I've read several articles over the past few months that discussed the concern over the PG-13 rating for the upcoming "The Hunger Games" movie (which will star Jennifer Lawrence, in case you haven't heard). When I read these articles, I wonder what all the fuss is about. To me, the violence–because it is used to teach a valuable lesson–is not enough to warrant an R-rating. And there just aren't other factors (like drug use, sex, language, adult situations) that would push it further than a PG-13 rating.
I thought writer Sharon Eberson of the Pittsburg Post-Gazette wrote an excellent article about the concerns, offering many different views from credible sources. I just wonder if it is an article that needs to be written. Are there that many concerns over the rating of the movie? Have these people who are concerned read the book? How is the violence any different than other teen books/movies with PG-13 ratings?
One student in the article brought up the violence in the Harry Potter series. But I believe a more equitable comparison would be to "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith," the third installment of the Star Wars saga, which happens to be rated PG-13. If you haven't seen it, there are some spoilers ahead.
"Revenge of the Sith" features child violence. Actually, the entire saga is violent in nature, although the other five films had PG ratings. "Revenge of the Sith" is the darkest and most disturbing of them, though, as we see the young Anakin Skywalker turn to the "dark side" and commit evil acts of violence. Acts that are utterly reprehensible. Acts against innocent children. Just recall the scene in which Anakin kills all the young jedis-in-training. This was part of a universal call for mass murder, with evil triumphing over good. In the opening scenes, viewers witness a decapitation. And, yet, I remember reading about the concern that it would be rated PG-13 rather than just PG, but never that it should have an R-rating.
So my question is: why are so many people making a big deal of a PG-13 rating for "The Hunger Games" movie, which isn't even as dark or violent as "Revenge of the Sith"? Both are set in the future and deal with government control, both deal with children being the victims of society/controlling government, both deal with the good vs. evil theme, and both feature a young adult as the main protagonist.
For some reason, it seems, many parents are opposed to their children reading The Hunger Games, yet probably have no problem letting them see any of the "Star Wars" movies. I would just like to know what, really, is the difference? Just because "Star Wars" has cute, fluffy characters does not mask the violence. Heck, "war" is part of the title.
My point is, I think people are making a much bigger deal out of the violence in The Hunger Games than they should when it comes to appropriateness for children 12 and up. Students learn about far more violent things that happened in history (such as the Holocaust) by the time they are 13. And if they haven't, they should. The only way to prevent the past from repeating itself is to educate our youth on alternatives to violence to solve our problems. This is what Katniss Everdeen, our protagonist in The Hunger Games, teaches readers by modeling a non-violent, defensive (rather than offensive) behavior. She's a much better role model than our own leaders, who have offensively taken us into unnecessary wars with little or no remorse. Katniss' remorse over the violence is powerful, and contagious.
I wish more people would focus on the valuable lessons that can be learned from the series rather than the rating itself.