What The Hunger Games Teaches Us About Love

For a blockbuster motion picture to impress me these days, I need to learn something. I’m not satisfied being visually fellated by a cornucopia of gratuitous explosions. I require more than just severed limbs, robots that turn into cars that turn back into robots or the occasional sexual innuendo; which, as you can tell, I love.

I yearn for something didactic, preachy and blatant in its attempts to sell me on a particular worldview. That’s probably why two of my favorite movies of all-time are Triumph of the Will and Avatar. I was so glad to watch The Hunger Games this last weekend, because it fulfilled my every wish for the cinema- going experience. I learned a ton from this film, but not exactly what I expected. I was not enlightened on the evils of fascism, the inherent barbarism of mankind or the negative effects of reality TV on the human psyche.

No, I learned about…love.

The Hunger Games has much to impart on the audience in the realm of the romantic. As I am sure you are aware, the movie and the book it is based on contain a major subplot concerning the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, choosing between two handsome young suitors. Peeta Mellark and Gale Hawthorne compete for the affection of sexiest murderer on the planet. Within that saucy love triangle is the first thing I learned from The Hunger Games.

Men are constantly fighting over women, and women have no idea what they want from life except to survive.

Katniss could take a second to decide between Peeta and Gale, but much like her fellow Young Adult Lit heroine, Bella Swan of Twilight, she’s way too busy looking sad or trying to not get killed. Being sad takes up most of my day as it is, so I can’t even fathom having to add ‘getting eaten by wolves’ or ‘not stepping on a giant landmine’ to the docket. The decision to date Peeta or Gale isn’t even a decision to ‘date,’ as there’s no dating in Panem as far as I can tell. Attraction doesn’t come from which guy has the nicest car or most hair on his head. I’m fairly certain the decision-making goes a little something like this:

“I am likely going to die of starvation in the next 2 years. I better have a child so someone is around to inherit the tiny plot of land where I keep my stuff.”

Guys are pretty low on the totem pole, especially if they are both going to die soon too.

Love tends to take place between very attractive people.

When was the last time you saw two ugly folks hook up in a movie besides anything starring Joan Cusack? Exactly. The lead actors in The Hunger Games are smoking hot! It might sound sad to accept this lesson, but it actually frees me from worrying about whether I’ll have a successful relationship. I won’t, because I’m not hot enough. Case closed.

People pretend to love you.

We lie to each other constantly. I dated a girl who told me I didn’t look fat in stripes, but I knew. I knew I looked fat in stripes. She swore up and down that stripes were ‘complimentary to my figure.’ Thankfully, I had an honest friend who referred to me as a ‘grotesquely overweight Hamburglar.’ Honesty is the most necessary of virtues, but Katniss Everdeen is perfectly comfortable pretending to love Peeta in order to survive the Hunger Games. I don’t care if the whole world is watching. If I look fat, you better say so.

The rules of courtship are now dictated by women.

If a girl doesn’t have time to date you because she’s fighting for her survival in an elaborate reality TV show in the distant future, then a guy just needs to understand. Modern women are ambitious. They have their own lives and their own desires. Katniss sets the expectations in her love triangle.

As stated earlier, she’s a bit conflicted about who to choose, but she chooses on her own time. If your gal wants to hunt on the first date, then you do it without asking questions. Here we see the influence of feminist scholar and intellectual Sarah Palin on the 21st century woman. Not only will your sweetheart make your dinner, she will kill the animal, skin it and make you a coat from its fur. When dinner is over, she’s going to lead an uprising against her oppressive government, but she’ll also be thinking about you the whole time.

The best venue to admit you are in love with someone is on TV.

This should go without saying, but I will reiterate the obvious. Being noticed for being in love is more important than being in love. Facebook allows us to note our relationship status for our friends and potential friends to see whenever they choose. I appreciate being able to know which friends of mine are available and which aren’t. More importantly, I like everyone knowing I’m involved with someone. It sends a signal to the world saying “I am better than you. Someone loves me.” That’s why Peeta revealing his love for Katniss in public, on the air, was so astute. In essence, Peeta says to Panem:

“See this hot lady that can kill people with her bare hands? She’s all mine, so stay away.”

Who would want to hide that? That’s right, no one would. Granted, it takes Katniss forever to reciprocate his affection, but Peeta comes out the winner in this horserace. Self-centered displays of grandiose emotion are very modern and very hip. So, the last lesson to learn from The Hunger Games is…

We have no shame. TC mark

image – The Hunger Games

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  • http://twitter.com/beckisaysrawr Becki

    I think you’ve missed some of the deeper points on love, and all the other major themes, present in ‘The Hunger Games’. What about the sisterly love Katniss has for her sister, something so strong she is prepared to walk into an almost certain death situation to protect her? Also, it’s not about Katniss ‘choosing’ Gale or Peeta, like Bella has to ‘choose’ between Edward and Jacob. Katniss is more concerned with feeding her family and staying alive than who she wants for a boyfriend… everyone just jumps the gun because there is something of a love triangle present. There is so much more going on here, involving love and everything else.

    • Anonymous

      I’m not so much mocking Hunger Games as I am mocking society through the lens of its fiction.

      • http://twitter.com/beckisaysrawr Becki

        Fair enough, I just think using ‘The Hunger Games’ to comment on this
        particular aspect of society reduces it to a story about a love triangle when it’s so much more. Like when people start asking which ‘team’ you’re on… this story is so brilliant because it’s completely different to something like ‘Twilight’, only that’s the only thing people seem to want to compare it to.

      • Anonymous

        That’s true, but there’s a reason why people only want to compare it to Twilight. It’s because our culture is reductionist and simple-minded.

      • http://twitter.com/beckisaysrawr Becki

        The reason why texts such as Twilight are popular in the first place…

      • Anonymous

        Exactly.

  • Michaelwg

    As I read the Hunger Games, I cannot tell you how many times I thought “Ugh, this girl is everything I hate about women”

  • Erin

    I can appreciate the satire, but The Hunger Games teaches us so much about unconditional love, sacrifice, and survival. I guess you were trying to make it light and funny, but this series delves much deeper than a silly young adult story with a stupid love triangle. Katniss’ “decision” between Peeta and Gale is much more complex then you or any of these other articles floating the web make it out to be. Our culture needs more characters like Katniss, a strong, independent, and determined girl that takes no crap from the men in her life and does everything in her power to provide for herself and her family. I’m glad we have her, maybe she can start cleaning up after that atrocity Bella. 

    • LP

      That’s why dave said at the beginning of his post that the SUBplot is about Katniss choosing between Peeta and Gale. SUBPLOT. Calm yo’ tits.

  • Sammi

    Why are we getting onto “The Hunger Games” about most of these things? Aren’t these things about love present in most Hollywood flicks? Also, I feel that many of these items are taken out of context. Peeta confesses his love for Katniss on television as part of a strategy, though his feelings are true. Also, Katniss is pretty disgusted by this strategy and plays along to live. Is it wrong to put one’s own survival over another person’s romantic feelings? You make it sound like it is. “The Hunger Games” is NOT a story about romantic love, or what a healthy, successful relationship is. Anyone who uses it as a model for how to have a relationship has many other issues to sort out. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/anniehighleysmith Annie Highley-Smith

    Either Cusack, really.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363230138 Michael Koh

    hey guys when i’m hungry i find myself unable to love

  • Guest

    Final Lesson: You can’t make jokes about the Hunger Games without everyone freaking out. 

  • Ferfa10

    Hey I love the series but this was pretty fucking great!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QAEK5MDE7OIWSJVWW5MO3RRYXM WotcherTonks

    thanks for the spoiler right there at the end. much obliged as I just got to the last book in the series. 

    • Anonymous

      Wait…you didn’t know we all have no shame?

  • moony

    I love the hunger games and I love this article. Yes I’m probably going to name one of my children Cato ( I know he’s a baddy but come on it’s a cool name) and yes I will probably re read the series again and again but that doesn’t make this article any less valid or entertaining. Take this article for what it is, hilarious and ten move on with your lives.

    • Camille

      I’ll name my kid Clove, and then they can be best friends! The names are fantastic.

  • Anonymous

    Holy shit, who let the hunger games nerds out of their moms basement/sad midwestern homes?

  • jesse john

    I stopped reading after you called Joan Cusack ugly. for shame.

    • Anonymous

      I did too.

  • RG

    Reading The Hunger Games didn’t give me the same feeling when I read Twilight (Twilight is so lame I couldn’t even bear to start New Moon), rather, it felt like reading a small-scale version of Harry Potter. You know that there are so much more lying under a love triangle. There are a lot of values imbibed and not just the romantic love that society asks for. 

  • Sophia

    Whoa. When you compared The Hunger Games to Twilight, I got a little too indignant to enjoy the rest of the article.

    • Anonymous

      That WAS pretty rude of me.

  • http://twitter.com/Tiggeruth Ruth Morgan

     “I am better than you. Someone loves me.”   Hahaha, love it!

  • http://twitter.com/vickstahs Vicky Nguyen

    omfg nearly halfway down i read something that may have just ruined the hunger games. um. … warn a brother if you’re going to spoil the movie, christ.

  • http://junameeh.tumblr.com JM Yanoyan

    Gawd I love your sarcasm!

  • Danielle Karthauser

    I think the Hunger Games is story in between Twilight (I hate to admit that because I hate Twilight) and Harry Potter.  It has the emotional depth of HP and the adventure aspect.  Hunger Games is also it’s own novel in the sense that it uses elements from real life today (reality TV, government) and combines it with fantasy elements – which again is a lot like HP but both book series do this in quite opposite ways and both do it brilliantly.  As for the Hunger Games resembling Twilight, Katniss has to choose between two guys and at times, Katniss can be a bit stupid.  In fact, I find her to be an annoying narrator.  However, one comfort I find in these books is that while the love triangle resembles Twilight (never a good thing readers and writers!), the characters have personalities that exist outside their love life and this makes the story much more realistic and in broad terms, good. 
    I think the way you are looking at the Hunger Games and love is a bit too small minded.  After all, you are entirely basing your opinions off the movie it sounds like – and the movie seemed to assume most of the time that the audience had read the books.  Maybe you should read the books first and use your imagination before judging if the characters are good looking.  The characters in the film? – of course they are good looking!  That’s Hollywood talking.

  • eh

    Geeeee, are you sure you were watching the movie Hunger Games and not Twilight? You completely missed the point.

  • Josh Gondelman

    Thank you for teaching me how to love, David!

    • Anonymous

      I love you too, Josh!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jerica.chingcuangco Jerica Chingcuangco

    It’s probably also nice to have a make-out partner to keep your mind of the thoughts of imminent death or imminent murder. Katniss is practical too.

    This was so dry and sarcastic. I loved it.  :Db

    (And I still want to punch book!Peeta in the face. He’s the male Bella Swan, in the sense that his friggin life revolves around one person. War? Rebellion? I don’t care just let Katniss liiiive! Lemme die, no one loves me anyway! Katniss is my life!! Just, get a hobby.)

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