Monday, December 17, 2012


I was disappointed with reaction from some of the comics and sf fans' base to the film of THE HUNGER GAMES.  I couldn't believe that they wanted to know why Katniss didn't just use her forestry and bow skills to kill everybody else and win.  That she didn't was the whole point of the story.  Just killing and winning - which would have meant taking out Rue and Peeta herself - would have been giving the Capitol what they wanted, a new champion and the continuation of the Games.  She wouldn't have been a heroine at all, and I don't think the books would have sold as phenomenally well as they did.  She made the powers that be do things her way, and that's why she is a heroine.  A hero/ine doesn't just go along for the ride, she shakes up the status quo.

There is a sad trend in popular sf and fantasy to portray violence as the only means of resolving conflicts.  You can see it reflected in shooter video games and action and zombie movies to name a few.  The enemy is faceless and nonhuman so it's ok to kill them.  That's the only way to survive.  Peace is never an option.  You can't negotiate with the Flood or the Heartless or the Darkspawn or the undead.  Even the new STAR TREK movies are about blowing up supervillains; the tv series strove to resolve confrontations peacefully, but that doesn't make good action movies.  Neil Degrasse Tyson said, "If you carry around a hammer, all problems begin to look like nails."

Please note that I am not saying that violent video games or movies cause violence or hate  -  people like Osama bin Laden, Adolph Hitler and Fred Phelps did not grow up playing video games.  But it reflects and reinforces the already existing feeling that our perceived enemies are not like us, fags or ragheads or gooks or Jews or infidels or whatever hate words are being used.  It's a mental state that's been with us since prehistory but it's one that we can survive without.  A while ago the government had a leaked plan for how to survive climate change or the loss of natural fuels, land or water.  It was all about Resource Wars, fighting over them. Nothing about any sharing or cooperation between nations so that everybody lives.  Even the Klingons had a proverb: "Only a fool fights in a burning house." A lot of sf/fantasy from Trek to comic books used to be above that kind of thinking.

And now we have drone weapons that you can kill with impersonally without ever seeing your victims' faces.  Remember how outraged you feel when some sick shooter in Colorado or Connecticut kills innocent men, women and kids?  Happens all the time in places like Pakistan, and we can't understand why they hate us.

Today's heroes are a violent lot.  Superheroes used to have a personal code against killing.  They won as often as not by outsmarting the bad guys - not just by being meaner and harder.  In the scene above Green Lantern proved Sinestro (the red guy for non comics fans) wrong by sealing him in a big green bubble (hey, it's a comic book; point was, GL didn't kill him.  It's no more unbelievable than Batman dodging assault weapons fire or Wolverine carving up a hundred ninjas.) 

The idea that enemies are not like us so we have to kill them is something the human race needs to put behind us. The only ones who profit are the political hawks and religious fanatics who use it to send people to fight their wars and the rich who only want to carve up what's left.  Why, as some would have Katniss do, give them what they want?