By GJ Frye
“The Hunger Games,” a movie based off a book written by Suzanne Collins, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie, is based in a post-apocaplyptic North America whose society has crumbled into a dystopian government called Panem. Panem is composed of 12 districts and the Capitol, under the leadership of a man named President Snow.
The world in which the people of District 12 live is one of desperation and hunger. But the title “The Hunger Games” comes not from the hunger they face, but from an annual event put on by the Capitol in which 24 teens are pitted against each other in a fight to the death. Every year during the games, each of the teenagers changes into what the Capitol expects them to become: bloodthirsty barbarians.
Prior to this year’s games, one character, says, “I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me.”
Peeta Mellark, though at first seeming like a modest baker’s son thrown into something way over his head, holds true to the values he has grown up believing and is one of the best examples of manhood we find in pop culture today.
Peeta is willing to do whatever it takes to save the heroine, Katniss. He had done so long before the Hunger Games began by giving her bread that saved her life. Bread for life. Bread of life. Hmm.
Peeta shows sacrificial love in his willingness to expose himself to his enemies in order to assure Katniss’s safety. He even shows his martyrdom for his cause in the end when he is willing to poison himself to be an example that people can defy the immoral ways of the Capitol.
Throughout the story Peeta takes hit after hit but he doesn’t do it alone. He doesn’t try to be fiercely independent. He learns to depend on Katniss for protection and support.
A true man is not found in the likes of James Bond who fights to the bone in order to advance his agenda. No, a true man is found in the likes of Peeta Mellark who puts others before himself in all situations and cares more about preserving his character and his values than preserving his life.
He seems to intrinsically understand that by losing his life, he will ultimately be gaining it.
To find an example of such a man in a world where everyone must think of themselves in order to survive is remarkable. Because Peeta has a counter-cultural lifestyle, he becomes an even better description of how manhood should be embraced.
All of what Peeta does is something deeper than the traditional male hero role, because Katniss is perfectly capable of protecting herself. Peeta could easily evaluate the situation and see that Katniss would be fine without his help and turn from her, but he doesn’t. Because of his love for her, he wants the best for her. Because he acted first, she learned to care for and love him.
To many, “The Hunger Games” may seem to be a sci-fi epic or tangled love story centered around a girl on fire. But to me, this is a story that proves the manhood portrayed by the life of Jesus Christ is not lost on our culture. It is merely hidden in the outer districts waiting to shine through in the most unexpected situations.