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Two cultural phenomena intersecting

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 4:18 am - May 8, 2012.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV,Mythology and the real world

Just returned from seeing the Hunger Games.  I had thought that if I saw a late show on Monday night, I’d miss the crowds, but even though I got to the theater 10 minutes before the show was scheduled to start, only walked in the actual auditorium as the previews were starting.  There were lines at the Grove.  On a Monday night.  After 10 PM.

I had assumed most of the people in line were there to see the Avengers.  When I asked those in front of me — and around me, their responses confirmed my hypothesis.  The Avengers already has the record for best opening weekend.  It will soon join Hunger Games in the Top 100 all-time Box Office, adjusted for inflation — a real cultural milestone.

Movies that resonate as these do saw something condition about our times — or the human condition.

I had not heard of the Hunger Games books until the movie was released.  A classmate of mine from graduate school, a fellow student of mythology, encouraged me not just to watch the movie, but also read the books.  I determined to do just that — before seeing the films.  It seems Suzanne Collins, the author, had been a big fan — or at least been fascinated by the phenomenon — of the TV series Survivor — and had had enough exposure to Greek myth to have more than a passing familiarity of the story of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur as well as that of hat of Iphigenia (sacrificed so her father could get favorable winds in order to sail to Troy to wreak vengeance on that city).

And there was even a Minotaur — several of them — in this movie.

At a later date, I hope to write further about this myth, but will note that some scholars (including yours truly) see the stories of Theseus and Iphegenia as cultural markers (not to mention the Binding of Isaac), signifying that they no longer sacrificed humans.  And archeological, anecdotal and mythological evidence indicates that human sacrifice was prevalent in many cultures.



  1. Looking forward to it Daniel.

    Comment by Deki — May 8, 2012 @ 4:29 am - May 8, 2012

  2. Haven’t seen Hunger Game nor read it. I doubt I’ll do either.

    I did see The Avengers last week-end. It’s very very good! It’s probably the best comic book derived movie since The Dark Knight. The thing that made it work, was that, first and foremost, none of the four hero rises above the other as the centerpiece of the movie. It’s not, say Ironman And His Amazing Side-kicks. In fact, maybe because we already know him from two movies, he may be the weakest or least interesting central character in the movie. I would say the interplay between Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Bruce Banner / The Hulk give the movie more humanity than a superhero tale should have.

    Speaking of The Hulk – I’m not going to give any of the plot away, but I will say he ends up being the scene stealer in the final battle in the movie. Finally, in the third attempt to portray that character in a movie successfully….. The Hulk ROCKS!!!!!

    Comment by sonicfrog — May 8, 2012 @ 11:30 am - May 8, 2012

  3. I commented that they movie hit on the same formula as the Incredible hulk TV series. 40 minutes Bill Bixby, 10 minutes Lou Ferigno.

    I do think there are a number of subtle things that people likely missed (I was surprised how many people missed the ravens, for example)

    I’ve not seen Hunger Games, despite wanting to see more of the lead Jennifer Lawrence (more in the acting sense, after First class I can’t see much more of her in the other sense.)

    Comment by The Livewire — May 8, 2012 @ 3:37 pm - May 8, 2012

  4. The Liveware, Jennifer Lawrence is first rate, really first rate, expect to blog about her later today.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — May 8, 2012 @ 5:26 pm - May 8, 2012

  5. 1. I’m not trying to bait you into anything. You post exactly as you please.
    2. You conveniently don’t mention that I did give my reasoning; you either read past it, ignored it, or now to choose to lie and say I gave none.
    3. I don’t need a ‘justification’. I’m not on trial.

    I’m not in the mood for a fight today.

    You wouldn’t know it from your wise ass entry at #51.

    Look, I lightened up with Cas on this thread; I have no problem doing the same with you, under the ssame general framework that I’ve outlined previously.

    Enjoy your evening.

    Comment by Jman1961 — May 20, 2012 @ 7:05 pm - May 20, 2012

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