I heard about the Hunger Games sometime late last year, but the title originally did not catch my attention. It wasn’t until my friend and I were Christmas shopping last year and she was buying books two (Catching Fire) and three (Mockingjay) for herself that I finally decided to ask what all the fuss was about. She described the plot and I was intrigued. At the start of spring semester I was finally able to get my hands on a copy of the first book, and I read it in three days, finishing the entire series within three weeks total. Upon completing the series, the new movie trailer had come out, and I had quickly purchased my opening day tickets.
One of the reasons I love the series so much is because of the strong female lead characters. Hunger Games was written by a woman and stars a woman. However, as much as I am in love obsessed with JK Rowling, her series isn’t named Hermione Granger) — truly making Hunger Games a full-on “Girl Power” franchise. What’s even better is that even though Hunger Games stars a female character, the trilogy is still loved and read by boys, girls, men, and women equally. Hunger Games has few definitive lines between genders. In fact in many ways it even goes against our society’s gender norms. For example, Katniss is a skilled hunter and the ultimate breadwinner for her family. Additionally, the concept of the Hunger Games does not allow for sexism– it’s about 12 boys and 12 girls that fight to the death. Girls are not given a running head-start or extra protection. Each child is ranked from 1-12 under the same exact standards. Boys kill boys, girls kill boys, boys kill girls, and girls kill boys. Moreover, the fashion sense portrayed in the capitol is very unique. Both men and women wear makeup and dye their hair. The clothes are very bright and frock-like, almost like Louis XVI meets the twenty-second century. However, during the sponsorship portion of the games, Katniss is made into “perfection” by her male stylist, Cinna. Her goal is to almost “sell herself” as a young woman tribute in order to receive sponsors– in other words, make the audience like her. Katniss is dressed in a form fitted, fire-breathing dress, and seen very much as a sex symbol whereasthe boys are made into manly men. One of the reasons I love Hunger Games is because it is basically the complete opposite of Twilight.I feel that Bella Swan is a poor role model for young girls due to her unhealthy infactuation with her boyfriend and their controlling, abuse relationship, as well as her desire to change herself. The Team Edward versus Team Jacob have transferred to Team Peeta and Team Gale. When I went to the movie showing there was a group of young teenage girls in front of us, who were saying, “Oh my God, Team Peeta all the way. He is just so gorgeous.” This made me sad because the point of the book series is not Katniss choosing a man, but Katniss leading the rebellion to take down the evil dictatorship that is the Capitol, yet the infatuation of women needing to have men at their sides have again lead to an entirely almost nonexistent focal point of the series and of Katniss’s character.
As for the movie, I LOVED it. The storyline was followed almost perfectly, with a few insignificant details, really (ie: Where Katniss got the Mockingjay pin, or the Tributes’ eyes not being apart of the dog.) I thought the casting and acting was phenomenal. Jennifer Lawrence was amazing, and I thought they cast the perfect Rue. I loved Lenny Cravitz as Cinna and I thought Peeta and Gale were great. The only two characters I pictured differently were Haymitch (who I imagined older, drunker, and much less attractive), and President Snow (who I pictured as more of a Steve Martin sort of guy). However I was okay with who they cast after watching the movie. I loved that in the movie, it was as if Suzanne Collins was saying, “Yes, the Capitol is as bad as you think,” especially when they were showing how the fire and dogs just magically appeared in the book. However, I thought the movie, which did not have much dialogue, took away from the reader’s relationship with Katniss. I felt I got to know Katniss so much more in the books. However I am well aware that it is impossible to completely transfer certain aspects of books to the big screen.
Two of my favorite characters in the book are Cinna, who is Katniss’s stylist, and Rue, who is a twelve-year-old tribute from District Eleven. Both also happen to be black. Our textbook lists a bunch of ways in which we experience white privilege. It wasn’t until reading this article about how racist Hunger Games fans were disappointed with the movie because of the black characters that I realized all of the Caucasian representation in the world of film, especially in this movie as well as Harry Potter. In this article, various tweets were collected of people commenting things such as, “Why does Rue need to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie,” or “Ewww Rue’s black? I’m not watching…” or even worse, “Rue’s death was less sad because she was black.” Perhaps my personal
“favorite” was, “I knew Rue had darker skin but I didn’t really take it all the way to
black.” Reading these comments made me sick to my stomach and made me realize the images that are still portrayed in many young peoples’ minds about different minorities and races, as well as the evil racism and predjudices that still corrupt minds of people in this country.
Overall great movie, great book, great all around, and only 19 more months until Catching Fire!
May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor,