Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #44: The Hunger Pains

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #44: The Hunger PainsThe Hunger Pains: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon
Published by Touchstone on February 7, 2012
Genres: Humor
Pages: 157
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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half-star

WINNING MEANS WEALTH, FAME, AND A LIFE OF THERAPY LOSING MEANS DEATH, BUT ALSO FAME THIS IS THE HUNGER PAINS

When Kantkiss Neverclean replaces her sister as a contestant on the "Hunger Games"--the second-highest-rated reality TV show in Peaceland, behind "Extreme Home Makeover"--she has no idea what to expect. Having lived her entire life in the telemarketing district's worst neighborhood, the Crack, Kantkiss feels unprepared to fight to the death while simultaneously winking and looking adorable for the cameras. But when her survival rests on choosing between the dreamy hunk from home, Carol Handsomestein, or the doughy klutz, Pita Malarkey, Kantkiss discovers that the toughest conflicts may not be found on the battlefield but in her own heart . . . which is unfortunately on a battlefield.

Recommended by: Risa

Oh, Harvard. What have you come to? I mean, you’re supposedly one of the best educational institutions that the United States has to offer, but if the Harvard Lampoon is the standard by which your brilliance can be measured, America has even more serious problems than I realized. The Hunger Pains is cheap capitalization off of a popular franchise, rather than a clever satire or parody of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

Of course, it is much harder to be impressed by parodies of things that I enjoy, but, even if I loathed The Hunger Games, I doubt this mess of juvenile humor would have entertained me. The Hunger Pains might amuse a drunken frat boy audience, but that’s probably about the extent of the ideal audience here. Actual fans of The Hunger Games will find little to amuse, though there were a couple of things that did make me laugh inwardly, and when I say a couple I really mean two. Peeta fans should be especially leery of this “effort.”

Warning: There will be spoilers for The Hunger Pains and The Hunger Games throughout the rest of this review and they will NOT be spoiler tagged.

Before we get started, you may want to grab some alcohol to help you through this experience.

i'll drink to that
Dramatis Personæ
Katniss Everdeen = Kantkiss Neverclean
Primrose (Prim) Everdeen = Prin (Princess) Neverclean
Gale = Carol
Peeta = Pita
Effie Trinket = Effu Poorpeople
Haymitch Abernathy = Buttitch Totalapathy
Cinna = Cinnabon
Rue = Run Babyrun
Foxface = Dogface
Cato = Archie Nemesis

By looking at the way the names have been converted for this parody, you can probably judge whether it’s something you would enjoy. The humor runs largely to the childish, with scatological humor and comments on people’s physical appearance the most popular. Changing Effie into Effu Poorpeople is one of the best jokes The Hunger Pains has to offer, but she has Jamaican accent for some reason so there’s that. Perhaps the best evidence that the Harvard Lampoon walked this one in is the fact that Peeta has been changed to Pita. They obviously labored over that one for hours.

Up until the very end, the plot remains exactly the same, only with gross and offensive changes, which are apparently meant to be funny. Perhaps this is hilarious and I don’t get it the same way I don’t get Family Guy and South Park. Maybe this is actually brilliant and I just don’t understand.

how about no

In the opening chapter, we learn that Kantkiss does hate cats, but that their cat is actually a dog, probably a golden retriever based on the description given. We also learn that Kankiss tried to drown the “cat,” but failed because the puddle was too shallow and the “cat” too large. Kantkiss also completely hates her mom and comments on that throughout.  Gale is probably the one who comes off best, since he gets a girl’s name (kinda funny, I guess) and is a narcissist, but that’s really it. He’s very pretty and largely ignored.

In switching to parody mode, THL decided to make District 12 the home of telemarketing. Instead of being miners, they’re some of the most-hated people in modern society, telemarketers. Oh ha. Also, apparently District 12 is Cleveland and the Capital is located in California. The tributes are chosen for the games by means of people putting fingers to their noses, and whoever is last gets to fight to the death in The Hunger Games, which started as a hot dog eating contest. Crucial change: someone volunteers Kantkiss for the games; she does not volunteer herself.

say it again bitch

I’m going to skip over Pita for now, because oh boy and talk about the prep stuff for the games. On the train to the Capital, Pita blows his nose on a hamburger bun, which Buttitch then consumes. Note the level of humor. Kantkiss says “my belly is full of yum-yums” (28). Seriously, this thing reads like it was written by a team of 7 year olds. Anyway, a couple of the legitimately clever things happen in the preparation for the games, like learning that amputation is a fashion in the Capital and the fact that the training room has a kissing station. Oh, also, there’s a scene where Buttitch crossdresses to teach Kantkiss how to walk in heels and how to flirt with the audience for the interview. That was amusing for the mental picture.

I mean, whatever, if it’s your sort of humor, then The Hunger Pains is funny, and if it’s not, the whole thing is incredibly stupid. I happen to fall into the latter camp. Actually, while listening to Jaesar (I don’t get this play off Caesar tbh), Kantkiss pretty much sums up how I feel about this whole book:

While sitting through his act, I silently renew my vow never to have children. Only a monster would bring life into a world where these kinds of jokes are told.

Though, for me, it’s more “into a world where these kinds of jokes are published.”

lol

One of my biggest issues with The Hunger Pains is the treatment of both the female tributes and the District 11 tributes. First, the women. All of the girls, Kantkiss included, are depicted either as ugly and/or spending all of the games thinking about dating. While this is clearly intended to make fun of the makeover portion of the book and of the love triangle, I find the methodology incredibly sexist. THL gives Kantkiss a whole bunch of body hair and BOOM she’s a figure of mockery. Great. And how do we turn women into a parody? Make them talk about boys, duh. The female characters are all defined by their looks or romantic status, minus Effie the weird. In some things, this would be a fair parody, because that’s what the characters are like. For a Gossip Girl, SURE. For The Hunger Games, no. The female characters are not defined by these things, meaning this is sexist and fails at its intended goal of parody.

he made me look weak

The two tributes from District 11, Thresh (now Smash) and Run, are both depicted as entirely pathetic figures. Given the fact that these two are both African American, I find that REALLY upsetting and racist. I acknowledge that some of this could be used to mock some marginalization of these characters in The Hunger Games, but unless that is done WELL, it comes off as eight million times as racist as anything that happened in the original. Thrash, for example, is characterized as a retard, and I’m not using that as slang. Literally. Run is a baby, which is a way of poking fun at the youth of the contestants, but also completely ignores the powerful emotional resonance Rue’s character had which is one of the most defining moments of the source material. Ignoring the good things in the parody doesn’t make for a good parody. It’s like they’re trying to satirize the racism of The Hunger Games but they do so by ignoring the whole point of one of the characters.

Then there’s Pita, and the whole end of the book. Pita’s the real object of mockery here, probably more than anyone else, because Pita is fat. Oh yeah, he’s got moobs for days. At all times he is either eating food or focused on finding more food. He’s called “The Boy with the Head,” rather than the bread because he has a big head. Fat jokes, the last refuge of the small-minded, alongside all the other jokes in this book anyway.

these sweatpants

Amongst the drivel and fart jokes, THL does manage a couple of actual bits of parody of the text. For example, they comment on the dynamics between Kantkiss and Pita, and how she deems any act of kindness from him as a sure sign that he isn’t trustworthy. That was somewhat funny because it’s a legitimate issue in the book which can be mocked. He also disguises himself using cake decorating, since he’s a baker and all. So that was kind of okay. But then Kantkiss also gets super into the whole romance thing, which is again sort of anti the whole point of The Hunger Games and not a mockery of it so far as I understand.

Then the book goes fucking off the rails. The ending changes when it’s down to just Kantkiss, Pita and Archie. Instead of the other tributes coming back as ravenous dog monsters, they come back as adorable puppies and are only a danger to Archie, who is apparently allergic. Anyway, Archie tries to kill Kantkiss with his metal football, misses, and, to stop her from shooting him with an arrow, flirts with her. She promptly falls in love with Archie and hopes Pita will die. All three of them threaten to eat the berries and the Capital caves, but then Pita eats the berry anyway because he is a fat bastard and could not wait for more food. It’s okay, though. He doesn’t die entirely because he comes back as a puppy (still fat AND carrying food btw) for Kantkiss. Meanwhile, Kantkiss loves Archie but he is not interested. The end.

The Hunger Pains is a hot lazy mess. It betrays a lack of understanding of the source material, and, rather than looking at The Hunger Games through a satirical eye, throws in a bunch of fart jokes and stereotypes. The fact that these people are making money off of such a shallow, sexist, racist effort really disgusts me. But, hey, read it if you want to.

not doing that

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

hunger pains

Up Next:

Just One Year - Gayle Forman

The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be Just One Year by Gayle Forman, which Ashleigh Paige (The YA Kitten) was nice enough to stick in the suggestion box so I would read it sooner rather than later. Miraculously, the ploy worked. Mwahaha. Anyway, I really hope I love this one, but I know a lot of people were disappointed. *bites nails*

Want to tell me what to read? Fill out the following form with a suggestion! For more details, check this post.

28 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #44: The Hunger Pains”

  1. Ellis says:

    OH BURN

    OH SNAP

    OH GIFS (perfect perfect perfect)

    OH YOU REBEL, not tagging your spoilers.

    Okay, so I did laugh a little at the Effu Poorpeople.

    OH MORE BURN/SNAPS

    What. The. Fuck. Is. That. Ending. Oooh, this book. Oh oh oh. It completely misses the point. For shame, Harvard. Harvey Specter would be ashamed. This effort is just embarrassing. I’m not sure if the writer(s) even read the books. This seems like it could just as well be a parody on the movie, especially because it focuses on the romance. The love triangle isn’t even that big of a deal in the books, but it is marketable, so of course they increase its presence in the franchise.

    I can’t even with the sexism, racism and fatphobia. What is even the point? Ooooh, this book. It should be burned.

    IF WE BURN, YOU BURN WITH US.

    Blegh. They’ll probably parody the next books too. Catching Farts and Suckingjay or something. This is the end of literature.
    Ellis recently posted…Rewind Review – Every Which WayMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      THAT’S RIGHT. MAKE ME ANGRY ENOUGH AND I CAN’T EVEN SPOILER TAG BECAUSE EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW HOW BAD IT IS.

      Seriously, that ending. Like, do you guys know what a parody is? There was never any sort of romantic dynamic between Katniss and Cato, so where the eff did that come from?

      While I do think you’re on point with those titles (tee hee), I think the fact that they turned Pita into a dog closes the door to sequels, thank goodness.

  2. Oh wow. I can’t even. When you first mentioned this one it sounded funny but no. Just no.
    Dana (Little Lovely Books) recently posted…Dark Places by Gillian FlynnMy Profile

  3. My lip was already heavily curled in disgust by the second gif, which meant this was going nowhere good. I’m glad I generally avoid parodies or I might have stumbled into this hot mess and accidentally set fire to my dorm room trying to erase the book’s existence from the face of the earth. Sorry you suffered through this, Christina! At least it’s over.

    Whoo! Just One Year next! Here’s hoping you like it.

    (This has also given me the idea to put THL’s Twilight parody NIghtlight in there next time you’re being bad. HAHAHAHAHAHA!)
    Ashleigh Paige recently posted…Review: The School for Good and Evil by Soman ChainaniMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      And at least it was short. If a book must be bad, it ought to be short. I mean, I haven’t ripped into a book in a while, so it was good in that sense. I’ve been DNFing like a mad woman, so I might lose my badass street cred. I’m thinking about doing another roundup of DNFs, but I got trolled the one time I did. Still, I think people like to see that info to not get trapped with a thing they won’t like.

      When am I bad? You’re maligning my character!

  4. I have only tried to read one parody and it was really awful. I guess I just don’t get the humor. Or I just don’t do parodies. Either way. I am glad that I don’t since if I did, I would have likely picked this up and hated it. I love the GIF at the end!! I totally almost spit my coffee when I saw it.
    Amy @ Book Loving Mom recently posted…Weekly Recap / Stacking the Shelves (77)My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Parody can be quite clever, but I think it’s sort of like SNL. A few sketches are REALLY good, but many of them are inane and offensive. Sadly, this was the latter.

      That gif is how this book feels. X_X

  5. Alessandra says:

    Ahem. I’ve always thought Gale *had* a girl name in The Hunger Games. I’ve never really understood his appeal.

    BTW, next Wednesday Catching Fire comes out where I live so I’m going to see it! Yay!
    Alessandra recently posted…Book review: The Keepers: Sienna by Rae RiversMy Profile

  6. Angie F. says:

    Oh wow. This sounds terrible. I’m not good with humor to begin with, but I definitely know I do not find fat jokes or bathroom humor funny. But OMG puppies! 😀

    And “Effu Poorpeople” did make me giggle. That’s a good one.
    Angie F. recently posted…Review: World After (Penryn & the End of Days, #2) by Susan EeMy Profile

  7. Meg says:

    ZING!

    GET ‘EM CHRISTINA!

    Gosh, this all looks so. clever. I can’t believe you made it all the way through. I can see where writing a good parody could be a pretty tricky thing. If you can’t do it, writing a mindless, offensive piece of garbage is not a good back up plan. Lazy writing pisses me off. I agree with Ellis, it sounds like they couldn’t even be bothered to read the book. Did they get into the politics at all? (Well, I guess that mostly came into play in 2 and 3, BUT STILL.)

    Weren’t The Harvard Lampoon parodies actual witty parodies at one point? I’ve never read them, but had that impression once upon a time. Maybe I was just blinded by the ‘Harvard’ bit and assumed.

    Love the Book in a Gify, both the feature and the gif. I wish I hadn’t been drinking coffee when I scrolled to it. I keep going back up to look at it and laugh as I type this. The internet is an amazing place.

    • Christina Franke says:

      Exactly. If you can’t write a good parody, what even is the point? I really hope this wasn’t a big moneymaker. Basically I think frat boys might like and people who really didn’t like The Hunger Games when some love interest or family member made them go, mostly so they could taunt the fan.

      Nope, politics really not at all. They didn’t do anything with the main emotional arcs of the book.

      I’m assuming they were witty? I’ve not read any others though, so it’s hard to say.

      The internet is both amazing and terrifying. Thank you, internet; pass the eye bleach.

  8. As soon as I read the names i realized this is not the type of parody I like. I like deeper humor and to me it’s not funny when I read butt/poop etc. I do not like how they twisted the characters and ending, I do not find it funny at all.
    So far I have read only one parody which worked for me ‘Fifty Shades of Mr. Darcy’ and it might be because I read it after ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and it hit all the right places that bothered me in that book.
    Dragana @ Bookworm Dreams recently posted…Book review: Steelheart by Brandon SandersonMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Nope. I’m fairly childish sometimes, but a little bit of poop humor goes a really long way. And making fun of people’s physical attributes or gender really isn’t clever in the slightest. Whaaaat? Fifty Shades of Mr. Darcy. I’m not sure if I should read that, but also it has Darcy in the title. X_X

      • I agree if you can’t think of some smarter way how to make fun of peoples attributes, do not do it at all.
        As for ‘Fifty Shades of Mr. Darcy’ I recommend it as therapy when you get sick of new adult contemporary romances, if you can stand to read twisted version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. It makes fun of everything: heroines that blush or are clumsy, bdsm elements, heroes who cock their heads to the side or smirk…
        Dragana @ Bookworm Dreams recently posted…Book review: Steelheart by Brandon SandersonMy Profile

  9. Ya know, I’m not really surprised that they published a Hunger Games parody but the fact that it’s more childish humour rather than satire is just really sad. I was a HUGE fan of the book series and don’t mind people poking fun at it so long as it’s done in a smart, cheeky sort of way. Racism and sexism are NOT smart or cheeky AT ALL. This is definitely one of those books I will NOT be dedicating my time to.

    Before you know it, Hunger Pains will be made into a movie much in the vain of Scary Movie or Disaster Movie but probably WAY worse and that makes me sad.
    Nikki @ Foil the Plot recently posted…Book Review: Prodigy by Marie LuMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Exactly. I don’t think I’d mind people making fun of it were it done in a clever way, but this was just embarrassing. They’re more poking fun at themselves than THG, only they’re doing that unintentionally. THG has flaws, but they largely didn’t make use of those and just made THG more stereotypical. WHY?

      Oh lord, I hope not.

  10. I doubt I would really like this because it sounds pretty offensive, but I do enjoy some crude humor and some of the events you summarized made me laugh pretty hard, so IDK. I have no intention of reading this, however, because like Amy said, I don’t find parodies to be worthy of my time. Call me pretentious, but I would rather read the original source material. I don’t like parody movies like Scary Movie or the others either. *shrugs* Sorry you had to suffer through this.
    Kara @ Great Imaginations recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday: Things We Are Thankful ForMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Lol, Kara, you’re a fourth grader at heart. A little of that humor goes a LONG way for me. *shrugs*

      Okay, you’re pretentious.

      :-p

      Eh, I’m sure there are parodies I’ve enjoyed, though I’m hard-pressed to come up with them atm, but this was not it. I wouldn’t have chosen it on my own either.

  11. I just knew this one was gonna be gooooood. My dust cloud was pretty apropos.

    While I laughed at the name change of Peeta to Pita (since I do it myself sometimes, but only in my head)

    As for the other things… uh… no. Big Fail Whale. My biggest peeve was the change of Rue’s name. Rue. What. The. Bleep.
    Lisa (Fic Talk) recently posted…Comment on Blog Tour & Review: Greed by Fisher Amelie by LisaMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Bahaha, I am glad that you think this one is good.

      Run Babyrun. Really? A couple of these things could have been used in a legit parody, but most of it’s sooooo lazy. And, while Pita’s funny, they could have gone with baguette or something, just to do something different. We all figured out a while ago that Peeta sounds like Pita.

  12. WOW. This is an absolute no. How could you get through this? Ugh.
    Lenore Appelhans recently posted…Bookanista Review: Dangerous Girls by Abigail HaasMy Profile

  13. Krys says:

    Couldn’t agree more. OH LOOK GIF!
    My library has this book, and I thought “Oh! A parody. How nice.” I couldn’t even get through the first page. I couldn’t do a proper review, I actually felt sick to my stomach at how disturbing the idea of the book. Yup, that was me, and reading your review actually made me nod, smile, and tear up because of how true my feelings were.
    I definitely sensed your frustration and I couldn’t blame you. Could. not. blame. you one bit.
    – Krys
    Krys recently posted…Choices, Choices, so Many ChoicesMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I’m glad you agree with my assessment, though I’m sad that anyone else read this. Fail, book, fail!

      These people clearly didn’t get THG. It’s not like there aren’t elements that could be parodied, but they didn’t put in the time to do something real or clever.

      • Krys says:

        Yea, the parody was terrible, and I just can’t bare to disown it because it’s so terrible that it would never sell and I can’t let myself give it to one of the teachers for their own classroom library. It’s pretty dreadful, some kids take it out, but I wonder how far into the book, and I don’t want to take it away completely since teens need to learn how to discern good from terrible literature.
        Krys recently posted…New-to-Me Authors of 2013My Profile

  14. […] Hunger Pains, the parody that’s not funny by Christina. The GIFs make it […]

  15. ash green says:

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