THE BLOG
03/27/2012 10:13 am ET Updated May 26, 2012

Battle Royale Fans -- Enough Already!

This weekend was the big opening weekend for the film version of The Hunger Games, as anyone who follows popular culture at an even cursory level has noticed. The original book trilogy was written by Suzanne Collins and has already become a classic addition to the genre of dystopian fiction.

I haven't read any of The Hunger Games books and I currently don't plan on seeing the film (though that might change if I have a little more free time during the next few weeks), but I have noticed a particular trend with regard to commentary about The Hunger Games. As night follows day, if one reads commentary about The Hunger Games online, whether in articles or Facebook postings, one can practically guarantee that someone will chime in saying that The Hunger Games is just a retelling of a Japanese novel, film and manga series called Battle Royale. Invariably the person stating this will say that The Hunger Games isn't as good as Battle Royale and everyone who is interested in The Hunger Games is just a lame American who should instead watch or read Battle Royale.

To such people I say, get over yourselves. First of all, the writer of The Hunger Games claims to have not been influenced by Battle Royale. Even if that isn't the case (though I have no reason to disbelieve her, it's not like Battle Royale was well-known in the United States), whether or not The Hunger Games is a worthwhile work of film or literature is a question that stands on its own. It isn't exactly uncommon for works of art in one culture to borrow from and reinterpret artworks from another culture and that doesn't make such works failures in their own right.

For example, The Magnificent Seven was a reworking of Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, but that doesn't mean that The Magnificent Seven wasn't a great film in itself. (And before someone says that I am claiming that The Hunger Games is as good as The Magnificent Seven, no, I'm not claiming that, this is what writers sometimes refer to as a comparison.) It is a fallacy to claim that the existence of Battle Royale somehow makes a difference as to whether The Hunger Games is worth reading or watching. These things are independent of one another. Frankly, when one reads such commentary, one is reminded of the sort of annoying person who will talk about how they were into a band before anyone else knew them and now that band isn't good anymore because they've become a bunch of sellouts.

So there are people out there who were really into Battle Royale and they are critical of the success of The Hunger Games, and they absolutely must point out at every opportunity that Battle Royale came first. That's great. Congratulations. Thanks for that fascinating bit of information. Now get lost before I give you a wedgie.