April 5, 2012

There is Nothing New Under the Sun: The Hunger Games

With the recent release of the film, The Hunger Games, questions about the similarities of the film and a Japanese movie, Battle Royale have been hotly debated. There are people that say The Hunger Games is a poor copy of the plot of Battle Royale. Others claim that while they are both about children killing each other, that the stories and themes are different.

I feel like we trudge through this kind of debate every time some book or movie becomes popular. How many times did people pick apart Harry Potter as though fiction should not have any influences? (Rowling was never found guilty of plagiarism.) 

 
What people don't want to hear is that there is nothing new under the sun. Historians are well acquainted with this. It is true, ideas are a dime a dozen. Humans have very similar life experiences and not surprisingly, humans  have similar ideas. But, it really isn't the idea that is important, it is the treatment of the idea that makes all of the difference.

I know some artists like to think that their work is unique with no influences and unlike anything ever done but this is foolish thinking. I, like many, have fallen prey to this in my early years of writing when I found someone wrote a similar story or a blog post on the same topic. :) If you've had an idea, chances are someone else has had it too. That is what makes art transcendent of time and place. Literature deals with universal themes, that is why we love it and love sharing it.

Anyone who feels that their enjoyment of The Hunger Games was affected by its blatant rip off of Battle Royal should read Lord of the Flies which was surprisingly, almost a fanfic of a book called "The Coral Island," or do some research on gladiator games. Lotteries and battles to the death are nothing new. These were not the focus in The Hunger Games, which emphasized inequality and the real reality of "reality TV."

9 comments:

  1. One of my writer friends was complaining about the similarities to Battle Royale. I want to read it. But, I think it's unfair to say. I'm sure, like I am, is guilty of having similar ideas to someone else!

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    1. Yes, I get a bit grumpy when I am writing a post only to see someone else has recently written something similar. It's not that surprising, the things that give me an idea are likely to give the same idea to other people. :)

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  2. I actually LOVE Battle Royale. Most Japanese horror films have a more acute scare factor than American movies.

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    1. I like it too but I don't get why everyone is making such a big deal about the similarities. :) The stories are about people in similar situations. The exact situation, characters, setting, and plot make them completely different things.

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  3. I agree! Just look at "Eragon" by Cris Paolini. There's lot's of places where it seriously reflects "Lord of the rings" Writing a book is like writing music, just change a few notes and you'll be fine! :D

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  4. 100% spot-on post: with there being 7 billion people on the planet, plus hundred of years of ideas that came before us, it's not surprising that works (music, books, poems, movies, etc.) overlap. I prefer to appreciate something for what it is rather than rip it apart by saying it isn't original and someone else did it first.

    Providing that no copyrights have been violated, and credit is given when it is due, as the saying goes..."imitation is the sincerest form of flattery".

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    1. "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal." A world famous painter said that whose name has slipped me at the moment.

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    2. That's cool Jeff...just steal the quote. :D

      "Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."-Jeff

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