The recent box office mega-hit ‘The Hunger Games’ caused a groundswell of controversy with kid-on-kid violence being a central element of the plot. Many commentators and concerned citizens spoke out to voice their belief that the visual theatrical depiction of kid-on-kid violence would have a much more detrimental societal effect than simply reading about it.
While it is much too early to quantitatively prove or disprove those assertions, we are able to measure a broad range of reactions among ‘Hunger Games’ movie watchers and ‘Hunger Games’ book readers.
The week after the US theatrical release of ‘Hunger Games’, we conducted a quantitative online study that included 720 Rep Adults and 249 ‘Hunger Games’ watchers/readers. Here is what we have found:
80% of Women ‘Hunger Games’ watchers ‘did not have any concerns about Tweens and Teens reading the book or watching the movie’. 84% of Men did not have any concerns.
Among people who both read the ‘Hunger Games’ book and watched the movie, 74% of Women and 56% of Men preferred the book.
52% of Women felt that the level of violence in the movie was ‘Just Right’, but 28% felt that it was ‘Too graphic’. Another 19% felt the violence was ‘Not graphic enough’. These numbers suggest more acceptance than rejection of the kid-on-kid violence.
46% of Men felt that the level of violence in the movie was ‘Just Right’ and another 33% felt the violence was ‘Not graphic enough’. Only 22% felt that it was ‘Too graphic’. This suggests a much higher tolerance for kid-on-kid violence than seen even among the women.
When asked what they liked MOST about the ‘Hunger Games’ movie, 29% of Women said ‘A strong young woman trying to protect the ones she loves’ and another 22% said ‘Moral challenges between the value of human life and the desire to stay alive’. Only 10% said it was the ‘Love story between Katniss, Gale and Peeta.
When Men were asked what they liked MOST, the most common answer (27%) was ‘Thrilling action and suspense’. This was followed by ‘Oppressed people challenging an all-powerful central government’. Only 5% said the ‘Love story’ while 11% said ‘Fighting scenes’.
So what does all this mean? While the sample is admittedly has its own bias – those who are most turned off by the violence probably chose to not attend the movie or read the book – we did learn that those who did indulge in the ‘Hunger Games’ franchise were not shocked or appalled by the kid-on-kid violence. What is probably the most interesting is that the Female audience was much more intellectually engaged in the moral dilemmas being presented than the Males who were more attracted to the Action/Fighting and struggle for Power.
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