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March 26, 2012 11:16 AM   Subscribe

In the book version of The Hunger Games, the tributes Rue and Thresh from District 11 are described as having "dark brown skin." In the film version of The Hunger Games, Rue and Thresh are played by Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi, who are both black. However, a surprising number of fans (presumably the same ones who complained when Idris Elba played Heimdall in Thor - previously) are upset that black people were cast in these roles rather than the white people they imagined. Hunger Games Tweets provides continuing coverage of whatever the hell these people were thinking.
posted by mightygodking (313 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
The characters are described as having "dark skin" in the books. The racists can't have been all that surprised, surely?
posted by alby at 11:19 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You should have included a SPOILER ALERT.
The very first text is a big spoiler.
posted by Flood at 11:19 AM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


Wow wow wow. The Jezebel link points out that both characters are described as dark-skinned and a third black actor in the movie plays a character that didn't have their skin tone discussed at all.
posted by thecjm at 11:19 AM on March 26, 2012


They should meet the people who are upset that Jennifer Lawrence was cast as the "olive-skinned" Katniss.
posted by acidic at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


The characters are described as having "dark skin" in the books. The racists can't have been all that surprised, surely?

People tend to gloss over descriptions of characters, particularly if the elements of the description aren't integral to the plot of the story (haven't read Hunger Games, but I'm assuming they aren't)
posted by downing street memo at 11:20 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I propose a moratorium on posts about The Hunger Games, and that all existing posts and comments about it be edited so that they are about The Hunger.
posted by The World Famous at 11:21 AM on March 26, 2012 [44 favorites]


They should meet the people who are upset that Jennifer Lawrence was cast as the "olive-skinned" Katniss.

Yes, I am surprised by all the people who are upset by the casting because they believed book!Katniss was black or Native or multiracial. I think Collins was pretty clear in the book that Katniss was a brunette white woman; for instance, her sister Prim is blonde, blue-eyed, and fair skinned.

Jennifer Lawrence looks like she could be Suzanne Collins's daughter, which made Collins's obvious excitement about Lawrence's casting totally understandable to me.

But, you know, in this "death of the author" world, apparently what the author thinks about the characters doesn't matter.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:23 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


HOLY PISS. Thank You, mightygodking, for illuminating some deeply recalcitrant pocket of prejudice in my hind brain. Not from seeing the movie, but from just reading and picturing the book. I must have either totally glossed over that descriptor or ignored it ... been seeing them as white in my brain the whole way through.

Dammit brain, I don't want to be that way

Funnily enough though, I saw Cinna as being not-white. I don't think there was a specific shade associated with it (or passage of the book that described that), perhaps it was just the name itself that threw up that connotation. I'll need to navel gaze about whatever the hell that means about me for a good long while.
posted by Slackermagee at 11:24 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Black folks? In my escapist fantasy? It's more likely than you think.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:25 AM on March 26, 2012 [39 favorites]


downing street memo

When I read George R. R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons, a (human) slave-owner named Yezzan is described as morbidly obese. From that point forward, the only image of him that my mind could conjure was of Jabba the Hutt.

I expect to be somewhat disappointed if the HBO adaptation makes it that far.
posted by The Confessor at 11:25 AM on March 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


such idiotic complaints only have one result. More people watching the movie. It happens every single time. It happens so often that the cynical half of me figures that the complaints are staged in order to increase the publicity. Sadly the 2nd half of me, the real cynical part figures there really are ignorant assholes out there.

In the end
Some are staged
Some are nothing but trolls
Some are just joining in to play a game
and yes, some are probably really upset about the casting choice
posted by 2manyusernames at 11:26 AM on March 26, 2012


People tend to gloss over descriptions of characters, particularly if the elements of the description aren't integral to the plot of the story (haven't read Hunger Games, but I'm assuming they aren't)

(Spoilers, maybe)

Not integral to the plot, but the setting - it's never explicitly stated where Panem is, but it becomes fairly clear that it's North America. The fact that people from the agricultural zone are dark-skinned and treated substantially worse by the authorities than the Appalachian miners isn't exactly plot-critical but it's definitely a conscious choice by the author in terms of world-building.

(And I am only on about the Hunger Games so much because I read it last weekend and Have Opinions about it. They'll fade.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:26 AM on March 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


such idiotic complaints only have one result. More people watching the movie.

In order for this to be true, you would have to be able to produce at least one person who saw The Last Airbender.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:27 AM on March 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


Oh geez....I must have missed that description in the book, because I imagined them as being white.

So now I know that I just assume that characters are white unless I read otherwise. *sigh*. Oh well, thanks for the heads up, Metafilter, I'll try to keep an eye on that particular prejudice of mine in the future.
posted by jcreigh at 11:28 AM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed by the selection of Okeniyi. In the book, Thresh was tall and muscular. Okeniyi looks like an average height/build guy. So yeah, nothing about race, but in my mind, he looked more like a young Tiny Lister. With hair.
posted by KGMoney at 11:30 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, I wouldn't want to be around when these people find out about the new sheriff...
posted by griphus at 11:30 AM on March 26, 2012 [99 favorites]


Not integral to the plot, but the setting - it's never explicitly stated where Panem is, but it becomes fairly clear that it's North America. The fact that people from the agricultural zone are dark-skinned and treated substantially worse by the authorities than the Appalachian miners isn't exactly plot-critical but it's definitely a conscious choice by the author in terms of world-building.

I'm pretty sure it's explicitly North America and Appalachia; I read the books(well, two and half of the books) last week, and I'm pretty sure that Katniss talks about learning in school that they live in what used to be Appalachia.

I'll also confess that I completely glossed over the fact that Rue was described as dark skinned, but I'm not much for imagining what characters look like when I read, so I didn't have an image of her looking any particular way and I didn't think twice about the fact that she was black in the movie.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:30 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't have the "read every character as white" problem (and I totally saw Rue and Thresh and all of District 11 as Southern black folks, though I did envision Cinna as a white guy with reddish hair) but I do have the "read every character as male" problem sometimes.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:31 AM on March 26, 2012


I had always assumed that Rue was a 37-year-old bearded white dude like me. I guess that doesn't really make sense in retrospect, but I'm a little disappointed now that you're pointing it out to me.

I take comfort in the fact that Katniss looks like me, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:31 AM on March 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


... The Last Airbender made over $300 million worldwide.

Also, this is fun, but not as fun as the people who think Jennifer Lawrence was too fat to play Katniss Everdeen.
posted by eugenen at 11:32 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wish Suzanne Collins would post a video of herself greedily slurping from a flask labelled "RACIST TEARS." Cut to her rolling around in a giant pile of money, with the supertitle "HI HATERS."

Reminds me of an old yarn about the film The Ten Commandments. Supposedly, when the film premiered in Ireland, the audience found it hilarious. They were rolling in the aisles with laughter. What was so funny? God spoke with an American accent, which is of course ridiculous.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:33 AM on March 26, 2012 [43 favorites]


I wish there were a button on twitter like 'retweet this', except it actually tasers the person.
posted by empath at 11:33 AM on March 26, 2012 [70 favorites]


Here seems as good a place as any to say that I have never read the books and went in totally expectations-free (didn't even see the trailer), and damn, but that was a nicely constructed piece of dystopian-fueled cinema.

As far as the race thing goes, sometimes I wonder about the tendency in white people to assume characters are white unless stated otherwise-- how much of it is our own biased cognitive tick that makes us think everyone looks like us, and how much of it is socially conditioned by the fact that, unless a different race is explicitly stated, almost all media will portray any given character as white, thereby conditioning us to do the same? Probably some combination of both.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:33 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I hope when they make a movie of my life they get Idris Elba to play me, but only if Casey Affleck is unavailable.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:33 AM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm guessing they don't like James Patterson's Alex Cross either.
posted by tommasz at 11:34 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously, random people on the internet are stupid? I, for one, am shocked and appalled.

A whole lot of young Zimmerman types use twitter. Until we can throat punch over TCP/IP it's not getting any better.
posted by DigDoug at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's important to note that this isn't new.

I've been on the net a long time, and Usenet was rife with complaints about a black actor playing a Vulcan on Star Trek: Voyager. Bruce Timm took a drumming for saying that he didn't want to write about "a bunch of white guys in tights saving the world" on the Justice League animated series.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The creator of the Tumblr really does get to the heart of why this is so apalling:

All these… people… read the Hunger Games. Clearly, they all fell in love with and cared about Rue. Though what they really fell in love with was an image of Rue that they'd created in their minds. A girl that they knew they could love and adore and mourn at the thought of knowing that she's been brutally killed.

And then the casting is revealed (or they go see the movie) and they're shocked to see that Rue is black. Now… this is so much more than, "Oh, she's bigger than I thought". The reactions are all based on feelings of disgust.

These people are MAD that the girl that they cried over while reading the book was "some black girl" all along. So now they're angry. Wasted tears, wasted emotions. It's sad to think that had they known that she was black all along, there would have been [no] sorrow or sadness over her death.

posted by cell divide at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2012 [55 favorites]


As far as the race thing goes, sometimes I wonder about the tendency in white people to assume characters are white unless stated otherwise

You kind of have to assume certain things about the character just as a placeholder in your brain unless told otherwise. If I know something about the author, I tend to make the protagonist an image of the author, and if I don't, then I tend to make the protagonist into an image of me, until I'm told otherwise.
posted by empath at 11:36 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


The characters are described as having "dark skin" in the books. The racists can't have been all that surprised, surely?

They were picturing Italians.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:37 AM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


I hope when they make a movie of my life they get Idris Elba to play me, but only if Casey Affleck is unavailable.

Unfortunately they cast Jack McBrayer.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:37 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't think there's anything wrong with our tendency to imagine characters so that they resemble ourselves. It doesn't make you a bad person or a racist.

On the other hand, complaining that the color of the cast doesn't match your imagination might make you a bad person or a racist.
posted by diogenes at 11:37 AM on March 26, 2012 [19 favorites]


I, for one, didn't think that Katniss looked...scrappy (?) enough in the movie, especially as there is a lot in the books about how the District 12 kids are used to being hungry while the bougie overfed District 1 and 2 kids can't handle it. But I LOVED the girl who played Rue. She was absolutely perfect.
posted by genmonster at 11:42 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man they are going to throw a FIT when they watch The Hitch Hikers Guide To the Galaxy.
posted by edgeways at 11:43 AM on March 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


I've been on the net a long time, and Usenet was rife with complaints about a black actor playing a Vulcan on Star Trek: Voyager. Bruce Timm took a drumming for saying that he didn't want to write about "a bunch of white guys in tights saving the world" on the Justice League animated series.

I was mostly upset that they cast an android instead of an actor to play Tuvok, but then, I've never been that happy with any Vulcans not played by Leonard Nimoy or Suzie Plakson.
posted by jb at 11:44 AM on March 26, 2012


I remember something sort of similar happening when a minor character in Harry Potter, Blaise Zabini, was revealed to be a black guy after a book or two with no descriptions of his appearance or even gender. People threw fits. It was absolutely ridiculous.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't think there's anything wrong with our tendency to imagine characters so that they resemble ourselves. It doesn't make you a bad person or a racist.

Xenophanes, 6th century BC:
But if cattle and horses and lions had hands
or could paint with their hands and create works such as men do,
horses like horses and cattle like cattle
also would depict the gods' shapes and make their bodies
of such a sort as the form they themselves have.
...
Ethiopians say that their gods are snub–nosed [σιμούς] and black
Thracians that they are pale and red-haired.

(From Wikipedia. I'd like to be able to give a better citation for the translation but Wikipedia cites something in German, which is clearly not this.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2012 [29 favorites]


So in all honesty I would be just a teensy-bit less viscerally angry about this if the little girl they got to play Rue wasn't pretty much the cutest, most angelic-looking child ever.
posted by invitapriore at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Man they are going to throw a FIT when they watch The Hitch Hikers Guide To the Galaxy.

When I read the Hitch Hikers books as a kid, Ford was the character I could really never get a mental image of. Then they cast Mos Def and I'm all, "oh. Yeah, that's right."
posted by Navelgazer at 11:46 AM on March 26, 2012 [30 favorites]


Yes, let's leave casting decisions up to YouTube commenters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I remember something sort of similar happening when a minor character in Harry Potter, Blaise Zabini, was revealed to be a black guy after a book or two with no descriptions of his appearance or even gender. People threw fits. It was absolutely ridiculous.

What I didn't understand about this particular tempest in a teapot is that Blaise is a male name. Or at least Saint Blaise, Blaise Pascal, and some old guy named Blaise who lived down the street from my grandmother were all men.

(Blaise is an anagram for Isabel, but, um, names don't work that way.)
posted by madcaptenor at 11:49 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


So they envisioned a future North America with no black people at all? Did these folks read FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID as Utopian fiction?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heh, nice madcaptenor. Another one I've heard, attributed to various authorities and ethnicities, is "If triangles had a God he would have three sides."
posted by XMLicious at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Upset tweets over black people in movies, that's so 18th century. Excuse-me while I get my measles blankets.
posted by Meatafoecure at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2012


So they envisioned a future North America with no black people at all? Did these folks read FLOW MY TEARS, THE POLICEMAN SAID as Utopian fiction?
I was thinking they watched The Jetsons, myself.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 11:52 AM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I figure if triangles had a God he'd have four sides. Kind of like how on the Simpsons, the people have four fingers but God has five fingers.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:52 AM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'll never forget how my undergrad university's student newspaper published an outraged column on the fact that in the movie adaptation of Cold Mountain, the character of Ruby was played by Rene Zellweger, who is white, while the character in the book is black. The author was outraged that the Hollywood racists wouldn't cast a black woman in the role.

When my friend wrote a letter in to point out that premise of the article was incorrect - Ruby is white in the book - the paper wouldn't publish the letter. Come to think of it, that column might have been the editorial. Ah, the purity of the student press.
posted by Dasein at 11:54 AM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


So first they adapted toys into movies, then theme park rides, now the trend is board games? Hungry Hungry Hippos will not be ruined for me by the studios.
posted by notseamus at 11:57 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ford's ginger hair suggests he is white, but if there ever was a book, screenplay, record, television series, radio series, video game not to stand on consistency HHGTTG was it. Plus, fuck it, movies are such a corruption of novels anyone who gets their nose out of joint over the ethnicity of a character being wrong wrong wrong!!!! needs to grow up and actually give being an adult a try.
posted by edgeways at 11:59 AM on March 26, 2012


"When I was 10 I started watching this late one night & I freaked out and switched it off right where this video ends because something weird happened to me which I later learned in life was an erection."

The opening sequence of The Hunger
posted by mrgrimm at 11:59 AM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


What? Rue is explicitly black in the book, absolutely no question.
posted by Malla at 12:00 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


presumably the same ones who complained when Idris Elba played Heimdall in Thor

Since it was brought up, I saw this last night and Idris Elba was a pretty badass Heimdall. Anyone who complained before the movie came out is even crazier in retrospect. It was a shame the role was so small, but most of the secondary characters from Asgard didn't really get that much screen time either I guess.

Man they are going to throw a FIT when they watch The Hitch Hikers Guide To the Galaxy.

I didn't hate this movie, but its shortcomings were definitely attributable to trying to adapt the book rather than casting choices. Mos Def did fine; I'm just not sure if the book is a good one to make a movie out of.
posted by Hoopo at 12:00 PM on March 26, 2012


Hungry Hungry Hippos is one of the few board games that I can imagine would make a TOTALLY FUN AND AWESOME movie.
posted by hermitosis at 12:01 PM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


they're coming ...and no one can stop them

NIGHT OF THE HIPPOS
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Viewers who read the whole series, like myself, probably tend to superimpose Prim's description over Rue due to the way Katiness compares them continually, I made the same conclusions. I wasn't by any means upset that Rue was black, just slightly caught off guard, and I really did imagine Cinna as much darker. Either way, great movie, and even better books!
posted by Jayed at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm having a very weird reaction to this, namely:

We have a Black man who is currently the President of the United States of America, and this is the shit they get worked up about? If you're really that racist, don't you have bigger fish to fry than a teenager action movie? Get your priorities straight, racist people!
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:04 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll never forget how my undergrad university's student newspaper published an outraged column on the fact that in the movie adaptation of Cold Mountain, the character of Ruby was played by Rene Zellweger, who is white, while the character in the book is black. The author was outraged that the Hollywood racists wouldn't cast a black woman in the role.

When my friend wrote a letter in to point out that premise of the article was incorrect - Ruby is white in the book - the paper wouldn't publish the letter.


Well, at least I wasn't the only one who somehow misidentified Ruby's race in the book (although I didn't write any letters about it.) Still, the letter-writer would have been better off raging against Nicole Kidman's awful, awful Southern accent.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:04 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rue onscreen looked very much like I pictured her in the book. I liked the fact that she & at least one of the other tributes (seen pretty briefly) were very young adolescents (pre puberty even?) and very small (like Prim). It underscored the horror of the reaping & the games.
posted by pointystick at 12:05 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Man they are going to throw a FIT when they watch The Hitch Hikers Guide To the Galaxy.

I didn't hate this movie, but its shortcomings were definitely attributable to trying to adapt the book rather than casting choices. Mos Def did fine; I'm just not sure if the book is a good one to make a movie out of.


It was a notoriously difficult story to adapt. Part of that was Douglas Adams rejecting many, many clueless takes. Part of it is that the richness of the story lies in quirky observational humor. Part of it is that Douglas Adams had a vision for it that he was entirely unable to articulate.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:05 PM on March 26, 2012


It was a notoriously difficult story to adapt.

The book was an adaptation of the radio drama, wasn't it?
posted by empath at 12:08 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Honestly, the real problem with Rue's character is that they didn't give her nearly enough screen time (the whole Katniss and Rue are allies portion of the book felt like it was five minutes in the movie) and so there wasn't any chance for the audience to develop any kind of attachment to her.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:09 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was a bit disappointed that they left out District 11's gift to Katniss. That was one of my favorite moments of the book. On the other hand, I loved that the movie was able to step outside of Katniss' perspective and show a little bit of what was happening outside of the games.

I still need to read the other two books...
posted by Gordafarin at 12:10 PM on March 26, 2012 [17 favorites]


Bulgaroktonos: "Honestly, the real problem with Rue's character is that they didn't give her nearly enough screen time (the whole Katniss and Rue are allies portion of the book felt like it was five minutes in the movie) and so there wasn't any chance for the audience to develop any kind of attachment to her."

Yeah, this. The poor girl had, what, three lines?
posted by Gordafarin at 12:11 PM on March 26, 2012


I didn't hate this movie, but its shortcomings were definitely attributable to trying to adapt the book rather than casting choices.

Actually, I'm not sure that any of the "adaptations" are straight-up adaptations of anything. Adams worked on all of them (yes, even on the film; he was working on a draft of the screenplay at the time of his death, and the paddle-things on the vogon homeworld were one of his ideas), and freely changed things according to whim because he kept getting New Ideas. Someone online summed up as "most fandoms have canon; Hitchhikers has suggestions".

Adams did always say that the one and only character he insisted on being of a particular "type" was Arthur; Arthur had to be English. Everyone else could be English, American, French, LIthuanian, black, white, superintelligent shades of the color blue, small furry creatures from Alpha Centuri, etc.

And yeah, Mos Def made a great Ford. Although I think there were probably a couple days early on in shooting where he had to take a moment and take someone aside and ask, "okay -- can someone explain to me what the fuck this all is about?" (But apparently, a couple of the actors in the radio series had the same reaction at some point - one had run into the other and they were catching up, and one said, "so, I'm doing this radio series at BBC now, where the script makes no sense and I"m not sure what my part is or where it fits in to the whole scheme of things," and the other guy said, "I think that may be the same show I'm in.")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I think that Jayed nailed the problem here; Rue and Thresh's skin color was mentioned in passing, but never critical to the plot (although informative of the setting, as restless nomad noted), but the connection between Rue and Prim in Katniss's mind is a crucial element of the plot. It's only natural for readers to contract the assumption chain Katniss (LOOKS LIKE) Prim (IS LIKE) Rue down to Katniss (LOOKS LIKE) Rue.
posted by The Confessor at 12:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Idris Elba can be in anything he wants: Thor, Luther, my bed, whatevers.
posted by Jehan at 12:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


[Hitch Hikers Guide] was a notoriously difficult story to adapt.

The book was an adaptation of the radio drama, wasn't it?


Yes. And the TV series was an adaptation of the radio drama as well.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:13 PM on March 26, 2012


Some of these kids might just be upset that the characters are different than they envisioned. You know how much people get attached to characters in books. I hate that Tom Cruise has been cast as Jack Reacher, but I don't have a general dislike of short men! However, I do see that some of the tweets come across as racist.
posted by cherrybounce at 12:13 PM on March 26, 2012


the real problem with Rue's character is that they didn't give her nearly enough screen time
I loved Katniss & Peeta but as with all sci-fi and fantasy movies/books I watch & read, my favorite thing is always the universe creation and I am perpetually frustrated that I can't know more about the minor characters or odd little details about the world. Is there a name for that? Maybe some German portmanteau?
posted by pointystick at 12:14 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


the connection between Rue and Prim in Katniss's mind is a crucial element of the plot. It's only natural for readers to contract the assumption chain Katniss (LOOKS LIKE) Prim (IS LIKE) Rue down to Katniss (LOOKS LIKE) Rue.

Not having read the book before the movie, I assumed that Katniss' reactions to Rue were because she reminded her of Prim, especially at the end of Rue's time on screen.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:15 PM on March 26, 2012


Man you guys think that's embarrassing, I spent the whole book series thinking Katniss was a dude.

I'm pretty sure it's explicitly North America and Appalachia; I read the books(well, two and half of the books) last week, and I'm pretty sure that Katniss talks about learning in school that they live in what used to be Appalachia.

It is also mentioned that the Capitol is situated in a mountain range that used to be called The Rockies. It could be in Canada, but given the Appalachia thing, likely not.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 12:20 PM on March 26, 2012


Yes, I am surprised by all the people who are upset by the casting because they believed book!Katniss was black or Native or multiracial. I think Collins was pretty clear in the book that Katniss was a brunette white woman; for instance, her sister Prim is blonde, blue-eyed, and fair skinned.

begging your pardon, but Katniss is described as having olive skin and dark hair, and Prim's blonde hair and blue eyes are singled out in the book as being highly unusual for the people of District Twelve.

I was doing clinicals in a mostly-Latino/a middle school when the casting of Jennifer Lawrence was announced. It was a much quieter day than usual in the hallways. The white kids couldn't understand what the problem was; they rolled their eyes and said things like "Well, they'll just dye her hair brown! So what?" While the tween-and-teen Latina girls were speaking in subdued tones, saying "But, she's supposed to look like us."

More white bullshit--completely unconscious that the fact that all of the heroes they see in the movies look just like them is *privilege*, not *default*.
posted by tzikeh at 12:20 PM on March 26, 2012 [42 favorites]


Or rather -- it is the default, which is white privilege, but is seen as "normal."
posted by tzikeh at 12:21 PM on March 26, 2012


Seems like a lot of movies set in the future conjecture a kind of kinky-sleek-over-coiffed-tortured-hat fashion look. Which probably indicates that actually another period of floppy-hairy-informal fashion coming.
posted by telstar at 12:22 PM on March 26, 2012


My raging Octavia Butler fangirlishness is such that when I first read the description of Rue, I was pretty sure a heroine had walked out of one of her books and into Collins's. And I was thrilled.
posted by gusandrews at 12:22 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


More white bullshit--completely unconscious that the fact that all of the heroes they see in the movies look just like them is *privilege*, not *default*.

I'm not sure there's much privilege in amusing that the daughter of a coal miner in Appalachia would be white. Most of them are.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:22 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Reminds me of "A Whitewashed Earthsea" about the TV production of Ursula LeGuin's novel (featuring 'copper-coloured' protagonists).
posted by anthill at 12:23 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hate that Tom Cruise has been cast as Jack Reacher

Wait, what??! Wrong. So very wrong.
posted by rtha at 12:25 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, and for the record, the 14-year-old girl who played Rue did a fantastic job.

MASSIVE SPOILERS AVOID THE STUFF BELOW

I was a bit disappointed that they left out District 11's gift to Katniss.

This is one of the few things I was actually upset about. I realized while reading the books that, aside from it being late in the game and the bread having to have been expensive to send (meaning the people of District 11 pooled together to send it)... that bread, or some other item that could help, could have gone to Thresh. The bread is a message to Katniss for how much they appreciated her compassion. And although the people of District 11 are aware of everything that Katniss has done (intentionally or not) to stand against the Capitol's barbaric practices, in the movie by holding out that gift of District 11 bread, Katniss goes without knowing how much they appreciated it.

Leaving out the bread leaves out the key point of finding similarity with other Districts, despite having almost no contact with them. I honestly think the bread is a keystone to later solidarity and passion for the rebellion.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 12:26 PM on March 26, 2012 [33 favorites]


I'm not sure there's much privilege in amusing that the daughter of a coal miner in Appalachia would be white. Most of them are.

Not when she's described otherwise. Not when it's made clear that a pale-skinned girl with blue eyes and blonde hair is a major exception. Not when it's hundreds of years in the future.
posted by tzikeh at 12:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


anyone who gets their nose out of joint over the ethnicity of a character being wrong wrong wrong!!!! needs to grow up and actually give being an adult a try.
I think it's totally legit for Le Guin to be upset about Ged's whitewashing in the Earthsea adaptation or the whitening of the characters in Avatar, while people with out-of-joint noses about these Hunger Games characters not being white are not just childish but racist. This here is an asymmetric outrage situation.

Also, more trivially:
Maybe some German portmanteau?
"Mantelträger," surely.
posted by col_pogo at 12:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't know anything about The Hunger Game book or movie, but isn't it missing the point when you group the people being upset that a black actor is playing someone described in the litterature as a black character, with the people being upset with Idris Elba playing Heimdall, described in the litterature as the white god, the whitest god of them all?

Not that I really mind. As long as there is no pretence of verisimilitude, we can have black samurai, asian vikings and white zulu warriors and the film would be better for it.
posted by cx at 12:28 PM on March 26, 2012


cx: the problem is you can't hold a mainstream marvel comics movie to descriptions from Norse literature. There's too many levels of separation.
posted by mad bomber what bombs at midnight at 12:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think they superimposed the salute to replace the bread... If I remember correctly that happens in the second book, but it does reflect the emotion intended by the author. If they left everything in it would have had to been three movies!
posted by Jayed at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2012


I don't know anything about The Hunger Game book or movie, but isn't it missing the point when you group the people being upset that a black actor is playing someone described in the litterature as a black character, with the people being upset with Idris Elba playing Heimdall, described in the litterature as the white god, the whitest god of them all?

The "gods" in the Marvelverse are space aliens, not real gods.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't get past the tweet someone wrote where they said they weren't as sad when Rue died in the movie because she was black. While staring at the real face of the human child who played that part in the movie. Who may someday google herself and read about her co-citizens expressing that her death is just not as sad as the death of a white girl.

Not that we don't already have plenty of evidence that people feel this way. But to say it so directly and without any shame. Extra upsetting.
posted by prefpara at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [39 favorites]


> As long as there is no pretence of verisimilitude

yes i demand my magical space gatekeeper look exactly like the magical space gatekeeper actually looked
posted by pts at 12:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


[Hitch Hikers Guide] was a notoriously difficult story to adapt.

I once saw a stage production of HHGG done by high schoolers. The performance I saw was in the afternoon on the day after a Harry Potter book was released. All the actors were loopy from being up all night reading, and during intermission the ones who hadn't finished it yet were trying to avoid having it spoiled for them.

Turns out, to make a top-notch, thoroughly enjoyable production out of HHGG you don't need a big budget or special effects, just a bunch of sleep-deprived teenagers.
posted by gurple at 12:32 PM on March 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


I always pictured Katniss as quite dark (certainly not white, but I didn't go into that many imaginary details) and Rue as fair. I grant this has nothing to do with the characters as described in the book, but I tend to make up my own descriptions that differ from the books anyhow as I tend to skip over the descriptions of people (not of places). I didn't mind finding out that Rue was Black and the casting seems fine, but I just wasn't ecstatic with Jennifer Lawrence.

I haven't seen the movie yet, though.

People who are upset that Idris Elba is cast as any character at all ever are just wrong.
posted by jeather at 12:35 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know which to be more disappointed about, the racism or the poor reading comprehension.

OK, OK, it's the racism. But I am VERY disappointed about the reading comprehension. It is so obvious in the books that Rue and Thresh are black. And the girl who plays Rue looks just like I thought she should look. Adorable, but deadly. Like a kitten.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:37 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Man you guys think that's embarrassing, I spent the whole book series thinking Katniss was a dude.

It was very startling for me to see that the elves in the LOTR movies weren't southeast Asian. Somehow I'd pictured them that way when I was a kid and it just stuck. Tolkien talked about other RACES, and races had always had different colors and features in my experience.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:37 PM on March 26, 2012


I was pretty happy with woman they picked for Katniss. She's not a waifish beauty and she looks good and fierce. I thought she did a decent job of Mystique, too.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, the Blaise Zabini thing. I think my "favorite" part of that whole brouhaha was the Americans (on both sides of the discussion) referring to him as "African-American." >.<
posted by tzikeh at 12:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


The clear consensus of MetaFilter is that Idris Elba should have played Katniss.
posted by Shepherd at 12:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [46 favorites]


I was quite pleased with the casting of Katniss, mainly because of this.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


SPOILERS, YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

I agree that the gift from District 11 was emotionally important, but I've been thinking about it a lot and I don't see how they could have worked that in without being really clunky about it. There's so much internal knowledge that goes into how Katniss identified the bread from District 11 as being what it was that just can't be properly portrayed on screen: the differing type of grain, the scarcity of "real" bread, how expensive gifts get as the games progress, how much effort it would've taken District 11 to gather that much, etc. I mean, I suppose they could've stamped a big "11" onto the bread, but I think that would've taken away from the emotional gravitas of the scene.

There were a lot of really interesting directorial choices made in this adaptation. For example, I loved seeing the back-end manipulation that the Gamemaker engages in. I also loved the interjected cuts of Flickerman discussing the aspects of the terrain that the uninitiated viewer might not have understood. I loved seeing more of President Snow's machinations, and the Gamemaker's interactions with him, and Haymitch stepping up to negotiate. And, of course, the scenes of the riot in District 11 immediately following Rue's death were some of the most powerful scenes in the movie. But in making explicit certain things that were only implied in the book, the movie has to make certain other sacrifices. For example, had we gotten the full implication of a grieving district pulling together to send a gift to another district's Tribute, then we wouldn't have seen the explosion of emotion that followed Rue's death.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see where they go with the series. Book 2 and 3 are so much more cerebral than book 1, which already draws a lot of its strength from Katniss' inner turmoil. It'll be no small feat to portray that in a way that resonates.

Speaking of Katniss' inner turmoil, I was personally really disappointed with Jennifer Lawrence's performance. I find that Katniss' strength is in her fierce emotions and in her ability to rouse that same in others, whereas Lawrence's performance was more shell-shocked than anything else, which made her more of a bland victim than I would've liked. I love how quickly Katniss shifts into thinking of ways to play the game according to Capitol rules in the book--her smirking at the camera, her playing up the "twittering bimbo" for Flickerman so as to lower the other Tributes' guards, her understanding of the role of the star-crossed lover she has to play--and that was completely absent in the movie. In the movie, she was sullen, resentful, and not at all the leader of a revolution. I admit that Lawrence's performance of extreme repressed fear was great, but this isn't the right movie for it. Leave that for Katniss's full-on PTSD in book 3.
posted by Phire at 12:43 PM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think they superimposed the salute to replace the bread... If I remember correctly that happens in the second book, but it does reflect the emotion intended by the author. If they left everything in it would have had to been three movies!

This is true, and I do appreciate a lot of the logistical difficulties in pruning the book and still making the movie accessible to a fresh audience that hasn't read them.

But again. Spoilers for the entire book series below (I really feel like I need to say that, I'd feel terrible if I ruined something for someone):
I really do think if Katniss hadn't received that bread and been as obviously touched from the gesture as she had been in the book, when she went to District 11 on the victory tour (in Catching Fire) she may have actually stuck to the script that President Snow gave her, which was basically 'don't incite rebellion'. I know she cared deeply for Rue and was distraught at the pain Rue and Thresh's parents had gone through, but she didn't know about the unrest in District 11 at that point, and she could just have easily thought (although I do doubt it) that they weren't as appreciative as they were. It's only after she decides to speak up that they salute her, and then all hell breaks loose.

I do think it all very well might have happened anyway, without the bread. The bread, to me, was so important.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 12:46 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The part of the movie that was to me shockingly different from what I had pictured was the cornucopia. I thought it was going to be one of those wicker numbers! The future is a crazy place.
posted by troika at 12:47 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Can we have Hunger Games Posts every day? Preferably at least two...forever and ever and ever.
posted by Chekhovian at 12:51 PM on March 26, 2012


Lawrence's performance was more shell-shocked than anything else, which made her more of a bland victim than I would've liked.

Wow, no. Katniss was a pawn -- yes, she's smart and has enough savvy to manipulate her situation, but throughout the series, she's always one step behind because she is not privy to the power plays surrounding her. That's part of why her perspective is so interesting. She often plays the audience role in discovering the universe as it's unfolding.
posted by mochapickle at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


Sometimes watching the movie first enhances reading the book. I have never seen one instance of reading the book first enhancing the movie.

I am not one of those people looking forward to the film adaptation of Neuromancer.
posted by bukvich at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2012


I was quite pleased with the casting of Katniss, mainly because of this.

Slightly off topic, but I just realized that the guy who played Teardrop in Winter's Bone was Sol Star! And the actress who played Katniss' mother also played Trixie!

Just more evidence that Deadwood is one of the best things ever.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:52 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Troika, I thought the same thing. I always imagined it like some huge Thanksgiving thing... but you know, full of swords. Like Thanksgiving.
posted by phong3d at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


If the film taught me anything it's that being Asian means you don't even get a name, and there is no such thing as a Latino in the future.
posted by RubixsQube at 12:55 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That group photo of the Council of Conservative Citizens looks like the casting call for some movie about goblins.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


I think Jezebel has completely misrepresents the "anger" about Rue's blackness.

Most of the tweets I've seen about this complain about the race in a very anti-Hollywood, anti-left perspective, i.e. "there goes liberal Hollywood, pushing the black agenda." The complaint appears (to me) not to be that they don't like black characters in general, but that this was some underhanded move to use the book to promote a political agenda. The story is important to these girls/women, and they feel betrayed that someone alters it to suit their interests rather than a faithful telling of the story.

Jezebel is fairly hypocritical here. The real problem with THG is a feminist one-- the female lead is deus ex machinaed all the way to the end, she never works through the conflicts on her own. For example, though this is a story about kids killing kids, somehow Katniss never actually plans and executes any kids, she's never guilty of murder one. She does kill Rue's murderer, but it was impulsive and reflexive-- a defensive act. Ok, she also drops a hornets nest on some people, but unless I am mistaken the only thing she shoots with prejudice is a pig on a plate. In theory she should have to kill Peeta-- but no, we've changed the rules, you can have two winners.

That these "adolescent girl" stories-- Twilight and THG-- both have (in book 1) women who are essentially lead by men, circumstance, and fate-- whose main conflict is "do I love or don't I"-- is a window on our culture worth discussing. How are we raising our girls in this post-feminist world, after all? That Jezebel pretends there is a racial angle strikes me as a deliberate attempt to avoid the larger issue. Oh, the audience is racist, that's the problem.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 12:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


On a more relevant note (maybe SPOILERS better safe than sorry), I kept waiting for the bread from District 11 during the movie and was disappointed that it didn't come, but after careful consideration I think that showing the rioting was both more effective and more powerful in a visual way than doing the bread drop. The bread would have fit better had the movie explained the district setup better, but oh well.
posted by troika at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't get past the tweet someone wrote where they said they weren't as sad when Rue died in the movie because she was black. While staring at the real face of the human child who played that part in the movie.

I actually think it's a shame Jezebel highlighted that and the dude's (I am sure) catching shit about it. It's a remarkably open admission of discovering some subconscious racism in himself and feeling bad about it. I suppose he and I could be the only two privileged folks who find themselves unwillingly and unwittingly harboring racist inclinations but I'm pretty sure that's no so. There's times when having that sort of personal epiphany in public is inappropriate but he's talking about a fictional character, not a real person.

(And yea, I'm aware I'm assuming it's a dude at that's a whole other ball of problematic wax in and of itself)
posted by phearlez at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2012


I really missed the delivery of bread from District 11 as well. Here's the relevant piece of the text (along with a recipe!).

As six-or-six-thirty mentioned, for the poorer districts, no one could afford enough food, let alone enough to share. For me what was the most missing from the movie was actual hunger. I get the ridiculousness of people complaining that Lawrence wasn't skinny enough to play Katniss, but at the same time, except for one brief moment at the opening when she tears open a roll (and still doesn't take a bite, IIRC), we don't see Katniss eat. We don't see her react to the mounds of food around the way she does in the book - ravenously and constantly aware of it. Part of what makes Peeta such a good contender is that he's healthy - working for the baker allowed him more food than District 12 residents usually get. They never even mentioned that what the winner received wasn't "wealth," - it was a guarantee of enough to eat for themselves and their families. In the film, Katniss not only never seems hungry, she doesn't even seem afraid of being hungry again. And yet I feel like it is her knowledge of starvation and what it does - and what it means for her mother and sister, who can't hunt - that drives her, far more than just staying alive for herself. And I didn't get that from the movie.

I also found the televised portions (especially the Reaping, but also everything that happened in the arena, to be incredibly disappointing. For me, part of what this book is about is how slick media representations remove the reality from suffering and turn anything into entertainment. Every time a video screen was up, we should have been unable to look away from it ourselves. We certainly have the power to do that already. That one of the most arresting video screens in the film was the forest "window" in the hotel suite shows a real lack of understanding on the part of the filmmakers of what the Games were about. People weren't just watching because they were forced to. They were also watching because it was entertaining to watch. And outside of the "interview" segments, I just didn't get that.
posted by Mchelly at 12:59 PM on March 26, 2012 [16 favorites]


and they feel betrayed that someone alters it to suit their interests rather than a faithful telling of the story

Rue and Thresh are explicitly black in the book, people just ignored this part and are mad that the book wasn't what they thought it was.
posted by brainmouse at 1:00 PM on March 26, 2012 [10 favorites]


Page 42 of the Paperback of the Hitch hikers Guide to the Galaxy mentions Tricia McMillan's hair as black, the TV show makes he a blonde, and in my memory she's a Ginger.

Does this mean I'm attributing that Ginger's are special people, that I'm just mis-remembering something from a book, or one can change their hair color?

Its great to see the regular axe grinding of 'racism' - but how many of these tweets are just griefers working to stir the pot? Over something that matters little - a movie adaptation of a book. And a book that is about how much the future is gonna suck.

Isn't there actual recorded testimony of people being racist to other people to get upset over? Calling other Haji's? Or 'Who is gonna complain if I shoot you’ comments?
posted by rough ashlar at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2012


Over something that matters little - a movie adaptation of a book.

Art is the mirror held up to society to show it itself, and when it shows you that you don't count, that matters a LOT.

Isn't there actual recorded testimony of people being racist to other people to get upset over?

The argument that "aren't there more important things to be upset about?" is facile and always, always wrong. Don't do this.
posted by tzikeh at 1:05 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow, no. Katniss was a pawn -- yes, she's smart and has enough savvy to manipulate her situation, but throughout the series, she's always one step behind because she is not privy to the power plays surrounding her.

I never said she wasn't a pawn. The most heartbreaking part about Book 3 is her realizing that she's a pawn even to her own people, to the people who purport to do good. But she has her own ideas, and she has things she wants to do, and she isn't afraid to go after it. In the book, she drugs Peeta to go after the meds. She actively thinks about how her behaviour will be perceived by those watching the Games. She's smart enough to put on a fake expression and smile when she's making her grand entrance at the opening ceremonies, instead of staring ahead in shock. The Katniss in the books was smart enough to ingratiate herself, even if she didn't realize how she was being played. The Katniss in the movie mostly just stared and shook and did nothing to endear herself to the audience, whose investment in her love story are the reason the rules were changed to begin with.

That's part of why her perspective is so interesting. She often plays the audience role in discovering the universe as it's unfolding.

Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss would have been too numb to figure out that she's being manipulated, and that's what bugged me.
posted by Phire at 1:07 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to cut and paste FAMOUS MONSTER's comment from the Thor thread. YWIA.
It's not happening in a vacuum. Casting a white actor as a nonwhite character is furthering a problem; doing the reverse is addressing it. That might seem like a double standard to some people, and those people are cordially invited to go suck a dick on the moon.

The long and the short of it is that somewhere out there, there'll be some black kid who goes to the movies and sees Heimdall and is pleased that there's a badass, respectable guy who has some superficial traits in common with him, which is a rarity whether we want to admit that or not. Maybe he'll leave the theater, and he'll think that Thor is pretty cool and all, but Heimdall's who he's talking about. And maybe he'll buy the Heimdall action figure, and it'll be his favorite, and Heimdall will beat the everloving shit out of his bad-guy action figures. That buzz-cut guy from Avatar? Owned. His older brother's hand-me-down Lord Zedd? Pasted. Cobra Commander? Fuck you, Cobra Commander, you're getting the beatdown. He'll probably get the Thor, too, and they'll have adventures together, but Heimdall will be the main man and Thor's the sidekick and that is an okay thing. And Heimdall will be the one to drive the Batmobile, because he's friends with Batman and he drives it better.

And to be clear, if the day should ever come when the tables are turned, and maybe only one out of ten of the interesting, respectable, admirable and cool characters in a movie theater are white, then I'll care a little more about the white kid sitting in the theater. Because it's not about race for me, and I don't think it's necessarily about race for a lot of people who feel the same way. It's about folks being marginalized by a media machine which could do something to address the issue, but won't.

That's why Avatar was a problem but this isn't. In a market saturated with depictions of white folks, it's depressing that Hollywood didn't think an all-Asian cast would work out. You're right that these characters don't actually exist, but they're not what matters - what matters is the kid in the theater who could stand to have a cool, strong character who looks like he or she does.

You know?
posted by davidjmcgee at 1:08 PM on March 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


No matter how explicit it was in the books, people's minds will see what they want. I had up until the notes were actually whistled expected the Mockingjay tune to be the five note Close Encounters tune. Reading that part over in the book there's no way it could have been anything like the Close Encounters tune but even now as I type this I can't remember what the tune was in the movie, my idiot brain has subbed in those five notes

I am definitely not condoning the racist reactions, but I can see why people would be, initially, confused despite it being very clear in the text.
posted by troika at 1:09 PM on March 26, 2012


It's a remarkably open admission of discovering some subconscious racism in himself and feeling bad about it.

You're crazy. This is a person who tweets the follows: "Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad #ihatemyself". This person does not hate himself. This person is not "discovering" his racism. This is a proud racist showing off to his tweet peeps and adding a tag either as a joke or as cover.

Also, Felix Leiter must confuse the fuck out of these people.
posted by The Bellman at 1:11 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


That these "adolescent girl" stories-- Twilight and THG-- both have (in book 1) women who are essentially lead by men, circumstance, and fate-- whose main conflict is "do I love or don't I"-- is a window on our culture worth discussing.

I liked the HG books well enough but wasn't a fan the way others were, but I still think you're making an unfair comparison here. Katniss isn't a victim of circumstance, she's a victim of a deliberately structured societal system. The ways she chooses to act within this absolutely huge and overwhelming structure to personally prevail why struggling with not compromising her personal ethics is the whole point.

Comparing that to Bella's purely reactive and co-dependent behaviors doesn't seem to hold water. Katniss is always looking for ways to improve her own lot without needing others. Bella's story arc is all about the ways she needs others and picking who to be dependent on.

Now, is it too easy that Katniss can find a path to walk where she doesn't violate those principles? Perhaps, though as I recall from the book she does wrestle with the decision and feels remorse for her beehive trick turning out fatal. She also wrestles greatly with being shoved around by outside forces. She resists romance because of what it inevitably means to partner off.

How do you compare a character wrestling with whether to love because of her possible children (who she cannot use birth control to prevent from having) with one who deliberately risks harm to get the attention of a man?
posted by phearlez at 1:14 PM on March 26, 2012 [14 favorites]


Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss would have been too numb to figure out that she's being manipulated, and that's what bugged me.

I see what you're saying. They had to cut so much to get everything into a single movie, so I feel like they lost a lot of opportunities for those nuances -- the bread, the extra parachutes for meds and food, etc. But they did begin to show how Katniss introduced her own will into some situations (nightlock, the reaping) which affected events in the short term. We'll have 2-3 more movies to see Katniss's arc into someone stronger and more aware, and during that time, she'll make choices that move from short term impacts to long term impacts. Her final act of will in the 3rd/4th movie will make the biggest impact of all. Perhaps the screenwriters wanted her evolution to be more dramatic as she realizes how powerful she can actually be.
posted by mochapickle at 1:15 PM on March 26, 2012


> More white bullshit--completely unconscious that the fact that all of the heroes they see in
> the movies look just like them is *privilege*, not *default*.

Don't watch much Bollywood, I see.
posted by jfuller at 1:19 PM on March 26, 2012


Man, I wouldn't want to be around when these people find out about the new sheriff...CLANG!
posted by Eyebeams at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Don't watch much Bollywood, I see.

Though it has not been explicitly stated, we are clearly discussing American Hollywood movies and the undeniable whitewashing/defaulting to white that occurs in the industry.
posted by tzikeh at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Though it has not been explicitly stated, we are clearly discussing American Hollywood movies and the undeniable whitewashing/defaulting to white that occurs in the industry.

Just ignore the illogical responses. Not worth your time.
posted by polymodus at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry - hit post too soon.

the undeniable whitewashing/defaulting to white that occurs in the industry. We are talking about racism and how it is played out in both Hollywood movies and audience reactions to these movies. We are talking about movie adaptations of novels with characters of color and whether they make changes to the race of the characters.

If we were talking about worldwide cinema, the thread wouldn't look like this. Bollywood, Hong Kong cinema, the burgeoning Iranian film industry--these are all other topics about which we could talk, but we're not.
posted by tzikeh at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


On top of all the other things (the overt racism from some of the tweets, the reading comprehension problems evident not in merely missing the description of Rue but actively being CERTAIN it was otherwise, the indignation that originates in bad information) that are bothersome here, I'm really saddened by the idea that Katniss being reminded of Prim means Rue and Prim have to look alike. That's what I get from the "of course she can't be black; she reminds Katniss of Prim!" tweets.

I think it's fairly clear in the book that Katniss' response isn't visual in nature; it's situational. She doesn't think of Prim because Rue looks like her, but because Rue is like her: kind and vulnerable, in some ways the sitting-duck tribute Prim might have been if she'd had to go. Rue is the fate Prim avoided, and that absolutely doesn't require that they look alike.

It's incredibly sad to me that an expression of humanity, one human being recognizing the plight of another, strikes some of the Twitter-ers as implausible if the girls don't look alike. It's terrifying -- absolutely terrifying -- to think that we are incapable of empathy without its being accompanied by visual similarity. That would mean that only people who looked just like us could rouse our emotional responses and make us think of those we know who may have been in similar situations or faced similar problems or had similar needs. And as much as I know there's evidence of that limitation at work in the world, I like to think of it as one that people don't lie down and accept as either inevitable or desirable.

Moreover, if we can't identify with the plights of people who don't look like us, I wonder how the people behind these tweets feel about exactly how many movie characters there are for kids to relate to if those kids don't happen to be white.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [39 favorites]


Because of her ability to hide into the trees I kept on imagining that Rue was green. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I think a part of me imagined that they were all some how color coded by district. As for poor teeth in Appalachia, I figured since they couldn't afford food, they probably weren't drinking Mountain Dew either.
posted by raccoon409 at 1:29 PM on March 26, 2012


Also, this is fun, but not as fun as the people who think Jennifer Lawrence was too fat to play Katniss Everdeen.

People are total wankers.
posted by Summer at 1:32 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, when reading the book, I'd assumed Cinna was Asian.
posted by mochapickle at 1:33 PM on March 26, 2012


I always assume that people are colors that rhyme with their name. Ergo, Rue was blue. Katniss was Brown Swiss, which is a light brown cow color. The book's author is black and tan.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:35 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, when reading the book, I'd assumed Cinna was Asian.

I didn't think about Cinna's race for a second when I was reading the books, but once I heard they'd cast Lenny Kravitz I realized that I must have been assuming he was black the whole time.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:35 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I had up until the notes were actually whistled expected the Mockingjay tune to be the five note Close Encounters tune.

Heh. In my head, it was the original Zelda whistle tune.
posted by inigo2 at 1:35 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


"with the people being upset with Idris Elba playing Heimdall, described in the litterature as the white god, the whitest god of them all?"

Or "the brightest" in another translation. And even if white was intended, it could have been intended in the same way "Little John" in Robin Hood was the shortest.
posted by Auz at 1:37 PM on March 26, 2012


Loved the movie, loved the book (I'm on book 2 now) and would like to mention that I do remember knowing that Rue and Thresh were black. I don't remember how it was stated in the book, but it was never unclear to me.

SPOILERS BELOW



What I don't remember is Seneca Crane being locked in a room to (presumably) commit suicide by eating the poison berries. I've asked two other people who also don't remember that and really, none of us even remember the gamemaster that much at all, though the name Seneca Crane rings a slight bell for me. However, I just started book 2 and it does mention that there is a new gamemaker, that the last gamemaker died and that his name was Seneca Crane. His role must have been really expanded for the movie because I just don't really remember him at all, much less his fate as outlined in the movie.

Heh. In my head, it was the original Zelda whistle tune

I also thought of the Zelda song! Such happy memories of Zelda....
posted by triggerfinger at 1:37 PM on March 26, 2012


tzikeh: "Oh, man, the Blaise Zabini thing. I think my "favorite" part of that whole brouhaha was the Americans (on both sides of the discussion) referring to him as "African-American." >.<"

As an American in the UK who always has to catch herself before referring to Nigerians, African-Caribbean, and other Black British people as 'African American'... it's a really hard habit to get out of, if you've been taught your whole life that's what black people should be called.
posted by Gordafarin at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have very, very little geek cred, but I heard Hitchhiker when it was first broadcast, recorded the programmes onto C60 tapes (I think the response was so great that it was immediately repeated, and I filled in the first couple of episodes, which I hadn't taped, immediately). Then I proceeded to listen to them over and over again until I effectively had them memorised. I worry to this day about being set off in conversation, and finding myself able to repeat huge chunks of the series verbatim, with sound effects.

So I was excited about the book, which was published in paperback the following year, and bought it the day it was released. It's the only first edition of anything that had a second edition that I own, though it's not really in valuable condition. I was actually slightly disappointed - it seemed dragged out (odd for a book that short), and the inserted sections (such as the theft of the Heart of Gold) didn't have the imagination of the sections that had appeared in the radio series. The rest of the books similarly don't quite match up to the radio series - Adams' characterisations are a bit flat when they don't have an actor doing them, and the other books drag it out rather, with intermittent funny bits, some of which weren't even in the radio series, though they might have come from abandoned Doctor Who scripts.

On the whole, as novels go, Terry Pratchett has turned out to be a much more entertaining and satisfying Douglas Adams than Douglas Adams was. Still, that radio series was like Rock Around the Clock, She Loves You, Anarchy in the UK and Smells Like Teen Spirit all rolled up into one for me. Pure rock and roll.

I did enjoy the TV series (largely on account of the animations, which are much more Hitchhiker than anything Adams put in the books), despite its shortcomings (that head, for example). And I liked the movie hugely, almost as much as Hammer & Tongs' other film, Son of Rambow.

As far as the books go, I actually enjoyed the Dirk Gently books more. Strange watching the TV adaptations - Dirk and Richard are obviously Michael Bywater and Adams himself in the books. Darren Boyd is certainly tall enough to be Adams, Stephen Mangan entertainingly wrong as Dirk. Still it gives further employment to Jason Watkins, which I think is a good thing.

I have no opinion on The Hunger Games, although I did enjoy the Battle Royale with cheese joke.
posted by Grangousier at 1:38 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


SPOILERS. AGAIN.

What I don't remember is Seneca Crane being locked in a room to (presumably) commit suicide by eating the poison berries. I've asked two other people who also don't remember that and really, none of us even remember the gamemaster that much at all, though the name Seneca Crane rings a slight bell for me.

His role was much greater in the movie, yes. As far as I remember there was never any explicit explanation of how he died, aside from thinly-veiled comments by President Snow to Katniss that he was no longer with them. (I don't remember the exact words but it was pretty clear he was dead because he screwed up.) I'm fairly sure this was right before the victory tour.

But no, there was never any direct explanation of how exactly he died. I kind of appreciated his extended role and the neat (ha) way he got taken out though.

Then again I could watch him forever. I'm basically Team Seneca Crane's Beard.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 1:43 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Idris Elba as Heimdall was just awesome. Great look and great eyes for the role. I personally take Steve Hughes' view on people taking offense at such dumb, trivial things. (Skip to 3:20 in this clip.)
posted by Catblack at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2012


I've asked two other people who also don't remember that and really, none of us even remember the gamemaster that much at all, though the name Seneca Crane rings a slight bell for me.

I'm almost certain that the scene where Seneca Crane is locked in the room with the berries is an invention of the movie, although I did like it. He's enough more of a character in the movie that they needed to do something for his death.

As to how much I remembered him from the book, his name becomes briefly important in Book Two, and I had to use Google to look up who he was, despite having finished Book One earlier that day.

I'm basically Team Seneca Crane's Beard.

His beard was perfect. Honestly, it might have been the thing they got rightest.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:45 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


mochapickle

Perhaps it was because Cinna sounds similar to the prefix "sino-", meaning Chinese?
posted by The Confessor at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2012


You know what they call The Hunger Games in France? Battle Royale With Cheese. #moreaccuratethanitshouldbe #canttakecreditforthisone
posted by ooga_booga at 1:49 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Racialicious post from last November, Yes, There Are Black People in Your Hunger Games: The Strange Case of Rue & Cinna, mentioned at the Hunger Games Tweets Tumblr, is worth a read, not least for linking this interview with the director from March 2011:

In the books, Katniss is described as being olive-skinned, dark-haired, possibly biracial. Did you discuss with Suzanne the implications of casting a blond, caucasian girl?

Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American.

posted by mediareport at 1:50 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


> Over something that matters little - a movie adaptation of a book

I do get what you're saying to some degree, rough ashlar. On the one hand, this is just diversionary entertainment, it might not even be remembered in fifty years.

On the other hand, these reactions are, in my mind, part and parcel of the same mindsets that lead to people saying "black or Latino kid in hooded sweatshirt = thug."

If people are overwriting and overlooking descriptions of protagonists as dark brown, because black characters are either evil or marginalized, it becomes possible to see how we arrive at a point where black figures are shot more often than white figures, despite being unarmed, in the study I linked to early in the Trayvon Martin thread.

I'm a big fan of sci-fi/fantasy. I also have dreams of being a notable producer of sci-fi/fantasy. As my kids approach the age where I can start introducing them to some of my favorite things, I'm realizing that they are not going to see very many people who look like them at all; and I've had friends point out that if I make too many members of my main cast in my own work non-white, I'll greatly reduce its marketability.

After working on The Wire, David Simon made a remark where he said he'd come to the realization that there were a ton of great black actors in Hollywood, but they simply weren't being cast. They were essentially competing with each other for the same bit parts that were allocated to blacks rather than being seen as potential leads or main cast members. And this is in mainstream, real world stuff.

Judging by some of the reactions I've seen on blastr.com and other places, a great many sci-fi/fantasy fans would be perfectly fine with no non-white human faces at all among the good guys and evil races (how the fuck is an entire race evil anyway?) being dark-skinned.

Thus, every instance where we non-whites do get to see people who look like us among the important good guys in escapist works is HUGE, and when we get reactions like this, it hurts. It really does -- it deeply hurts that some folks don't want us to have a damn thing in either the real world or the speculative ones.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2012 [28 favorites]


Speaking of Hitchhiker's, it was always Zaphod, not Ford, who was black in my mind.
posted by alexei at 1:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Does this mean I'm attributing that Ginger's are special people, that I'm just mis-remembering something from a book, or one can change their hair color?

I don't think Trillian was ever explicitly described as ginger.

In the books she's dark-haired and looks 'vaguely Arabic', though the alternative universe Trillian in the Qintessential Phase radio series is 'blonder and more American'.

This doesn't match Mostly Harmless, in which both Trillians look the same and have English accents (but it's a nice joke: alternate universe Trillian is played by Sandra Dickinson in the radio series, who played the blonde American normal-universe Trillian in the TV series).
posted by jack_mo at 1:57 PM on March 26, 2012


Judging by some of the reactions I've seen on blastr.com and other places, a great many sci-fi/fantasy fans would be perfectly fine with no non-white human faces at all among the good guys and evil races (how the fuck is an entire race evil anyway?) being dark-skinned.


Don't forget the misogyny component!
“There was a slightly jarring moment when a fan asked the panel if there would ever be a female Doctor, and Steven [Moffat] pointed out it would be entirely possible, but then asked for a show of hands who would like to see that happen. This got about 50% of the audience raising their hands, but then he asked how many people would switch off the show if there was a female Doctor, and 20-30% of the fans put their hand up, to a certain amount of gasping from everyone else.”

Anglophenia’s report from Sunday’s panel at the DW UK convention
posted by phearlez at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


I remember a tv interview with John Barrowman during which the topic of discussion turned to the idea of a woman Doctor (this was back in the Tennant era), and John said, why not, and they asked the audience what they thought, and the audience booed.
posted by tzikeh at 2:09 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Perhaps it was because Cinna sounds similar to the prefix "sino-", meaning Chinese?

I wish I could say I was that erudite! Honestly have no idea. But I can say that Cinna and also Ceasar Flickerman were so much more real than what I had imagined. Lenny Kravitz in the tube room totally made me cry.
posted by mochapickle at 2:09 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


phearlez and tzikeh: holy crap. Are you kidding me? What year is it?
posted by lord_wolf at 2:10 PM on March 26, 2012


Speaking of Hitchhiker's, it was always Zaphod, not Ford, who was black in my mind.

I know, right? James Brown with two heads!
posted by halfbuckaroo at 2:14 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, that stuff about the DW fandom is upsetting. A not-insignificant portion of the DW fans that I am aware of are 14-year-old fangirls on Tumblrs who fawn over The Doctor as being the Ideal Boyfriend or whatever, so I'd like to think that the juvenile reactions of those fans can be properly attributed to them being, you know, juvenile dolts, but still!
posted by Phire at 2:15 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hahaha I saw that tumblr earlier, wanted to post it, decided I was too sober to make a rational post about it and ate some pork kabobs instead. Thanks for this.

I genuinely wonder if this shit is stuff people actually say to their friends in person or if it's just a symptom of internet + anonymity = assholery, because some of those tweets: wow.

I'm still irritated with the casting of Lawrence as Katniss, which has less to do with Lawrence herself (who is a pretty lovely actress and person) and more to do with the casting call being restricted to Caucasians only. Grar.

As for Idris Elba - more movies and tv shows from you, sir, please: you are fantastic.
posted by zennish at 2:15 PM on March 26, 2012


Don't forget the misogyny component!

“There was a slightly jarring moment when a fan asked the panel if there would ever be a female Doctor, and Steven [Moffat] pointed out it would be entirely possible, but then asked for a show of hands who would like to see that happen. This got about 50% of the audience raising their hands, but then he asked how many people would switch off the show if there was a female Doctor, and 20-30% of the fans put their hand up, to a certain amount of gasping from everyone else.”
I first read of this on Anglophenia's actual blog, and was going to post that in the Doctor Who thread a few FPPs down, but was going to hold off until I found more confirmation like a vid or an independent con report.

I'm a little disappointed at this myself, though it's nice to know that Moffat seems to be open minded about it.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:16 PM on March 26, 2012


I wrote 'little disappointed'. I meant 'very disapointed'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:17 PM on March 26, 2012


The Doctor Who dynamic is all about the all-powerful (but still young and hot!) god-like man and the clueless. fawning subservient girl. Why spoil a winning formula?
posted by Summer at 2:26 PM on March 26, 2012


Why spoil a winning formula?

Because it's been done before?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2012


halfbuckaroo: "Speaking of Hitchhiker's, it was always Zaphod, not Ford, who was black in my mind.

I know, right? James Brown with two heads!
"

Well I didn't imagine Zaphod like that before, but I sure do now.
posted by Gordafarin at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


A tweet from the FPPs last link:
"Those people were confused because Rue and Thresh didn't wear a hoodie in the book."
So relevant, especially for those who mistakenly think we are living in a 'post-racial era.'
posted by ericb at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's when it's the school play and your kid doesn't get the part for Mary because she doesn't have the right look that this bullshit hits hardest. I've always been a fan of color-blind casting, but there's something about a crying eight year old that really brings home how insidiously racist and awful this shit is.

If you're a producer or director of a film, or you're the current head writer for Doctor who, then you need to start stamping down on this bullshit. You'll tell fans to stop watching the show if they publish spoilers, and you'll go on strike for all sorts of reasons & you need to start doing the same if they start demanding white or male actors in your films or TV programs.

Honestly, I'm the worlds biggest DW fan, but I'd rather see it burn to the ground than have "fans" dictate that the part should always be given to a white male actor.
posted by zoo at 2:35 PM on March 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm on the internet, so it's probably safe to assume that comments about being the "worlds biggest DW fan" are utter hyperbole.
posted by zoo at 2:36 PM on March 26, 2012


For whatever reason, I never had much of an image of most of the characters in Hunger Games. Because the mention that finally tipped me into reading the books was in the Kristen Bell sloth thread (where it was mentioned that she was really enthusiastic about wanting the role), I did sort of picture Katniss as Kristen. And I guess I sort of had an image of Peeta as being this slightly chubby, white, kinda nerdy guy, mostly because of the 'baker's son' thing. And I realize that 'chubby' in that world is unlikely, but that's how I pictured him anyway.

I completely missed that Rue and District 11 were black. But even if she were explicitly written as white, Amandla Stenberg would still be nearly ideal. Her face is picture perfect for the role, whatever color skin she has. My only reservation is that she maybe looks a little too large to be flitting around overhead in trees. I can't really see her moving that easily through overhead canopies, but maybe they made it work.

I'm also not sure I want to see the movie, because the parallel between parking my fat ass in a theater to watch teenagers get killed, and a Capitol inhabitant doing the same thing, is so strong it makes me uncomfortable. Lots of audience members seem to get that connection, from the cosplay pics I've seen, but it still bothers me. As strangely-written as those books are, Ms. Collins made that world feel real enough that it seems disrespectful to go watch the movie. I guess that means she did it right.
posted by Malor at 2:36 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Heh. In my head, it was the original Zelda whistle tune.

Speaking of phantom video game music in the Hunger Games, am I the only one who heard this distinctive Secret of Mana tune, or something very like it? I think it was during the training sequence.
posted by oulipian at 2:37 PM on March 26, 2012


This reminds me of the people who got pissed when they figured out that Rico isn't white in "Starship Troopers" only in the last few pages. Hello! The guy's name is Rico. That should have been a least a hint that he may not be white.
posted by Mitheral at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


We have a Black man who is currently the President of the United States of America, and this is the shit they get worked up about?

Yeah, fortunately that's passed right below their radar.
posted by Mcable at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


what skin shade was Jesus?
posted by Postroad at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


A not-insignificant portion of the DW fans that I am aware of are 14-year-old fangirls on Tumblrs who fawn over The Doctor as being the Ideal Boyfriend or whatever, so I'd like to think that the juvenile reactions of those fans can be properly attributed to them being, you know, juvenile dolts,

Alas, no -- at least not the interview I saw. I saw it on YouTube, it's probably still there, but I don't know the name of the interviewer (it's a late-night chat show where the interviewee gets beer?) so I can't help you find it. But the boo-ing audience was all adults (this is not a kid-friendly show--lots of cursing and sex talk, so no kids/teens were in the audience).
posted by tzikeh at 2:47 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't think about Cinna's race for a second when I was reading the books, but once I heard they'd cast Lenny Kravitz I realized that I must have been assuming he was black the whole time.

I have not read the book or seen the movie. But I think in general, this is how I imagine characters. My default is to imagine the character as described by the author which I may embellish somewhat as I read the book because that is what reading fiction is about.

I only really think about a specific look/ethnicity and often times gender when it is the rare occasion where I'm reading the book after there's been a movie -- or often times a movie is in production and people are being cast. So if, for example, I was reading The Hunger Games, I'd probably unwittingly gloss over the author's description of the character but instead see Lenny Kravitz as the character. He'd look as he did circa the "Again" video.

When it is the other way around and I've read a book and the later it is made into a film, I may be surprised the actor didn't meet my expectation. Maybe I may have imagined the character as a white guy but then hear that Denzel Washington got the part and rather than being upset, I'm more likely to go "OK, that makes sense." Sometimes I won't agree with the casting decisions, but it isn't on racial reasons it is more about the fit with my imagination. And I'm sorry Hollywood, I can't imagine Tom Cruise doing anything in any role other than being Tom Cruise.

It seems the people having trouble with the ethnicity of the cast of the Hunger Games movie are straight up racist and suffer from poor reading comprehension. You can't care about or relate to a character because they're not white? Really? The main reason I seek out entertainment is for the escapist element. To me, that's the whole point.

We have a Black man who is currently the President of the United States of America, and this is the shit they get worked up about?

And we still have birthers and bigots. To me, the birthers' kids are the ones complaining their favorite character in a movie wasn't white.
posted by birdherder at 2:49 PM on March 26, 2012


Sometimes watching the movie first enhances reading the book. I have never seen one instance of reading the book first enhancing the movie.

Fight Club. The Prestige.
posted by Hogshead at 2:52 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lolita. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:55 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who pictured Rue as Hispanic? All that climbing trees in the orchard and whistling the time to go reminded me of the little girl from The Fall.
posted by maryr at 2:59 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who pictured Rue as Hispanic? All that climbing trees in the orchard and whistling the time to go reminded me of the little girl from The Fall.

The little Romanian girl?
posted by elsietheeel at 3:07 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. I just realized I pictured Cinna with almost exactly Lenny Kravitz's skin tone as I read because I had incorporated the sound "cinnamon" into my visualization of him.

I have to think on this further.
posted by tzikeh at 3:11 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


maryr:Am I the only one who pictured Rue as Hispanic? All that climbing trees in the orchard and whistling the time to go reminded me of the little girl from The Fall.

Brix Smith?
posted by Len at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


That was a mexican girl, wasn't it?

It made sense to me that Cinna would be dark-skinned because the book said the only bit of glamour he wore was his gold eyeliner. As seen on Lenny, it was quite striking. On paler skin, the effect wouldn't have been nearly as dramatic.

I've felt somewhat revolted by the media's attention to the fashion of the movie, though. Feels wrong.
posted by lizbunny at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Funny, because I'm not a fashion-interested person, but reading about the Capitol's over-the-top "fashion" I still felt that seeing that on the big screen would be a hell of a thing. So I don't fault them there.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 3:15 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


To me, the fashion helped sell the characterization and class differences.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:15 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one who pictured Rue as Hispanic?

/me raises hand. I did it, too. Mostly because, I think, I grew up in Southern California and seeing Hispanic farm-workers was a daily occurrence.

Race is funny. Why is Thresh black? The giant, immensely strong, soft-spoken, moralistic kid that is killed tragically is yet another Magical Negro. It's literature short-hand. You expect it now.

Reminds me of the SNL sketch with Eddie Murphy, where he plays a nameless black character in a World War II movie that "does something real heroic and real athletic, just like Jim Brown in The Dirty Dozen."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:16 PM on March 26, 2012


From Jezebel:

There are MAJOR TIE-INS to these reactions and the injustices that we see around the world today. I don't even need to spell it out because I know that you're all a smart bunch.

This is a BIG problem. Think of all the murdered children. Think of all the missing children that get NO SCREEN TIME on the news.

It is NOT a coincidence.

THIS is the purpose of my blog… and to also point out shitty reading comprehension. LOL


I'm the kind of person who needs these things spelled out for me.

I think readers are sloppy, and often skip to action and dialogue; it does not surprise me terribly that readers of one race attribute their race to the characters (particularly if the characters were heroic). Nor does it surprise me that they are upset when that expectation is unsettled by the movie. That they interject racist commentary upsets me, but it's a big internet, and the possibility that you will have racist haters seems to crop up from time to time.

Is this dynamic the very same reason why we see crimes with black victims underreported by the media? Yes, in the sense that there's racism at work in both; yes, in the sense that there's affinity at work; otherwise, the dynamics are substantially different.

Dynamics aside, the Hunger Games question is different mainly because it's so lacking in significance, and the fact that we focus on race in THAT hypercommercialized, mass entertainment context, and not on racism that has real political and structural significance, deftly illustrates the diversionary phenomenon that the Hunger Games was itself critiquing.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:17 PM on March 26, 2012


Just goes to show that people will interpret The Hunger Games however they like:
Fox News’ The Five currently talking about The Hunger Games being a cautionary tale warning against the dangers of socialism.
...well. There you go.
posted by tzikeh at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Alexandria, the little girl in The Fall, was played by a Romanian actress Catinca Untaru. Her father was played by a Romanian actor named Emil Hostina. They even speak Romanian in the film.

So yeah, even though they're picking fruit? They're not Mexicans.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:21 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


The little girl from The Fall is from Bucharest, Romania.
posted by hermitosis at 3:23 PM on March 26, 2012


I've seen both non-religious interpretations, and Hunger Games Bible Study.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:23 PM on March 26, 2012


Of course, I saw the same thing for His Dark Materials as well.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:30 PM on March 26, 2012


The interesting thing with Blaise Zabini is that he is essentially as much of a non-entity as Harry Potter characters get to be. Rowling is pretty good about describing her characters to the extent that everyone can see them nearly perfectly in their heads, so that almost none of the casting was going to be controversial, looks-or-ethnicity-wise (the only surprising thing to me was that, from the books, I had expected Ginny's hair to be curly rather than straight, but it is never actually stated.)

So for anyone to get pissed about Blaise Zabini being cast as black? That takes effort and a level of privilege beyond my understanding. He is _never_ described, and doesn't really do anything. That is literal anger over the idea of anyone being black in fiction ever without it being specifically mentioned.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:34 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


So for anyone to get pissed about Blaise Zabini being cast as black? That takes effort and a level of privilege beyond my understanding.

Hark to the tale of an encounter with one possessed of such a mindset.

(the LJ blog referenced on that link seems to be down, but it's a doozy of a character study. It's like if Ignatius Q Reilly had a kid who was a nerd.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:42 PM on March 26, 2012


How The Hunger Games changed the world

It’s no surprise that Hollywood has always looked to young people to construct their tentpole franchises. Not only are kids more likely to see a movie on opening weekend, but their tastes, in general, tend toward the monolithic: as we grow older, we break off into Mad Men-watching splinter factions, but until high school, kids usually like more or less the same stuff. (The difference in magnitude can be roughly understood as the disparity between the opening weekends of The Hunger Games and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.) From a marketing perspective, this is very helpful: it allows expensive films to be pitched to the widest possible audience. Around the time of Tim Burton’s Batman, the studios realized that comic books were the most valuable properties for exciting the youngest quadrants, although it took the massive success of Spider-Man and the latest revolution in computer-generated effects for this trend to reach its culmination. In the end, Marvel went from being a niche provider of superhero fantasies to a central part of mass culture, to the point where the comics themselves became incidental to the multimedia studio to which they provided raw material.

And yet that moment appears to be passing. The explosion of young adult fiction in the past decade has allowed kids to get their pop culture satisfactions in other ways. As a result, comic book sales have been suffering for a long time, as existing companies struggle to interest younger readers in characters who were around before their parents were born. (To the extent that kids today care about these characters, it’s because of their movie incarnations, not the comics that inspired them.) And new heroes aren’t being created to take their place. Hence the efforts to repeatedly renew the few viable properties (The Amazing Spider-Man) or to launch franchises that palpably lack the fan enthusiasm to justify a movie (Green Lantern). It may not be long before a movie based on a big comic franchise will feel like John Carter: an attempt to drum up excitement for a hero who looks like a relic, while The Hunger Games is fresh and new. Which also means that a publisher like Scholastic, which can generate new properties in a way that Marvel cannot, will soon find itself in a similar position: a formerly tiny company that can move our entire culture. Farfetched? Maybe. But it’s happening before our eyes.

posted by Artw at 3:51 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


what skin shade was Jesus?

Well, olive at first, but as soon as he realized that he sued his magic Jesus powers to turn himself white.

---

I'm a big proponent of color blind casting (the FAMOUS MONSTER quote from the Heimdall thread sums up my feelings). The take-away from this ludicrous situation to me isn't about reading comprehension (though that is a big deal) but about how there are many white people who don't even want to look at non-white people in a positive way. It offends them to see a person of color portrayed in a sympathetic way and they are entirely incapable to empathizing with the character because they're of the "wrong" skin color.

If you're an asshole Hollywood producer, you're probably watching this situation and thinking "Hmm, all things considered, I don't get this kind of problem when I just cast bland white kids. You know, let's just make things easier next time and cast bland white kids, like we always do." Fortunately, there are many asshole Hollywood producers who will also see this as free publicity and will scheme to cast other "white" parts with black actors to generate publicity. Ah, assholes.

Anyhow, that casting black actors in large parts is viewed by some of these people as a "liberal" action is genuinely revealing about the attitude of some conservatives. Young conservatives.

To whit, racism is still going to be with us for a long, long time.

And to allow my inner asshole to come out, I ask myself if the people on FOX news who see this as a parable against Socialism have ever experienced hunger. I suspect they'd be more easily able to emphasize with a book called The Hungry Games about a bunch of slightly overweight white men who have to battle for the last buffalo wing.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:55 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


sued=used. Rant mode = full dyslexia in play.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:55 PM on March 26, 2012


According to the Hunger Games wiki, Suzanne Collins has stated that District 11, where Rue and Thresh are from, is roughly near Atlanta, Georgia. District 11 produces fruit, grain, and cotton; both kids are described as "dark-skinned". As a non-American reader furiously trying to parse a picture of Panem and the twelve districts while reading the book, this plus my scant knowledge of the American south led me to believe that both kids were black. I have no patience for the tweets highlighted in the blog because the cast for the tributes was posted MONTHS ago on the Hunger Games Facebook page even before we knew Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson were to play Katniss and Peeta respectively. They had plenty of time to go back and reread the book, maybe learn geography, but noooooo, they chose to be lazily pissy about the fact that the movie diverged from their own inaccurate impressions.

By the by, Lucy Liu has been cast as Joan Watson in an American reboot of Sherlock Holmes. May as well get it out of the way.
posted by peripathetic at 3:55 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


As six-or-six-thirty says, the bread shows Katniss that district 11 cares, the movie left that to Thresh alone who spared her life, what you need to remember is that Katniss did not see district 11 salute back, we did, she should still be taken off guard when she returns home.
posted by Jayed at 4:04 PM on March 26, 2012


By the by, Lucy Liu has been cast as Joan Watson in an American reboot of Sherlock Holmes. May as well get it out of the way.

oh god the whining I have been seeing all over about that gives me the crazy-eyes
posted by zennish at 4:06 PM on March 26, 2012


alexei: Speaking of Hitchhiker's, it was always Zaphod, not Ford, who was black in my mind.

Same here. Thinking about it now, I wonder if my little seven year old brain was being a bit racist in thinking that while listening to the radio: 'Zaphod is the coolest man in the universe, black people are cool, ergo Zaphod is black'.

zennish: I genuinely wonder if this shit is stuff people actually say to their friends in person or if it's just a symptom of internet + anonymity = assholery, because some of those tweets: wow.

A lot of the folk quoted on the Tumblr site are using Twitter to chat with their friends/relatives and have recognisable avatars - I don't think the old internet + anonymity thing really applies.
posted by jack_mo at 4:07 PM on March 26, 2012


Was this the same literature that describes Thor's Relationship with Iron Man and Dr. Doom?
I always assume that people are colors that rhyme with their name. Ergo, Rue was blue. Katniss was Brown Swiss, which is a light brown cow color. The book's author is black and tan.
Not rouge?
posted by delmoi at 4:15 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


jack_mo: A lot of the folk quoted on the Tumblr site are using Twitter to chat with their friends/relatives and have recognisable avatars - I don't think the old internet + anonymity thing really applies.

Too true; I think it's a thing of the past, now. You've got voting age adults who have to all intents and purposes lived their entire lives online. (But Christ, tying that sentence makes me feel positivel geriatric.) See also the mad racist skillz of everyone supporting George Zimmerman on Twitter, and particularly Facebook, who have a Border Patrol/Immigration Service approach to you proving you are who you say you are.*



*not British immigration, mind; that's all done on a shoestring and a ZX81, to give the Mail something to complain about/Theresa May people to sack. Maybe Canadian – they were right bastards before they let me in.
posted by Len at 4:21 PM on March 26, 2012


oh god the whining I have been seeing all over about that gives me the crazy-eyes

Really? Jeez, it's public domain, there can be infinity Holmeses and Watsons, you don't like that one watch another one.
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on March 26, 2012


Speaking of Hitchhiker's, it was always Zaphod, not Ford, who was black in my mind.

There was a not terribly good illustrated version of Hitchhikers released in the mid-90s where Zaphod was depicted as black. It was overseen by Adams if memory serves, so you could argue that black Zaphod is even canonical.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:23 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Facebook seems to be some kind of online asshole heartland.
posted by Artw at 4:23 PM on March 26, 2012


Thor was directed by Branagh, who comes from a theatrical tradition that's been using color-blind and color-inverted casting for at least a few decades now. (I mean, seriously what's skin color after a few centuries of transvesti and breeches roles?)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:25 PM on March 26, 2012


Jezebel just put up a more in-depth Character-by-Character analysis of the physical descriptions in the books and the actors they chose for those characters.
posted by brainmouse at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2012


A lot of the folk quoted on the Tumblr site are using Twitter to chat with their friends/relatives and have recognisable avatars - I don't think the old internet + anonymity thing really applies.

I don't know if that's more depressing or less.

Really? Jeez, it's public domain, there can be infinity Holmeses and Watsons, you don't like that one watch another one.

The whining goes from 'they're going to make Sherlock and Watson in love' to 'Watson's not supposed to be Chinese' to 'Watson's supposed to be badass' and then I can't read any more of it and start looking for puppies and kittens to make me happier.

My thoughts are that once a Sherlock Holmes movie involving dinosaurs invading London comes into existence any arguments w/r/t canon becomes invalid.
posted by zennish at 4:35 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Especially now that we've seen, "Sherlock in a Hospital," "Sherlock in an Anti-War Drama," and "Sherlock as 21st Century High-Functioning Sociopath and Possible Asexual" in the last few years.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whining goes from 'they're going to make Sherlock and Watson in love' to 'Watson's not supposed to be Chinese' to 'Watson's supposed to be badass' and then I can't read any more...

The one argument that makes me laugh and facepalm at the same time is that they've cast a woman to allow them to present a mainstream, acceptable romance that purposefully undermines the John/Sherlock homoeroticism.

Yeah, that's exactly why they cast a woman.
posted by tzikeh at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2012


I'm just outraged that Idris Elba was overlooked for Katinss' part.
posted by verb at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


If I were to complain about anything it would that running a contemporary Holmes just after there's been a really good one seems a little cheap, but hey, here's you point of differentiation right here!
posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2012


zennish: 'Watson's not supposed to be Chinese'

As someone in the Grauniad thread Artw linked mentioned, by having Lucy Liu in a lead role, they're doing a damn sight better than Steven Moffat managed in his version of Sherlock when it comes to casting actors of Asian descent in anything but wily-inscrutable-here-to-drug-us-and-steal-our-women peril fodder.
posted by Len at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Idris Elba should do a cooking show. Or home improvement. Seriously, every time there;s a scene that's him explaining how to do something it's gold.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


fodder roles
posted by Len at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2012


Yeah, that second Sherlock kind of sucked.
posted by Artw at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2012


Artw: Idris Elba should do a cooking show. Or home improvement.

I'm now imagining a Wire cast reunion on the BBC One saturday morning cookery show/hangover schedules: Omar shows the kids how to fetch and prepare serial, before he and stringer team up with Chris and Snoop for the DIY segment – Stringer and Omar tackle fitting stairwells in apartments, Chris and Snoop advise on the proper use of nailguns and associated technologies. Fuzzy Dunlop could do the live links.
posted by Len at 4:47 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Argh. Cereal. Fucking hell, just shoot me now.
posted by Len at 4:48 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Len: Too true; I think it's a thing of the past, now. You've got voting age adults who have to all intents and purposes lived their entire lives online.

Yep, people born post-web really don't seem to make as much of a distinction between a chat on Twitter or Facebook and a face-to-face conversation. My four-year-old cousin strokes people's faces when he's Skyping on the iPad, which is either utterly lovely or horribly creepy.

zennish: I don't know if that's more depressing or less.

More depressing. If the anonymity + internet thing is in play, at least the racists are ashamed, and know on some level that they're wrong.

verb: I'm just outraged that Idris Elba was overlooked for Katinss' part.

I really hope there's a Tumblr out there that just indiscriminately Photoshops Idris Elba into everything ever.
posted by jack_mo at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rue and Thresh are explicitly black in the book, people just ignored this part and are mad that the book wasn't what they thought it was.

YES. EXACTLY THIS.

Ugh. I just. The very clear description of Rue and Thresh as being PoC characters was given exactly as much airtime as the physical descriptions of nearly every single other character in the book, save Katniss and her prep team (and Gale to a lesser extent, as everyone notices how much she and him look alike). I noticed this description immediately because having PoC main characters in an awesome book is something that is important to me, personally, as a PoC.

And tons of people - even people right here in this thread who are in no way racist - simply didn't notice an extremely clear description of two characters with dark skin, because the presence of PoC main characters is just not something that is of great importance to their enjoyment of reading a fantastic series of books. It doesn't make them bad people, but it makes me sad nevertheless.

As for the assholes featured on this tumblr, they can all be torn to pieces by angry squid for all I fucking care.


Also Idris Elba is dangerously hot and should be handed over into my protective custody for, uh, safekeeping. Yeah.
posted by elizardbits at 5:26 PM on March 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Also it would be awesome if there was a highly cross-referenced study of US social media from November 5, 2008 through to today that could show whether or not there has been a marked rise in very bold, upfront racism in people's everyday conversation like I think there has been, or if this is just me being paranoid.
posted by elizardbits at 5:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


I like me some John/Sherlock. But some of the ways in which people like to read/write John/Sherlock? Not so much.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also it would be awesome if there was a highly cross-referenced study of US social media from November 5, 2008 through to today that could show whether or not there has been a marked rise in very bold, upfront racism in people's everyday conversation like I think there has been, or if this is just me being paranoid.

I know this is just anecdata, but I'm pretty sure there has been as well, and I don't think that's you and me being paranoid.

Also Idris Elba is dangerously hot and should be handed over into my protective custody for, uh, safekeeping. Yeah.

Pistols at dawn.
posted by tzikeh at 5:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Consider this my vote for casting Idris Elba in pretty much anything. He can have whatever part he wants. He could have all the parts. I will just smile at the screen and sigh.
posted by thivaia at 5:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


elizardbits: Also it would be awesome if there was a highly cross-referenced study of US social media from November 5, 2008 through to today that could show whether or not there has been a marked rise in very bold, upfront racism in people's everyday conversation like I think there has been, or if this is just me being paranoid.

tzikeh: I know this is just anecdata, but I'm pretty sure there has been as well, and I don't think that's you and me being paranoid.

I'm not sure how big the uptick would be from 2008 until say, six months ago (though I've no doubt there was one), but it's certainly something I've noticed markedly since the presidential ding dong got underway, and the Trayvon Martin murder has seemingly sent it through the roof. Like jack_mo said above, it's scary how much people are willing to be open about this shit, in ways that never would have flown five or ten years ago. It's the exact same on this side of the Atlantic too, withe the rise of the BNP, the English Defence League and the like.

Likewise with sexism and misogyny; between Twitter bullshit microstorms, Rush Limbaugh calling women sluts, etc. etc.. It even feels like this place has regressed somewhat. (Mind, I'm an interloping foreigner, and therefore much of my consumption of Americna culture comes filtered via MeFi and similar places and that probably skews things somewhat.)
posted by Len at 5:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


In fact, I'll bet George Lucas could cash in. He should recut The Phantom Menace to remove everything but Jar Jar Binks, look that fucker for three hours, and these fucking dolts would be falling over themselves to talk about his brilliant injection of people of colour into SF, and how sensitively he handled it.
posted by Len at 5:44 PM on March 26, 2012


As a really really white guy, when I read dark skin, unless it includes other attributes, I don't automatically see an African background. I see everything from native American to Mediterranean-olive to middle eastern.

But, most importantly, in this book, unless you are a crazy person on Twitter, it just doesn't change the story at all. You get the characters culture. Their actual color doesn't matter much.
posted by cccorlew at 5:45 PM on March 26, 2012


Also it would be awesome if there was a highly cross-referenced study of US social media from November 5, 2008 through to today that could show whether or not there has been a marked rise in very bold, upfront racism in people's everyday conversation like I think there has been, or if this is just me being paranoid.

As anecdata for bold and upfront racism, though this happened not in the US or on social media: when my father was in Vancouver, Canada during 2010 he got called a 'fucking chink' on the road. He sounded so sad when he told me.
posted by zennish at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Phaerlez ["the comparison to Twilight isn't fair..."]


Let me clarify. I don't mean Katniss is weak or that she is a victim of circumstance-- which is one kind of a story, anyway-- but rather that the story, the author, never force the character to make choices; or, as pastabagel put it, the story completely robs her of agency. She is a protagonist written in the passive voice.

She doesn't make a moral choice not to kill, or a practical choice to kill-- she never makes that choice at all. You know what she does spend pages and pages thinking about? Clothes. And boys.

My point is that Jezebel, in theory a post-feminist "we agree we have the equality, the question is what do we do with it" website had a ready made discussion topic here: why do young girls and older women like this? What's the draw? The loud answer is that Katniss is a strong female character, or something, but that strength is superficial. What does it mean that girls identify with a character who never has to make a life and death decision?

It's a legitimate question into where we are and where we are going. But instead it deflects to a non-argument about the racism of some of the audience.

Let me put it one other way: so what if these girls are racists? So what if they are deeply offended that a black girl plays their precious Rue? The bigger problem is that there are women who are convinced that a girl who does nothing is a kind of hero.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


In looking at Jezebel's descriptions of all the other characters, I had Peeta wrong (who knew he was blond? not me, I also didn't have him white), I had Gale also not-white, I had Cinna as Korean (no idea why), Rue as white for some reason. I mean, yes, I got Rue wrong, but I also got other characters wrong in the other direction: I missed the descriptions of all the main characters, as I do in every book.

I like Rue as a character, but I sort of dislike that the story in the movie is now Growth of White Girl Because of Death of Black Girl.
posted by jeather at 5:48 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one that was sure I heard part of The Princess Bride theme in the sound track? At some point in the last quarter of the film, I was positive I heard just enough of it to be identifiable. It was a rather winking nod at the audience about all the True Love in the cave. At least, it seemed that way to me.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:58 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


That doesn't seem to mesh with the story I read / watched, TheLastPsychiatrist. Katniss makes a lot of choices. From the beginning where she chooses to take her sister's place to the end when she pulls the bluff on the gamemakers. I'm not sure what you want, exactly. She is tough, smart, and determined. She doesn't win / survive because she is the smartest or the strongest, though she is smart and strong. She survives because she has help, and because she thinks on her feet in a few key moments. You're right that she is not really a hero. But that is part of the story, and her struggles with that role are made pretty clear in the books.
posted by Nothing at 6:02 PM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


As a white guy, I'm maybe inordinately happy that I got that Rue and Thresh were black. The fact that they were from the agricultural district reinforced that and made it clearer what the author was going for. It made sense--the lower class kids were going up against the privileged suburban soccer kids.

I also pictured Cinna as black (not sure why) and gay (given his occupation).

But I did picture Katniss as white, because she was described as gray-eyed, which I took to mean, I dunno, not quite blue. Is my understanding of eye color off somehow? Is there a country of olive-skinned gray-eyed women? Because I'd like to visit.
posted by A dead Quaker at 6:07 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


TheLastPsychiatrist - I really disagree that Katniss never makes important choices. I didn't enjoy the book that much, but you are pretty much managing to ignore everything she does, starting with the very much 'life or death' choice to volunteer for the competition in order to save her sister from almost certain death. Is your problem that she doesn't get to stab someone while looking them in the eye? Because I'm actually ok with that not being the benchmark for 'hero', or even 'strong character to identify with'.
posted by jacalata at 6:08 PM on March 26, 2012 [21 favorites]


Let me put it one other way: so what if these girls are racists? So what if they are deeply offended that a black girl plays their precious Rue? The bigger problem is that there are women who are convinced that a girl who does nothing is a kind of hero.

It's a bigger problem to you. It's obviously not the bigger problem for some of the viewers/readers. It's fine if you disagree with them, but I don't see any point in having the "what's worse, racism or sexism?" fight.
posted by rtha at 6:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Katniss chooses to commit suicide rather than allow the Capitol to control her (or Peeta). How is that not making a specific choice, with agency? While she may have been calling their bluff, she was also perfectly willing to die right there rather than give them their "winner."
posted by tzikeh at 6:13 PM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


cherrybounce, I just had to tell my Reacher-loving mom about that. On her birthday. Not only is she boycotting the movie, she may quit reading the novels. Not that I can blame her. I could whip Tom Cruise, and I'm a fat, middle-aged scientist. What a tone-deaf choice, Lee Child's bizarre assertion that Cruise is the premiere actor of his generation notwithstanding.
posted by wintermind at 6:28 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whoops, wrong romance language/continent on the girl from The Fall. Nonetheless, Rue's story of whistling still made me think of that little girl and I still thought she was Hispanic. But I also imagined everyone from District 3 to be Asian, so I'm probably all sorts of racist anyway.
posted by maryr at 6:30 PM on March 26, 2012


It made sense to me that Cinna would be dark-skinned because the book said the only bit of glamour he wore was his gold eyeliner. As seen on Lenny, it was quite striking. On paler skin, the effect wouldn't have been nearly as dramatic.
Thank you! I've always pictured Cinna as black too, and as I've been reading this thread, I couldn't quite put my finger on why. It must've been the gold eyeliner.

the bread shows Katniss that district 11 cares, the movie left that to Thresh alone who spared her life
Yeah, but that didn't makes sense in the movie. Thresh overheard Clove talking about how the Careers killed Rue, but they cut out the bit where Katniss explains to Thresh her alliance with Rue. He had no way of knowing that Katniss and Rue were friends.
posted by donajo at 6:41 PM on March 26, 2012


I have not seen the movie yet, but intend to soon. I have read the first book. As far as the Hunger Games book - Rue is black. That was clearly plain and I don't remember ever thinking anything else. I am white. This seems kind of a stupid conversation.
posted by mkim at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2012


Spoilers ahead.

I'm pretty much with TheLastPsychiatrist on the character of Katniss. Yes, she does make the choice to replace Prim. Yeah, she does chose suicide with Peeta, and it is an act of defiance. But outside of that, Collins manages to craft a dystopian world where children have to fight to the death and Katniss never has to make a difficult decision in the arena. Not one. She accidentally kills some people by dropping the tracker jacker nest on them. She avenges Rue. She kills Cato out of pity. There's never a moment where she has to even seriously consider taking the life of someone who didn't either clearly have it coming, or actively want the mercy of death. For that matter, she's never put in a position to even decide not to kill someone. 90% of the time, Katniss is someone who doesn't quite understand what's going on, has some emotion and then acts on it. Sometimes it works out. On occasions where it wouldn't have worked out, her actions are thwarted somehow, sparing her the consequences that would have followed. She is able to plan ahead about 10 seconds at a time. There's no big scheme to embarrass the Capitol, just a kind of gut-instinct "Screw them, let's just die." Peeta was the one who all along wanted to make sure that the Games didn't change him. Katniss just wanted to survive. She never wrestles with a moral decision, and Collins makes sure she never has to. When her hemlock maneuver is interpreted as an act of rebellion, she won't own up to it and face the consequences--she immediately starts playing the lovelorn girl who was so blinded by romance that she couldn't think straight. Some hero. Finally, in the third book, there are signs of a person developing who can make her own decisions and actually follow through on a plan, but the big climax at the end is yet another spur-of-the-moment, instinctual "screw it, I'll shoot that other person instead." And the consequence that she faces for (BIG BOOK THREE SPOILER)--assassinating the newly installed President of the whole damn continent? Almost nothing at all.

Katniss: emotional, instinctual, unable to formulate a plan, unwilling to openly take a stand, spared from having to wrestle with true dilemmas, and spared from the consequences when she finally does act. The setting is compelling enough, but Katniss as a character left me cold except for the few times she was making me mad. I kept thinking how much more interesting the books would have been if written from Peeta's point of view, except then I would have been annoyed at why in the world he was so head-over-heels for someone who didn't care that much about him and usually didn't have a clue what was really going on.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


elizardbits: Also it would be awesome if there was a highly cross-referenced study of US social media from November 5, 2008 through to today that could show whether or not there has been a marked rise in very bold, upfront racism in people's everyday conversation like I think there has been, or if this is just me being paranoid.

Len: It's the exact same on this side of the Atlantic too, withe the rise of the BNP, the English Defence League and the like.

I spend waaaay too much time stalking far right groups online and in the past few years there's been a definite shift from password-protected forums and obscure mailing lists to social media, especially Facebook.

I get the impression that folk in the US pin a perceived rise in overt, public racism on Obama's election, but I'm inclined to think that crazy racists just don't understand the new tools they're using to communicate - in the UK extremist groups like the EDL, CxF, NWI and BPP all openly discuss their activities on Facebook and Twitter then act all shocked when the police turn up to stymie their plans to smash the windows of an Asian-owned business.
posted by jack_mo at 6:50 PM on March 26, 2012


The most recent post in the linked tumblr complains about there not being any Asians who survive the initial bloodbath, but I think that would be very difficult to pull off within the framework of Collin's story once one has slotted Rue/Thresh as black.

The careers volunteer for the games, and play the role of antagonists during the games sequence in the games (although this is lessened somewhat in the movie by frequent cutaways to Seneca Crane and President Snow's behind-the-scenes machinations); assigning any obvious non-white ethnicity to them would invite controversy rather than dispel it. Can you imagine a Chinese or Korean Clove pinning Katniss down and gloating over Rue's death?

The only remaining characters of any consequence who survive the day-one bloodbath are Fox-Face and the boy from District Three, both of whom are noted for their cunning... which would, of course, invite some controversy for advancing the bigoted notions that Asians are sneaky and/or naturally predisposed to greater intelligence.
posted by The Confessor at 6:53 PM on March 26, 2012


"games sequence in the books".

Jeez, I think I'll go to bed now.
posted by The Confessor at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2012


jack_mo: I get the impression that folk in the US pin a perceived rise in overt, public racism on Obama's election, but I'm inclined to think that crazy racists just don't understand the new tools they're using to communicate - in the UK extremist groups like the EDL, CxF, NWI and BPP all openly discuss their activities on Facebook and Twitter then act all shocked when the police turn up to stymie their plans to smash the windows of an Asian-owned business.

Oh, yeah, they're not the sharpest tacks in the box, but I think it's probably a combination of things. In the UK, at least: take the extremist fringe loons out of the equation for a second, and look at the wider media forces of the past, say, decade. You've got 9/11, brown people terror paranoia, the widening of the EU and the influx of baby-stealing, swan-eating Romanian gypsies, the Iraq war, the general Daily Mail "gone to the dogs" vibe as evidenced in that New Yorker piece a few threads up.

All of this allows – legitimises – the more extreme end of the right wing in their public pronouncements, and therefore means they don't feel they need to be so underground and clandestine. Hence Facebook internet lynch parties and pissed-up ex hooligans rioting in Luton. Combine this with their rank idiocy when it comes to planning, and the way that the right wing press egg them on as a means of shifting the famed Overton Window – allowing them to cover what they're up to and get outraged that white British people could have been driven to such extreme measures, while maintaining a "who, us?" shrug of plausible deniability – and ... well here we are.

I don't think the US is much different, at least in the grand scheme of things.
posted by Len at 7:06 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Funnily enough though, I saw Cinna as being not-white.

So did I. As mentioned elsewhere, I think it was imagining how the gold eyeliner would look, and concluding that it just wouldn't show up on a white dude.

[I went to a midnight showing with a pile of teenagers, and one of our fellas showed up in a dapper suit and gold eyeliner, and he looked wonderful. He got lots of compliments at the movie]

When Lenny Kravitz was cast as Cinna, I was a little worried about whether he could pull it off. He's older than I am, yet was cast as a 20-something. Turns out, he has not aged in 25 years! He was a perfect and beautiful Cinna, and I regret that the movie did not show more of the evolution of Katniss and Cinna's relationship.
posted by MissySedai at 7:12 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am sorry. I didn't mean *this* is a stupid conversation. It is a good one. I meant I was baffled by the anger over the casting.
posted by mkim at 7:18 PM on March 26, 2012


Not to derail the thread away from the racism angle, but jacalata and tzikeh are inadvertently proving my point. She DOESN'T take the moral stance of "I'm not going to kill"-- she explicitly states in the book that she wants to kill. But it never comes up. Yes, she chooses to commit suicide-- but then it doesn't need to happen. She's in big trouble-- oh, look, packages from the sky. She doesn't NOT have agency, she is continuously robbed of agency, by the author. The book should be retitled, Don't Plan It, Deus Ex Machina It.

It is interesting that while others have tried to make similar points about how women are viewed/view themselves as reflected by books for and about women ever since the book came out, the controversy that went full Jezebel is about the physical appearances of the characters.
posted by TheLastPsychiatrist at 7:29 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


By the way, Idris Elba fans, if you haven't watched BBC's Luther, you are really, really missing out. He's riveting.
posted by Joey Michaels at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2012


Dude, the controversy is that people are openly saying that they would not have cried over the tragic death of an adorable, lovable child character if they had know she was black. Does this somehow not have value as a legitimate controversy in your eyes?
posted by elizardbits at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [15 favorites]


When I read the books, I just assumed Cinna basically looked exactly like Dennis Rodman. The movie has not changed my reading.
posted by stet at 7:34 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


she explicitly states in the book that she wants to kill. But it never comes up.

I don't know how you're getting this out of what she does. She is fully aware of how lethal tracker jackers are when she drops a nest of of them on the Career alliance below her, since they're going to kill her, eventually, if she doesn't kill them.
"Most people can't tolerate more than a few stings. Most die at once. If you live, the hallucinations brought on by the venom have actually drawn people to madness."
And she doesn't just kill Marvel because he killed Rue (though that's certainly foremost in her mind); it's the nature of the games. He's there, she's there, kill or be killed. I'm still not seeing your argument.
posted by tzikeh at 7:44 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Haven't read the books or seen the movie, but I feel confident that Cinna ought to be a (probably white, but I'm not positive) Roman man.

On a serious note, I've never actually resolved my feelings about Mos Def as Ford. It worked, but I've still got this sense of disquiet about it and I'm still worried it's that Mos Def is black, not that he's american. Of course, perhaps I wouldn't still be thinking about this, had the not from Guildford line been cut. (Their one defense is that Arthur comments on the disconnect between that and Ford's accent, but that was minutes later. Yes, I'm still upset about that.)
posted by hoyland at 7:45 PM on March 26, 2012


I agree very much with TheLastPsychiatrist, and found THG a deeply offensive book for that reasons. I'm not easily offended, either. For example, if the book was ABOUT a character making weaselly mental contortions to neatly slot their actions into storybook-hero-values, it wouldn't have offended me. It's the weaselly values of the author that are offensive.
posted by lastobelus at 8:23 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, maybe it's a matter of perspective. I don't see the story as being about a hero, I see it as being about a 16-year-old who has not had a lot of guidance from the adults in her life being thrust into the role of hero and not really knowing what to do with that. Someone above said something about Peeta being the one who doesn't want the games to change him - Katniss herself actually has that same thought in the books, and it troubles her.

You can read the suicide thing at the end as calculated or not I suppose, but it is definitely presented as a bluff, with her telling Peeta to trust her. She is not choosing suicide and being robbed of it, she is choosing to play chicken knowing they will blink first because they need a winner and they can't predict what she will do. Them both living is her intended outcome.
posted by Nothing at 9:01 PM on March 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


all openly discuss their activities on Facebook and Twitter

There's also the amusing fact that people will complain that they can't figure out their own Facebook privacy settings, then act surprised that other people less technical also have the same issues and assume they are willfully public.
posted by smackfu at 9:11 PM on March 26, 2012


I got that Rue and Thresh were Black, and actually got into an argument with a friend where we had to pull out the book and verify because he didn't believe me. For some reason I imagined Cinna as non-white, and all I can think is that I imagined him as cinnamon coloured.

I really don't know why, but I was sure Cato was Asian, maybe Chinese. Maybe it's his name? If I can miss the part in the book where Cato is described as white, maybe I can see how others missed the part where Rue and Thresh are described as Black. Of course, the problem is only partly that people missed the description. The problem is really that learning these characters weren't white lowered people's opinions of them.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:12 PM on March 26, 2012


When her hemlock maneuver is interpreted as an act of rebellion, she won't own up to it and face the consequences--she immediately starts playing the lovelorn girl who was so blinded by romance that she couldn't think straight.

Oh come on. The decision to lie can't be a moral decision? She's clearly just too pathetic to face the consequences, it's not possible that she's deliberately following through on her stated decision to survive? You don't like her moral decisions so you decide they weren't acts of will anyway? She can only plan ahead 10 seconds, but somehow manages to drug Peeta and go wait for an entire day at the cornucopia. I read a lot of YA lit, and I didn't think this was nearly as great as everyone seems to, but it is also no worse and presents Katniss as no less of an unrealistic hero than all the books with male heroes. The only real heroes are the ones that single-handedly overturn all of society while facing realistic consequences for their actions? Yea, show me that book.
posted by jacalata at 9:22 PM on March 26, 2012 [12 favorites]


When her hemlock maneuver is interpreted as an act of rebellion, she won't own up to it and face the consequences--she immediately starts playing the lovelorn girl who was so blinded by romance that she couldn't think straight.


WHOA. Back up there, skippy. She is forced to say those things because her defiance has caused some rumbling in the Districts, and Haymitch is desperate that she convince President Snow that it was their doomed romance that caused her to choose suicide, and NOT her spitting in the face of the Capitol and the Games. She is *told exactly what lie to tell about why she did it* so that Snow doesn't come after her.

Maybe reading the book will help you out here.
posted by tzikeh at 9:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Navelgazer: "I had expected Ginny's hair to be curly rather than straight, but it is never actually stated"

That was bad casting for an entirely different reason. Bonnie Wright is a bad actor. To such a degree that her role in the movies kept getting smaller and smaller despite the characters prominence in the books.
posted by Bonzai at 9:54 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, I can't abide the racism in this case, but I always hate it when a movie portrays a character differently than I had visualized. No what what, the filmed version always gradually supplants my imagined version, even when I think it's way worse. Take Game of Thrones: their Tyrion and Jorah Mormont are both gallant and sexy, but Tyrion is meant to be a horribly ugly waddling troll, and Jorah should be an extremely hairy ogling ogre. But now when I think of them I can't help but see HBO sexiness.

(On the other hand, the Targaryans and Cersei and Joffrey and Jaime and Robert are perfect. Sunday cannot come soon enough.)
posted by painquale at 9:55 PM on March 26, 2012


As far at Kitniss never making a decision to kill

*HUGE SPOILER WARNING FOR BOOK 3*

She casts a vote to hold 1 final hunger game using the kids of the district. That there is a cold calculated decision that killed 23 kids.
posted by Bonzai at 10:19 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Hunger Games are to me about teenagers dealing with war and PTSD. Katniss already lives a life focused on survival at the start of the books - her entire philosophy of life revolves around survival and family honor. She is tightly wound and bad at interpreting social cues and nuance.

If you think she isn't an interesting or active character because she can't comprehend the size and complexity of the government or the rebellion or act as a pragmatic leader, you don't get what the novels are really about - how people deal living in a world where death is much closer than it is in ours. The Peacekeepers can kill citizens without cause. Starvation is very possible. So are mining accidents. No one is safe, ever. Despite this, Katniss does the best she can to live and protect her family without sacrificing their honor. The concern over honor is why she understands why Thresh saved her - to pay back a debt for helping Rue.

As the trilogy progresses, she has to deal more with her pain and nightmares. She can't relate to 'civilians' anymore. She still decides and acts the best she can on her own but she is caught up in something larger than herself. The novel isn't about rebelling from a dystopian government - it's about how a person changes during war.
posted by clockworkjoe at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2012 [18 favorites]


Us white folk used to get all the roles--see Alec Guinness playing a Japanese man in "A Majority of One" as just one small example. I kinda think it's someone else's turn to grab roles. Especially since it says "dark skinned." For heaven's sake, can't people read anymore? What did they expect--George Hamilton? A Kardashian tan?
posted by etaoin at 11:11 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


clockworkjoe, I wish I could favorite that a hundred times.

As for the main topic...count me among the poor readers who missed that Thresh and Rue were black. Whoops. But even if they hadn't been explicitly black in the book, why the casting would bother anyone is beyond me. On the other hand, I also completely get why people are disappointed to see a white Katniss (as much as I love Jennifer Lawrence - if you did not see Winter's Bone, go do so now).
posted by naoko at 11:43 PM on March 26, 2012


The girl who played Rue was almost perfectly cast. But I wonder why the film wasn't more multicultural. Asians, Hispanics in significant roles? I think Hollywood tends to think black actors are representatives for "check here for all other races."
posted by savvysearch at 1:38 AM on March 27, 2012


SPOILERS!

She casts a vote to hold 1 final hunger game using the kids of the district. That there is a cold calculated decision that killed 23 kids.

Um. But that hunger game didn't happen and, in fact, that choice was made so she'd have the opportunity to assassinate Coin who was going to be as bad as Snow. Did anyone read the damn books?
posted by devinemissk at 3:43 AM on March 27, 2012 [10 favorites]


There were books?
posted by benbenson at 5:53 AM on March 27, 2012


I am beginning to realize that sometimes when people say they've read something, maybe they mean something different from what I mean when I say I've read something.
posted by elizardbits at 8:46 AM on March 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is interesting that while others have tried to make similar points about how women are viewed/view themselves as reflected by books for and about women ever since the book came out, the controversy that went full Jezebel is about the physical appearances of the characters.

I missed this last night.

The controversy is about how (some) people are freaking out that OMG BLACK PEOPLE are in a movie where they didn't think there would be any black people, because I guess they missed that part in the book, and the appearance of these black people ruined the movie for them. That is miles and miles from "her ass is too big, she shouldn't be in this movie" or whatever you're imagining.

It's also just not that weird to talk about casting choices for movies. Especially movies based on books. I mean, I can go full-on ranteriffic about Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher, and it doesn't mean I have issues with short actors, or crazy actors, or dark-haired actors. I have issues with the fact that, even if Tom Cruise were officially the best actor on the planet, he will not be able to act his way to being 6'5" and 250 pounds, which descriptions are central to Reacher as a character.
posted by rtha at 9:02 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sometimes watching the movie first enhances reading the book. I have never seen one instance of reading the book first enhancing the movie.

Remains of the Day; Room with a View; The Jungle Book.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:03 AM on March 27, 2012


The Caine Mutiny; True Grit (1 and 2); Les Miserables; The World According to Garp.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:05 AM on March 27, 2012


To Kill a Mockingbird.
posted by rtha at 9:11 AM on March 27, 2012


Harry Potter.
posted by maryr at 9:21 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dune (if by "enhancing" you mean "making sense of.")
posted by griphus at 9:22 AM on March 27, 2012


I start to write those first few examples, then I realized it must be a troll, or else miscommunication. Reading the book first gives insight into casting process, directorial decisions, story adaptions, etc. It's a ridiculous assertion.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:25 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


whose main conflict is "do I love or don't I"

You know, I have to say that I wasn't left with the impression that that was Katniss's main conflict.
posted by amarynth at 9:45 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


devinemissk: "that choice was made so she'd have the opportunity to assassinate Coin"

I just read the books (for the first time) this weekend. I missed that connection.

My pardon.
posted by Bonzai at 9:48 AM on March 27, 2012


insert tedious spoiler warning here. Big-ass ones.

But outside of that, Collins manages to craft a dystopian world where children have to fight to the death and Katniss never has to make a difficult decision in the arena. Not one.

That sure doesn't describe how I recall the books.

Now, does Katniss fit into the hero's journey template where she is called to larger things, refuses, then reluctantly picks up the mantle? No, and I think that frustrates a lot of us. But I think that demanding every story fit into the Campbellian mono-myth deprives us of a lot of stories and ignores the reality of life for most of humanity. Women deserve those stories too but calling this one a failure because it doesn't fit into that is unfair.

Looking back on it, it's hard not to think that Collins is making very deliberate choices to subvert these aspects of the hero's journey. Katniss never, to my recall, takes up the responsibility for a larger societal action - rather than an effort to insure her family's safety - until that possibility is taken from her. I think it's arguable whether she even does that for the good of the world vs straight-up revenge.

As far as her tough actions in the arena, I think that overlooks the choices not to kill when she has the opportunity to do so. Why isn't choosing an alliance with a character with little to offer every bit as important a choice as it would be to kill? Even allowing for this assertion that it's a careful construction of a structure where she doesn't have to make hard choices, don't you think this narrowly circumscribed situation with little room for grand action more accurately reflects the life most people live?
posted by phearlez at 9:59 AM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Let me put it one other way: so what if these girls are racists? So what if they are deeply offended that a black girl plays their precious Rue? The bigger problem is that there are women who are convinced that a girl who does nothing is a kind of hero.

I think this would only be the case if virtue and heroism was only an active, existential aspect. Virtue can be passive, and no, not everything passive is less than the active things. Enduring hardship, wrestling and faltering, preserving honesty and kindness are all heroic traits and virtues worthy or renown and emulation.

Sometimes I worry that the obsession with an active hero robs the idea that there is virtue in the be and not just in the do.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 2:32 PM on March 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


When Lenny Kravitz was cast as Cinna, I was a little worried about whether he could pull it off. He's older than I am, yet was cast as a 20-something. Turns out, he has not aged in 25 years!

I admit that I was a little worried about Kravitz's casting as Cinna--not because he was black, or because he was too old (I didn't think about that, actually) but because my own immediate image of Lenny Kravitz is very flamboyant (80s "Let Love Rule," Lisa Bonet-sporting big-haired dude). The book, on the other hand, was very clear about the fact that Cinna was pretty much the least flamboyant of anyone in the Capitol, with just his little flash of gold eyeliner, and I didn't want to see that screwed up. Fortunately, I didn't--Kravitz (and the costume and makeup designers) were able to pull off the understatedness of Cinna very well, and I was pleased with the overall performance.
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:38 PM on March 27, 2012


The Hunger Games Board Game -- "Based on the hit novels and movie, it's the new board game where girls face their biggest fears: dating and death."
posted by ericb at 3:05 PM on March 27, 2012


The loud answer is that Katniss is a strong female character, or something, but that strength is superficial. What does it mean that girls identify with a character who never has to make a life and death decision?

That strength isn't always about making life and death decisions? Jesus, this is an incredibly fucked up and narrow view of heroism, role models, etc.

Let me put it one other way: so what if these girls are racists? So what if they are deeply offended that a black girl plays their precious Rue?

This is one of the weirdest and frankly most offensive derails I've ever seen.

Oh, the audience is racist, that's the problem.

It's definitely a problem. I'm kind of aghast at how dismissive you are about that.
posted by kmz at 3:25 PM on March 27, 2012 [9 favorites]


I just came back from the movie and -- even if Rue hadn't been black in the book and the filmmakers just decided to do race-blind casting, the girl who played her was fantastic. They also made her a more active character, which I appreciated.

Katniss very clearly deliberately kills that girl (Clove?) with the tracker jackets (and could have killed three others) and the guy who shot Rue. She also deliberately doesn't kill Foxface (a sadly underused character). These decisions, in the film, seem really purposeful. I have my issues with the film, but she's not passive.

Gale looked fine. All he did was brood, but he looked okay while doing it. Peeta, on the other hand, was so terribly miscast I actively disliked him and regretted that Katniss saved him.

About half the audience hadn't read the book, so listening to their reactions when Rue died or when Katniss and Peeta are about to Romeo and Juliet was fantastic.

Team Seneca Crane's Beard.
posted by jeather at 6:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


She accidentally kills some people by dropping the tracker jacker nest on them.

From what I recall, the tracker jacker dropping was totally deliberate. Not an "oops, I dropped the branch" moment.

Anyhoo, I have a question to ask: WHAT THE HELL IS OLIVE-COLORED SKIN supposed to even BE? Olives are either black or pukey green. So why isn't "olive" either black or pukey green? Is it supposed to be a white or black person with green tints? A slightly less white looking person? A tan Italian person? Is someone who's from Mexico "olive"? Seriously, I don't know what the hell that's even supposed to be other than "not glaringly white."
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:06 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Middle Eastern folk are considered to have olive toned skin.
posted by MissySedai at 8:53 PM on March 27, 2012


Friend, there's a whole world of olives out there you're missing.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:54 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


That picture just compounds the problem.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:59 PM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've only read the first book (and a bit of the second) so I had to skip the last two thirds of the comments when I realized spoilers for the other books were being tossed about.

I tend to gloss over descriptions of appearance in novels, because unless it's harped on it's not usually important. Usually. (Fuck you, George R. R. Martin.)

By the time I started to care who Rue was at all, I was *way* past her description, so I was reconstructing it. The Capitol was "in the Rockies." District 12 was "Appalachia." District 13 had been obliterated. OK, it seems like the old US/Canada(/Mexico?) was reconstructed into north-south bands. The east coast was probably gone (damn blue staters) and D12 was the frontier. So D11 must be the midwest, right? And Kat is going on and on about how much Rue is like her sister, so she's also blonde. Like a midwesterner. (Yes, I know. Going by odds, here.)

That said, I wouldn't have batted an eye at Rue or Thresh being black (or dark skinned, or whatever) because it just didn't matter. (Unless it does in the later books, and you should just shut up because this is about the first movie/book.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:45 PM on March 27, 2012


Finished the trilogy today, and went looking for maps of Panem. There don't appear to be any 'official' ones, and little consensus on anything beyond the placement of the Capitol District and District 12. I'm not sure having an official map would make much of a difference to anything.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:50 PM on March 27, 2012


I just finished reading Book 2 this morning, and Katniss does kill somebody deliberately there. It's one sentence, and it's written in the passive, so it's easy to miss. That is, it's something more like:

"... the arrow found its home in (person's) neck ..." which softens it, as opposed to

"Katniss shot (person) in the neck with an arrow." It's in a fight, after she's attacked, but she still kills 'em.

If your objection is that she never has to be all, "Well, time to win this thing, it's murderin' time", well, I'd say it's fairly understandable that "Murderin' time Katniss" would be a much less sympathetic character for a young adult novel.
posted by Comrade_robot at 6:31 AM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Murderin' Time Katniss is my favorite rare action figure variant.
posted by kmz at 6:56 AM on March 28, 2012 [4 favorites]


Murderin' time is my favorite tempo for zydeco
posted by phearlez at 8:51 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just now finished book three and I am sorry I read it. If I wanted something that grim I'd be reading more blogs about Mexico gangs, or Iraq, or Afganistan, (or, or, or). Really, the options for reading pages and pages of cruel and spiteful deaths are pretty legion. Ew ew ew!
posted by small_ruminant at 9:47 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Olive skin is meant to describe people who have yellow-green (...olive) undertones to their skin. Often people from the Mediterranean and the Middle East, but even pale European people can have olive toned skin.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:44 AM on March 28, 2012


Yep, I'm half Hispanic, and have dark brown hair, brown eyes, and very light olive skin. I thought Katniss might look like me, but I'm not too bent out of shape about it.
posted by fiercecupcake at 12:06 PM on March 28, 2012


'Hunger Games' critics: Katniss actress too big -- "While Jennifer Lawrence's acting performance in 'The Hunger Games' was generally praised, some critics are saying she was too large to play Katniss Everdeen, a teen from a starving futuristic land, who must hunt every day to keep her family fed."
posted by ericb at 12:41 PM on March 28, 2012


'Hunger Games' critics: Katniss actress too big

I would now also like to also be able to taser newspaper critics remotely.
posted by empath at 12:55 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


In all seriousness, how fucking dead inside do you have to be to write about weight issues in an attractive, normal looking young actress, knowing what kind of impact that kind of talk has on young girls. Every one of those people should be ashamed of themselves.
posted by empath at 12:57 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]


Murderin' Time Katniss is my favorite rare action figure variant.

Looks like your in luck.
The Hunger Games' Katniss Gets The Barbie Doll Treatment -- "Mattel is adding Jennifer Lawrence's heroine from dystopian science-fiction blockbuster to its Barbie doll range."
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on March 28, 2012


*you're*
posted by ericb at 1:11 PM on March 28, 2012


The entire movie sort of left out how hungry everyone was, which was a weird thing to ignore.

"male romantic figures have to be at least be as tall as their female partners."

Of all the reasons Peeta was miscast, his height wasn't even on the list.
posted by jeather at 1:34 PM on March 28, 2012


The entire movie sort of left out how hungry everyone was, which was a weird thing to ignore.

On that note, there was a point where, shortly after leaving the Cornucopia, where Katniss runs for a bit and then, just...finds some water, despite her dehydration being like a chapter long subplot in the book. My wife and I both turned to each other with quizzical expressions when that happened.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:46 PM on March 28, 2012


The entire movie sort of left out how hungry everyone was, which was a weird thing to ignore.

How is that handled in the books? Do they actually have dialogue about it, or is it Katniss thinking she is hungry, and how everyone is always hungry?

Because if people started having dialogue about being hungry in a movie called the Hunger Games, I think it would get laughable real fast.
posted by smackfu at 1:52 PM on March 28, 2012


From memory, one way it's handled is that when she gets into the city, there is food everywhere, and she eats til she feels sick and hides more food in her room for later. Really not difficult to include in the film. There are also more abstract things like knowing her mother has skipped eating for the day and giving her sister part of her own meal.
posted by jacalata at 2:04 PM on March 28, 2012


It's not that they talk about being hungry - it's more how they talk about food, and how often. How hard it is to get it. What it takes to make it stretch longer. What you're forced to eat when you have no choice. How foreign things like using the right fork would be if you've never seen a whole steak. When they get to the train to the Capitol, they start to see elegant, prepared dishes, and those get described almost like otherworldly creatures. There's a lamb stew in particular that Katniss almost obsesses over, and which she later gets as one of her rewards in the arena. Another key scene which didn't make it into the movie (and which some people including myself discussed above) was that Peeta (as a baker) described to Katniss all the different types of breads that existed in other districts, so that when she received a gift in the arena of bread from District 11 (which was originally supposed to go to Rue), she had her first inkling that other districts might be interested in her survival - not least because she knew that any gift of food sent directly from a poor district meant those people had scraped and done without to make that gift possible.

It was an awareness of chronic hunger and what it can do to you informing many areas of the plot, more than people sitting around holding their tummies and moaning. In the movie, even Katniss seems to take food for granted.
posted by Mchelly at 2:08 PM on March 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


What jacalata and Mchelly said, and also there's a lot of discussion about how -- as the game goes on -- the kids from the poorer districts, not the careers, do better, because they know how to cope with hunger. Even the berry scene, when Foxface dies, was made not about food, when really it was.

The bread issue I think was complex and would have been hard to translate to the movie, but I liked that they showed a riot in 11 instead, though I didn't like how Katniss couldn't have known about it then. But they'll need to infodump the bread types for movie 2.

I think the dehydration subplot died with the entire "Haymitch is talking to me through parachute drops, and I will respond appropriately" plot, and the "I am faking the romance" story was too subtle, and the ending left out the fight they had.

And though this didn't strike me in the books: how did Flickerman know to ask Peeta about a girl? Did Haymitch hint?
posted by jeather at 2:36 PM on March 28, 2012


Interesting, apparently there was a movie with a similar plot made in japan in 2000, complete with kids fighting till only one survives.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 PM on March 28, 2012


Yep, anything with sacrificial teens in deadly live entertainment obviously ripped off Battle Royale.
posted by kmz at 10:28 PM on March 28, 2012 [8 favorites]


CBrachyrhynchos: "I've seen both non-religious interpretations, and Hunger Games Bible Study."

You've got to admit, it really is the perfect Palm Sunday story
posted by Blasdelb at 11:40 AM on March 30, 2012


So, only having seen the movie - what's the draw for fundie Christians? Is it more in the book? I'm not seeing it.
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on April 1, 2012




So, only having seen the movie - what's the draw for fundie Christians? Is it more in the book? I'm not seeing it.

Good question. The main thing I'm seeing is that Katniss is an honest, lionhearted young woman from a rural area, who is forced to play in evil games designed by a cruel, callous, and above all decadent urban society. Her simple, unforced integrity, skill, and determination, as well as her refusal to abide by the terms of her society, make her a warrior-hero. This may mirror much of the experience and rhetoric of practicing Christians who live in a society they feel is alien and godless, where their non-Christian peers may seem to be competing in an ungodly way for prizes that the Christian knows are not worth it.

As Ebert pointed out, Hunger Games is a parable that anyone can project their own beliefs onto.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:12 PM on April 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I mean essentially your extreme fundie Christian can't be agnostic about any extremely popular cultural thing, and has to choose either to embrace it as Representative of Christian Values or demonize it as Worldly Godlessness. There's no option for ignoring or saying 'oh hey a movie about stuff.'
posted by shakespeherian at 7:20 PM on April 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, Christianity in general really loves the righteous defiance in the face of persecution angle (as does everybody these days) and in Hunger Games it's a persecuted majority you get to identify with!
posted by XMLicious at 7:25 PM on April 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Course, from the movie the population of the districsts seems to be a couple of hundred each.
posted by Artw at 7:35 PM on April 1, 2012


Is she a hero in the books? I never got the impression from the movie that I was watching a hero, or that it was trying to depict her as one. Is "hero" being used as shorthand for "the main character"? Volunteering to save her sister is heroic, the rest was just her being eaten by a massive social machine.
posted by -harlequin- at 8:13 PM on April 1, 2012


Yeah I think hero/protagonist is sort of interchangeable a lot of the time in typical conversation.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 PM on April 1, 2012


Plus she saves some dude and give a big FU to The Man every so often when the oportunity emerges.
posted by Artw at 10:36 PM on April 1, 2012


So, only having seen the movie - what's the draw for fundie Christians? Is it more in the book? I'm not seeing it.

The Original Hunger Games (spoiler: it was the gladiators)

from that article:

"can we all pray that God raises up men and women who are as committed to THE Cause as Telemachus was to ending the violence?"

There's also a anti-abortion reading there as well (I assume that's "THE Cause" ...) - the state is calling for the sacrifices of unborn children and Christians must rise up to stop it.

To be fair, I haven't read the books. It was free on Amazon, so I tried the first 20 pages, but hated it. (And no one I trust has told me they liked it ...)

However, Focus on the Family has spoken:

Christian Beliefs: None
posted by mrgrimm at 2:43 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, only having seen the movie - what's the draw for fundie Christians? Is it more in the book? I'm not seeing it.

I don't know if "popular book bible study" is all that popular with fundamentalist groups, aside from C.S. Lewis. To my memory, popular book studies was a thing with my ancestral mainstream congregation which wasn't remotely fundamentalist (although they might be moving that way.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:21 PM on April 2, 2012




I got a new cat a couple weeks ago, and considered naming her Katniss, how perfect, right? But I figured there would be a glut of cats named Katniss so I named her Lyra instead.

Since that book came out 16 years ago and most other Lyras are probably near the end of their nine lives by now. If I get a cat 16 years from now maybe I will name her Katniss.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:11 PM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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