We’ve all seen the cheesy horror movies where the weakest link gets the axe first. Typically your reaction is kind of apathetic. “They were stupid so they died” … “Well they should have known better so they got what was coming to them…” Wait, what?
Let’s say this was real life, minus all the unbelievable nonsense that’s usually part and parcel of the horror movie genre. For my pop culture class we’ve been watching a lot of movies and reading material that is particularly centered on war related content, and people fighting each other with an underlying theme of survival mode. Now I don’t mean to sound like an overprotective suburban mom but this kind of material really desensitizes you to certain kinds of violence, and in the meantime dramatizes others.
The other night I watched the Hunger Games for this class and one of the first scenes of violence shows the kids viciously and unapologetically attacking each other: stabbing each other ruthlessly, shooting bows and arrows, knocking each other down…you get the picture. When you watch the trailer below you’ll notice how shaky the screenplay is, as well as the music that works to create a sense of urgency that defends each act of violence as necessary; kill or be killed.
I wasn’t too fazed by it. You see all this violence for the majority of the movie, and all kinds of defense and encouragement of it, and then the main character Katniss befriends this cute little girl named Rue. For those of you who don’t know the concept of the movie (I wouldn’t have either had it not been for school), young adults anywhere from 12-18 have their names entered in a draw in each district to fight in a battle to the death. Katniss is older, and Rue is an innocent, shy little 12 year old who Katniss takes under her wing and tries to protect. Of course since the only way to guarantee your survival is to be the last one standing, someone eventually finds a way to kill Rue and we see her slowly drifting off being sung a lullaby before she passes. And I’m sitting home alone bawling my eyes out.
Fast forward to 1:25 of the clip
It was such an emotional scene, not only in the music and screen angles but mainly in how Rue’s death was honored and recognized. In this case, violence was unnecessary and cruel, and finally there was a concern for the fact that a human life was taken in the process. But this kind of framework also kind of works to suggest that some lives are more valuable than others. Rue is the picture of innocence and is not tainted by committing acts of violence herself, and thus it is acceptable to feel a great level of sadness as well honor the things she represents that society has lost.
Just a short post today but one I thought necessary to think about. When we give more attention to something and make it high profile, we attribute greater value in it simply because it is important enough for many people to recognize. There’s something about the death of a young child that enables people to have more of a reaction, and this is turn implicitly suggests that some lives are more important than others. Violence is violence. We can never allow ourselves to ignore or justify one kind and make another important without thinking of all the contexts behind why some are more newsworthy than others.