“Hunger Games” obviously must be a great work of art. The proof is in its record-breaking receipts this weekend. That IS the way we judge such matters, isn’t it?
Without disdainfully dismissing the question with tales of great artists who have died penniless, let’s consider for a moment why cinema such as Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and The Matrix are ringing up such hot ticket sales. Especially with the young. Its noun “hunger” is for me really a verb which cracks the question wide open. Modern western society hungers — desperately so — for someones and somethings to help fill that aching, empty feeling in our collective gut.
Empty gut in the midst of such glorious glut…? How can that be…?
Well, here’s how. Man really does not live by bread alone. We need more. Want more. Seek more. The proof is in the sour pudding of so many rich and successful celebrities looking for fresh fulfillment from everything from fast cars to fast women to faraway gurus. They — we — are always looking for something. The irony is, always just after we have at long last “have everything.”
What’s this sad, old plot have to do with today’s bright, new cinema? Damn near everything, because these film fantasies sweep us up into the one thing our modern scientific age has taken away: Magic! The magic of wonder and power and heroics and destinies so beyond our own Earth bound limitations that they allow us long forbidden thoughts of gods and immortality and eternal rewards.
Religious cynics like Bill Maher like to scoff: “Crazy dreams by herds of illiterate sheep herders from thousands of years ago!” You just may have a point, Bill. Because, you see, people have always had crazy dreams of something more to their existence than just their existence. To some of us, it seems that magic apparently still sells tickets. And, more important, still lights up hearts.
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