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Posts tagged ‘Hunger Games’

Books On Top of 2012

From Publisher’s Weekly
by Gabe Habash – 04 January 2013

The Bestselling books of 2012

logo-transHalf of the top 20 bestselling books of 2012 in print were either Fifty Shades titles or Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L. James or Suzanne Collins—Jeff Kinney’s latest Wimpy Kid title—cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark for the year, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks 75%-80% of print sales. Authors with multiple bestselling books extended past James and Collins, too: for print, Kinney and Bill O’Reilly had two books each in the top 20; for e-books, George R.R. Martin and Sylvia Day had two books in the Amazon Kindle top 20, further proving readers’ preference for fiction when reading electronically (No Easy Day was the only nonfiction book to make Kindle’s top 20).

What this means is that, in 2012, books not part of a successful series or brand had a much tougher time, at least at the very top of the bestseller lists. Even books from bestselling authors did not do as well as books from bestselling series, as Fifty Shades and the Hunger Games topped big-name authors like John Grisham and James Patterson, the latter not appearing on any top 20 list. One book that bucked that trend was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, which crossed 700,000 copies sold on BookScan just before the year ended. Flynn sold over 100,000 more copies than J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, and was only a few thousand copies behind Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena, to make her book the #14 bestselling print book of 2012. The discrepancies between Nielsen’s top 20 and Amazon’s top 20 (both print and Kindle) remained consistent with PW’s 2012 midpoint analysis of book sales: reference and self-help books see a huge percentage of their sales from Amazon. The Official SAT Study Guide, StrengthsFinder 2.0, and the American Psychological Association’s official manual cracked Amazon’s print top 20, but did not make BookScan’s top 20. Another Amazon anomaly is Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, which snuck into the top 20 for print, despite being first published in 2010.

Read entire article & others at Publisher’s Weekly.

Compassionate Hunger Games

From Nation of Change and Yes! Magazine
by Jeremy Adam Smith
19 May 2012

Five Lessons in Human Goodness from “The Hunger Games”

In the dystopian future world of The Hunger Games, 24 teenagers are forced to fight to the death, their battle turned into televised entertainment.

This war-of-all-against-all scenario sounds as though it might reveal the worst in humanity—and to a degree, that’s true.

But what raises The Hunger Games above similar stories, like the cynical Japanese film Battle Royale, is that it is mainly preoccupied with how human goodness can flourish even in the most dehumanizing circumstances.

As I watched the film and read the book, I found the story kept reminding me of classic pieces in Greater Good about the psychological and biological roots of compassion, empathy, and cooperation. The vision of human beings as fundamentally caring and connected is not merely wishful thinking on the part of Suzanne Collins, the author of the novels on which the movie is based. In fact, it’s been tested by a great deal of scientific research. Here are five examples.
1. Killing is against human nature.

Katniss, a skilled hunter and the hero of The Hunger Games, is indeed horrified by the prospect of dying—but her worst fears revolve around needing to kill other people. “You know how to kill,” says her friend Gale in the book. “Not people,” she replies, filled with horror at the idea. When she actually does kill a girl named Glimmer, she’s wracked with guilt and throws herself over the body “as if to protect it.”

Research says that Katniss is the rule, not the exception. “The study of killing by military scientists, historians, and psychologists gives us good reason to feel optimistic about human nature, for it reveals that almost all of us are overwhelmingly reluctant to kill a member of our own species, under just about any circumstance,” writes Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his Greater Good essay, “Hope on the Battlefield.”

Sociologist Randall Collins comes to a similar conclusion in his massive study Violence. “The Hobbesian image of humans, judging from the most common evidence, is empirically wrong,” he writes. “Humans are hardwired for interactional entrainment and solidarity; and this is what makes violence so difficult.”

2. Wealth makes us less compassionate.

The citizens of the Capitol brutally exploit the 12 districts of the country of Panem, giving themselves a very high standard of living while deliberately keeping the rest in a state of abject poverty. The movie and the book take pains to reveal how much this limits their ability to empathize with the less fortunate—a situation confirmed by research, some of which has been generated by the Greater Good Science Center here at UC Berkeley.

“In seven separate studies,” writes Yasmin Anwar, “UC Berkeley researchers consistently found that upper-class participants were more likely to lie and cheat when gambling or negotiating, cut people off when driving, and endorse unethical behavior in the workplace.”

This doesn’t mean affluence makes you evil. According to the author of a related study, Greater Good Science Center Hornaday Graduate Fellow Jennifer Stellar, “It’s not that the upper classes are coldhearted. They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives.”

3. People are motivated to help others by empathy, not reason or numbers.

“If you really want to stay alive, you get people to like you,” says their drunken, traumatized mentor, Haymitch. It’s the first advice he gives to the heroes, Katniss and Peeta, and a surprising amount of the film’s action revolves around their efforts to win people’s sympathy, which results in “sponsorships” that help them in their most desperate moments.

Haymitch’s advice is supported by new research that suggests if you want to encourage people to take humanitarian action, logic and big numbers don’t help—as every ad copywriter knows, people are most moved to help individuals with compelling personal stories.

When a team of psychologists ran a study of two fundraising appeals—one emphasizing a girl’s story, the other the number of people affected by the problem—they found “that people have more sympathy for identifiable victims because they invoke a powerful, heartfelt emotional response, whereas impersonal numbers trigger the mind’s calculator,” as former GGSC fellow Naazneen Barma writes. “In a fascinating cognitive twist, this appeal to reason actually stunts our altruistic impulses.”

4. Power flows from social and emotional intelligence, not strength and viciousness.

Peeta proves particularly adept at manipulating the emotions of the “Hunger Games” audience. He seldom actually lies to anyone, but he does artfully reveal and conceal his emotions to maximize their impact and win support for their survival (a trait illustrated in the clip above, when he uses his crush on Katniss as the raw material for a compelling, sympathetic story). In contrast, the characters who rely on brute force and violent prowess find themselves isolated and defeated in the end. It’s the most compassionate characters who ultimately triumph.

This is exactly what research in social and emotional intelligence predicts will happen. “A new science of power has revealed that power is wielded most effectively when it’s used responsibly by people who are attuned to, and engaged with, the needs and interests of others,” writes GGSC Faculty Director Dacher Keltner in his essay “The Power Paradox.” “Years of research suggests that empathy and social intelligence are vastly more important to acquiring and exercising power than are force, deception, or terror.”

Read entire article at Nation of Change.

The Hunger Games Review

Guest article by our son Shona.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games
The McFlurry
25 March, 2012
by Shona Blumeneau

Most people try to compare The Hunger Games to the Twilight films. In my mind, this just cannot be done. One features a strong female lead who sacrifices herself for her sister and district, eventually overcoming all obstacles and defies the oppressive government that controls her life, while the other follows a girl who is torn between a sparkly vampire and a werewolf who lost his shirt. Now it’s time for me to stop writing about a trashy tween movie, and write about a cinematic masterpiece, otherwise known as The Hunger Games.

Do you remember the midnight premier of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two? I sure do. All the anticipation and excitement, with crazy people dressed as wizards and normal people waving wands at each other…dressed as wizards. That same energy has now been transfused into The Hunger Games, or the “Harry Potter Rebound” as I like to call it. But why this film? Why not, say, Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill? This film has gained such a following because of a girl: Katniss Everdeen. Audiences have finally been given a character that they respect, admire, and thoroughly enjoy rooting for throughout the entirety of the film. Unlike Bella (I’m sorry for all the Twilight comparisons, but it just has to be done), the protagonist is a strong, independent girl not searching for love or anyone to protect her. Her courage is repeatedly shown time and time again without fault, and it is her family that she cares for first and foremost, not a boy.

Perhaps what keeps this movie from being another failed book adaptation is the fact that Susan Collins, author of the Hunger Games trilogy, helped write the screenplay and was one of the producers of the film. This, paired with Gary Ross’ (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville, and Big) excellent directing, makes for a stellar film. Collins and Ross clearly understood what elements of the book needed to be cut out to transform the story into a feature length movie, and they did so without at all ruining the overall story or characters.

Ah, the smooth segway into the characters. For me, every single one of the actors portrayed their characters exactly as I had imagined them in the books. Jennifer Lawrence gives us a spectacular performance, securing her spot as the lead. Given that the book is written in the first person, Lawrence was forced to somehow show her thoughts time and time again without saying a word. You cannot only see it in her face, but you can feel Katniss’ emotions as she struggles through dilemma after dilemma, evaluating thoughts and emotions alike. Woody Harrleson’s portrayal of the drunken mentor Haymitch was not as intoxicated and blundering as I had pictured, but Donald Sutherland’s eerie performance left me satisfied and very creeped out, just as Katniss feels when first meeting the tyrannical President Snow.

Snow is the cause of violence in the story, and the movie does a good job of showing how brutal the games are while maintaining a PG-13 rating. Yes, it’s a movie about teenagers fighting to the death while others watch and bet on them, but this shouldn’t be anything new to people. Things like this have happened numerous times throughout history, and for people to criticize Collins for depicting it graphically is absurd.

Overall, other than a couple of things near the end, I was very happy with this film. It stayed true to the book, the characters were well rounded and I could easily connect with them. The filmmakers chose wisely when cutting material and kept the movie going at a solid pace.

Who will love this movie?
1) A liberal who believes the movie is about the 1% (the capital) vs the 99% (everyone in the districts).
2) A conservative who believes the movie shows the atrocities and downfalls of a government who controls everything.
3) Anyone who just likes a movie starring a hot babe with a bow and arrow (sorry Emma Watson, Jennifer has you beat in bad-assery this time around).

Story and more photos at: The McFlurry

Hunger Is Not A Game

Dear Gabriel,

Hunger is on the horizon for more than 13 million people in the Sahel region of Africa – with fields bone dry and crops ravaged by plagues of insects. Food prices are rising quickly in local markets.

In parts of Chad, villagers have resorted to raiding anthills for the tiny caches of food stored there.

This crisis isn’t just the result of dry weather or failed harvests. In some cases, up to half of US government aid that could help these struggling communities is wasted. It supports giant agribusiness firms and shipping companies. It’s shipped expensively from the US, instead of being purchased locally. It’s dumped on markets – competing directly with the small farmers it should be helping.

Farmers in the Sahel region can assist more effectively during food crises – but they urgently need your help to do it.

Make a gift to the Oxfam America Advocacy Fund, and you can help people in the Sahel and beyond by pushing for reforms that allow for food aid to be purchased locally. You’ll help fix the underlying causes of this crisis – and if you give today, your donation will be matched to make TWICE the difference.

Make your gift today toward our $50,000 goal and it will be doubled to help change the laws and policies that keep people poor.

Oxfam is working in places like Niger, where our partners are rebuilding cereal banks so any surplus food can be stored for the months ahead. We’re in Mauritania, where we’re working with 1,300 women to launch a cooperative vegetable garden program, with water pumped from a nearby river. And we’re in Chad, helping farmers dig irrigation systems that will capture any rain that falls.

But we need your help to tackle the destructive policies that can turn a dry season like this into a catastrophe. Every day, we see the heart-wrenching impact of these misguided policies that lead to manipulated food prices that maximize corporate profits, or fall short on providing basic investments that could help communities prepare for disasters. Too many policies are made without consideration for how they could affect poor people.

The Oxfam America Advocacy Fund is working to turn this around, making sure aid gets to where it’s needed and is used to build long-term self-reliance. In order to continue this work, we need your support today.

Help raise $50,000 to reform aid policies – give today and your gift will be MATCHED.

We have the experience and the expertise to make systemic change – but we need your immediate support to make it possible. Thanks in advance for working toward a better future for families in West Africa and beyond.

Sincerely,

Raymond C. Offenheiser
Board of Directors
Oxfam America Advocacy Fund

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