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Hunger LAMES – This Film Was Made 12 Years Ago

By Erik Germ

I will not be reading or seeing the Hunger Games. It may be a cool book and Suzanne Collins may even be a competent writer. I won’t ever know. I’m sick of telling people I don’t support this series and them backing off as if I just told them I want to be the next Hitler.

 

Settle down everyone. It’s a book.

 

I dislike this buzz around this whole thing for the same reason I dislike Twilight: it is someone getting famous for writing something that has been done better already. I’m not even just being a dick for the sake of being a dick. This who phenomenon right now is straight up disrespectful to an author named Koushun Takami who wrote a novel in 1999 called Battle Royale. Please allow me to explain why I’m pissed off.

 

 

-BR-

Battle Royale takes place in a futuristic, alternate universe version of Japan, which is now a totalitarian state known as the Republic of Greater East Asia after society broke down.

-HG-

Hunger Games takes place in a future version of America, now called Panem, after society has broken down and is now run by the Capitol.

 

 Are you with me so far?

 

 -BR-

The youth in the Republic of Greater East Asia are so out of control and are constantly at odds with the regime. So much so that, as punishment, every year a class of middle school-aged children is chosen at random, gassed and taken to a remote island where they are forced to kill each other until only one is left.

-HG-

After a rebellion against the Capitol and resulting in the destruction of one of the 13 districts, the regime decides to punish their constituents by creating a lottery that picks school-aged children to fight against each other until only one remains.

 

 Hmm…

 

 -BR-

After finding out his friend is in love with him, our main character and a third student decide to work together to find a way out of the deadly game so that they may survive and bring revenge against the selfish establishment. One of the three dies while the star crossed lovers are victorious. But they are now outlaws who must constantly run and hide from authorities for the crimes they committed on the island.

 -HG-

After declaring his love for the main character, she and him team up with a third girl who all form an alliance and try to escape the games together. The third member of the team dies and the star crossed lovers are declared the winners and publicly announce their disapproval the Capitol. This rebellion puts a mark on their heads as possible political targets.

 

Ah. Ok. So is anything from the Hunger Games original? Maybe. Suzanne Collins claims to have not heard of Battle Royale until her book was turned in. Then, the New York Times said that “there are enough possible sources for the plot line that the two authors might well have hit on the same basic setup independently.” Oh really? If someone is the  world record holder for most snakes eaten in 30 seconds, then 12 years later someone breaks that record…yes, they both ate a lot of snakes independently. But that doesn’t change the fact that someone did it 12 years before that when it was an original idea. Forget that it’s now on a grander scale. You’ll always be known as the fucker who ate a bunch of snakes after someone did it first.

 

Everything about this pisses me off. Right down to the stupid main characters. Katniss and Peeta?  It’s like Collins looked around her apartment for character names and saw her cat pissing on the floor while Family Guy was on. And before you say the main characters in Battle Royale have stupid names, let me remind you Shuya and Noriko are Japanese. That’s like John and Nicole over there. So back off or they’ll make you back off.

 

I find it extra hard to believe that no one came up to Collins while she was writing this book and said “hey, this plot sounds a lot like an identical plot that came out 10 years ago. Maybe you should change some things around.” By that time, the film version of Battle Royale had won three Japanese Academy Awards of the nine it was nominated for. This was in 2001…7 years before Collins book was written. So it wasn’t some hidden thing that someone came out of the woodwork to claim she stole. We could even go as far back as the Running Man from 1987. That, too, involves a dystopian future where the main character enters a game to get food and medicine for his family. But I won’t because there are few similarities between Running Man and Battle Royale and I want to bring the BR similarities home here.

And the similarities are ridiculous. The entrants in Hunger Games are mentored by a former winner of the Hunger Games? Kind of like how Shuya and Noriko are mentored by a previous winner?

 

Wasn’t Woody Harrelson in Zombieland? Yea. Fuck him.

In the first night in Battle Royale, one student is stabbed in the head, one of the students monitoring collars explodes, killing him, one girl gets an arrow to the throat, another to his chest. Next, a group of 5 students are shot by the antagonist and two students decide not to participate and jump to their deaths. So that first night, 11 students die. How many died on the first night in the Hunger Games? 11? Holy shit! What a coincidence disgrace!

Only one student is supposed to survive Battle Royale. But it ends up that our two main characters found a way to win together. How many were supposed to win Hunger Games? … And how many ended up winning?…oh

Well in Battle Royale, the two main characters trick to government into thinking they were dead. What’s that? Katpiss and Peter Fuckswallow are about to fake their deaths by eating poison? …Hm.

Well, okay, how about this. After the first Battle Royale movie, Shuya rebels against the Republic and is forced into another special version of Battle Royale. This time with a new clas….wait. That happens in the second Hunger Games, too? Are you fucking with me?

Show me where Suzanne Collins lives. I’ve got a bone to pick.

 I think I’ve beaten this point into the ground. Point is, the Hunger Games is stupid and I have every right to hate it. Just as you have a right to read stupid books. Get off my nuts about not liking it.

7 Responses to Hunger LAMES – This Film Was Made 12 Years Ago

  • Stephen Kahn says:

    As a child and young adult, I read a lot of science fiction, including an abundance of dystopian fiction. As I grew older, I thought, “Oh, shit, looks like this stuff is coming true.” I now live on an island, in the woods, with chickens, a garden, and hungry coyotes waiting for me to collapse as I split wood. I was looking for a reason not to read or watch The Hunger Games.. Thank you.

  • Jusbucky says:

    Haven’t seen the film havent read the book, but this observation is priceless. You my find have gained a reader. Touché

  • Interesting. If I ever see the movie, I’ll have to impress my friends with the similarities to BR.

  • Drew says:

    I don’t disagree with you about the obvious plot similarities, there are a lot of them. I do disagree with dismissing a movie/book for that reason alone.

    Striking similarities in plot happen in movies, books and TV shows all of the time. If you dismiss every idea because it’s a lot like something that already came out, you miss out on a lot of good fiction. You can make the same synopsis argument with tons of films. Most recently I’ve been hearing a lot of “The Lion King is just Hamlet” and “Avatar is just Pocahontas.” I’m not sticking up for Hunger Games here, I don’t think it’s worthy of all of the praise its getting, I just don’t think that it deserves to be criticized simply because it’s kind of like Battle Royale.

    And since when did being like Battle Royale become a bad thing? I freaking loved that movie, and if you say the words “it’s a lot like Battle Royale” you’ve pretty much sold me on the book/film already. That’s exactly why I read The Hunger Games in the first place. I certainly don’t think that the book should be praised for it’s originality, but it’s different enough from Battle Royale that it can stand as it’s own work of fiction and not just an american remake.

    You also can’t really make the argument that The Hunger Games is somehow stealing Battle Royale’s thunder. Battle Royale was pretty poplar in Japan (as you point out it even won a few awards), and that was 11 years ago. Sure, it was never hugely popular in the US, but it was also never released for US audiences, and I think that was for good reason too. If Battle Royale had a wide theatrical release in the US it probably wouldn’t have gotten anything less than an X rating without substantial editing (it’s a lot more gruesome than The Hunger games which dances around a lot of the violence). Even if it did somehow manage an R rating without ruining the film many American audiences would have been too distracted by the stuff that’s sort of lost in translation. Again, I love Battle Royale, but you have to admit that there are a lot of really weird Japanese parts of that film (eating ice cream with the teacher? What the fuck was that shit?) I just don’t think Battle Royale could ever have done well in a wide US release, so I don’t think The Hunger Games is really stealing anything from it’s predecessor.

    One piece of praise that has to be given to The Hunger Games is this: It may be the first franchise to ever have the highest grossing film, best selling book, and best selling album (the soundtrack) all at the same time. I haven’t ever been able to find another franchise to achieve that. So, The Hunger Games has to be doing something right, even if it is just writing something 13 year old girls REALLY like.

    Sorry for the essay, I guess my point is just that, even though Battle Royale is a whole lot better, The Hunger Games can’t be dismissed simply because they’re similar.

    • Kdogprime says:

      It’s very hard not to dismiss the similarities between the two books. The plots are so close as to be exactly the same. Why would you read one when you’ve read the other?

      Battle Royale may very well have gotten the same recognition if it had been promoted internationally by a major publisher. But Western publishing houses have an annoying tendency to ignore anything that doesn’t come from the US or Europe, because of “cultural divides” that might make the plot too difficult for their primary target consumer countries (Europe and North America) to comprehend. Which is stupid. Obviously Battle Royale would have done very well with American readers, because Hunger Games did.

  • Sallie says:

    Thank you for pointing out the similarities between these two movies, you’ve done it much better than I ever could and I wish I could share this on Facebook!

    • Garchomp445 says:

      You can very easily share this on facebook in two ways. You could either copy it, then paste it, or, preferably, you could share the url or a link, along with your own personal comments. But do not forget what our kind friend Drew said above you and use this article to condemn the books or the movie(s).

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