Weird press releases: How ‘Hunger Games’ is about the opposite of what it’s about

Weird press releases: When you have the word editor in your title, the laws of physics somehow provide for an automatic onslaught of email press releases. Of course the law of always getting the Special Treatment,  means that the majority of them have nothing to do with your job.

Today’s haul brought in this curiosity, with the subject line “Interview Opp: The Hunger Games – Too Violent for Children.” Let’s fisk!

The Hunger Games – Too Violent for Children

Guest Opportunity: Lyss Stern, Parenting Expert, Founder and CEO of Divalysscious Moms, New York’s Premier Network that influences over 380,000 Women

No, you don’t want to know what “Divalysscious Moms” is. I didn’t know that I didn’t want to know what it was when I googled it:

I’m gonna have to disinfect my brain’s aesthetic cortex when I get home.

“You here to finish me off, sweetheart?” This is just one of many lines that demonstrate the violence in the movie, The Hunger Games.

I’ll be honest: I haven’t read “The Hunger Games,” nor have I seen the movie — although I’d like to do both eventually. But from what I’ve heard, this particular line of dialogue is a weak way to make this particular point. Why not go with a description of an unnecessarily violent visual from the film? Or maybe the twitchy loons behind this press release are like me: Maybe they’ve only seen the trailer.

Based on the extremely popular series of books, this movie naturally appeals to girls 12 and older, but what message is it sending young children? For parents who are concerned about what their children watch, Lyss Stern can tell them what they need to know about this violent blockbuster flick.

I’ve read a few articles about “The Hunger Games” recently that have given me the distinct impression that the entire thinly veiled point of the story is that our exploitative media culture is brutal and morally bankrupt. The allegory relies on a comparison with the forced participation of teenage citizens of a dystopian future America in a televised battle to the death. So the violence is intended to disgust the audience. Everyone seems to agree that the violence in the book wasn’t gussied up and glamorized for film, but kept barbaric and unpleasant.

But sure, I guess that’s a terrible message to impart on kids these days.

“As a parent to young children and an aunt to Tween nephews, despite all the positive “hype” around this movie, I find the message in this movie downright scary. Someone needs to tell Hollywood that these movies are not for tweens and teenagers.” – Lyss Stern

“Tween” doesn’t need to be capitalized, and “hype” certainly doesn’t need to be in quotation marks, given that it’s neither a quotation nor a novel use of the word. And even if it did need quotation marks, nested as it within a larger quotation, they’d need to be ‘single quotes.’

All I’m saying is copyedit your press releases people. The press is full of assholes like me and we are not interested in your typo-ridden drivel.

Lyss Stern is ready to address The Hunger Games by answering the following questions:

« What types of messages is this movie sending?

I’m not sure what this question is asking. Is this a suggestion that interested parties might ask about how to categorize the assorted varieties of messages this films is sending? Or is it a poorly worded attempt to convey that the messages themselves are worth asking about, rather than the message types, as the wording implies?

« How can this movie impact young and impressionable children?

If this press release never says anything, preferring instead to stick with paranoid rhetorical questions, what could Lyss Stern’s real intent be?

« What can parents do to protect their children from the impact of violence portrayed in the movie?

Well, you could just forbid them from seeing it. Or you could act like an intelligent, considerate parent and discuss the violence with them to make sure that the film’s attempt to portray violence in a bad light gets through to them.

« Can there be long-term effects if children are allowed to view this type of violence?

Again with the types! I guess one long-term effect of being allowed to view this particular type of violence might be that they’ll have an aversion to violence.

The jury is definitely still out on this type of question, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Stern’s answer is an emphatic and panicky, “Yes!”

« Given the violence portrayed in the movie, are the books any safer?

They’re probably more dangerous! We all know that ready edgy fiction leads naïve children down the path of nonconformity!

Meet Lyss Stern

Gosh, I’d rather not.

« Oversees 380,000 well-heeled New Yorkers through her blog, making Lyss the “go-to trendsetter” for brands like Juicy Couture, FAO Schwarz, Today Show, and CNBC.

I demand to know who called her the “go-to trendsetter” and whether that person was actually referring to all of the following: “Juicy Couture, FAO Schwarz, Today Show, and CNBC.”

« Founder and President of the influential DIVALYSSCIOUS MOMS – New York’s Premier Social Network for Women.

Lies. I’ve looked at this website — never mind that I wish I hadn’t — and it’s not a social network. Nor did the site’s designer accidentally have CAPSLOCK on when they created the site’s logo, as the author of this press release apparently did.

« Author of “If You Give a Mom a Martini: 100 Ways to Find 10 Blissful Minutes for Yourself.”

Jesus Christ.

, , , , , ,

3 Responses to Weird press releases: How ‘Hunger Games’ is about the opposite of what it’s about

  1. lyss stern April 13, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Hi David,
    Could you please call me at 917-601-0068 or email me at
    Thank you very much.
    Lyss Stern

  2. Friar Yid April 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

    I saw the movie yesterday, so this is a rare moment where I’m vaguely qualified to comment on the cultural zeitgeist. While the violence *might* be pushing the boundaries of PG-13, it’s definitely nowhere near what you see in your average R action flick Some blood, some bodies, etc. I was more bothered by the silly romance that my wife says we’re supposed to know is for the in-movie audience’s benefit but which the movie seemed to also want us to buy into anyway.

    I cannot think of a single incident in the movie where violence is glamorized. The first forty-five minutes shows a people totally subjugated by a totalitarian regime that almost had me in tears (some eerie parallels to the beginning of Schindler’s List with the lining up and registering of folks). From there we see a morally bankrupt capitol city that gets off on these child death matches every year. Once actually in the games themselves, the violence is quick and brutal, reminiscent of Lord of the Flies. Most of the people doing the killing are bullies and thugs that no audience member has any sympathy for. When the good guys do kill, they either feel conflicted or do it purely as a means of surviving the immediate situation. They aren’t having fun.

    The easiest answer to this kerfluffle is, as you said, David, to talk to your older children before you let them go off and consume media. As for younger children, isn’t that the whole point of the rating system in the first place?

    • David A.M. Wilensky April 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Yid!

      P.S. As for the utility of MPAA ratings, I highly recommend “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” a documentary about how the rating system works. (Or doesn’t work, as this irreverent film concludes.)