I'm going to throw out some titles, and you tell me what they have in common, okay? Lord of the Flies. The Catcher in the Rye. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. A Wrinkle in Time. The Hunger Games.
If you guessed that these books have all been banned from schools and libraries, you're correct. This year, The Hunger Games joined the American Library Association's list of "most challenged books" -- i.e., books that have caused people to issue formal complaints asking that the offensive material be removed from public access. Believe it or not, The Hunger Games is so controversial, it's become the third most challenged book in America.
Being as how it's officially Banned Books Week, I've got a great idea for how to celebrate! Unfortunately, it'll require you to slap on your devil horns, fire up your cuss-hole, and toss your family values into the gutter.
That's assuming you agree with why The Hunger Games has been so controversial, of course. According to the reasons cited by the Office for Intellectual Freedom (which sounds, ironically enough, like something out of 1984), Hunger Games has been reported as anti-ethnic, anti-family, and filled with insensitivity, offensive language, occult/satanic content, and violence.
Okay, I'll concede on the violence thing ... but wow, anti-family? SATANIC?
(Awesomely, the next most challenged book is something called My Mom's Having a Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy. One of the reasons? Nudity. Haaaaaa. COVER UP THEM VAGINERS WHEN YOU'RE BIRTHIN BABIES, WIMMIN!)
It's become something of a badge of honor for an author to be included on a banned books list, and given The Hunger Games' books sales to date (it recently outsold the entire Harry Potter series on Amazon), I doubt Suzanne Collins is wringing her hands over the controversy.
Still, it's nice to see public libraries supporting the title. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, one Texas library put together a series of awesome Hunger Games-themed posters to raise awareness about censorship. Check them out:
Personally, I think it's nuts that Hunger Games is on that list -- but then again, I think the entire idea of the list is crazy. (Note that Barbara Ehrenreich's eye-opening Nickel and Dimed was on there in 2010, for having a "political viewpoint.")
Therefore, I suggest that those of us who loved The Hunger Games celebrate Banned Books Week by re-reading the series. Remember how anti-family it is, what with Katniss sacrificing herself to save her sister and all. Check out the totally gratuitous and exploitative depictions of violence in what Collins herself describes as a war trilogy. Revisit the rampant anti-ethnicism, which surely has nothing to do with readers being shocked at Rue's skin color in the movie. And don't forget to soak up all the satanism!
Do you think The Hunger Games should be banned from schools and libraries?
Images via Amazon, Smith Public Library