who talk and text throughout movies among other quips, but it really is an experience to see it with several people who are feeling similar emotions, or are laughing up a storm. But then again, I get where you’re coming from. I’m excited to hear what you think of the film when you see it, Nick!

      Haha – I think we all have something we get possessive of, be it movies, bands, specific actors, or what have you. But like you said, we’re only human 🙂

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  4. Seems like people just like to hype stuff up, if it’s not Hunger Games it’s something else. I don’t mind it because I can tune it out and not get caught up in it. I did talk about Hunger Games a bit at work on Monday but it wasn’t overwhelming that I wanted it to stop.

    In regards to your question about whether mass popularity affects how I feel about a subject matter. The answer is not really. I never liked Twilight not because it’s massively popular but because it’s just a horrible franchise. I like Hunger Games because I liked the book and I had no idea of its popularity until just weeks before the film came out, but it doesn’t alter how I feel about it as I think it is a good story and the film was well-done.

    That said, I do get weird when it comes to actors. One prime example is Michael Fassbender. I used to like him A LOT, but somehow now that he’s gaining popularity, I’m not as crazy about him. Maybe I like Gerry Butler so much as he’s still kind of ‘obscure’ in a way. Now I wonder if I had lived in the 40s when Gregory Peck was at the height of his popularity, maybe I won’t like him as much, ahah.

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    • Yeah – it seems like every big blockbuster wants to showcase itself as the “#1 Move in the World,” haha. That’s good! Glad to hear it. I wouldn’t call it overwhelming over here – but definitely to the point where I started to get tired of hearing about it (then again, I did have two back-to-back posts on the HG, so I can’t talk that much 😉 ).

      I LOVE your response here, Ruth! I would definitely agree with Twilight being a “horrible franchise,” but sometimes it’s difficult to explain that idea to someone who likes Twilight (something that still puzzles me today!). I would agree that one’s feelings shouldn’t be influenced based on the popularity although they certainly can be heightened during the time something is trending worldwide and widely spoken about. In the end, I personally agree – the film has a good story and is well done. I wish more people took it that way instead of allowing popularity to influence whether or not they could consider something good. I had a friend who almost refused to see the film just because she was afraid the tween love triangle was going to be too focused on. Luckily, I convinced her to go see it anyway, and it turned out that she was pleasantly surprised.

      There is something special about liking obscure things, whether its actors, films, bands, etc. Sometimes it sucks when you really like X thing (or person) and it becomes this big phenomenon, and in a sense, loses its obscurity. I definitely think you’re onto something there, Ruth. The good news with Gregory Peck is that you’ll never find out! 🙂

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  5. I didn’t personally think the marketing campaign was anything special or overwhelming omnipresent. I think this was just a case of the hype creating more hype. With millions of readers, the built-in fan base was already fairly consequent and it was only a matter of attracting non-readers. If you can somehow convince people that it’s going to be a huge event, it becomes a self-feeding phenomenon.

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    • There was definitely a large amount of hype going into The Hunger Games. I think the marketing was actually a bit sly instead of overdone in that it really targeted social media. Marketing is beginning to pick up that people are on Facebook more than they’re even watching TV today, and I think it’s really helping them target their audiences and get them interested in films.

      And yes, like you said, it’s one of those films that already had a built-in fan base with the readers. Good point! For me, I just hit a point where I was very excited about the film, and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but started to tire of hearing/reading/seeing it all the time (like I said to Ruth, though, I can’t really talk considering that I wrote two posts on the HG!)

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  6. I’m of Castor’s thinking – I wasn’t impressed with the marketing campaign. In fact, I thought it was pretty non-existent. There was hype, sure, but that was created more by all those fans who had read the books and loved then.

    I think it’s great when things that you love do gain popularity and enter the pop culture. I think there’s a sense of gratification that it’s there.

    I had the same thing with Firefly and Serenity. Clearly still very much a niche, but when I had friends who had no interest in sci-fi films say they watched it and loved it, it gave me that warm and fuzzy feeling!

    However what turned me off was the fans. For the most part they’re great. But when they have this unfazed loyalty to the film and the fandom and can’t really see the reality… that’s what turns me off.

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    • Haha, really? I would definitely not call the marketing non-existent for the HG 🙂 Perhaps there was more craze over in the States than over there? Would definitely agree that fans of the book started the hype (which makes sense), and then as Castor said, it grew into this “self-feeding phenomenon.”

      There’s definitely a sense of gratification, although I think for me, at least as I get older, I realize the people around me tend to get more annoyed with the popularity rather than excited by it. Maybe it’s the people I’m around, or maybe it’s the age group. Or maybe it’s the idea that people prefer to be into more obscure things (see Ruth’s comment, and mine following) than into what’s CURRENTLY popular.

      Yes, I’m with you there, and I think Joss Whedon projects really deserve that title of “niche,” because that’s what they are! And so many of my friends couldn’t stand Dr. Horrible (I’ll never understand why; I cherish the web video in my heart! ha).

      That’s a good way of putting it, Jaina. And I would agree – sometimes it’s the type of fans too. When the hype supersedes the story, and fans overpraising something for being X thing rather than having that more realistic view, it can definitely be annoying at times.

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  7. I would agree that the next film is going to be really hyped up. Honestly, I am a little surprised about the lack of merchandising tie ins. The stores are already filled with Avengers stuff, granted thats a more well known franchise, but still this movie is huge right now. That being said my dad and brother are both reading the books if that gives you any idea of the reach of the film.
    Nice post Kristin

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    • Good point on The Avengers – I do get the feeling they have a one-up in that department, especially given the already big successes of Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, and Captain America. I get the feeling that The Hunger Games’s advertising will grow along with its growing popularity, especially when sequels come out. I’ve honestly never seen so many of the same books EVERYWHERE!

      I’m definitely a fan of the books. If you happen to check them out, be sure to let me know what you thought of them!

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  8. This is a great post! Love the image of Westley Snipes, too funny. BTW congrats on being awarded the Liebster Award. While searching for information on the award (which I just received as well) I found your name listed on another blog. Keep writing!

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