Ghost World and the problem with nerd culture

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The minute I saw Thora Birch in Ghost World, I thought she looked familiar. Not because I remembered American Beauty, or because she resembles Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games. I recognised her because I saw myself at that age – belligerently “different”, sneeringly aloof.

Later on, I realised that she was nothing like me at all – just like in Mean Girls, there isn’t much difference between the cruelty of the alternative kids and the snooty jock set, except that here almost everyone is trying desperately to please her and she throws it all back in their faces.  Continue reading

The Hunger Games, Dredd and the 12ification of culture

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I initially thought that The Hunger Games was a really good film. A really good film. It had all the ingredients, after all: a perfectly-cast Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role, Suzanne Collins as screenwriter, and a sympathetic director who really seemed to understand the material. The opening scenes of shaky-cammed apocalyptic gloom offset against the slick Truman Show-style televisation were perfectly pitched, so it was disappointing as the film inexorably slid into mediocrity the minute the violence started. Or didn’t, as it turned out.  Continue reading

Catching Fire / Mockingjay

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The Hunger Games saga doesn’t have a happy ending. That’s not to say it’s unremittingly grim – and, don’t worry, I won’t spoil it – but this is no fairytale.

Sure, the Hunger Games trilogy started predictably enough – “Battle Royale With Cheese”, the joke that never stops being funny – there the similarity ends. It’s being hyped as this year’s Twilight, but despite featuring a clumsily tacked-on love triangle with two cardboard-cutout boys, it couldn’t be more dissimilar. It might be marketed by a children’s publisher, but it makes Harry Potter‘s darker moments look like Dr Seuss: I’ll see your neglected orphan and raise you torture, mutilation, human trafficking and all-out war. Not the glossy TV kind of war, either, but the kind where people lose eyeballs. And tongues. It almost makes the new Evil Dead look nice.  Continue reading

The Hunger Games

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How was this even a hit? That’s my first thought, as I wrangle with its inelegant prose. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had an unpopular opinion: I hated The Road so much that I left it on the train. The first-person narrative is jarring, since it’s Katniss’s voice, and she uses a language that nobody real would speak. It’s how people in books speak. It’s awful, but somehow I make it through.

Then, some way in, I realise that I am sat on a bus reading this popular teen novel on the Kindle app on my smartphone, and that people are probably looking at me. I have tears streaming down my cheeks.  Continue reading