Earlier this week I went with my wife and sister-in-law to watch the movie ‘The Hunger Games’ based on a novel by Suzanne Collins. Honestly, I wasn’t excited about seeing it. I don’t read much fiction. I don’t have children who may be interested in the series of books written by Collins. It seemed like I was about to participate in another fad.
The movie was intense. It was exciting. It gripped me. It had me thinking. I’ve heard the books are better (as is often the case).
I’ve seen a few of the Twilight movies (which I don’t like) and a few from the Harry Potter series (which I found more enjoyable). I haven’t read any of the books. After watching the film I read an article somewhere discussing the success of Collins, Stephenie Meyer who authored the Twilight books, and J.K. Rowling who authored the Harry Potter series. These three women have written the most popular book series in recent memory. As impressive is the fact that these three series has produced some of the highest grossing films in Hollywood with some of the biggest opening weekends, ever!
That is secondary though. What I want to know is what do they really have in common. Gender? Yes. Success? Yes. Book series to movies? Yes. A ton of money to spend now? Of course.
All these things are worth exploring, but they seem secondary to the basic reality that they are producing stories that people want to hear.
Some may point to Twilight as a rebuke of our society, but Harry Potter and The Hunger Games seem a bit more sophisticated. Twilight and Harry Potter are building on the familiar figures of vampires and magicians, so it can’t be pure originality (not to deny that there is much originality in their stories).
I find it fascinating that these books are directed toward younger audiences, yet loved by adults as well.
In a world of “the New Atheist” we are seeing an surge in the fantastic, the imaginary, the magical. Why?
I don’t know that I have an answer, but I do wonder what it is about mythology that rings so true to people (maybe The Hunger Games is more Sci-Fi?) and tells them the stories they want to hear.
What do you think it is that has drawn people to the stories told by Rowling, Meyer, and Collins? Are there any unifying similarities or is it coincidence?