The Hunger Games and typical brodudes

Posted: March 22, 2012 in Film, Literature, Teaching
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Modern Primate just published my short piece “(dis-)Regarding the Twilightization of The Hunger Games,” and I wanted to just add a few thoughts on the stereotypical young men like the redditor I mentioned.   He wrote:

“I feel like a couple months ago I heard about girls picking up the book once they saw the previews. Which is fine, same thing happened with twilight. The whole OMG I TOTALLY HAVE TO READ THE BOOK BEFORE I WATCH THE MOVIE, was annoying, but only girls were doing it so I just ignored it. Same thing started happening with the hunger games. Fine, whatever I don’t care I can just ignore it.

Fast forward to last night, I go out to a bar with my friends and we are all just talking, and every single person, including the guys, were talking about the hunger games. Everyone is making sure they have read the first book before they go watch the movie tomorrow at midnight. WTF? I apologize if the hunger games is your ultimate favorite book, but how did this craze happen? Guys that I hang out with that honestly go out drinking and barely pick up their books to study, I’m a college student, are now making sure they read the hunger games before they go see the movie. Please tell me I’m not the only one who doesn’t understand what in the world is going on. I feel alone in a sea of hunger games.”

While I guess I sort of feel for him being all outcast (not really), it’s his own damn fault for not at least looking into why people might care about these books and the film, and attributing the initial popularity to something that girls are into and get all excited about.  Obviously there are problems with how media gets gendered by producers of media, as well as fans, which I won’t get into now, and I’m actually more than okay with being into a lot of stereotypical “guy” things.  However, the root problem here is simple ignorance and laziness.  I mean, he can’t even do his own research and figure it out . . . instead he asks this pressing question to reddit and obsessively refreshes the page for answers.

I raise this issue of ignorance and laziness with regard to media because it is a pretty typical, simplistic, and close-minded position for young men to take that seems (at least in my experience) far less common in young women.  Correct me if I’m wrong on that latter bit, but when I teach fiction many of the honest assessments I get out of typical college brodudes seem to imply that: “unless it expressly produced for and marketed to young, hetero- males like me, I will claim to dislike and ridicule it because it is one of those things [insert other demographic] like.”  This generalized young man goes into class assuming he’ll like (maybe even love), say, the Batman comics I teach (usually does), but he also thinks he’ll hate (and probably not bother to read) Ursula Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest, which I have to go out of my way to emphasize (before we start reading) is a book about rebellion and war similar to that heap of crap Avatar for him to think, “maybe it won’t suck?”  If I were to characterize the book differently, I’m guessing his response upon finishing it might change.

Obviously this is an issue applicable to all media genres that I’m just considering in a certain, unstructured way, but the really troublesome part for me as a teacher is the lack of initiative and inquiry as to why people like a thing.  It also raises the question for me: how much do I actually feel I have to “set up” texts, much less select them, for the typical young males in class to even tune in?

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