The book and film versions of The Hunger Games have had some positive effects on teenage fan’s behavior. But social scientists Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan point out that such popularity can cut both ways.
How The Hunger Games Is Influencing Our Culture
By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan, M.D., Ph.D.
If you’ve read The Hunger Games series, you know that the books are suspenseful, intense, and hard to put down. And if you’ve seen the movies, you know that they are just as powerful and imaginative. While the books and movies are fun and entertaining, looking deeper, The Hunger Games and other movies like it are affecting our culture in different ways. NPR has documented an increased interest in archery, especially among girls, since The Hunger Games was released. Store owners have had a hard time keeping recurve bows (the same kind of bows used by Katniss in The Hunger Games) in stock; and membership in USA Archery has doubled in the last two years.
Media has real effects on our culture. The increase of interest in archery because of The Hunger Games is just one simple example.
1. It is easy to deny negative effects of media on behavior, but have no problem embracing it when it’s positive. Sure, when we see something good happening as a result of video games, movies, or television, we get excited. We celebrate technological advancements and look at how they can help us learn, or how they help our brains work better and faster. But we cannot deny that there are also very negative effects as well. One example is body image. Young girls especially look up to models and actresses on television; they idolize their looks, their images, and how much they weigh, and those images are engrained on their minds. Many girls believe that the images they see on TV represent reality, when in fact, they aren’t always correct or accurate. In the case of The Hunger Games, it could be said that it’s great that kids are taking interest in learning archery. That’s true – taking interest in new activities is good. But are kids idolizing the images they see in the movie? Has it begun to alter their real life awareness?
2) The influence of media is similar what in gaming is called the “Tetris Effect.” The more media you take in, the more it becomes absorbed into your mind. Media, especially violent media, is something that your brain doesn’t easily forget – especially if you are watching it day in and day out for hours at a time. It becomes engrained into your memory. Soon, you’re opening yourself up to an increase in aggression and an altered reality.
3) It’s hard to accept that violent media and games increase violent tendencies, yet it’s easy to enthusiastically welcome that pro-social media and gaming increase socially acceptable behaviors. It’s easy to not want to admit that violent media increases violent tendencies in real life, especially when combined with mental illness, personality disorders, and the like. Social gaming and media can surely have positive effects; and of course, not everyone is going to react negatively to media intake. But denying that violent media is harmful to behavior is not good for anyone. Consider your media intake and how it affects your reality. Are you seeing positive or negative effects after gaming or seeing movies?
Video game, technology, and media addiction is very real. For more information, visit hookedongames.com.
For a video explaining the “Tetris Effect,” click here.