To no one’s surprise, it’s now official that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has more than just fervent young-adult appeal, having made $158 million in its opening weekend. Those figures mean that parents are also seeing the movie in droves.
But what, really, does the PG-13 series have to offer adults? Isn’t it just a do-or-die competition among children?
As it turns out, Catching Fire is much more than you might have thought and in fact provides five poignant, teachable moments that you can share with your teen this holiday season.
1. The Importance of Caring About the Greater Good
Although once motivated primarily by the survival of those few closest to her, Katniss finds out that the districts of Panem are in far greater peril from the endless power of the Capitol than she ever knew. As one of the victors of the last Games, Katniss gets to see beyond the walls of her district and learns that poverty, oppression and subjugation are the rules of the land. She soon realizes that her status means more than just the survival of her family, it also means that the oppressed might have hope to survive. Teens often seem a bit in their own bubble of school, friends and technology. Katniss can help serve as an example of “the power of one” to the world.
2. Have a Strong Sense of Right Versus Wrong
In her second go-round, Katniss realizes that she does not blindly have to do what is expected of her. The choice is hers alone. Katniss’ expanded sense of morality might help breach the topic (especially for young teens) of peer influence in making decisions.
3. Become Stronger Than What Haunts You
The seemingly strong Katniss is literally, and repeatedly, brought to her knees by traumatic memories from the last Games. Kids can be very affected by bad experiences, as they often don’t have a large repertoire of coping strategies. Katniss powers through her haunted memories and uses them as fuel to get through the Arena. Discuss how to make upsetting issues an experience to grow from or put to use.
4. Cooperation Is Better Than Narcissism
At first in Catching Fire, Katniss wants to team only with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and not ally with any other players. As she soon learns, other tributes have special skills that may make survival a possibility, and cultivating allegiances may have great positive effects. Katniss’ choice to expand her circle provides a golden opportunity for parents to teach teens to interact socially beyond what's familiar. Expanding social circles (at school, in clubs, at home) can help teens in times of trouble or discord.
5. The End Doesn’t Justify the Means
In the Games, tributes must kill each other by whatever means necessary. Katniss opts out of killing by remembering, as Peeta reminds her, “who the real enemy is.” She serves as a good reminder for teens to keep their eyes on the prize when it comes to achieving a goal, but emphasize that reaching it by “any means necessary” is not the moral way to go.
What say you, parents? Would Katniss be a great role model in your house?