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November 25, 2013 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Ill conceived ad campaigns seem to be par for the course these days (I personally threw up my hands twenty years ago when Janis Joplin was first used to sell Mercedes Benz), but you have to marvel at the thinking behind Covergirl's recent marketing tie-in with the film "Catching Fire" that assumes people would enjoy looking like the air-headed, blood-thirsty residents of the Capital. The Guardian weighs in.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI (196 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those Sriracha sandwiches sound pretty okay though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:54 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't have a dog in this fight one way or the other (I tried to read one of the books once, and put it down after about five minutes), but I am fairly sure both Cover Girl and Subway needed to buy the rights to advertise using the franchise. If the author cared that much, they wouldn't have been able to do it.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:54 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was already familiar with the hilarity of the makeup ads but the Subway ones are new to me and are utterly fucking hilarious. THNKS U.

Technically they should feature squirrel meat though.
posted by elizardbits at 7:55 AM on November 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


I thought the movie was a lot better than the first one, but also still too safe, politically. They didn't want to actually make any enemies, so the targets of whatever satire exists in the movie are too diffuse to pack a punch.
posted by empath at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2013


The Guardian is very earnest sometimes, isn't it?

Whatever did it make of Halloween? I mean, people actually wanting children to look like flesh-eating zombie monsters? Would anyone actually want to endorse these monsters? Are they role models? Quite apart from the feelings of family members of those deceased persons who have suffered the unimaginable trauma of actually becoming a zombie - but capitalism cares nothing for that, obviously!
posted by Segundus at 8:02 AM on November 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


(I have to admit I've bought a couple of the Vosges tie-in chocolate bars that are probably even more crass than the Subway sandwiches or makeup.)

I thought the movie was quite good, way better than the first.
posted by kmz at 8:04 AM on November 25, 2013


Zombies are pretend. Civilizations in which the privileged classes entertain themselves with the bloodsport of the poor are not.
posted by elizardbits at 8:04 AM on November 25, 2013 [37 favorites]


Now I want a squirrel and sriracha sandwich.
posted by idiopath at 8:04 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


And yeah, I forgot how bad the first one was but now in comparison to the second it is even worse.
posted by elizardbits at 8:05 AM on November 25, 2013


But people will enjoy looking like the air-headed, blood-thirsty residents of the Capital. Because people are perverse.

Halloween was just a month ago; this year it brought us a child dressed as a KKK clansman, a woman dressed as a Boston Marathon bombing victim, two Brit co-eds dressed as the Twin Towers post-attack and a couple of bros dressed as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. People will love Covergirl's tie-in line of products.

Though, I can't even fathom why anyone eats at Subway, film tie-in or no; I get better quality food from food boxes.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: It's as if no one read the books or even saw the first movie.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Where the Guardian sees bloodthirsty airheads, the target demographic sees carefree luxury. Being Katniss or Johanna is hard. Being Elizabeth Banks' character is comparatively easy.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:08 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "Those Sriracha sandwiches sound pretty okay though."

They're not bad - though the taste stayed with me a little longer than I wanted ;P

LOL.

I think the look, personally, is awesome, but yeah - let's associate ourselves with the imperial excesses. Great commentary on our society!
posted by symbioid at 8:10 AM on November 25, 2013


"Hey, we need to make a product that appeals to kids and young women! What cultural item can we tie all our products to?"

"Well, the biggest movie in the country right now is Catching Fire. Based on a bestselling book series, stars a pretty awesome young woman playing a pretty awesome young character, lots of violence, lots of glamour... kids are eating this shit up."

"Oh perfect! Look we can go home early."

"There's just one problem, sir."

"Oh? And what's that?"

"The book is part of a trilogy that's distinctly anti-glitz and anti-media, and maybe a little bit anti-consumerism as well. It features a lot of people who are starving to death, and everybody who's glamour-obsessed is shown as being vain and frequently amoral."

"I see. But this movie still has global appeal?"

"It does, sir."

"People are paying $15 for tickets?"

"By the drove, sir."

"The celebrities who appeared in it are making appearances on talk shows to promote their product?"

"They are indeed, sir. Jennifer Lawrence is getting compliments all over for the classiness of her pixie cut."

"Hm. Well, are they all talking about the political themes of this movie? This anti-whatever that you tell me this film's about?"

"Jennifer Lawrence told a story about shitting herself to Letterman. And she made fun of Jon Stewart for not knowing what her movie is."

"Hmm."

"We can go forward with the campaign, sir."

"No... that's a risk I'm not willing to take. Newspaper columnists might spot the irony, and then children would hate us and hate our brand forever. You know how much those children love their newspaper columnists!"

^----- what doesn't happen.

The pink nerf bows are dumb, though. Who ever heard of a pink bow?
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


Subway lucked out there, because you basically can't mess up a sandwich. A sandwich is always good.
posted by colie at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The capitol loves the superficial: flamboyant hair, makeup, clothes, lavish banquets, etc. The people who live there are so blinded by their lifestyle that they don't fully grasp that they're putting on "games" where children are killing each other. In fact, they're cheering it on like most people do sports teams. They make bets on who will die and laugh about it.

That's what CoverGirl is worshiping. It's as if no one read the books or even saw the first movie.


Or possibly that they know that their audience is capable of separating style from substance and believes that it is the people who are acting poorly and not their cosmetics.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


C'mon, it's make-up being used to sell make-up. I don't see the dissonance there. Make-up is inherently aspirational and as corrupt as the elite may be, they are the aspiration because they are the Haves. No-one aspires to Have Not. In some ways, it's a much more honest make-up campaign than most. But seriously, even if people walk away from the movie/books relating to Katniss, the fun play with make-up is in the Districts.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Is Catching Fire actually a good movie, MetaFilter? I saw The Hunger Games and was spectacularly disappointed with how it took all the book's many themes and basically... did nothing with them. I've been hearing that the new movie is somewhat less awful, but is it legitimately GOOD? Or is it just a little bit less intolerable of a waste?

(To be fair, I wanted The Hunger Games to be shot all Truman Show style. Cameras tracking the participants as if they were the cameras placed for the spectators anyway, lots of ironic detachment from the protagonists and their suffering, very little time inside Katniss's head, so that we'd be forced to speculate on a lot of the things happening. And that movie was pretty obviously not going to exist. Gah, why do I keep paying money for things that are gonna be stupider than my imagination.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:15 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: pink bows are fine, if you have matching ribbons in your hair.
posted by idiopath at 8:16 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a new line of spray paints too? Cute little cans with fun/clever names?

And what happens after you shave your eyebrows?
posted by CrowGoat at 8:17 AM on November 25, 2013


*spoilers*


I kind of have no interest in the actual game part of hunger games as a concept, especially on film, because if you think about it, the whole set up for the movie is how gross the concept is, and then they want you to watch it, and presumably enjoy the killing that katniss does in the movie, because it guess she is your favorite child murderer/victim for whatever reason, and the other kids are kind of shitheads and deserve what happens to them. I guess it could be generously described as ironic, but at least in the first movie, it's just incoherent.

The second movie does much better by exploring the world around the games and putting off the actual game part of it as long as possible, but I still think they dwelled on it too long. To me, it was pretty obvious that they were going to break out of the thing from the beginning, but Katniss was way too passive. She just got dragged along in someone else's scheme, which kinda makes her the least interesting character to watch after the games started.
posted by empath at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who ever heard of a pink bow?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2013


And anyway, people always co-opt and corrupt the symbols of the powerful in a bid for their own power. So, you can take your deep analysis of a Cover Girl ad campaign even further and make it subversive if you want to.

I have no answer for the pink bow, though.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2013


Effie Trinket becomes quite sympathetic in the Catching Fire movie, and her make-up etc is bonkers.

The movie is a bit better than could reasonably be expected. The beatings of impoverished citizens by masked stormtroopers are more shocking and real than the kind of thing you expect of a kids' movie certificate 12A.
posted by colie at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Cover Girl and Subway needed to buy the rights to advertise using the franchise"
Pretty sure that the studio made these deals--once the author signed the option for the films, she got what she got. She might have profit participation, aka points, but she won't have any say in what the studio does for promotional or merchandising.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rory Marinich: pink bows are fine, if you have matching ribbons in your hair.

When I think of hair ribbons, I think of Violet Baudelaire, and then I think of how disappointing it is that A Series of Unfortunate Events wasn't used to promote a line of mock-Victorian clothing. Capitalism, why are you always letting me down.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:19 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, this "you too can be a shallow Capitol citizen" is totally a thing they're doing. Also you can get fancy chocolate bars inspired by the districts, who will never ever get to eat fancy chocolate.

By the way, last year's Hunger Games nail polish collection from China Glaze was way better than the stuff Cover Girl has out right now.

Yes, I will be the first to get an arrow to the eye when Katniss storms the Capitol, and it will be awesome. You're an inspiration, Katniss! I have like twenty-seven mockingjay charms on my bracelet!
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:19 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Be the first on your block to get a pet Warg©. Available in a variety of colors!
posted by DaddyNewt at 8:20 AM on November 25, 2013


When I saw the headline "Fiery Footlong," I did not imagine a sandwich.

Although... It kind of sounds like the name of a JK Rowling character, doesn't it?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Who ever heard of a pink bow?

Who brings a bow to a gunfight?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:20 AM on November 25, 2013


The pink nerf bows are dumb, though. Who ever heard of a pink bow?

I was a little confused when the Guardian talks about how parents were saying that now, with pink bows, little girls were finally able to play archery with their brothers. I personally - butch/gender-nonconforming, own nothing pink - would have loved pink sports items when I was four or five, but I was just as happy to play with the purple, blue and red ones we actually had. I mean seriously, why not get the girl a "boy's" bow if that's all that's on the shelf?

But of course, this whole "look like A Neevil resident of the Capitol while eating a sandwich" business is just capitalism recuperating its critics (such as they are in these sad days). Katniss or Neevil Capitol resident, they're both just choices in the marketplace of ideas, and it would surprise the life out of your average marketeer if anyone acted as though those identities meant anything, were more than play. Make-up is exactly the right thing for this - although you might as well throw in some Katniss natural-look styles for completeness.
posted by Frowner at 8:21 AM on November 25, 2013


I agree, why aren't these children planning to overthrow the bourgeoisie instead of, ugh, putting on makeup and eating sandwiches and playing and having fun? Enemies of the people, I tell you what...
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:23 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I teach my kids the default position that all ads are complete bollocks and not to believe a single word of any of them. This just reinforces that.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 8:24 AM on November 25, 2013


Some brave souls tried the Covergirl makeup tips so that we don't have to.

"I can taste this makeup in my throat"
posted by Alison at 8:24 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I thought Grantland's review was quite good in regards to where this movie worked better than the last. The salute scenes were definitely my favorites here.
posted by kmz at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


C'mon, it's make-up being used to sell make-up. I don't see the dissonance there. Make-up is inherently aspirational and as corrupt as the elite may be, they are the aspiration because they are the Haves. No-one aspires to Have Not.

They'll never live like common people?
posted by jaduncan at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, sure, they're bloodthirsty airheaded bourgeois assholes. But they look FABULOUS!
posted by zarq at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2013


I do feel like an ARG-style guerrilla marketing campaign could have involved telling the entire cast of the movie to aggressively promote rebellion and revolution, and letting the media freak out over whether or not Catching Fire was about to brainwash children into violently overthrowing the government. The best way to make people who aren't fans of highly-polished products into fans is to suggest that THIS highly-polished product will destroy production as we know it!

I mean, that would be an even more cynical way to market things, but imagine Jennifer Lawrence getting kicked out of studios for ripping Letterman's jacket and trying to foment riots among the audience.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


The fact the people wearing it were spectacularly horrible does not change the fact that the makeup was amazing and for those who like cosmetics, will inspire a ton of trends.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


Or possibly that they know that their audience is capable of separating style from substance and believes that it is the people who are acting poorly and not their cosmetics.

I agree that I don't really see how it says anything about people who want to emulate the Capitol makeup styles (if those people even really exist in any significant numbers) other than that they like the aesthetic. I can see an argument in this way if you're adopting the aesthetic of real life bad people, but fictional characters? I don't think anyone is doing anything other than looking at the screen, thinking "that looks cools," and trying to incorporate it into their own look. Doing that also doesn't prevent you from getting the more serious points the books/movies are making.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2013


The fact the people wearing it were spectacularly horrible does not change the fact that the makeup was amazing and for those who like cosmetics, will inspire a ton of trends.

Yeah, for people who like makeup as an art form, this is Very Exciting. Think of it as cosplay.
posted by KathrynT at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


The Hunger Games: Eat Fresh!
posted by Kitteh at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Considering that i already have unnaturaly red hair i might as well bite the bullet and invest in some lurid eyeshadow and suit jackets.

I mean if I'm going to be a privileged member of a corrupt amoral and decadent elite i might as well look good doing it.
posted by The Whelk at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Oh also, to the FPP: if a legendary rock musician writes a song named after a car that has lyrics about wanting to buy that car, it should not exactly be controversial when that car company uses that rock musician's song to sell that car.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2013


The Whelk: Yessss do it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:35 AM on November 25, 2013


Someone should make one of those image guessing sites "Vogue" or "Hunger Games". I know I'd score worse than random.
posted by sammyo at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nah, just be sure to invest in an emerald green velvet suit.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is pretty classic "content marketing," a big honking 800lb gorilla in the content strategy world. It's interesting, because it can be risky for all of the reasons outlined in this thread.

If you look through the details of the http://capitolcouture.pn/ site, they're clearly not just promo'ing cosmetics: they've created three issues of a fake fashion magazine that takes place in the world's fictional universe. It feels closer to sponsored fanfiction/world-building. But for anyone who's read the series, there's an undeniable creepy quality to it: the images of Katniss can't really be separated from the fact that she is used as a cultural and propaganda icon against her will.

It's not quite as bad as the Great Gatsby facepalming, but it's definitely a tricky line to walk.
posted by verb at 8:37 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the complaint here is the same as the complaint about Reagan using "Born in the USA" as a campaign song, or people who dance to "Beautiful Tonight" at their weddings.

Personally, though, I'm firmly in Camp Awesome Makeup everywhere.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't say much about Cover Girl, having never worked there, but I have worked at a huge Fashion Magazine You've Heard Of, and a pretty big cosmetics company. Based on that experience, I'll hazard a guess that the folks who came up with this campaign are basically immune to any kind of serious social commentary in these books. They've been instructed to do a campaign based on a certain aesthetic, they're doing that campaign, and as long as the visuals look good that's where the conversation ends.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:40 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Guardian is very earnest sometimes, isn't it?

They're going to be crushed when they find out about this.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2013


I agree that I don't really see how it says anything about people who want to emulate the Capitol makeup styles (if those people even really exist in any significant numbers) other than that they like the aesthetic. I can see an argument in this way if you're adopting the aesthetic of real life bad people, but fictional characters? I don't think anyone is doing anything other than looking at the screen, thinking "that looks cools," and trying to incorporate it into their own look. Doing that also doesn't prevent you from getting the more serious points the books/movies are making.

See, and this is exactly about the evisceration of political content from mass-produced art - that the political content of the art is of no more significance than the costumes and does not "carry over" into the aesthetic of the film. So no one feels any ethical distaste for dressing up like or otherwise imitating evil characters - but also, it's not subversion, like "ha ha capitalism, you want me to believe in the 'good' characters but I will dress up like the villains because fuck you". It's just an emptying out of content.

I'd argue that this is not new, but it's more prevalent now - the idea that cultural production doesn't have moral content but is just a source of personal branding/self-formation, and is only important insofar as it supplies new ways to dress, new selves to perform, new things to buy.

Considered on its own, I don't think this is really a problem. Why should we be expected to take our morality from major Hollywood productions? The "villains" in these movies aren't half as villainous as Henry Kissinger or Steve Jobs or Ronald Reagan or the Waltons - we should be so lucky to have villains who are glamorous instead of just preppy or sloppy, at least we'd get something out of it then.

I do think there's a whole postmodernity/post-68 problem with the emptying out of art, the aestheticization of politics, etc, but that's certainly not the fault of The Hunger Games.
posted by Frowner at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


Rory , only if i can have a pet prole. Dance for me Rory , dance!

Actually Black Lapel 's stuff is pretty Capital to begin with...
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2013


It's not quite as bad as the Great Gatsby face palming

Again: a movie was made about attractive, fashionable people, and products were made to advertise the fact that you, too, could be attractive and fashionable like those people were in the movies.

The notion that advertising has to be subtle or content-aware is ridiculous. Advertising is about surfaces. A lot of art critiques the shallowness of surfaces, but if it uses attractive surfaces in its critique then advertising gets to go, "Yay! A surface!" This is why several generations of artists in a variety of mediums have decided that the only way to critique shallowness in culture is to embrace it — Lady Gaga and Quentin Tarantino come to mind.

This is not that complicated.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


and as long as the visuals look good that's where the conversation ends

Unless we are somehow treated to footage of a storm of arrows pouring down on cowering executives and ad people on the evening news, yes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:43 AM on November 25, 2013


Oh also, to the FPP: if a legendary rock musician writes a song named after a car that has lyrics about wanting to buy that car, it should not exactly be controversial when that car company uses that rock musician's song to sell that car.

Aim lower, people. Hope for less. Expect the lowest, crassest common denominator, and the corporations will never catch you unawares.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:47 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


TBH, I'm less bothered by the make-up thing than I am by the Subway/Vosges tie-ins. Considering a big part of The Hunger Games world is the fact that the general population routinely starves or eats very little as compared to the wealthy people of the Capitol, the idea that posh chocolate or large sandwiches somehow made sense to the marketing of the movie blows my mind.
posted by Kitteh at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm afraid that the Hunger Games series is doing for post-apocalyptic speculative fiction what the Twilight series did for vampires, namely neutering the horror on the altar of pop-commercialism.
posted by Renoroc at 8:50 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


There is actually an interesting response to this in the real world, by a bunch of Harry Potter fans + the AFL-CIO no less. Odds in Our Favor and We Are the Districts Because not everybody is distracted by bread and circuses into not noticing that things kind of suck right now.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


The notion that advertising has to be subtle or content-aware is ridiculous. Advertising is about surfaces. A lot of art critiques the shallowness of surfaces, but if it uses attractive surfaces in its critique then advertising gets to go, "Yay! A surface!"

I, uh, I think that this is what people are bothered by? I'm not sure why you think restating the situation at hand is a counter-argument.
posted by invitapriore at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aim lower, people. Hope for less. Expect the lowest, crassest common denominator, and the corporations will never catch you unawares.

The notion that people who make a living by creating and selling product are subject to the whims and desires of advertisers who would like to use that product to sell things is not a particularly controversial one. Yes, in an ideal world people could all be creative and free without any need to care about marketing or communication or making a living. That world is impossibly utopian. In the real world artists worry about the exact same thing that marketers do: communicating ideas to people, and possibly also convincing those people to give them money.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Considered on its own, I don't think this is really a problem. Why should we be expected to take our morality from major Hollywood productions? The "villains" in these movies aren't half as villainous as Henry Kissinger or Steve Jobs or Ronald Reagan or the Waltons

Every single time someone on Metafilter references "the Waltons" to mean the Walmart family, I think they're talking about John-Boy and family, and every single time it confuses me greatly.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


As I was telling somebody the other day, if you want to do extravagant sci-fi makeup, there are all kinds of things you could use for this that aren't the Hunger Games. You want to do over-the-top futuristic stuff, you have options. I'd have thought it was absolutely brilliant if they decided to do their new line inspired by Daft Punk. This is just... facepalm territory. The up side is, I think lots of people are rolling their eyes, which means that overall people do seem to get it, even if those same people still also think that the futuristic makeup thing is pretty cool.
posted by Sequence at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2013


I thought that Panera would have been a better choice for Hunger Games than Subway. You could have called it Panem-a.
posted by inturnaround at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand Cover Girl but I don't understand the Guardian writer either. This is an action movie where the action is adolescents killing adolescents for sport. Don't you sort of have to check your scruples at the door when you buy the ticket to the movie?
posted by bukvich at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2013


please explain to me how we don't live in a dystopian over the top Scifi future
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh, come on, The Whelk, it's not that bad. It's not like we have advertising companies who have invented technology to beam signals directly into our eyeballs, or anything like that.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 8:59 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


anyway I was at the saddest part of the first movie was Effie mouthing aong with the words of the propaganda video. She needs to believe it so badly!
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh also, to the FPP: if a legendary rock musician writes a song named after a car that has lyrics about wanting to buy that car, it should not exactly be controversial when that car company uses that rock musician's song to sell that car.

Would you be okay with the NRA using "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" as its next jingle?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought that Panera would have been a better choice for Hunger Games than Subway. You could have called it Panem-a.

Not only that, but they have a chain of pay-what-you-want stores to stop people from having to be hungry from lack of money.
posted by empath at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


entropicamericana: I would find that pretty hilarious.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is an action movie where the action is adolescents killing adolescents for sport. Don't you sort of have to check your scruples at the door when you buy the ticket to the movie?

....no

Unless of course you similarly think that Harry Potter is a series about genocide and ethnic cleansing and enslavement of minority races and only people who approve of that sort of thing would see the movies?
posted by elizardbits at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm afraid that the Hunger Games series is doing for post-apocalyptic speculative fiction what the Twilight series did for vampires, namely neutering the horror on the altar of pop-commercialism.

Vampires have been neutered for a long, long time. The complaints people are making about Twilight now are the same complaints people made about Anne Rice's whole deal when that happened. I'm pretty sure post-apocalyptic sci-fi is safe.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:03 AM on November 25, 2013


I'm afraid that the Hunger Games series is doing for post-apocalyptic speculative fiction what the Twilight series did for vampires, namely neutering the horror on the altar of pop-commercialism.

If you read the books there's nothing neutered about the horror of the Hunger Games. Unfortunately they couldn't make the movies NC-17 or even R. Even so I'd say there's still plenty of horror.

This is an action movie where the action is adolescents killing adolescents for sport. Don't you sort of have to check your scruples at the door when you buy the ticket to the movie?

You realize that that's not depicted in a positive light, right? I mean, you use the old there are no anti-war movies argument and it's definitely still applicable here, but your response is facile at best.
posted by kmz at 9:03 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Personally I am outraged people like this "Darth Vader" character to the point they dress up as him. Don't they know he's literally an assassin for a fascist space empire? It's like cosplaying Otto Skorzeny. *gets a column for the Guardian*
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:04 AM on November 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


Part of the appeal of the books for readers was how Katniss got to dress up pretty and be a celebrity; part of what made them so good was how it played with the whole concept and made it feel pretty slimy by the end. Plus, like, people used to fight over who got the red lightsaber because it was the coolest. Dressing up as the bad guy isn't unprecedented, and besides which the only really decent Capitol character is the stylist Cinna, so I think the association is a lot more complicated than just "makeup=Capitol=evil".

I'm afraid that the Hunger Games series is doing for post-apocalyptic speculative fiction what the Twilight series did for vampires, namely neutering the horror on the altar of pop-commercialism.

Nooooo, I don't know if you've read the last book but there's no way I can see to glamorize the ending.
posted by vogon_poet at 9:05 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Would you be okay with the NRA using "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" as its next jingle?

Wasn't it Levis who used "American Woman" for an ad in the late '90s? And Microsoft used "Heroes." If I had the right ear, I'd tell Netflix to use "There Ain't Shit On TV Tonight."
posted by octobersurprise at 9:11 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


" burn down the malls " for amazon.com
posted by The Whelk at 9:15 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Nerf Rebelle line is much more extensive than described in the article. First of all, pink isn't even the primary color of the line, it, along with purple are accent colors, but the bulk of the plastic is white.

Second, while the commercial the author saw was for the bow, all sorts of nerf projectile types are represented in the line: several different types of dart guns and even a crossbow.

And assuming that Hasbro is solely motivated by the Hunger Games to be pushing their archery set misses the fact that archery in general is big right now on the big and small screen. Katniss isn't even the only archery-skilled female protagonist to get her own movie recently, they could just as easily be trying to ride the popularity of Disney/Pixar's Brave.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:17 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because not everybody is distracted by bread and circuses into not noticing that things kind of suck right now.

Wait, what?

Things don't suck right now compared with the rest of history. We earthlings enjoy more rights, eat more, live longer, and have more and better healthcare than ever before, not to mention the access to more information than has ever been collected in history at our fingertips. Sure there's vast acreage of room for improvement, but really, generally speaking considering the poverty, pestilence, famine, wars, and opression the earth has seen since we started walking on our hind legs we aren't living in a dark ages here.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


So on 3rd and Lenora, there's a busy Subway with its windows plastered with ads for the movie and the sandwich tie-in. And right next to it for the rest of the block are the city's Health and Social Services offices, with about 50-100 homeless waiting outside and across the street with their meager belongings. Sometimes I think I am living in a fantasy world, that such contradictions exist without questioning.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not only that, but they have a chain of pay-what-you-want stores to stop people from having to be hungry from lack of money.

You know, that's probably a ludicrous idea, but if a company really Got It this would have been an excellent opportunity to do a tie-in where a portion of your purchase was donated to a food bank. And exactly the right time of year for it, too. Give you a little Mockingjay sticker, bill it as we're-all-in-this-together solidarity.

Corporations don't have to be evil--they just seem to choose to do so anyway.
posted by Sequence at 9:21 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wasn't it Levis who used "American Woman" for an ad in the late '90s? And Microsoft used "Heroes." If I had the right ear, I'd tell Netflix to use "There Ain't Shit On TV Tonight."

Jim Morrison threatened to smash a Buick on TV with a sledgehammer if they went ahead with using "Light My Fire" in the commercial his 3 bandmates agreed to in his absence. Mercedes waited till Janis was well dead.

I remember sitting on my parent's living room floor, watching TV the first time I heard the choppy, rock guitar chords of The Beatles "Revolution" accompanying a Nike ad.

I was still a kid, but I new something had changed. For the worse.

Today I get sick when I hear The Cure "Pictures of You" because I can't get the fucking photographic film commercial out of my head.

Bill Hicks said it best...
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"My New House" for HGTV. "Guilty of Being White" for Fox News (or, alternately "Asshole Dub.")
posted by octobersurprise at 9:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Capitalism selects for evil. If a corporation does something evil and profits from it, it forces their competition to be evil, too, or else they will be driven out of business.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 9:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bill Hicks was a marketer who provided a catchy, jingle-esque tagline to an entire demographic of people who crave "authenticity" and hate the fact that people want to buy shit.

The fact that "if you're in advertising, kill yourself" is by far Hicks's most remembered line is an irony lost on the sorts of people who only ever quote that one damn line.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:29 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Capitalism selects for evil. If a corporation does something evil and profits from it, it forces their competition to be evil, too, or else they will be driven out of business.

Which is exactly what happened to the health insurance industry.
posted by localroger at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Civilizations in which the privileged classes entertain themselves with the bloodsport of the poor are not.

Its not very often that they get to see the blood though, so I'm not entirely sure that the in-power people and regular people would see the connection. MMA is one of the few truly bloody sports, right?

Even in the most despicable shows, the COPS and the prison guard tag alongs, we get to see (and for some, enjoy) the suffering without really knowing how much is there, there's no weighing a sad and dejected look. That, as opposed to seeing a cup vs a quart of blood on the ground. We'd never have the vile impact of our current civ-system spoon fed to us that easily. And I think it really would have to be that concrete a view of suffering, that quantitative, for the people who know what's there and the people who can watch what's available to truly be pushed into action.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:34 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Things don't suck right now compared with the rest of history. We earthlings enjoy more rights, eat more, live longer, and have more and better healthcare than ever before, not to mention the access to more information than has ever been collected in history at our fingertips. Sure there's vast acreage of room for improvement, but really, generally speaking considering the poverty, pestilence, famine, wars, and opression the earth has seen since we started walking on our hind legs we aren't living in a dark ages here.

Yes, if you compare us to the Middle Ages or to our last common ancestor with chimpanzees, things are great now. However, if you think about things on a more modern timescale, and if you follow the links, or read the news at all, you know that income and wealth inequality are much higher now than they were in the late 20th century, that unemployment figures are seriously impacted by the huge numbers of Americans who have stopped looking for work, and that the US incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other "developed" country.

Many of us would prefer a higher standard than "better than the dark ages".
posted by hydropsyche at 9:35 AM on November 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


Capitalism selects for evil. If a corporation does something evil and profits from it, it forces their competition to be evil, too, or else they will be driven out of business.

It actually selects for amorality, which is not at all the same thing. The awful thing about capitalism is that if people actually cared about the conditions of workers enough to direct their spending to ethical companies, the ethical companies would force other companies to be ethical. The evil/efficiency of companies in the market is precisely due to the fact that their customers rarely care about anything save the purchase price.
posted by jaduncan at 9:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Bill Hicks was a marketer who provided a catchy, jingle-esque tagline to an entire demographic of people who crave "authenticity" and hate the fact that people want to buy shit.

*YAWN*

The consumerist model of Capitalism we live under requires the creation of desires that people don't already have. Early in the 20th C this was understood because American industrial capacity was such that it could produce more than people wanted to buy. This is when American advertising changed from "Look at how long our products last, what a good investment" to "NEW THING! SHINY! YOUR NEIGHBORS DON"T HAVE IT!"

It's also the reason we're consuming the planet at a faster rate than it can absorb, to the detriment of our survivability as a species.

So your simplistic "people want to buy stuff" is both under-informed and the actual catchy, jingle-esque tagline.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:36 AM on November 25, 2013


We earthlings enjoy more rights, eat more, live longer, and have more and better healthcare than ever before, not to mention the access to more information than has ever been collected in history at our fingertips.

So terribly, terribly few of us right now have all of (or some of) that. Probably not even 20% of the species.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:37 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Many of us would prefer a higher standard than "better than the dark ages".

How about better than it was in my own lifetime and I'm not that old?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:37 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So terribly, terribly few of us right now have all of (or some of) that. Probably not even 20% of the species.

Yes, and that is several times more than it has ever been before.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


How about better than it was in my own lifetime and I'm not that old?

You must not be very old at all, because unemployment was much lower, the growth of wages was greater, and income inequality less just 15 years ago than it is now. And 15 years ago the prison-industrial complex was not nearly as big a business that incarcerated many fewer of our citizens.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:46 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yes, and that is several times more than it has ever been before.

And unlike before, we know that it should be as close to 100% as possible. It looks like hardly anyone with the power to do so bothers to try. So less a critique of progress and more of the species, I guess.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is when American advertising changed from "Look at how long our products last, what a good investment" to "NEW THING! SHINY! YOUR NEIGHBORS DON"T HAVE IT!"

American advertising changed because a wave of advertisers that happened to perfectly coincide with the 1960s counterculture Bill Hicks so fetishizes — because they were part of the counterculture — hit upon the notion that advertising ought to be fun and self-aware and let the audience feel like they were part of the joke. The print ads for the VW Beetle that became an icon of that whole cultural milieu started to toy with consumers' expectations, play with irony and juxtaposition, and generally led to a generation of advertisers who felt that it was more important to please and entertain a viewer than it was to deliver facts. Meanwhile, television — a medium constrained by time rather than space, unlike newspapers — introduced a form of broadcasting in which the ability to quickly grab a viewer's attention was tantamount.

This has far less to do with overconsumption than you think, and far more to do with the colossal shift in communicative media that defines the 20th century (and that, incidentally, is the entire thing that The Hunger Games is about). The notion that advertisers are trying to instill desires for things that people previously didn't need is, well, not untrue, but that's an incidental effect of the fact that more and more publications came into existence, print or TV or radio or otherwise, and that each of them looked for sponsors in order to offset their costs, and that generally it became more and more convenient to cram a bunch of advertising into everywhere than charge the consumer directly — a trend that's continued into making Google and Facebook the behemoths that they are. Web ads are far less insecurity-manufacturing than TV ads are, because the web is a different medium and targeted marketing is the big deal rather than visual/visceral ads — if this was really a conspiracy among advertisers to foment insecurity and self-hate in order to push product, then web ads would be a whole lot less goofy than they generally are.

Bill Hicks was a smart man who, if he'd lived longer, would probably have come to hate the people who meme-ified his routined about the danger of memes. That his fans are no more intelligent or self-aware than any other entertainer's fans says more about the nature of entertainment than it does about the man himself. Incidentally, that's also why I've been saying that this irritation towards Subway selling a Catching Fire sub is ridiculous: complaining about people within a system doing exactly the things that said system allows for is just showing ignorance for how important the system is, and how unimportant the individuals within it are. Learning why certain systems rock or suck is very important, but it also requires more than a moment's worth of vague, snarky superiority, so of course it's not something a whole lot of people are into.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


(If you'd like to continue this derail let's take it to MeMail, how about.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"To me, it was pretty obvious that they were going to break out of the thing from the beginning, but Katniss was way too passive. She just got dragged along in someone else's scheme, which kinda makes her the least interesting character to watch after the games started."

That's the problem with the book too.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this TED Talk on the virtues of advertising is the most appropriate rebuttal to Bill Hicks' assertations.
posted by griphus at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now I want a squirrel and sriracha sandwich.
posted by idiopath at 8:04 AM on November 25 [3 favorites +] [!]


And yeah, I forgot how bad the first one was but now in comparison to the second it is even worse.
posted by elizardbits at 8:05 AM on November 25 [+] [!]


I guess after the first squirrel sandwich, you start to get used to the flavor.
posted by davejay at 10:01 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


You must not be very old at all, because unemployment was much lower, the growth of wages was greater, and income inequality less just 15 years ago than it is now.

Wouldn't that make things better 15 years ago than now?

It's true, some statistics have shifted a bit downward in the last couple decades in the West, we've also seen unprecedented development in places like China and India where a huge percentage of humans live and instability as attempts are being made to topple repressive governments. Point is, we aren't the provinces. North Korea maybe, but anywhere where you are able to participate in this conversation, no way.

we know that it should be as close to 100% as possible

That would be nice, but we'd very quickly destroy the planet as opposed to slowly like we're doing now, which is partly why things are cooling in the developed world as the rest catches up. We're either going to have to come up with some technological breakthroughs or come down quite a bit before the others catch up or we're going to be in some serious shit.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:01 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As we begin another holiday season of Facebook shares of goatse in the clouds and rapt covers of Hallelujah
posted by maggieb at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2013


"I'd argue that this is not new, but it's more prevalent now - the idea that cultural production doesn't have moral content but is just a source of personal branding/self-formation, and is only important insofar as it supplies new ways to dress, new selves to perform, new things to buy.

Considered on its own, I don't think this is really a problem. Why should we be expected to take our morality from major Hollywood productions?
"

I think you're dodging the question here, as the problem isn't taking (or not) morality from entertainment, but rather (as you put it) the emptying of moral content. There's undoubtably a moral argument being made in the Hunger Games, or any number of other entertainment narratives, and engaging with it is part of engaging with the work. I'd argue that frequently the visceral attraction of the aesthetics overwhelms the moral engagement not to the point where it's truly empty of moral content, but to where the moral (or amoral) content is uncritically assimilated into the viewer's worldview.

"Triumph of the Will" isn't just a swell movie about hunky athletes, and I think that it's worth having a critical goad to remind people that there's more to the narrative than how cool it looks.

And I also find it kind of strange that you don't see supplying "new ways to dress, new selves to perform, new things to buy" as the point of a narrative as problematic on its own, since I tend to think of you as a member who's at least generally critical of capitalist narrative.

I dunno, I come down on the side of more thinking about media, not less, so I do think the increasing prevalence of what strikes me as a consumerist nihilism is problematic. I guess it's countered by how much more into causes and shit millennials are supposed to be.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"separating style from substance"
This = the problem.
This also is how it becomes so very easy for not bright people to do horrible things, like overt cultural appropriation, or black-face (or any other racist "joke" costume you can think of).

The fashion industry should work harder to create a link to the actual cultural trappings to which they always seem to be stealing their latest trend from, instead of just grabbing blindly for the look that "says something" but then never being able to articulate what it is they are saying.

Want to use an Indian head dress for your fashion shoot? Don't even think about it.
Want to use a kafiyah? Yeah, not such a hot idea.
Want to put on fake cheek scars? Yeah, you might want to look into what those actually mean.

Even if you are stealing your ideas from a fictional universe, you might want to understand that CONTEXT MATTERS TO MOST PEOPLE.

Just because you can separate the style from the substance does not mean that you should, or that other people will let you.
posted by daq at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2013


Also, the death of almost every subculture starts with the co-opting of the style in which said sub-culture expresses itself.

So, there's always that to consider.
posted by daq at 10:09 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


well there's also no such thing as subculture anymore - but that's mostly because America doesn't have a youth culture
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on November 25, 2013


It's no Holocaustic® cleaning solution, but it tastes just as bad.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:13 AM on November 25, 2013


Wouldn't that make things better 15 years ago than now?

Yes, yes it would. You said things are better now than in your lifetime, and I said that you must be very young to say that, since things were better just 15 years ago. If you are in fact 14, I apologize for the confusion. Otherwise, I appreciate your agreement that things are not that great now, and it would be nice to make them better.

As to your concerns about sustainability of our lifestyle, I share them, but I assure you that the top 1% in the US/world does not. I would like to find a way to continue to make things better for the most people throughout the world. The wealthiest among us have displayed zero interest in that, and total interest in continuing to make things better for themselves at the expense of everyone else. This is the central theme of the books and movies in the Hunger Games trilogy, which was my original point and indeed the point of this FPP.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is an action movie where the action is adolescents killing adolescents for sport. Don't you sort of have to check your scruples at the door when you buy the ticket to the movie?

Also Lord of the Flies. Perverted filth!
posted by Hoopo at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Squirrel meat isn't all that uncommon out here in Pennsylvania. Never had it but known quite a few who have. A guy that I painted houses with swore that his favorite breakfast was squirrel gravy and biscuits.
posted by octothorpe at 10:23 AM on November 25, 2013


Isn't the idea with things like Capitol Couture et al that it points out that we are the Capitol?
posted by divabat at 10:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


It just tastes like dark-meat chicken, no shocker there. What's freaky about squirrel (other than the parasites that live under there skin in the summer) is when you skin them they look like tiny body builders.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:32 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now all they need is a Hugo Boss tie-in.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:37 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


debord died for your sins
posted by ennui.bz at 10:38 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had this reaction to the Banana Republic/Mad Men tie in, too - seemed to me that encouraging consumers to dress like Don Draper also implicitly encourages consumers to behave like Don Draper.

I understand that projects like Mad Men and Catching Fire aren't solely cautionary tales, and that part of their value lies in making their audiences confront an uncomfortable sense of identifying with the distopia. But it seems that the product tie-ins smooth over that discomfort. That has the effect of the market tie-ins undermining the same projects they're meant to promote.
posted by BaffledWaffle at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I refuse to see hunger games just because her name is Katness.

Katness.

Ugh.
posted by stormpooper at 10:42 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Katniss. It's a plant, not a lolcat.
posted by elizardbits at 10:45 AM on November 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't think anybody named "stormpooper" should be throwing stones at other names.
posted by kmz at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


...seemed to me that encouraging consumers to dress like Don Draper also implicitly encourages consumers to behave like Don Draper.

While I don't disagree I remember a New Yorker issue a while back that had a humor piece set up as a quiz on pop culture stuff. One of the question/answers, which spoke to the opposite point (i.e. that sort of merchandising dilutes the art rather than influences the person) was, loosely paraphrased because I can't find it:

"My retro-50s suit gives people the impression that I:

c) Have cable television and shop at Macy's"
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2013


Capitalism selects for evil ... It actually selects for amorality, which is not at all the same thing.

Well in the case of health insurance it actively selected for evil. Once one company decided it would be more profitable to cancel coverage, deny claims, and otherwise just refuse to perform the service they were supposed to be performing, it shouldn't have taken a nobel laureate economist to realize that the rest of the industry would have to follow, and that this would create a permanent underclass of people entirely denied access to health care. To see that outcome and do it anyway is not amoral, it is evil.

Some people within the industry saw this and left, including whistleblower Wendell Potter who quit a cushy high level position with CIGNA rather than be part of it.
posted by localroger at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bill Hicks was a marketer who provided a catchy, jingle-esque tagline to an entire demographic of people who crave "authenticity" and hate the fact that people want to buy shit.

Oooh, I see what you're doing. The "jaded dollar". Smart, going after the jaded dollar. Big, big dollar, that. Huge.
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


For better or worse people wear makeup, including the actress who plays Katniss during filming of this movie in order to look "natural" or whatever. Yes there is a discussion to be had about why cosmetics seem to be an expectation and what it means that appearances are so important and what it does to peoples' self-image and self-esteem and all kinds of things I've never had to think about because as a guy all I have to do is shave and wear deodorant, but this is something that is not limited to the Hunger Games. I mean, is the point that any makeup that's not a natural look is bad and shallow like the people of the capitol, or just those colors? Is wearing makeup like the people of the capitol worse than wearing other bold colors like a bright red lipstick and bright green eyeshadow? Personally I don't think there's any obligation for people to know anything about The Hunger Games or even think about it when they're just having fun with some cool colors or whatever.

I feel like I'm not communicating this well.

Zombies are pretend.

They're often allegorical though, like in Dawn of the Dead, so same phenomenon but I'll admit Halloween seems like an odd and problematic parallel to draw with Hunger Games makeup
posted by Hoopo at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Katniss. It's a plant, not a lolcat.

Arrowhead. See also: rapunzel.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Is wearing makeup... (sic) bad?"

Only if you view it through Maslov's hierarchy of needs. The whole point of the books is the huge inequalities that face the dystopian society, and how the characters that you, the audience of the story, are supposed to identify with are those who exist trying desperately to just get enough food to eat, so make up and fashion and style are all kind of, well, NOT important, and not part of the aspirations the author is trying to engender by making the protagonist come from the "have-not" group. Again, this is where the whole thing about "context matters."

But, as always, the people who probably crafted this ad campaign are definitely in the other camp. They would most readily identify with the vapid, fashion obsessed, elite of the capitol city, instead of with the hick from the boonies with her bow and plain woodsy color palette. How drab. How boring. They want to see bright shining garish displays of opulence and wealth, to show they are part of the safe set. The rich, the beautiful. At least that is the distinct impression that this ad campaign delivers. And even if it were done with some kind of tongue-firmly-in-cheek way, as a send up to their own industry, the wit and whimsy is greatly lost in the delivery.
posted by daq at 11:21 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This discussion is really fascinating. I think Frowner's comment gets to the heart of at least one of the big issues involved here:

See, and this is exactly about the evisceration of political content from mass-produced art - that the political content of the art is of no more significance than the costumes and does not "carry over" into the aesthetic of the film.

I see this happening at the level of production itself. These films, for instance, are done in such a way that the viewer is not really forced to confront the vile brutality of the world being depicted. This is a story about a society which institutionalizes the spectacle of children killing each other for entertainment, but it's an action-adventure that's rated PG-13. Why isn't it rated R? Why isn't it rated NC-17, with scenes that force the viewer to experience what life might really be like in such a nightmarish world?

I think the problem is that modern media has found a way to tame dystopia, to alienate it from the potentialities of the present and the political process, to make it seem Not That Bad, and that's worrisome.
posted by clockzero at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I also find it kind of strange that you don't see supplying "new ways to dress, new selves to perform, new things to buy" as the point of a narrative as problematic on its own, since I tend to think of you as a member who's at least generally critical of capitalist narrative.

Oh, in a sense I think it's a problem, yeah. But it's a problem that is so entwined with other problems and with some positives that it's really hard to condemn by itself. That's why I think this is a really interesting topic but shouldn't get derailed into just handwringing.

Some thoughts:

1. Mass production of "radical" culture items, like "anti-establishment" movies - that's really difficult to parse. There's the matter of using a nominally anti-capitalist narrative to support Hollywood institutions; there's the way in which a Hollywood movie only gets made with at least a moderate inclusion of racist, misogynist bullshit, so it can only be "radical" in part; there's the actual anti-capitalist movements and ideas which are caricatured in these movies, and I can testify that this kind of thing does have a psychic ripple effect if you're part of such a movement; but there's also the fact that a nominally-radical fake bullshit Hollywood movie can have a radicalizing effect*; there's the fact that radical culture loses its own history constantly, and you get situations where movies like Running On Empty really do transmit something to the next activist generations even though they are problematic and bullshit; there's the weird nature of Hollywood where, actually, some of those famous actors are not such bad people and they really do try within the constraints of their jobs. And then there's the whole thing of movie studios and ownership and production and how dodgy all that is.

2. Viewship: Obviously, you can never tell what will touch someone or change their life for the better, so even a really shitty, mendacious movie may do good work. But there's also counter-watching, where people find it politically empowering to identify with the villain and against the "good". And there's ways in which aesthetics really do create communities - in a neutral way sometimes, where it's basically about a style hobby, or in a positive way where fashions are key parts of youth, queer, trans* and/or women's communities. Or there's situations where one aspect of an aesthetic is really empowering but only by being really disempowering in another way - like this whole business of Katniss can only be Katniss basically because she's hot and racially ambiguous enough to be read as white, and because archery can be positioned as ladylike and sexy while still bold and exciting.

3. Morality tales and the nation state: I am suspicious of blockbusters that have a strong moral narrative, especially an abstracted one. Certain movies are really, really concrete (Fruitvale Station (which isn't a blockbuster, sadly) or other movies that are about something other than a metaphor**) and I think they work okay as moral consensus films, but the ones where anyone can read just about any enemy onto the bad guys - that's just pushing people's emotional buttons. Like, it feels really good to see the Bad Guys exposed in their true evil, but what does that matter if I can sit next to someone from the Tea Party and each of us feels that Katniss is us and the Capitol people are our enemies? I don't think it's bad if regular people refuse this kind of moral narrative and consider it merely play and fashion architecture.

Do I think it's depressing that we all have to build our own brands now and we're all always-already shopping? You bet.



*Movies that contributed to my own political engagement include, for instance, And Justice For All, which is frankly a caricature of seventies radical populism, and yet seeing it on the latenight tee-vee just blew my mind when I was, like, twelve.

**I think that's a huge limit of dystopia - it's estranging, sure, but it also makes it very easy to soften the message, no matter how much "horror" you put in. I was thinking about this last night, how The Walking Dead is freaky and scary, yeah, but it's not nearly as upsetting or scary to me as this really, really terrifying and triggering account by an Italian activist of her sexual assault and subsequent abuse, both at the hands of the Italian state and both intended to silence her. "Horror" is soft and simple compared to reality, no matter how much fake blood is on the floor, or how many fake people get killed.
posted by Frowner at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is wearing makeup... (sic) bad?

It makes your fingers slippery when you are trying to steady a bowstring, but other than that, as this is now deer season, I'm pretty sure that there are several hundred thousand men and women in makeup creeping around the woods of North America with a bow trying to kill things as we speak!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:28 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My daughters made their own bows by cutting notches in the ends of sticks with their pocket knives, bending the sticks, and tying string or yarn between the ends. The bows weren't pink, but some of the unsharpened pencils they used as arrows (firing eraser-end first) were pink or purple or had hearts, rainbows, and/or unicorns on them.
posted by straight at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If they ever invent memory-erasing technology, I will go in there and wipe out the Diet Coke commercial that used "The Weight."

Add my name to the list of people in here who are curious about how they're going to film the last book. That thing was like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, with monsters and sci-fi booby traps.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:35 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


the vapid, fashion obsessed, elite of the capitol city, instead of with the hick from the boonies with her bow and plain woodsy color palette.

This thread is only lacking Max Beerbohm's "A Defense of Cosmetics" and I aim to remedy that lack.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the complaint here is the same as the complaint about Reagan using "Born in the USA" as a campaign song, or people who dance to "Beautiful Tonight" at their .

I think the makeup company kind of gets it. The AFL-CIO and that whole campaign someone linked to, now that's using "Born in the USA" as campaign song.

"To me, it was pretty obvious that they were going to break out of the thing from the beginning, but Katniss was way too passive. She just got dragged along in someone else's scheme, which kinda makes her the least interesting character to watch after the games started."

That's the problem with the book too.


Looked more like a theme to me.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I’m on Subway’s email list. I too was goggle-eyed the first time the tone-deaf “Victors” stuff appeared in my inbox, and I continue to be flummoxed by the audacity of it.

For better or worse people wear makeup, including the actress who plays Katniss during filming of this movie in order to look "natural" or whatever.

I like JLaw a good deal. But when she speaks about girls and body image, when she professes to eat whatever she wants and not exercise, I mentally rolleyes knowing even if she doesn’t have to worry about those things in her early 20s she will one day soon. (Not to mention she has her own well-compensated deals with makeup and haute couture companies.)

the saddest part of the first movie was Effie mouthing along with the words of the propaganda video. She needs to believe it so badly!

Story Sidebar!: Already in the first movie Elizabeth Banks made Effie so (too?) likable. This was a woman who had dragged how many pairs of District 12 tributes off to the slaughter? (Also, I agree that Katniss is a surprisingly, infuriatingly passive “heroine/leader/role model,” even if her motive is to lie low and keep her family safe.)
posted by NorthernLite at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2013


Add my name to the list of people in here who are curious about how they're going to film the last book. That thing was like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, with monsters and sci-fi booby traps.

Probably the way they filmed Wanted, which is to say, change it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2013


But when she speaks about girls and body image, when she professes to eat whatever she wants and not exercise, I mentally rolleyes knowing even if she doesn’t have to worry about those things in her early 20s she will one day soon.

You are eyerolling at the wrong thing. She speaks out about these things because she was widely fat-shamed after the first movie. She was told by people in various areas of the film industry that she would have to lose weight in order to become a real star. Fan sites mocked her for being "chubby". And then she won an Oscar and is now very happy to tell people that since she is Academy Award Winner Jennifer Lawrence, she now has the power to say a hearty GO FUCK YOURSELF to anyone who body shames her.

Eyeroll at the people who body shame young women, not at the young women who are proud of removing themselves from the endless cycle of public bodyshaming.
posted by elizardbits at 11:59 AM on November 25, 2013 [24 favorites]


idiopath: "Now I want a squirrel and sriracha sandwich."

You actually want a squirrel and sambol olek sandwich, but you've been brainwashed into sriracha eating.
posted by wierdo at 12:06 PM on November 25, 2013


Honestly I know a lot of makeup geeks and they're basically excited that this campaign has given them an excuse to do CRAZY OVER THE TOP MAKEUP ALL THE TIME, WOOO BREAK EVERY RULE, PUT EYESHADOW On YOUR CHEEKS CHAOS REIGNS
posted by The Whelk at 12:09 PM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why bother with all the makeup when the boys aren't even hot?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see this happening at the level of production itself. These films, for instance, are done in such a way that the viewer is not really forced to confront the vile brutality of the world being depicted. This is a story about a society which institutionalizes the spectacle of children killing each other for entertainment, but it's an action-adventure that's rated PG-13. Why isn't it rated R? Why isn't it rated NC-17, with scenes that force the viewer to experience what life might really be like in such a nightmarish world?

Well, the obvious reason is that the movies are based on YA books for a teenage audience, so the movie is meant to be accessible to that same audience. An R or NC-17 rating would potentially lock out most of the films' target audience. I think the movies do well enough at conveying the horror of Panem, especially in Catching Fire where we see the Capitol's indiscriminate violence against the Districts, though the first movie especially could have done better in terms of showing all of the tributes as victims of the Capitol, rather than some "good" tributes and some "evil."
posted by yasaman at 12:46 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I don't think it's bad if regular people refuse this kind of moral narrative and consider it merely play and fashion architecture.""

I do, specifically because of the way you've framed it. Maybe I'm misunderstanding.

I have no problem with people examining the moral narrative and embracing it or rejecting it after consideration. I do have a problem with it being ignored entirely, both because that tends to simply accepting the premises of any given narrative and because it detaches them from making examination of narrative an integral part of media consumption.

It's not merely play; it's play with an implicit message. Regarding it as merely play seems like the same kind of reductive attitude seen in phrases like, "It's just a joke," or "I like what I like, so what?"

And I think it's especially worthwhile to be wary of narratives designed to sell you something.
posted by klangklangston at 12:59 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why isn't it rated R? Why isn't it rated NC-17, with scenes that force the viewer to experience what life might really be like in such a nightmarish world?

By that standard, there's something wrong with making a book like Number the Stars a children's book because it can't fully depict the horrors of the Holocaust. Real or fictional, bad things sometimes need to be depicted in the way that younger people can understand as well as adults, but kids and teenagers are in fact just fine at extrapolating from less-gory books and movies when they're framed right.
posted by Sequence at 1:01 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not merely play; it's play with an implicit message. Regarding it as merely play seems like the same kind of reductive attitude seen in phrases like, "It's just a joke," or "I like what I like, so what?"

What I'm trying to say is that there's layers to the purpose of the narrative, and that the ostensible good purpose of the narrative is actually in service of the same corporate state it purports to decry. It's like when the military runs ads about how you should join the military because of honor and team-building and Doing Good Things In The World - of course we all support honor, etc, just as we all support plucky-but-still-feminine Katniss and [SPOILER] her ultimate exceedingly family-and-state heteronormative future against the wicked child-sacrificers. Basically, the wicked child-sacrificers act as a red herring - we are supposed to find them Very, Very Wicked Indeed precisely so that we then accept all the other bullshit - the whiteness, the gender nonsense, the valuing of a conservative variant on "nature", the way traditionally feminine and queer things like make-up and self-display are used once again to signify corruption and evil. This type of film is about creating an anodyne moral unity around really stupid fake "evil". Of course both the Tea Party and I can enjoy watching these films; that's because they're not really about much. They are a shell of a moral narrative.

But of course, ordinary people are supposed to cheer for the "good" and boo the "bad", because if they don't it's a sign that they are Not Taking It All Seriously Enough.

No. Ordinary people are entitled to see through this kind of bullshit just as much as anyone else.

We live in a massively unequal society where most ordinary people are as helpless before the political, economic and legal systems as they would be before a tsunami. The ordinary moral narrative of a plucky hero who defeats the corrupt political system doesn't make any sense in that context if it's spoon fed to you by the very giant media conglomerates that participate in your oppression elsewhere. It's okay to see this story as empty and vacuous because it's being told for transparently cynical reasons.

I think it's also okay to be moved by the story and to see it as having moral content, or to find it mobilizing. But that's a different way of reading it - it's not the "natural" way of reading that "good" viewers should always do; it's one reading strategy where you actually decide that you're going to de-contextualize the work, you're going to say that it doesn't matter that the same media that feed you lies everywhere else and are complicit in all kinds of shit are also feeding you this liberatory narrative because the power of the liberatory narrative still persists. I think that's a perfectly decent strategy - I'm not against that at all! But it's not a mandatory strategy, and it is one that require the willful ignoring of some substantial contradictions.


*Or at least it's a plausible way of reading the Hollywood system
posted by Frowner at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


Zombies are pretend.

They're often allegorical though, like in Dawn of the Dead...

Actually the zombie phenomenon is a rather terrible West Indian fact: it's just that they are not as portrayed in Romero's films. But it's interesting to know that many Mefites think zombies are imaginary while the Hunger Games are essentially real. The potency of popular films, I suppose.
posted by Segundus at 1:30 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


nobody said that there actually exists a governmental system in which children are selected for a winner takes all televised murder fest as punishment for a revolution which took place 100 years ago

it's sort of like how there has been no worldwide zombie apocalypse where the dead rise from the grave en masse with an insatiable hunger for human flesh
posted by elizardbits at 1:48 PM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


the way traditionally feminine and queer things like make-up and self-display are used once again to signify corruption and evil.

I'm not sure I agree with this. After all, Cinna is one of the good guys. Katniss loves the aesthetic of his costume choices. I feel like traditional feminimity is neither degraded nor portrayed as the be all and end all. Katniss also comes to value the caretaking abilities of her mother and sister while never feeling too conflicted over the fact that she is different than they are.

I'm also really surprised at all the comments about Katniss' passivity. One of the central questions of the series is how one manages to assert agency within the framework of an oppressive society.

There's a really great collection of essays, The Hunger Games and Philosophy that explores some of the political and philosophical underpinnings of the book. And it's written in a way that's actually accessible, which is awesome and why I'm using a selection from it in my Freshman Lit class (We're reading the Hunger Games right now!). I'd really recommend it--and if anybody looks at the table of contents and sees an essay they'd like to read, memail me and I can send you a copy.
posted by mmmbacon at 1:49 PM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


"But of course, ordinary people are supposed to cheer for the "good" and boo the "bad", because if they don't it's a sign that they are Not Taking It All Seriously Enough."

I am not sure how you got that at all from what I wrote.

No. Ordinary people are entitled to see through this kind of bullshit just as much as anyone else."

Regarding it as "merely play and fashion architecture," is not "see[ing] through this kind of bullshit." It's not engaging with a critique at all, let alone the critique you just wrote.

You seem to keep retreating to this weird false dichotomy where either people accept the moral narrative as it's portrayed or they treat it as cotton candy. People are more likely to identify with and reproduce the narrative as it stands if they do not engage with it critically, whether in support or opposition. "Play" is not purely naive or innocent, and you can't critique anything in a meaningful way without granting it meaning.
posted by klangklangston at 2:05 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Basically, the wicked child-sacrificers act as a red herring - we are supposed to find them Very, Very Wicked Indeed precisely so that we then accept all the other bullshit - the whiteness, the gender nonsense, the valuing of a conservative variant on "nature", the way traditionally feminine and queer things like make-up and self-display are used once again to signify corruption and evil.

There's definitely a fascist reading of the movie available, I think. Decedent, anti-family Hollywood attacking Traditional American Values, and so on.
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, elizardbits, so there's a basis of fact in zombies which is inaccurately portrayed in films, and there's a basis of fact in government oppression which is inaccurately portrayed in films (such as the Hunger Games). So I guess my original analogy stands after all?

Thanks.
posted by Segundus at 2:39 PM on November 25, 2013


You seem to keep retreating to this weird false dichotomy where either people accept the moral narrative as it's portrayed or they treat it as cotton candy. People are more likely to identify with and reproduce the narrative as it stands if they do not engage with it critically, whether in support or opposition. "Play" is not purely naive or innocent, and you can't critique anything in a meaningful way without granting it meaning.

klangklangston, I strongly disagree that anyone has a moral obligation to pay attention to and engage critically with a Hollywood blockbuster rather than laugh at the whole thing and uncritically swipe any bits of fashion or iconography that strike our fancy. Especially when it's the fashion and iconography of a completely fictional culture.

There's nothing remotely fascist about dressing up as Darth Vader for Halloween.
posted by straight at 2:41 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


octothorpe: A guy that I painted houses with swore that his favorite breakfast was squirrel gravy and biscuits.

OK, first up, squirrel gravy? Ewww! Secondly, I'm not letting this pass in a thread about the hollow heart of advertising without giving a shout-out to svenvog's Ludacris biscuit jingle over in Mefi Music, made to fulfill a request (er, mine actually!)

Rory Marinich: if a legendary rock musician writes a song named after a car that has lyrics about wanting to buy that car, it should not exactly be controversial when that car company uses that rock musician's song to sell that car

I've always thought that what I need (my son!) is a Holiday In Cambodia and remain surprised never to have been offered the same by my TV. Like you say, the Janis Joplin song is exemplary of the fact that if something can be leveraged as marketing material, it will be. Hell, if someone were to tell me the Manic Street Preachers made more money licensing out their fairly-inoffensive single Australia to holiday programmes and adverts than they did from related record sales I'd believe them.
posted by comealongpole at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2013


"There's nothing remotely fascist about dressing up as Darth Vader for Halloween."

And I would strongly disagree with this statement.

Otherwise, what makes Darth Vader scary? What makes dressing up as the Dark Lord of the Sith something that is considered appropriate as a villian? He's not the leader of the Care Bears. He is the public enforcer of the Empire. He leads the Stormtroopers into battle. Stormtroopers. Sturmtruppen. German origin, the name given to the Nazi soldiers who led the charges into battle with overwhelming force and speed. Terror troops. Blank faces, can't see their eyes. Inhuman. Violent. Oppression personified in a frightening mask.

You don't put on that mask unless you want to take on the mantle which the mask represents.

This is something that is part of every human culture. And trying to disconnect the links between the officer uniform of the SS and the officer uniform of the Empire is both ahistorical and will bite you in the ass.

Just because you want it to be post-modern does not mean that it is.

You don't go wearing gang signs because you think they are cool. You don't go wearing Indian ceremonial head dress because you think they are cool. You don't go wearing a swastika because you think they are cool. You don't wear a burqa because you think they are cool.

This is why so many people don't seem to understand the arguments about cultural appropriation. Just because you think it looks cool, does not mean you won't get shit for trying to use something that symbolizes something horrible to one or more groups of people.

The fictional people of The Capitol in the Hunger Games are horrible, vapid, and represent modern Americans (and some Europeans). It is direct allegory. To emulate them without considering the allegory they represent in the books and movies is the same as saying that those Imperials sure looked sharp in their Nazi allegory uniforms, forget about all the murdering and genocide that uniform represents. I just want to look tough and sexy.

Looking like a Nazi is not sexy. Looking like a Nazi is stupid. You should feel stupid for wanting to emulate them.

If you want to talk about appropriating an image for the purpose of artistic expression, that means you have to apply meaning to the imagery you are co-opting. You have to be clear that your use of the image is meant to invoke the qualities that society as a whole have imbued onto those images.

If you want to simply utilize an image or symbol in crass commercialism, be my guest. Just don't expect to do it without others commenting on how dumb it looks when you do it.

I get it. A lot of people use fashion as a way to try out new identities. That's all cool if you live in the suburbs and don't actually have to be around anyone who might actually have something to say about how you might be misrepresenting them. But don't ever try to defend wearing a culturally identifying symbol or fashion style and then get offended when someone mistakes you for a member of the culture you are "borrowing" from, even if it might be fictional.

At least with this, the worst you might be mistaken for is a fan of a fictional dystopia.
[edit for typo]
posted by daq at 3:54 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


When I saw the headline "Fiery Footlong," I did not imagine a sandwich.

same as in town...
posted by Pudhoho at 4:04 PM on November 25, 2013


This is something that is part of every human culture. And trying to disconnect the links between the officer uniform of the SS and the officer uniform of the Empire is both ahistorical and will bite you in the ass.

So that explains the dirty looks I get when I attend synagogue in my darth vader costume.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 4:44 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Stormtroopers. Sturmtruppen. German origin, the name given to the Nazi soldiers who led the charges into battle with overwhelming force and speed.

Oh, my gosh. I will never watch that Volkswagen/Darth Vader commercial with the same eye every again.
posted by FJT at 5:04 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The awful thing about capitalism is that if people actually cared about the conditions of workers enough to direct their spending to ethical companies, the ethical companies would force other companies to be ethical. The evil/efficiency of companies in the market is precisely due to the fact that their customers rarely care about anything save the purchase price.

This is a classic error in talking about labor and capitalism. There are none to very few completely transparent supply chains; it is quite impossible for your average consumer, buying the number of things most people need each day, to be absolutely aware of every step that brought that product to market, what its ecological footprint is, and how the workers at each step were treated. You can, at best, seek out companies that seem trustworthy, but how can you verify that, at some step, an ingredient in that product was not created/grown/harvested by unethical or destructive means? Unless you go off the grid and consume only what you make yourself, a possibility open to very few, you can't ever be sure you have disentangled yourself from abusive labor or ecological practices. (and even so; where do you buy your seeds? Who did the land belong to before you? Where were the tools you use made? etc.)

People do care, quite a lot more than we give them credit for, but they do not have the information necessary to bring about change simply via choosing what they buy. At best, they can have a small impact through boycotts or supporting an ethical company (but then have to hope Ethical Company isn't quietly bought out by Unethical Multinational Company which just keeps the same label but not the same practices.)

We can't buy our way to a better world.
posted by emjaybee at 5:19 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Well, I guess then (if one wanted to do this) you could run certification systems by a trusted third party such as the state. These often work when people actually care, as can be seen in car safety standards and restaurant hygiene scores.

I guess fair trade would also be a private sector example of this type of thing.
posted by jaduncan at 5:39 PM on November 25, 2013


jaduncan: "The evil/efficiency of companies in the market is precisely due to the fact that their customers rarely care about anything save the purchase price."

As you're well aware, this is a form of externalization of costs. If shelf prices were made to reflect true costs, for example by requiring Wal-Mart and all other employers to pay employees enough that if they work the average number of hours that employees at that employer work that they will not require or qualify for social welfare benefits even if they are single, the market would be oriented toward solving the issues rather than exacerbating them. Same if the cost of driving reflected the total cost of auto infrastructure or anything else. When prices disappear into aggregated bills, like tax payments, they cease to be useful as a signal to the market.

Obviously, the devil here is in the details, but we have in the past successfully forced some industries to internalize some previously externalized costs. We should do much, much more of that if we desire a capitalist system that does not result in universally immoral choices by relying on consumers to signal their desire for their suppliers to make moral choices.

There is a cost associated with leaving people to starve. There is a cost associated with leaving them homeless. There is a cost associated with polluting the commons. Tally them up and charge them to the right accounts and the free market will largely take care of minimizing those costs. That is precisely what it is good at. It is really bad at it when the available information is incomplete, however.
posted by wierdo at 7:12 PM on November 25, 2013


Tally them up and charge them to the right accounts and the free market will largely take care of minimizing those costs.

You do not want corporations to minimize the costs associated with homeless, starving people, because the cheapest solution is pretty obvious.
posted by empath at 7:26 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm seriously the last person who would defend marketing of any sort, but I think the point of the makeup campaign isn't necessarily to glorify the characters in the story who wear that style, but more a nod to the talented artists and designers who worked on the film creating the costumes and makeup. I think it is possible to understand the message of the film, and see how reprehensible those characters are, while still being able to appreciate the artistry that went on behind the scenes to create their image.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:17 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


As you're well aware, this is a form of externalization of costs.

Oh, I absolutely agree with that (and with the previous point that information on this is currently poor). I think that if you have high quality regulation and high quality information it is up to people to choose the better option. Mind you, that is also true of regulation systems in democracies. The most dispiriting yet hopeful thing about living in a democracy is that people can choose to have nice things but currently don't.
posted by jaduncan at 8:43 PM on November 25, 2013


what makes Darth Vader scary?

My entire point is that Darth Vader is not scary. He's a silly character from a kids movie.
posted by straight at 9:06 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fictional people of The Capitol in the Hunger Games are horrible, vapid, and represent modern Americans (and some Europeans). It is direct allegory. To emulate them without considering the allegory they represent in the books and movies is the same as saying that those Imperials sure looked sharp in their Nazi allegory uniforms, forget about all the murdering and genocide that uniform represents.

Similarly, the Capitol citizens are fictional characters from a silly popcorn movie. If you want to take the allegory seriously, enjoy yourself, but it's silly to claim anyone has an obligation to take it seriously. Swiping fashion tips from something like that is absolutely not at all like appropriating real-world symbols like swastikas or burqas.
posted by straight at 9:18 PM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


yasaman >

Well, the obvious reason is that the movies are based on YA books for a teenage audience, so the movie is meant to be accessible to that same audience. An R or NC-17 rating would potentially lock out most of the films' target audience. I think the movies do well enough at conveying the horror of Panem, especially in Catching Fire where we see the Capitol's indiscriminate violence against the Districts, though the first movie especially could have done better in terms of showing all of the tributes as victims of the Capitol, rather than some "good" tributes and some "evil."

I meant that as a rhetorical question; I think you're right about the proximate reason. I was trying to call attention to the fact that in the process of trying to attract that audience and tying the film in with things like make-up and sandwiches, the makers of the film and the studio seem to have produced this weirdly sanitized dystopia which (I think) inadvertently suggests that maybe such a world wouldn't be so bad, which strikes me as an especially questionable implicit perspective to present to young people.

Sequence >

By that standard, there's something wrong with making a book like Number the Stars a children's book because it can't fully depict the horrors of the Holocaust. Real or fictional, bad things sometimes need to be depicted in the way that younger people can understand as well as adults, but kids and teenagers are in fact just fine at extrapolating from less-gory books and movies when they're framed right.

I think you might have over-interpreted my comment, no offense intended: I didn't mean to suggest a universal standard for story-telling. Although I would say that your indifference to whether the bad things being depicted are real or fictional might be preventing you from seeing how the two cases are utterly different. It's important for children to learn about history, and sometimes history needs to be told in a certain way for them; then as they get older, they learn more, and although it might not make them happy, it's important for people to know the truth about the world they live in.

I think imaginary situations are different because there isn't any real, concrete "bad thing" which is being described in a certain way. It's all entirely invention, so it might as well be consistent in its depiction of what makes the situation bad rather than assuming a moral gravity that it cannot substantiate. The original writer could have set the story anywhere, but she chose a social and political dystopia and also wanted to hit the YA market. That's what I have a problem with, that the story wants the moral gravity of that world without really ever forcing people to engage with the horrors that make that world what it is. I think that both cheats the audience out of genuine moral confrontation, which can be good for people, and excuses them from being obliged to acknowledge that suffering is never disconnected from its causes in reality. I think that art which blithely accepts that disjuncture in the interest of being more marketable is morally defective. That's just my opinion.
posted by clockzero at 9:45 PM on November 25, 2013


What Really Makes Katniss Stand Out? Peeta, Her Movie Girlfriend
(by mefi's own Linda_Holmes)
posted by changeling at 10:03 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My entire point is that Darth Vader is not scary. He's a silly character from a kids movie.

To a kid, he's scary. I'm introducing my 5 year olds to the Star Wars movies now, and without a doubt they find Vader scary.
posted by zarq at 11:57 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, but I hope you wouldn't claim that because your five-year-old kids are scared of Vader then any adult who doesn't take him seriously is turning a blind eye to fascism.
posted by straight at 12:15 AM on November 26, 2013


No.
posted by zarq at 1:19 AM on November 26, 2013


without really ever forcing people to engage with the horrors that make that world what it is.

Have you actually read any of the books?
posted by kmz at 6:07 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think anybody named "stormpooper" should be throwing stones at other names.


Boulders my dear, boulders.

Katness just screams "I want to be cool yet feminine" bandwagon. I rather have had her named Schmoopie Thunderpower.

Sorry it's just a really, really pathetic name for a character. It's trying too hard.
posted by stormpooper at 6:35 AM on November 26, 2013


Sorry it's just a really, really pathetic name for a character. It's trying too hard.

Seriously, it's as if the book were written for the young adult fiction market or something!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have to say that I agree that "Katniss Everdeen" is a ridiculous name for a literary protagonist. The author really should've stuck with a more realistic one like "Tyrone Slothrop" or "Kilgore Trout."

Note to self: Consider reading more books with women as protagonists.
posted by griphus at 7:22 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or Deak Starkiller. Or Biggs Darklighter. Or Luke Skywalker.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:05 AM on November 26, 2013


I so wanted to see this model in the District 9 make-up.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 8:15 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Katniss Everdeen is a pure, "so cool, want to be her" fantasy wish-fulfillment name. Neither Tyrone Slothrop nor Kilgore Trout are that, unless you have truly unusual taste in names.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2013


I get it. A lot of people use fashion as a way to try out new identities. That's all cool if you live in the suburbs and don't actually have to be around anyone who might actually have something to say about how you might be misrepresenting them. But don't ever try to defend wearing a culturally identifying symbol or fashion style and then get offended when someone mistakes you for a member of the culture you are "borrowing" from, even if it might be fictional.

But see, Darth Vader is imaginary, just like the citizens of the Capitol. Native people are not. You're not actually saying that if someone mistakes me for Darth Vader, I am "borrowing" from...from what, exactly?

I thought about this on the way in to work, and it seems like you're conflating two things - whether dressing up as an evil fictional character is an endorsement of evil, and whether it is okay to appropriate marginalized groups' symbols.

If I dress up as Darth Vader, I am not culturally appropriating, because there is no Darth Vader culture, and even if we do some kind of "by extension German/Central-European" thing, Germans are not marginalized for their Germanness and have made no requests that we avoid lederhosen.

I'd argue that dressing up as Darth Vader is not even close to dressing up as Hitler, or even Ender Wiggin, because the Star Wars films are so Cold War-anodyne, so empty of serious moral engagement, that they're just a farce. Saying that someone who dresses up as Darth Vader is endorsing fascism is like saying that someone who dresses up as Wile E. Coyote is endorsing animal torture. Darth Vader is a kitsch figure. That's not to say that no one is moved by the Star Wars films, but they aren't serious treatments of heavy moral issues. I admit that this is subjective, but the alternative is that we can only dress up as characters whose morals are above reproach. (And frankly? I don't think anyone in Star Wars is above reproach. Even the good guys aren't democratic or gender-egalitarian and it sure seems like there's a lot of racial inequality.)

So anyway, yes, dressing up for fun as a character who is seriously evil in a complex and heavyweight novel or movie - yeah, that might be creepy. Dressing up as Humbert Humbert or one of the aristocratic characters from A House In The Country would creep me the hell out.

And of course, dressing up as a native character who just happens to be in a novel would still be culturally appropriative.

But you're not on the hook for dressing up as a fictional character in general, right? We're on the same page about that?

And the reason that culturally appropriative costumes are bad isn't because of the morality of the cultural appropriated from. It doesn't matter whether I dress up as Tecumseh or a Nationalist Chinese union-busting thug; the problem is appropriating the culture, not making a statement about the morality of the culture. When I wear appropriative costumes, I am not endorsing a moral position from a particular culture, as you argue that I would if I dressed up as Darth Vader.

These are two separate questions - one is about whether you are making a moral statement by dressing up as a fictional character and one is about using symbols from a really-existing culture for your own amusement or social advancement. I'm not at all sure how we got from one to the other.

And the point about dressing up as citizens of the Capitol is, in fact, dead opposite of cultural appropriation. Native regalia is full of meaning, social and historical. The citizens of the Capitol are empty of meaning because they are characters totally made up to appear in an emotionally manipulative Hollywood blockbuster. (So Native characters made up or misrepresented to appear in a Hollywood blockbuster would not be empty of meaning.) When we expect people to take Hollywood morality Very Seriously Indeed (Darth Vader is indeed Very Evil! Luke Skywalker is indeed Very Good!)...it's kind of gross. It's giving all this power to a really crass and immoral culture industry and getting upset because people don't want to play along.

The reason it's okay to use random Hollywood fake-morality characters exactly as you please is because they are puppets of these stupid, generic, anodyne and simplistic morality tales that we're all supposed to believe in. We don't all have to be ultra-pious about culture and morality when the culture itself is corrupt. This has nothing to do with cultural appropriation.

And consider all the counter-readings that exist - when some rappers got really into gangster movies in the eighties and it had this big influence on fashion, was that bad because they were endorsing gangsterism instead of rooting for the cops? When queer folks cheer for the villains or the trashy diva figures in various campy movies, is that also endorsing evil? If I dress up as Edward Morbius, am I appropriating some weird fifties version of the Frankfurt School?

I think there is plenty of slippage between fiction and real cultures, and there are lots of "noble savage" aliens and so on, and that's a reflection of entrenched colonialism and something that should be rooted out. I think people do make excuses for cultural appropriation by dressing up as fictional Native characters, etc...but there the problem is cultural appropriation, not "dressing up as an imaginary person". If you dress up as Edward Morbius or Anna Karenina, you're not culturally appropriating.
posted by Frowner at 10:51 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, seriously, what costume is above reproach? We should all be tiny forest animals for Halloween only, right, because if I dress up as Anna Karenina I am endorsing the serf-owning Russian aristocracy, and if I dress up as a ghost I am endorsing a spiritual view...honestly, you could make a really good case that if I dress up as an elephant, I am making light of the situation of elephants, which is pretty terrible actually, and elephants are really smart and have human-like subjectivity so it's extra not-funny.

I think that when you assume that you can assign a single meaning to a costume, you're eviscerating art, play and satire.

The reason we don't culturally appropriate or use traumatic images (like the swastika) is not because those clothes or symbols have only one meaning or use; it's because out of all the meanings and uses, one is more powerful and important than the others, or takes priority for ethical reasons.
posted by Frowner at 11:09 AM on November 26, 2013


If you dress up as a loaf of bread you are not only mocking the French Revolution you are also minimizing the pain and suffering of gluten intolerants.
posted by elizardbits at 11:14 AM on November 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was trying to call attention to the fact that in the process of trying to attract that audience and tying the film in with things like make-up and sandwiches, the makers of the film and the studio seem to have produced this weirdly sanitized dystopia which (I think) inadvertently suggests that maybe such a world wouldn't be so bad, which strikes me as an especially questionable implicit perspective to present to young people.

I think all the bizarre marketing and tie-ins might suggest this, but the movies and books themselves certainly don't. There are multiple scenes where Katniss and Peeta are visibly disgusted by the excesses of the Capitol, and in Catching Fire, they explicitly condemn the Capitol's lavish parties and mention that there are people at home who are starving while the wealthy Capitol citizens make themselves throw up so they can eat more.

I don't know, I actually think it's potentially a very valuable lesson in media literacy for teenagers to see the blatant mismatch between the themes of the Hunger Games books/movies and the marketing machine around them. After all, there's never any "Maybe the Capitol isn't so bad?" moment in the films or books. For all that the Capitol's excess and wealth may be stirring and awe-inspiring, it is always swiftly undercut by the Capitol's brutal violence. And the point of view character, and pretty much all the characters the average young adult reader would identify with, are completely anti-Capitol. So I actually think it's kind of valuable and effective in its own way to potentially encourage the moment of cognitive dissonance that surely must occur when, say, someone enthusiastically gets into the Capitol make up line and in some way positions herself as a Capitol citizen, and then sees the character Johanna rage against how she's being sent to her death by Capitol citizens.

I mean, this is obviously not the thinking going on at Cover Girl to market the make up, I just think it's interesting that the whole experience of The Hunger Games as a media phenomenon can so closely mirror the series' themes of how to make moral choices in an absolutely corrupt system and how to navigate personal responsibility/complicity in a fundamentally unjust system.
posted by yasaman at 1:06 PM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I admit that this is subjective, but the alternative is that we can only dress up as characters whose morals are above reproach."

Again with the false dichotomy! The alternative is that you are conscious of and engage with the constructed meaning of fictional characters, not that you only dress up as good guys! Dress up as Hitler, but realize WHY you are dressing up as Hitler beyond, "Oh, hey, he just looks cool."

"The citizens of the Capitol are empty of meaning because they are characters totally made up to appear in an emotionally manipulative Hollywood blockbuster."

Pssh, no. Fictional characters have more meaning than they have existence. They are literally only constructed as part of a conscious effort to convey meaning. Declaring that they have no meaning because they're totally made up is aesthetic nihilism.

"And consider all the counter-readings that exist - when some rappers got really into gangster movies in the eighties and it had this big influence on fashion, was that bad because they were endorsing gangsterism instead of rooting for the cops? When queer folks cheer for the villains or the trashy diva figures in various campy movies, is that also endorsing evil?"

Aside from the fact that all of those would pretty much have to be considered on a case by case basis, this is the same argument that would say that the misogyny and homophobia in rap isn't bad at all because it's just fictional characters. You want to play fast and loose with when meaning is important and when it's not and it's leading you to incoherent positions. It's not wrong for people to engage in power fantasies — which is what almost all of the rooting for villains stuff is, at least in my experience — but to be defensible, that should be something understood as part of the critique. It's a milder version of what could be said about pretty much any provocative act: Not bad in and of itself, but the intention and context matter and should be part of the conversation.

"When we expect people to take Hollywood morality Very Seriously Indeed (Darth Vader is indeed Very Evil! Luke Skywalker is indeed Very Good!)...it's kind of gross."

You are arguing against something that no one is saying. I know that's what's going on because within this framework, you'd have to say that taking racism or sexism or homophobia within movies seriously is "kind of gross." Treating that with seriousness, despite the fact that it's all invented by whatever blah blah capitalist kyriarchy, would also be buying into that system.

I know that you're not making that argument since you've repeatedly represented that you take all of this extremely seriously, but you don't seem to understand (or at least are not communicating) that these broader concerns require actually engaging with the source material in order to treat them as serious.

"honestly, you could make a really good case that if I dress up as an elephant, I am making light of the situation of elephants"

No, you couldn't. You'd have to ignore both context and intention, which would make it not a very good argument at all, and one that's easily dismissed. It's possible to imagine a costume that did make fun of the suffering of elephants (probably ivory poaching related), but given just "elephant costume," that argument is not there.

"The reason we don't culturally appropriate or use traumatic images (like the swastika) is not because those clothes or symbols have only one meaning or use; it's because out of all the meanings and uses, one is more powerful and important than the others, or takes priority for ethical reasons."

People appropriate the swastika all the goddamn time. It's a recurrent trope of movies, video games, comic books… So, we actually do use them in a wide variety of media, and they're used specifically because of the connotations that they carry (and, in use, new connotations are created while old ones are reinforced).
posted by klangklangston at 2:42 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like there's some enormous miscommunication going on here, because I cannot believe that what's going on is that people are getting upset because some folks are [we're all assuming for the sake of the argument] dressing up as the bad guys from a Hollywood blockbuster just for fun instead of grappling with the deep meaning of the morality of the Hollywood narrative and accepting that when Hollywood creates a very generic good-versus-evil narrative full of problematic elements, this is moral truth along the lines of what you get out of Shoah or The Act of Killing and deserves to be engaged with in the same way.

I mean, there has to be something I am missing here.

Let me try this again just in case, since it is so difficult to communicate by text only:

The key part of my argument is that while some narratives are serious and complex and it would be creepy if people treated them as pure entertainment, the vast majority of mainstream narrative is pabulum plus actually bad and retrograde elements - somewhat more sophisticated than actual, say, Soviet propaganda films, but not that much. So popular repurposing of these films, whether just for kicks or actual detournement, is at least okay and sometimes good. There's no obligation to accept the moral terms introduced by Hollywood.

When I said that the citizens of the Capitol "had no meaning", I meant "had no meaning except the silly morality ascribed to them by the film", which is why it is impossible to "appropriate" from them, and not very important to "deal with" what they "represent".

You are arguing against something that no one is saying. I know that's what's going on because within this framework, you'd have to say that taking racism or sexism or homophobia within movies seriously is "kind of gross." Treating that with seriousness, despite the fact that it's all invented by whatever blah blah capitalist kyriarchy, would also be buying into that system.

I think maybe we're missing a point here. The whole issue with movies like Hunger Games is that they are nominally non-racist, nominally non-homophobic, nominally "up with people and down with oppression" (not unlike Star Wars) while having within themselves all kinds of racist, misogynist and homophobic ideas that are not conveyed at the simple level of character. That's one reason why when people detourne or use characters for their own purposes - especially generic filler characters like the wicked citizens - it's pretty insignificant. In fact, in expressing reverence for the surface structure and characters, we are buying into a lot of crap - on a simple level, we're buying into the idea that Katniss gets white-ified on screen, and that a heroine has to be white-appearing. (In the books, her appearance is more ambiguous.) We're buying into the incredibly creepy YA narrative about how the hero journey for girls is tied in Meeting Your True Love Who You Stay With Foever Even Though You Meet When You're Like Sixteen. All that shit. Dressing up as a wicked citizen or making fun of Peeta...it's funny precisely because the idea of "heroism" or "wickedness" in the context of such an incredibly bullshit, offensive, structurally racist and misogynist story is a fucking laugh. What I'm taking seriously about these movies is their structural position.

This is not the same as saying "it's okay to be homophobic because it's just a movie" or "it's okay to make a costume which specifically and clearly makes fun of queer people because it's from a movie".

Maybe where I fell down here was not saying "this is an argument specifically about a certain kind of populist-morality which recurs in Hollywood films; it would not be okay to dress up as Lillian Gish in Broken Blossoms because that was just a movie. "

(Looking at the make-up styles, I feel like there's a through line to New Wave which itself had a lot of "fake geisha" and "fake tribal" make-up influences, so you could argue that those make-ups are tainted on historical grounds, although I think that's a much easier argument to make about actual New Wave.)

People appropriate the swastika all the goddamn time. It's a recurrent trope of movies, video games, comic books… So, we actually do use them in a wide variety of media, and they're used specifically because of the connotations that they carry (and, in use, new connotations are created while old ones are reinforced).

I freely admit that by "we" I meant "people who do their best to avoid cultural appropriation" not "we [some large cultural formation]" and that this was not clear. So while yes, Naziism is often used as a free-floating, history-trivializing signifier of "evil" (for instance) I think that's a bad thing.

I am really suspicious of the kind of joyless radicalism to which I incline naturally, because it seems so tainted by the same kind of hyper-pious, crypto-Christian judgment mongering (and classism) that taints the rest of the ideas I grew up with. I, for instance, would never dress up as a citizen of the Capitol. I probably wouldn't dress up as an elephant, because I would indeed worry about elephant subjectivity. At the same time, I have observed that a lot of people like me really end up turning radicalism in to middle-class point-seeking because we are so suspicious of play, satire, insincerity, shifting signifiers, etc.
posted by Frowner at 4:06 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The alternative is that you are conscious of and engage with the constructed meaning of fictional characters

Are you claiming there is some moral obligation to engage with the constructed meaning of every fictional character? Are there no fictional characters that are frivolous and unworthy of demanding such engagement?
posted by straight at 1:33 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll go back to Frowner's comment later (sorry, Frowner, when you give so much content it takes longer to think about ;) ).

"Are you claiming there is some moral obligation to engage with the constructed meaning of every fictional character? Are there no fictional characters that are frivolous and unworthy of demanding such engagement?"

What I was talking about was specifically in the context of appropriating or using the images etc. So, yeah, if you're dressing as Darth Vader or using capitol scum in your advertisements, not engaging with the constructed meaning of the characters, whether as subversion or affirmation or whatever, is, if not immoral (more irresponsible), profoundly stupid and nihilistic.
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 PM on November 27, 2013


So, which one is this Volkswagon commercial? Subversion, affirmation, or profoundly stupid and nihilistic?
posted by radwolf76 at 3:22 PM on November 27, 2013


What do you think?
posted by klangklangston at 3:25 PM on November 27, 2013


Considering Volkswagen's origin, we can probably rule out affirmation.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:06 AM on November 28, 2013


The Volkswagen commercial actually clarifies what people seem to have been talking past for the last few days here.

The key part of the word cosplay is in fact play, and it is normal and probably beneficial to play at being evil, to imagine what it would be like to have such power and to be unbound by ordinary morality. I say this is beneficial because it can help us to understand what we are up against when we encounter someone who has crossed that moral chasm in real life. Evil people are not monsters who defy all understanding; they are people with resources and motivations, and being able to understand them in a confrontation can save your ass.

And the ad shows where play ends: Despite the child's disappointment that the Force doesn't seem to work on anything else, when the father tricks him into thinking it worked on the car he backs away in a hurry. Yeah it's fun to imagine what it would be like to have Vader's power, but most people have enough sense to realize being Vader 24/7 for real would be a much different deal.

I would even posit that it is almost impossible to write a character like Vader or an environment like the Capitol without doing exactly this. If you cannot imagine what it is like to be someone and to act on their motivations, you cannot possibly realize them for an audience.

I tend to see the Covergirl ad in a similar vein. One can play at the Capitol citizens' freedom to explore expensive and daring fashion without endorsing the brutality and privation that make those things significant in the story world. I'd guess that someone at the movie studio had a hell of a lot of fun coming up with these costumes and makeup patterns; that doesn't mean they were endorsing National Socialism. And why should they have all the fun?
posted by localroger at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mostly agree with you on the Vader thing, but given the amount of exploitation and suffering it takes to sustain the fashion industry, or in your words, brutality and privation, I do think they're endorsing the primacy of their luxury over the suffering of others in a way that's unintentionally (stupidly, ironically) apt. Obviously the fictional dystopia is hyperbolic, but by not engaging with the moral dimension of the source material, they're reproducing those structures, affirming and not subverting.
posted by klangklangston at 2:11 PM on November 28, 2013


Klang, I think you have a very valid point but it's orthogonal to the WTF moment of the OP. You aren't so much questioning whether the Covergirl Hunger Games fashions are WTF so much as you're questioning the entire idea of fashion as a pursuit. And that's valid; I'm a very non-fashion-oriented person myself.

I think that, if you accept the idea of fashion as a valid hobby / interest / fetish which is no more exploitative than anything else done by relatively well-off people for self-amusement, then the Covergirl campaign is no more particularly ridiculous than anything else. The fact is those particular fashions didn't arise from a cruel dystopian world; they arose from the costume department of a movie studio. No teenagers were actually killed in the making of these styles.

Now as to the question of whether fashion itself is a thing we should be spending so much time, energy, and money on -- that's really a very different argument, and one where your position is much firmer. But I think we have to look at context. The Covergirl campaign isn't aimed at people like me (I didn't even know it existed until I saw this thread). The people it is aimed at have already decided to spend quite a bit of energy pursuing fashion.

Having a fetish of my own which offends a fair number of people makes me reluctant to condemn what others do for fun. Like anything done at industrial scale the fashion industry fosters some abuses which should be ameliorated. But if we are not allowed to use the resources we have for pleasure until all the misery in the world is eliminated, nobody will be having any fun for a long time. And really, it doesn't bug me when poor and middle class people spend money to have fun; usually that money is going into the economy to pay someone else's wages anyway. It's the billionaires who can't figure out what to do and manage to be miserable despite their amassed wealth who bug the hell out of me. And I don't think they are in Covergirl's demographic any more than I am.
posted by localroger at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a fashionista, I approve of the above assessment by localroger.

After watching Logan's Run at the drive-in as a child, I realized all clothing rules and taboos are arbitrary. The whole time watching, all I could really focus upon was how different the clothing was and how that made me look at the world differently. (I didn't recall anything else about the movie until seeing it again as an adult.) Here I was, being raised in LDS undies, but it was perfectly fine for side-boob(SFW) and naked hip(SFW) in that culture? I was all of five or six years old, but I already called bullshit. Clothes can be fun!

Despite being an edge-dweller (deathpunk eventually transitioned into goth), I initially pursued an education in fashion design after high school. I grew up sewing, playing with fashion plates, and even helped my mother learn how to dress for success while I was pre-pubescent. It really is Halloween every day, ya'll. Even in a suit, I realize I'm just wearing a costume fit for the current story.
posted by _paegan_ at 6:51 PM on November 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Finnick's Trident (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) - MAN AT ARMS
posted by homunculus at 12:25 PM on December 1, 2013


Stopping in the nearest pharmacy yesterday for supplies, I noticed the Cover Girl Capitol Beauty Studio display is nearly depleted, just a few items left. I asked a customer associate about it, she said they cannot keep it stocked.
posted by _paegan_ at 8:46 AM on December 2, 2013


Easy. Breezey. Beautiful. Oppressive Overlords.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 AM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, here's a question -- why is the Man At Arms short that homunculus linked above not subject to the same kind of ire? The desire to reproduce the trident is pretty clearly "I saw this, it was cool, I wanted to make my own, so I did;" why is the makeup not considered the same way? That trident is as much a Capitol artifact as Effie Trinket's wig.
posted by KathrynT at 9:00 AM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think it has same broad, culturally toxic effect that the makeup campaign does. These guys are doing this for themselves, and it requires some genuine craftsmanship on their part. If an individual had made their own Capitol makeup as their own project, I would be fine with that too. The Covergirl makeup campaign, on the other hand, is a consumer product that's being sold to a large market just to make money, while propagating a twisted underlying message along with it.

These guys do this for other film weapons too, like Mjölnir and Sting, so they make artifacts from many fictional sources. Of course, it does glorify weapons in general (as far as I know they only do this with weapons), and I have mixed feelings about that, but I can't help but respect their skill.

But if next Halloween companies start advertising and selling mass-produced plastic Hunger Games weapon replicas, that would be exactly like the makeup campaign, if not worse since the target market would be kids. And the more I think about it, the more that seems inevitable. Bleh.
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


These guys are doing this for themselves, and it requires some genuine craftsmanship on their part. If an individual had made their own Capitol makeup as their own project, I would be fine with that too. The Covergirl makeup campaign, on the other hand, is a consumer product that's being sold to a large market just to make money, while propagating a twisted underlying message along with it.

It's a consumer product that can involve the use of plenty of skill and artistry. Simply purchasing the Capitol makeup might not be "your own project," but applying it in the way it's worn in the movie? That's definitely an artistic project.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:13 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is a story about a society which institutionalizes the spectacle of children killing each other for entertainment, but it's an action-adventure that's rated PG-13. Why isn't it rated R? Why isn't it rated NC-17, with scenes that force the viewer to experience what life might really be like in such a nightmarish world?

Because they don't say "fuck."

(Bully did finally get a PG-13, after editing the offending language.)
posted by homunculus at 12:14 PM on December 2, 2013


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