A colleague came to chat with me today about the Hunger Games movie, and we had an interesting (I thought) conversation about that difference between print and screen violence I mentioned in my last post. For me as an adult reading the book, my mind creates images that are probably pretty close to whatever is going to show up on the big screen. We all have the experience of frustration when a character doesn’t look like we imagined them or the plot is messed with in some way, but in general, assuming the director hasn’t taken huge liberties, there isn’t a dramatic difference. I’ve seen loads of movies with violence and action and suspense and gore and all that jazz, so when someone stabs someone in a book, what I picture in my head is pretty much the way it looks when someone in a movie stabs someone.
But for my kid, who might a bit atypical in terms of lack of exposure to violence on the screen (big or little; we’ve never had cable, and she has had no interest in anything even remotely violent except the slapstick violence of Home Alone), I’m guessing that what her brain filled in while reading the book was a heck of a lot milder and unformed than what the movie will present. I don’t know that she has ever seen someone get stabbed on screen (not because of my protection, by the way, but just because of her interests). She is probably unusual in this regard, but I’m not sure how unusual.
So I haven’t got a clear idea of what a typical 5th or 6th grader creates in their head while reading a book like The Hunger Games, and I have no idea how they will handle the movie. It’s interesting to me, though, to think about it in this way, because it explains some of the popularity with my younger students. If the violence that is quite shocking to us as adults is processed in a very different way for them, I can see how their focus would be on the suspenseful plot. The violence isn’t real to them in the same way.
I think that’s how I want to view it, rather than to think they have seen so much screen violence already, they are immune to it, both in print and on screen. That thought actually scares me.
I really do not know how I feel about this. I’m very curious to hear feedback from my younger students about the movie, and that will probably help me figure out what I really think/feel about it.