Unabashed racism among…Hunger Games fans?
In first book of the hugely popular Hunger Games series (which, as everyone knows by now, is about a bunch of kids forced to fight to death gladiator style in a vast arena, with their battle televised to the entire nation), the 16-year old heroine Katniss, from District 12, meets shy, quiet, sweet 12 year old Rue, a tribute from District 11. She immediately feels protective of Rue, who reminds her of her little sister, notwithstanding the immaterial fact that her sister is white, blonde, and blue-eyed, while Rue is very clearly described as dark-skinned. Yet somehow, Susan Collins’ clear description of Rue managed to escape the attention of a considerable number of self-described “fans,” who then professed to be shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED that a black girl, the adorable Amandla Stenberg, was cast to play her. Amazing. Despite being devoted fans of the book, their racial blinders made them see only what they wanted to see. They loved Rue, apparently, only because they thought she was white.
The good news? The Hunger Games made $155 million at the box office its opening weekend, making it the third-best debut in North American box office history. The bad news, however, reflects a level of idiocy that we weren’t really expecting.
As CNN reports, “Only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Dark Knight — both sequels, with the strength of a franchise behind each — recorded bigger opening weekends.” Plus, unlike those two flicks, Hunger Games was written by a woman and stars a woman (much as we love JK Rowling, her series isn’t named after Hermione) — making it a true lady-centric blockbuster franchise.
Now as you may know, Katniss, the main character in the book and film, was described as having “straight black hair” and “olive skin.” It’s a post-apocalyptic world, so she could be a mix of things, but some pictured a Native American. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence won the part and dyed her hair dark.
But when it came to the casting of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, many audience members did not understand why there were black actors playing those parts. Cinna’s skin is not discussed in the book, so truthfully, though Lenny Kravitz was cast, a white, Asian or Latino actor could have played the part.