Why was The Hunger Games banned?

Lucy-Jo Finnighan
Hunger Games 2 stillLionsgate

The Hunger Games is an insanely popular set of books and movies, so why has it often been banned in the US?

In the early 2010s, the young adult dystopian genre permeated the book and movie worlds. One of the biggest and best success to come from this time was The Hunger Games, set in a world in which children are forced to fight each other to the death in an arena created and run by the oppressive and controlling Capitol society.

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The franchise has been popular since its existence, to the point where it expanded in 2020 with author Suzanne Collins releasing a prequel novel, which is now getting its own movie adaptation.

However, these books aren’t popular with everyone, as the series has actually been banned in numerous American locations, as book banning seems to become an ever-growing popular pastime in the US.

The Hunger Games books have been banned in numerous US areas

Banning books is a big part of American politics, despite thankfully not expanding further than individual areas. However, The Hunger Games is top-ranked on the list of banned books published by the American Library Association, rising to fifth place on the list in 2016.

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According to said American Library Association, the books have been banned or challenged “due to insensitivity, offensive language, violence, anti-family, anti-ethic, and occult/satanic” along with the 2014 addition of “inserted religious views.”

The synopsis of the Hunger Games is as such: “Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared their entire lives. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”

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Now, there are some clear examples of violence and anti-ethical behaviour within the series that aligns with the ruling; the plot literally centres around children killing each other, and the subsequent messy revolution that follows. Although the book makes clear that it intends to criticise the violence that it puts in front of the audience.

And many of the other points are highly contestable. The sole reason Katniss volunteers for the games is to protect her little sister, which engrains strong family values. Furthermore, readers of the series can attest that there is no blatant occultist or satanic themes or imagery, nor is there any mention of religion.

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Many people have speculated that the real reason for The Hunger Games’ censorship is not in the official list of reasons, but instead for the book’s themes of challenging authority. Highly political books do tend to find themselves on the chopping block, as other commonly banned books include Animal Farm, 1984, The Handmaid’s Tale, To Kill a Mockingbird, and, funnily enough, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, which itself challenges the whole concept of book burning.

But in spite of this banning, the first Hunger Games movie received a 84% critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes, kicked off Jennifer Lawrence’s career as a superstar actor, and arguably began a whole new genre of teen dystopian book adaptations.

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About The Author

Lucy-Jo is a Movies and TV Writer at Dexerto, and has previously written for Screen Rant and Girls on Tops. After earning a Master's Degree in Film and Literature, Lucy-Jo now loves covering films, TV shows, and anime, especially if it's something by Mike Flanagan, or anything drenched in camp. You can contact her at lucyjo.finnighan@dexerto.com