Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Do You Pity Seneca Crane?

Full disclosure: here there be spoilers. Specifically, regarding The Hunger Games--the first novel and the first movie of the series. If you haven't enjoyed either or both of these, may I first suggest that you do, and second ask how you get such an excellent internet connection beneath that rock?


I can't say why, exactly, but I've been rather taken with the film adaptation of 'The Hunger Games,' lately.

When I first saw this film in theatres, I was...disappointed. I was expecting thunderous showers of tears, and it just didn't deliver for me. I felt like they cast it perfectly, but put too little focus on the biggest moments.

Gale is angry at the Capital because they, like, suck. Katniss meets Rue, hangs out with her, and watches her die for, like...five seconds. Peeta threw some bread at Katniss, once, in the rain, I guess. Cinna's nice to Katniss, which is a big deal, because...uh...Oh, and Katniss and Peeta end with nothing but fuzzy happy friend-kiss feelings for each other.

They didn't even disclose the symbolism of the Mockingjay pendant, which they could have done with a throw-away line. For crying out loud. That's a little bit important. I mean, it's the title of the next friggin' book. It's Katniss' identifier. It is the symbol of the resistance that was punished with the existence of the Hunger Games. Oh, and Peeta's leg? The one that's totally fine in the movie but gets injuried off in the book? That's rather important, too. It results in an alliance and a death and an imprisonment.

Rather. Important.

But, as I said, for whatever reason it strikes me harder now. The film, I mean. The novel is soul-scratching perfection.

I've watched the movie a couple of times in the last couple of days, and it gags me all up with feels. Clearly there is something medically wrong with me.

But, at long last, on to the meat of this post:

Do you pity Seneca Crane?

Seneca, as you should well know, is the man responsible for designing and producing the Hunger Games at the time Katniss is reaped into them. He has been doing this for a few years, and is not only good and theatrical about it, but takes pride in what he does. Namely, setting up death traps for children and recording them for the world to see.

He has flair. He has a talent for controlling people, which may be involved with his sweet face-curly-beard-thing. What he's doing is so morally wrong that the kids who have trained their entire lives in order to kill other kids who have no choice in being there still come off as being his victims. In the end, he is outwitted by Katniss (and Peeta, I suppose), and is forced into letting them both live. He loses his life as punishment for failing to...not do that.

It is a testament to the mad skizills of authoress Collins that I feel great sympathy for this jackass.

See, Seneca's original crime is no different from that of any of the Hunger Games tributes: he was born in a stupid, jacked-up world with a despot leader. He, like the 'Career' tributes, has spent his entire life being told that this is the way the world is: what is happening is good, right, and exciting. In the film, we see little kids getting Hunger Games gifts--toy swords and the like, which they gleefully chase one another with, pretending to be like the actual young people they are soon going to watch slaughter one another.

One of the things that irks me the most about the bajillion dystopian novels that rode in on The Hunger Games' coattails was the fact that main characters were horrified by the horrors of their world because...because! It's awful!

The thing is, if that's your world, if that's the way the universe has functioned throughout the entirety of your life (and your parents' lives, and their parents' lives), you don't magically know better. Having modern-day sensibilities mysteriously planted in the minds of people who exist in a different time and place just bugs me right out.

Does that mean a person can't learn? Of course not. Seneca could have--should have--realized that what was going on was maybe not okay enough to make it his profession. But he is so brain washed to the idea, the only problems that he perceives as actual problems have to do with ratings. Seneca believes that he is on the right side in a fight that doesn't really have a wrong side. He doesn't learn fast enough, and it costs him his life.

Obviously, I don't pity him as much as I do, say, Rue. Or any of the other kids who lose their lives because of a war that happened decades before they were born. But I still sorry for Seneca. He's punished before he fully comprehends that he has done anything wrong. That ignorance makes him pitiable.

And pity lingers longer than black-and-white hatred. Much like the entire Hunger Games trilogy.

Well played, Authoress Collins. Well played.

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