Unfortunately, there seems to be a pretty blatant anti-hunting scene in the new ‘Hunger Games’ film. Or is it?
When “The Hunger Games” was first released in 2012 I am pretty sure hunters around the globe rejoiced. They now had a young, pretty protagonist in pop culture who hunted. This was big. More often than not, hunting is negatively portrayed in Hollywood, especially in children’s movies. That is why the young adult series “The Hunger Games” is so important to portray hunting and archery in the media.
I, like most of the rest of the world, love Katniss Everdeen. I am always eager to see the movies mostly because Jennifer Lawrence is just so damn likable. So when I went to see “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” I was surprised at a pretty blatant anti-hunting scene.
Katniss Everdeen, before participating in the Hunger Games, lived in District 12 where she and her friend Gale illegally bowhunted game to provide sustenance for their families. The first movie shows some great archery scenes, representing hunting in a positive light.
That is why in the newest movie I was a bit shocked at a scene where Katniss and Gale go hunting in District 13. They are given permission by President Coin to go afield and try their hand at hunting the area. The two are excited to bring back some game to eat, as they are sick of the bland military food served in the District 13 bunkers. Katniss comes face-to-face with a beautiful elk, draws her arrow and then the camera slowly zooms into the elk’s face as it looks directly at her. She slowly unstrings her bow. The elk and Katniss have a moment. As I was watching, all I could think was, “Damn, that is a pretty strong anti-hunting message.”
It seemed to me that the message being conveyed was that through all the killing Katniss has witnessed in the distopian world of “Panem” made her not want to kill herself.
Gale looks at her incredulously as she turns from the elk. But then Katniss has a pretty good reason as to why she didn’t take the shot.
She tells Gale she can’t shoot the elk because it isn’t afraid of her. No one has ever hunted the animals in District 13 so instead of chasing game, the animals just came right up to them. She tells Gale that she couldn’t shoot something that didn’t run from her.
In the end, this wasn’t an anti-hunting message at all. It actually is a pretty powerful pro-hunting message. Because isn’t that what we want? The game of pursuit? It’s not rewarding if your venison just comes right up to you. Katniss did the right thing and there is a bigger, real-life conversation to be had from this moment.
I think this scene is a subtle critique at the way we get food in the modern era. Only a very select few are hunters and gatherers like Katniss Everdeen. People in modern times don’t have to hunt for their food; it metaphorically and literally is just delivered to us.
So should we still take the shot when our food isn’t scared of us anymore?