Monday, November 30, 2015

500th Post: Teach Kids Arts and Humanities

Well, that certainly snuck up on me. If I realized how close I was to my 500th post, I probably would have found a way to power through for a few weeks until I at least reach this milestone. it’s kind of hard for me to fathom. 500 posts. I’ve done this whole thing 500 times, each with varying degrees of success. Some posts were long, some posts were short, but I’d average that I’ve done about 1000 words average. That’s over 500,000 words on subjects ranging from evil robots to evil wizards to kittens to even things that aren’t evil. I’ve gone through teacher training, and found myself not teaching.

When I realized that this was the 500th post for Bad Shakespeare, I thought about it for a little bit. Do I come up with something witty and interesting? Do I make this an introspective post, that focuses on the blog? Or do I write something I’m passionate about.

Then I remember one of the things I tried to write about a while ago, and just couldn’t get out. now that I’m in a better place to write, well… I’m going to finally write about it. And it may be too late, unfortunately, but I’m going to get it out there. 

Today, I’m going to talk to you about Arts in Public Schools. 

I know, I know… I’m not a teacher! I abandoned Public Schools when I left the internship and cast off my teaching… well we don’t really get any special clothes while we’re teaching. I had to wear a tie for a bit, but that didn’t mean a whole lot since I’ve gone on to wear ties in almost three other places since then. But here’s the thing, a lot of the reason I left Public Schools was because I didn’t like what was going on inside of it, and I didn’t feel like being jaded for the rest of my life as I fought it, unable to do anything about it.

The concept of Arts in Schools has actually been a pretty hot topic around my tiny little burg of Fairfax County. I use that kind of ironically because for those of you who are unaware, Fairfax County is actually pretty huge, it’s near Washington, D.C. (And the current setting for The Walking Dead… stay safe, Glenn!) and it’s one of the richest areas in the country. Look up “richest counties” and you’ll see Fairfax County and it’s surrounding counties listed, including Loudon, a place so massive and rich yet underfunded that schools are cancelled when someone says the word “snow.” Seriously, typing that in the same sentence as Loudon has set them back about fifteen days. 

About a year ago, the Fairfax County Public School Board released a brand new budget that naturally cut things like drama, after school programs, band… there was some talk of them cutting sports, but we were assured that part was just “alarmist.” After that they went ahead and voted on a pay raise for themselves for doing south a wonderful job. Congratulations on the pay raise after not having enough money to pay teachers and fund these after school activities that make life easier for students. 

There’s two big issues at play here. One is the constant devaluation of teachers and education in general. That’s a pretty big issue that I’m not going to cover here, I’ve got an entirely different post prepared for that where I take on the two scariest words in education ever, and they rhyme with “Common Core.”

The other issue is the constant devaluation of the arts in general, which is the current trend in Education. Even at the college level it’s not just a removal of the arts or music or anything like that, it’s a fear of anything having to do with the Humanities. There are even Presidential Candidates… mainstream ones that get airtime, not the ones who live in their parents’ basements and run for President every four years… that say things like “We need more welders and less Philosophy Majors.” Presumably so there are more people to be out of work when those jobs are sent overseas or replaced by robots. There won’t be any robot philosophers until Skynet takes over, I believe.

(*Quick note: If you want to be a welder, go for it. This isn’t meant to be negative towards welders, simply negative towards the idea that one is more important to the other. In fact, the one that is more important to you, that’s the important one. My point is, be a welder. Be a philosopher. Do what makes you happy. Some rich dude running for President doesn’t get to define you or the importance to your job.) 

My point is that it’s indicative that we’re spending way too much time devaluing the arts, writing, reading, drama in favor of things that people “think” are important because it’s… more practical, I guess? I guess we’ve created all the art we need to create, and so we can be done with making any more? I’ve long said that these things are the Humanities, they’re what causes us to look into ourselves and think about what it means to be human, and that’s just as important as anything else out there. It’s an examination of what it means for us to live on this planet, what it means as we interact with these new technologies and the capability of them. 

My favorite example is Digital storage. Digital Storage devices have been around for a while. Someone eventually said, “hey, what kind of art can I put on them?” The MP3 Player was born. Another artist played with it a little more and showed it to Steve Jobs, and eventually the iPod was created. Now there’s a war over who can create the best, fastest, more powerful devices, all because artists got a hold of things and told us how we can use them to display art, from new television shows, to movies, to music. 

And that’s the big picture, by the way. I got kind of carried away with the welder thing, so I’m going to pull it back in now, and why Art is important to schools. Being a kid sucks. I don’t know if any of you remember that. Oh, it’s great in the sense that you can play with Legos and less people really look at you if you spend time buying action figures (and if you take them out of the box… EVEN COLLECTORS SHOULD TAKE THEM OUT OF THE BOX) but ultimately, being a kid is hard. You spend all this time trying to find yourself. Maybe you’re smart. Maybe you’re not. Maybe you’re good at sports. Maybe you’re more creative. Maybe you’re good at everything. But how are kids supposed to find themselves if we not only take away the opportunity to do so, but tell them it’s not important. 

Kids listen. We think they don’t, but they’re little sponges, picking up everything. This latest little budget cut from FCPS is more than a little bit of “well… let’s cut a few things and hope for the best.” It’s telling kids that some things aren’t important. It’s telling kids that may have a talent in band or art or drama that they’re not important. That they’re expendable when it comes down to it, and only those with that lofty description of “something to contribute to society” are the important ones. By “contribute” they mean scientists and engineers. And by “scientists” they of course only mean their approved sciences. 

There’s a great line in Mr. Holland’s Opus that I love. If you haven’t seen it, the movie is basically Forrest Gump but with a teacher instead of Tom Hanks. But, when faced with the budget cuts for the band, Mr. Holland, played by Richard Dreyfus in one of his best roles when he’s not punching a giant shark, looks at the principal and says, “If you keep cutting the arts soon these kids will have nothing to read or write about.”

Which is the truth. While the arts are viewed as expendable, you’re cutting into the very soul of what it means to be human. While arts are expendable, you’re telling kids that to dream is wrong. While arts are expendable, you’re telling everyone that you don’t want to know what it is to be human. 

Again, i don’t know the status of everything right now. I know I was asked to send a letter talking about how arts saved me, and I turned it into a diatribe similar to this. What I do know was that having a theatre program to go to during and after school taught me a lot of things. Practically, it taught me how to read an analyze texts. Practically, it also taught me how to move my body, how to empathize with others, how to think outside the box, how to be creative in a second, and that anything in life worth having takes hard work. It also taught me to take pride in what I was doing. Take pride in my life and my choices. To not put anything on stage that I wasn’t 100% proud of. 

I know that’s no math, science, or engineering, but it was damn important to me. A weird kid who wanted a place to be weird. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Fall Movie Season: The Martian

         In space, no one can hear you grow potatoes. That’s your only warning that there’s going to be spoilers for the Martian in this post. 

            When I first saw the trailer for the most recent entry into the genre “Hey, Let’s Save Matt Damon From Somewhere Expensive” called The Martian, I had many different emotions. One of them was hungry, because I had just gotten popcorn and I wanted to start eating it but I also wanted to save it for the movie. The other was, “haven’t I seen this somewhere before?”

            No, I don’t mean the whole “Let’s Save Matt Damon From Somewhere Expensive” Genre. That’ s an entire genre, like people getting stuck in buildings and needing to save it from terrorists or burglars. The “Die Hard in a… “Genre. No, I’m talking about the Sandra Bullock scream fest Gravity.

            The situations are similar: one person, stranded alone against the elements. The focus is the same, will this person get rescued, or will they end up in space, with on one hearing them scream. Both are beautifully filmed. And both star people that have more Oscars than Leonardo DiCaprio. (One day… one day he’s going to win one, and these jokes won’t be as funny. Just kidding. They always will be. Nicolas Cage has more than him.)

            I’ve got to say, the Martian handles it a lot better. By “it” I mean an astronaut that’s been trained for terrible things to happen being stranded in the middle of nowhere.

            The Martian, far from being a sequel to John Carter of Mars, is about a group of scientists who are exploring the red planet, having set up a temporary habitat called a “Hab” on the planet. One day, towards the end of the planned 30 day mission, disaster strikes, because somehow a mission exploring another planet isn’t exciting enough, and Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain, in one of the many movies starring Jessica Chastain this Fall) must decide whether to leave the planet or stay. While the crew is working their way to the escape ship, Mark Watney  (Matt Damon) is hit by a piece of debris, and the crew thinks he’s dead.

            Since this is called The Martian and it’s about Matt Damon surviving on a planet by himself, you can guess he’s probably not dead.

            It turns out, yes, spoilers everyone, he wasn’t killed, just hurt really badly. He awakens to find that he has no way to communicate, diminishing food and resources, and even if someone knew he was alive they wouldn’t be able to get any supplies to him for about 400 days. He then spends the next hour and a half slowly giving up while screaming and dealing with all the problems he left back on Earth.

            No. I said it was different than Gravity. (Some might call it… Anti-Gravity if they were just making cheap jokes. I’m here to make cheap jokes. You’re welcome.) Mark actually, because he’s a scientist trained for situations like these, “Sciences the shit out this”. Because throwing in casual profanity when you’re on a planet by yourself is allowed. Mark sets up a livable habitat, grows vegetables, and tries to survive long enough to get off the planet successfully.

            Over the summer I gave a positive review to Tomorrowland with the disclaimer that I was fully aware that it wasn’t a good movie, it was just really hopeful and I liked it. The truth is, as much as people complain about things like “Dark Superman” in the Man of Steel or “PTSD Iron Man” in Iron Man 3, we keep going to see those movies. What separates out The Martian from all of that is how upbeat it is.

            The NASA officials attempting to spin Mark’s Death is viewed as evil. And they make it very clear in every scene that Mark knows that his crew had to leave him, there was no way in that world they could have thought he was alive. Yes, the commander has a few moments of being sad, but ultimately there’s not a lot of angst where Mark sulks around the planet, deciding that it’s just his time to die.

            The upbeat message is what really gets to me about this film. Here we have a man who’s literally in the worst case scenario.  He is by himself, and no one is coming for him. They don’t even want to aim their satellites at the location of the Hab for fear of broadcasting a dead astronaut to the world. But what wins out every single time is this idea that things are going to be ok if they just keep working toward the goal of being saved.

            And here’s the thing, Mark doesn’t always think that things are going to be ok. That’s abundantly clear. He thinks that if he just keeps working, maybe it will take his mind off his impending death. Maybe if he keeps working, eventually things will be ok, because why not: they should be ok. Even as he runs out of food, he still manages to work towards his ultimate goal of being rescued or at least leaving a corpse that was working hard while trying to be rescued. That’s what I really like about the film. It’s essentially a long piece of work dedicated to the idea that if things suck, keep moving forward. Even if you die alone on a barren planet, you’ll at least leave a corpse that looked like they were trying to do something.

            I could go on about the special effects, but at this point, special effects are just background noise. I could go on about scientific accuracy but Neil de Grasse Tyson is smarter than me and will probably do a better job. (They got there with rockets, right? We’re no longer using giant balloons leftover from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? I didn’t see Garfield up there so I’m assuming it’s pretty accurate.) My point is, that I could go on, but this movie was actually pretty cool.  

            My rating: Four out of Five potatoes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

         Ah, Thanksgiving. While it’s usually ignored as the little blip on the road from Halloween to that big holiday with all the red and green whose name escapes me, it actually is a pretty significant day. It’s not just a mere holiday where we give thanks for all of our blessings for the past year. It’s not simply a ritual sacrifice in which we char the flesh of an animal that has been sacrificed before we pray around it. (Thanks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Still a great joke.) No, this is  the big opportunity to get back together with friends and family that you might not have seen for quite some time.

            For those of you in college, this is your opportunity to go back and see everyone again.  Hit up that bar that you always eyed as a high school student. See some old friends that have definitely changed because of that one class they took in Psychology and now they know where you’ve gone wrong your whole life, or maybe that one nerd finally found themself. No matter what the message will be clear: they’ll be miles ahead of where you are, at least at first glance.

            For the rest of us, it means seeing family we haven’t seen in a year as they make their way to the locations that were hard fought for back in May when balancing that ever so careful precipice between “I don’t want to cook” and “I don’t want to travel.” You’ll see great uncles and aunts that were only spoken about in legend, cousins who have decided they are ultra vegans (and make sure you know they are ultra vegans as you go for that third helping of turkey) and grandparents that just want to see their kids get along one last time.

            But, no matter where you are, by now you’ve realized… that it’s election season.

            Yes, election season. We’ll happily speak with those that have different opinions on movies, books, video games, sports teams, music… but throw politics into the mix, and you might as well be declaring yourself a comic book super villain, ready to cast off all the innocents as you devour kittens.

            The bottom line is, this yet another Thanksgiving controversy that you many encounter when dealing with. And how can you navigate through this minefield of gravy, football games, and politics and still make it through having to see these people again in a month on Christmas? (or whichever December themed holiday you’re planning on celebrating?) Fortunately, Bad Shakespeare is here to help, because I’m great like that.


            Obviously, as the 2016 election began shortly after the results were announced for the 2012 election, ignoring the four years of local and midterm elections, this is a pretty hot topic. Everyone has their opinions on politics, and your family is to be no different, from the die hard Donald Trump supporter uncle to your cousin finishing his third year of college supporting someone named Bernie Sanders who appeared mysteriously when summoned by the mysterious primary elders. Where did he come from? Nobody knows. Rumor has it he’s not really even a real person, but the figurehead of a secret society I just made up.

            How to make sense of all of this? Basically it’s this: We’re about a year away from the election, give or take a Smarch or so. The Democratic Field didn’t really need to whittle it’s way down too much, and it’s Hillary Clinton vs. they Mysterious Wizard Bernie Sanders, and they’ve had a few debates, but Hillary is probably going to win, just like she was probably going to win about this time in 2007. If anyone asks you about Hillary and emails, best to spill gravy on yourself and go change immediately, changing the subject to that funny time when you accidentally spilled gravy on yourself.

            The Republican Party right now roughly resembles the WWE without all of the order, with debates so large that there’s actually a mid-card division fighting for what I assume is the Intercontinental Title. Leading the pack is Donald Trump, or Ben Carson, or whoever the news is telling us is leading the pack. The truth is, I don’t know really know what’s going on with the Republican Party at this point, and I’m too afraid to ask. If anyone mentions anything about it, simply nod, smile, and talk about that time you spilled gravy on yourself.

Black Friday

            Over the past few years, the concept of stampeding into a store when it opens like wild animals the day after we give thanks for everything we have has become… well, depending on who you ask, either a big problem or something we should push even earlier so we start our Christmas Shopping sometime around January 5th of the pervious year. I know: it’s amazing: we refer to something as a doorbuster than we’re shocked when people actually bust down the door.

            For those of you who don’t know, Black Friday is the day when stores release their sales in hopes of making a profit for those people who haven’t heard of “the internet” or the fact that you actually get your best deals on December 24th, when people are trying to dump merchandise.

            If you have a family that will be going out shopping a few minutes after finishing that last helping of pie, send them on their way.  Pack them up a lunch, and hope that the odds are ever in their favor.

            If you have a family member that points out the absurdity of the store opening on Thanksgiving while they’re in a reclining chair, watching Football and forgetting that there are hundreds of people not with their family but cleaning stadiums as they watch their sport, don’t engage. It’s a trap. Smile and nod, smile and nod. Remember, this is football, and it’s their tradition, and since it’s their tradition, it’s great, while everyone other tradition is stupid.

Meat free vs. Meat

            For those of you who don’t know, processed meats have entered the most recent list of things that will kill you immediately upon looking at it, according to the World Health Organization. Your nephew that is currently a level 24 vegan, has read this article and memorized every word. Every. Last. Word. And they will let you know, but just when you’re preparing the turkey, then when you’re cooking the turkey, and later when you’re eating the turkey. There’s no escape from this. I promise you. I’d like to pretend that there’s a way out, but there isn’t.

            The important thing to remember is that you’re with family, and after the third beer or third glass of wine you should be more that suited to listen to whatever report currently says that all meat is going to kill you before digging into that sweet, sweet, bird. Keep it nice and juicy, too. Mmmmmm… Turkey…

The Rest

            There are plenty of other controversies that are probably going to come up. Climate Change. Terrorism. Free Speech. Immigration. Common Core. What you’re going to do with your life once you graduate from college. All hot button issues that are best reserved for when a carving knife is within reach. But the important thing to remember is that you’re spending time with family.  The people you’re so blessed with that you just have to stay away from the most of the year.

            Basically I’m saying it’s one day. You can do this. I believe in you.

            Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Where the Hell Have You Been?

At this point, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything to Bad Shakespeare. The occasional movie review, maybe but not much substance pretty much since I got back from Ireland. And that was quite a while ago.

            So… where has Bad Shakespeare been?

            The rumors of me playing a video game so well that I was drafted into a secret war the military has been fighting with aliens have been grossly exaggerated. Also it’s the plot to a pretty good movie and a mediocre book.

            The truth is, as much as I try to justify many different reasons why I didn’t write more… I just needed a break.

            I wish it were more complicated than that. But I wrote almost every day while I was in Ireland. I posted pretty regularly while keeping up my grad school schedule over the past year. And I was just sort of burned out. I tired to write about twenty or so editions of Bad Shakespeare, all with the same result: me closing my computer screen in frustration and eventually deleting it while checking out funny YouTube clips of literary analysis. (Thug Notes doesn’t officially endorse this blog, but… one day. One day.)

            I don’t know why it’s been so difficult to write this lately. It’s just seemed like a struggle to get word after word down. I realized just how much I wanted to write again when I saw Mockingjay Part 2 and the words just flowed off my fingers onto the page, and I realized I had something to say again. There would be nothing worse that I could do as a writer than to force words onto this page without me having something to say.  Also the idea that President Snow may be the hero of the entire series. There’s a story in that somewhere.

            To be completely honest with you (I promise, Wednesday’s post will be funnier) one of the bigger problems has been that I haven’t felt like my posts are being read. It was a little rough… I haven’t had much feedback, no real comments, no post shares like I have. I realize now that I have something to say it doesn’t matter, I’m going to post what I want, and that’s all there is. But honestly, for a while I was a little worried that my words didn’t matter, and that’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had as a writer.  But then I realized I’m awesome, and all of my words totally do matter. Each and every one.

            But that’s over now. I have had the desire to write more and more. I still don’t really have a definition about what Bad Shakespeare is about other than “Me” and my adventures and my thoughts. I have decided that I’m going to be writing a little bit more about what I want to write about, even if it won’t make everyone “happy.” I had a pretty good post about the Common Core that I deleted because, I was afraid of offending someone. And I have a few things to say on the subject of fear as we move into political season fresh off a terrorist attack. So, look out for those as they come forward.

            I’d like to promise that I’m the same old Bad Shakespeare, but a lot of my writing has grown over the past couple of months as I’ve been struggling to find a voice. I can’t have that voice anymore that plays into only what people want to see. I’ve found a new voice that I think will move me forward a lot more.

            So what can you expect? More regular posts, that’s for sure. I don’t like having that big a gap in my history… I want to post more, I want to write more, and I want people to read it. But I’m not going to get into such despair if no one does. I’m writing to get my voice out there, any way I possibly can.

            Wow. That was a lot darker than I wanted my welcome back post to be. But maybe I am a little bit darker lately.  I’ll never pull off completely brooding. Maybe like Spider-Man when he wore the black suit for a while where he was slowly being corrupted by Venom. Yeah. That’s it. I’m still quippy, but a little more introspective and a little better dressed.  Maybe a little stronger. Definitely set to start making out with Mary Jane. (There I am!)

            So, sit back, and welcome back to Bad Shakespeare 2.0? Bad Shakespeare Chapter 2? Or maybe just a peeling back of what Bad Shakespeare always was, but unrestrained.

            Either way… I’m back, baby.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fall Movie Season: The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 2 (Analysis)

Let’s be honest. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 was never going to be an easy movie to make.

Oh, yeah. Spoilers for The Hunger Games, the book, the movie, and the most recent time we sent our kids into a stadium to fight for our amusement. (Tuesday’s fights. Go, District 7!)

I’m not going to go much into details about the stories if you’re not familiar with them, you may want to read them and watch the movies. But basically… post apocalypse, things suck, and for some reason the best solution to everything is to have a bunch of kids try to murder each other for sport. Part 2 is all about somehow the best solution for getting Katniss and her inspirational story out of everyone’s mind by putting her back in front of everyone. And the first part of Part 3 tells the story of how she became a symbol for the rebellion, while Peeta becomes the symbol for the Capitol. 

The Hunger Games, the Book was a very unique experience. It was a look into the mind of a young woman as she goes from an unknown… whatever she did in District 12 to unlikely face of a revolution by simply attempting to be nice to people. I say that because for as much as these were novels, they were very much told in the first person perspective, taking us out of the minds of people who would tell a bunch of teenagers that they need to fight to the death because reasons, and into the mind of a young woman who is being told to fight to the death because reasons. 

The movies were always going to change that. Short of strapping a go-pro on the top of Jennifer Lawrence’s head, thus probably killing her top billing in most of the movies, we were never going to get a story directly from Katniss’ perspective. There was always going to be the addition of other perspectives, like President Snow, President Harrison impressionist Interim President Coin, and… Gale, I guess. The movies didn’t bounce around that much, but still added another perspective: We were no longer directly privy to Katniss’ thoughts.

Mockingjay Part 2 picks up right where Part 1 leaves off, Peeta rescued and brainwashed into thinking Katniss is a bad guy, while Katniss deals with the fact that she can’t speak. Its a good place to pick up, it gives a natural arc to part 1 (rescuing Peeta) and it starts part 2 with an interesting image: the woman who’s been giving a “voice” to the rebellion now unable to speak. It also leads us into the most Hunger-Gamey part of the third novel, (now fourth movie) where Katniss now has to face off against the Capitol that has been turned into a basically a giant Hunger Games like arena. 

Ignoring the fact that the Capitol has the time, energy, and resources to turn the Capitol into a giant Hunger Games type arena, Katniss that she has to go in and stop the war by killing of Snow. The problem is that this is one of the darkest and most personal parts of the book, and one that leads to the growth we see in the main character, and it has to be ignored for big special effects and… well, Hunger Games type action. (It’s in the title of the movie, after all.)

The Hunger Games isn’t about necessarily a bunch of kids murder-killing each other for sport. It’s about the personal grown of a young woman. She’s not a the chosen one. In fact, she’s the very opposite of the Chosen One. Her sister is Chosen, and Katniss takes her place. Peeta is the closest thing we get to a Chosen One, and he basically gets told that he has to do what he can to make sure that Katniss makes it back home to safety. But slowly, she learns to play the game. She learns who to trust and who to save, and the thing is… she never really stops playing that game at any point. She spends the first story learning to play it, appealing to people and sponsors to make them like her. She spends the second story (movie and book) again, playing off to people but more on her terms… then part of that point is that everything gets negated by the so-called saviors of District 13. She still has to play the game, get the people to like her, send her stuff. All the while she does this to survive. Help her sister survive, help Peeta survive, even help her survive. One could argue that she doesn’t really take agency for herself until her one selfless act, the one act not based on her surviving: the killing of Coin and the accepting that Snow, for all his manipulations, really believed in trying to keep the peace and everyone happy. 

One could also argue here that Snow is just as much a victim as Katniss. But that’s another post. We’re here to talk movies!

The problem is that the books allow us to see this all through Katniss’ eyes. We get to hear the voice in her head as she makes these decisions, and a movie… a movie ignores that. I threw out at the beginning that the third book was going to be the hardest to adapt, and that’s true. Most of the third book is torture, Katniss gets real war wounds (She’s not the chosen one, remember. That’s still Peeta.) The most heroic act of the movie (saving Peeta) doesn’t include the hero and is largely off the book page. Even after she’s wounded, she still suffering from PTSD, and most of the “happy” ending that the movie gloms onto glosses over the fact that Katniss and Peeta emerge from the Games and the War extremely damaged, and they end up together because they’re able to save themselves from each other.

There are two big moments about the movie I do want to discuss. One really good. One really bad. 

Let’s start with the bad because this is my blog post and I can really do what I want. When I say the ending of the story, there’s really two endings. One is when Peeta and Katniss are able to express their love for each other through their PTSD, which again, is largely ignored by the movie. The books take us on a little trip into the future, where Peeta and Katniss have two kids and are roaming around the remains of District 12. The movie follows this and I get why they want to put this in: for an idea of hope for the future and stuff like that. After all… look! Kids! That probably won’t have to fight in any Hunger Games, because they’re way past stuff like that again. (More on that in a minute.) 

The book makes this very clear that this is a conflicted moment from Katniss. Will she have kids? She doesn’t know. She doesn’t want them. She can’t bring them into the world for fear of again: Another Hunger Games. (Again…. hold tight true believers.) It’s just a big leap that we don’t see in the movies. A stronger ending would have been the first one, the one with Katniss deciding that it was time to heal with Peeta. The decision for kids is an interesting one, but a little more meaningless without that voice from Katniss expressing her fear.

Ok, let’s end this on a good note. There was always one part of the book that never sat well with me, and that was the “symbolic vote” held by Interim “You’re Welcome I Took the Burden” President Coin and the Hunger Games Victors about holding… another Hunger Games with the Capitols kids. You know, most of whom were bombed by probably District 13 but is left ambiguous? Nothing says “let’s get the masses on our sides by killing kids.” Seriously, where did these people learn propaganda? 

Moving on.

In the book, and maybe it was just my reading of it, but it was never 100% clear what Katniss was up to when she was voting to do it it “for Prim.” Part of it was her anger and her burning skin and her PTSD that the movie didn’t want to acknowledge. I don’t know. But the subtle change in this was wonderful. Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson played off the moment perfectly, and there was more of a secret conspiracy here. There was more of a plan in Katniss’ eyes. Even non-book readers could acknowledge that Katniss was about to stir something up. And this is really the most important scene. It’s the one where Katniss steps out of being just a puppet. It’s one where she starts to take agency for herself, one where she makes her first real decision of the series. It was extremely important, and I do like how it played out.

So, after all of that, many of you are asking if you should see the movie. Honestly, I don’t know. Iv’e been away from movies for too long over the last few months, I’m getting back into them. I enjoyed it. If you’ve seen the other three, you’re probably going to go see this one. And since, as of this writing it’s made enough money to give Jennifer Lawrence one of those Scrooge-McDuck style money bins she can swim in every night, you’re going to see it. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.