So last night my friend messaged me a link to a description of a brand new reality show called Capture with her added tag “Real Hunger Games.” Before I got a chance to read the description, I was slightly worried that we were letting people kill each other on TV now and calling it entertainment. Here’s the description:
In the wild, you are either the hunter or you are the prey. Twelve teams of two are about to enter the Hunting Grounds, a high-tech wilderness compound, where they must live in primitive conditions for one month in a winner-take-all battle to survive. At the mercy of the Game Master, the teams compete against each other for scarce resources and a $250,000 grand prize. Each week, different teams are designated as the Hunters. The teams being hunted are living on limited rations and wearing high-tech equipment that forces them to stay constantly on the move, making hunger and exhaustion very real problems. Additional food can be found at the Supply Station, but since the Hunters may have the area staked out at any time, a visit to the Station is extremely risky. Emotions run high and sabotage is common as the teams all work to stay on the move and out of the range of the Hunters. The individual teams work through the tension and tough conditions, but relationships are often pushed to the breaking point. Meanwhile, the Hunters are using strategy and the latest GPS technology to track down the other teams and tag them by activating a pulsating device known as the Talon. When the Hunters have two teams in captivity, the rest of the competitors will vote on who stays and who goes. As the teams are eliminated, the Game Master also continuously decreases the size of the playing field, making hiding places even scarcer for those who remain. In this sophisticated game of cat-and-mouse, only one team will prevail to walk away with the $250,000 prize.
— via The CW
No one dies. And there is fancy GPS and whatnot for the “hunters.” The similarities are prevalent, however. There are “Game Masters” and a “Supply Station” that are both freakishly reminiscent of the books. And the environment seems similar. Sure, these contestants aren’t fighting for their lives. They also aren’t children forced to play by the government. But we are still getting entertainment and enjoyment out of suffering and betrayal. The problem for me? It sounds really interesting.
If you read The Hunger Games and thought, “Man that would make good T.V.,” I think it’s pretty safe to say you missed the point. I can’t help but feel like a Capitol sell-out as I read that description. I know that when I read about the Hunger Games day camp, I was disgusted but again, kind of fascinated. Would it be fun to pretend to be in that world? But it seems way inappropriate to teach kids how to kill each other even in a simulated world. And yes, the contestants in this adult version are grown ups who have chosen to participate, but why on Earth do we get entertained by people who are starving and putting them self in the direct path of some emotional drama.
Why is violence and deceit so interesting to our culture. Is that ok? Probably not. The Hunger Games trilogy is somewhat of a cultural cautionary tale in addition to being an action packed dystopian YA novel. Somehow it got turned into a desirable thing, though. I remember watching the movie in a packed theater and the 12-yr-olds CHEERED during the reaping scene. As the characters were crying about being sent to their almost certain deaths, these young people were clapping. I guess I played war when I was a kid, although it was always against an invisible enemy. It was based more around my fake survival than someone else’s fake death. Maybe culture has always been this way. I mean entertainment via the Colosseum was a similar deal. Still it disturbs me what this book has become. The Hunger Games‘ startling parallels were always scary and compelling to me… not adventurous and compelling.