A point of view that may be common to many millennials is this: I read the The Hunger Games because I heard about the movie. Just before the release of the first movie I certainly read the book with a set of preconceived notions as a result of the hype and many advertisements for the movies. I understood the idea of the Games and knew that Panem was not an ideal place to live, but I still focused most on the relationships between Peeta, Gale, and Katniss and the “greatness” of the games rather than the corrupt Capitol or lack of resources throughout the districts and even the fact that young children are called to manslaughter. The New York Times discusses in their article “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Fever” that the producer’s challenge in making The Hunger Games is to create the movie without showing all of the film (referring to the grotesque scenes of children’s deaths). Brooke Barnes of the New York Times says, “the movie itself is quite tame in it’s depiction of killing”. This should bring a few questions to mind. Does the marketing of the film change the intended meaning of the novels? Do advertisements for the film and related merchandise inhibit a viewer or reader from realizing the true dystopian nature of Panem?
Online marketing techniques and polls were used in order to market the movies how the people wanted to see them and of course to bring in higher profits. For example, posters and movie cover photos like the one seen above is not inclusive of any important themes other than romance, which is not the primary message of the series. Another example of this distraction, that may even be labeled a misunderstanding of Collins’ work, is the CoverGirl “Capitol Beauty” collection. This collection markets each individual district as if they are character from the capitol with extreme hair and makeup. This in itself distracts from the written meaning and actions taken in the book since district characters would never really present themselves in this way.
When the media markets exactly to the viewer’s preferences the originality of the film along with its true dystopian underlay can easily be pushed aside to instead watch the film as an exciting fight between tragic heroes that happens because it has to. The film was marketed strictly as an intense and exciting piece of entertainment, where Katniss is brave and changes the world without much analysis of the dystopian society and real possibility of something similar happening in our own world. While the filmmakers certainly display the controlling government and starvation throughout the districts, as well as the killing of children during the games, it is not a blatant representation of Panem as a dystopia but rather an entertaining fight between multiple tragic heroes that is ultimately reviewed as a “great movie”.
Barnes argues further in the New York Times article that “Lionsgate’s efforts appear to have sold the book as well as the movie”. The statistics show that the creation of the film as well as it’s effective advertisements have proven successful in increased book sales. This, at surface level, seems great for the producers and for Suzanne Collins. But, there still remains the debate over whether the advertisements inhibited the common viewer from understanding the book as a YA dystopia or as an unrealistic but entertaining story.