Let's Discuss: Child Soldiers in Film

As the entertainment world and fandoms everywhere chatter in anticipation for “The Hunger Games” sequel “Catching Fire”, a sad but unspoken trend continues its course into Hollywood glamorization, child soldiers.

For a lot of countries around the world, the reality of child soldiers is not the exciting or existential journey to self-discovery that Hollywood and recent young adult fictions have made it out to be. Children, in other countries are being forced to carry weapons and fight for tyrants, all the while, seldom surviving the horrific consequences of war.

There is no, clown outfitted adult, guiding the way with Barnum & Bailey circus tents adding the cartoony atmosphere of a nation’s festivities. Yes, I’m referencing “The Hunger Games”. Despite the attempts of the film, with its shaky cams and stark cinematography, pre-Capitol, it made the idea of children fighting, not all that shameful.

Sadly, “Hunger Games” wasn’t the first film or book to permeate pop culture on this level with the desensitizing of children fighting or abandoning parental guidance to partake in an adventure. The “Pokemon” craze set sail the idea of 12-year-olds scavenging the world for balls that contained mystical creatures. As a cartoon the world was a fantastical journey where deaths were never depicted though. The bad guy was instead temporarily put out of action.

The recent rise in popularity with post-apocalyptic children warriors, i.e. “The Hunger Games”,  “Ender’s Game” and “Divergent”, is an indictment on a populace that’s troubles are so far away, they perceive child soldiers as a fantasy that makes for gripping entertainment.

“Ender’s Game” based on a series of popular books, follows an exceptionally talented boy who is trained at a military academy to prepare for an alien invasion. The movie “Soldier” starring Kurt Russell tackled a similar topic and yet it showed it in a very negative light. How the "Ender's Game" film presents it remains to be seen, until it's release.

Why in a culture that is always socially evolving, do the top minds in movies and books believe that we are headed to a universal use of children soldiers in the future and by extension, indicate it is a positive thing? There are more questions at play as well. How do kids imagine taking the lives of another person or child and walk away entertained?  Is it such a non-existential idea that one can’t even fathom it being real? Clearly, it’s a notion that lies in the outer reaches of my understanding. I am curious to know why though.

“Divergent” and “The Hunger Games”, one could argue, feature teenagers engaging in most of the action. Last I checked; teenagers (below 18) are still minors and not considered adults. The continued depiction of what is being qualified as an adult; is getting younger and younger, to what avail? It’s getting to the point that simply being a “kid” is going to be socially unacceptable.

There is an artistic purpose to showing the coming-of-age saga against the backdrop of war. The hardship of war boils an individual to their most basic form. It forces them to grow at an exponential rate of maturity. If the goal is for the younger generation to appreciate the gift of a childhood free from such difficulties; that would be stupendous. Instead it makes the kids enjoying their youth, cherishing their innocence and everyday existence; undesirable or boring.

The theft of one’s contentment is the genesis of all fights or battles. There are films that can comfort those who feel they are outsiders. Seeing kids put on armor, isn’t the way. Apparently, John Hughes’ vision of coming-of-age; isn’t cutting it anymore. My question is, when Hughes’ was dealing with these issues without violence, who was complaining?

Do you believe that Hollywood is glamorizing child soldiers? Are movies like "The Hunger Games" dealing with it in the best way? Eclectic Pop wants to hear from you about this or any other Eclectic Pop topic! You can share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

1 comment

  1. I have an interesting perspective on these movies. Given two assumptions, these movies could be viewed as propaganda. The first assumption is that "the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one." (1 John 5:19) This would include the entertainment industry. The second assumption is that there will in the future be a conflict between God and Satan. Given these two assumptions, these movies make excellent propaganda. They promote the idea of children (humans) being manipulated by harsh authoritarian regimes. If you accept these previous two assumptions, you might also accept that promoting the view of God as a harsh authoritarian regime would be in line with Satan's interests. By promoting such a view, Satan encourages mankind to rebel against God and actually fight against him in the coming conflict.

    ReplyDelete