Jumping on the Bandwagon?

In case you’re one of the 12 people who haven’t heard about it at this point, the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, a wildly popular young adult book series, hit theaters this month. It’s positioned as the next mega-successful entry into the film industry in the vein of the Harry Potter or Twilight series.

Since I try to stay on top of whatever’s popular in the pop culture sphere, I’ve kept tabs on the popularity of the film since over a year before its release, and I’ve watched as the murmurings about the film have turned into full-throated roars of approval. Having jumped on the bandwagon for the Twilight series, though (and subsequently jumping off after attempting to read Stephenie Meyer’s hyper-twisted puritanical bullshit), I’ve resisted joining the band of Hunger Games enthusiasts.

Until the weekend before the film’s release, that is.

That’s the weekend I decided that, after hearing so many of my friends praise the book, I’d attempt to read the first book to see if it was any good.

“Any good?” Try phenomenal. It’s been years since I’ve torn through a piece of fiction with the speed I tore through The Hunger Games. I managed to get through the first book in under a day, and I’m working my way through the second book, Catching Fire, as I write this piece.

I can’t help but feel like I’m jumping onto something at the last minute, though. I don’t think that my interest in The Hunger Games is something that will attract derision from longtime fans of the series – if anything, I received so much encouragement to read the books from longtime fans, I think they were glad to see somebody else on board.

Still, there’s something that feels rewarding about finding out about something years before a wider audience finds out. I know that I have my own examples of musicians that I followed when I was a teenager. As a teen, my music choices were limited to Christian music, and two of my favorite singers were Katy Hudson and Joy Williams. These days, you probably know of Hudson by her stage name, Katy Perry, while Joy Williams now makes up half of Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars (who, coincidentally, appear on two of the soundtrack cuts for The Hunger Games).

For me, it doesn’t diminish my interest in either artist when somebody discovers them these days. If anything, I’m glad both have achieved new levels of fame. Having followed them for so long, though, I have an idea of the breadth of their respective talents, and it’s interesting to hear people talk about them in relatively narrow terms based on their current models of success.

I sometimes wonder if fans of series like The Hunger Games feel the same way – like if something they find special is possibly being cheapened in some way by obtaining mass appeal. I may be thinking way too deeply about this, but I do wonder if I’m becoming a fan of this series just because a lot of other people are doing the same thing. If it weren’t for the upcoming film, I think there’s a strong chance I would still not know anything about this series. I admit this, though: that would be my loss.

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