Unless you’ve been on some sort of internet blackout, you already know that “The Hunger Games” debuted last weekend to record-breaking box office sales. Based on the first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, “The Hunger Games” is set in the near-future, where children are forced to battle each other to the death as an ultimate reality TV show under a devastating political regime.
The books have a fairly passionate fan base, not unlike Twilight, and, like Twilight, fans have been vocal about what each character should look like, according to the novels and their own feverish wishes, and how well that was translated to the big screen. As soon as casting was announced, there were some unhappy reactions to blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence (breakout star of 2010’s “Winter’s Bone”), as a 16-year-old Katniss, described in the books as having olive skin and gray eyes. And while there are any number of justified complaints about women of color not getting lead roles in Hollywood, people also complained that Lawrence wasn’t thin enough to be the scrappy, semi-starving Katniss. Of course, Lawrence also has all her teeth and perfect skin, but no one seems upset that even a hardscrabble future world has good orthodontia.
That wasn’t the only backlash. After the opening, there were a number of tweets about the black actors who were cast in roles when the tweeters had expected white actors. Smoking hot (Yes, he is. Don’t even) Lenny Kravitz played Katniss’ stylist Cinna, described minimally in the book (his race was never mentioned). Rue, a tree-climbing little girl who played a pivotal role in the novel, was described as having “dark brown skin and eyes” in the book. She was played by a little girl with dark brown skin and eyes, Amandla Stenberg. And some people simply couldn’t handle it.
And those weren’t even the worst ones.
“Why does Rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie.”
“In all these people’s defense, it’s easy to miss things when reading through 2 small holes in a white sheet.”
Are those tweets just another example of people being stupid, a la the Chris Brown ”can beat me up anytime” foolishness from this February? Or are these racist tweets a bellwether about race in our culture? I’m not sure we needed the additional example of callous and hateful reactions to the fictional death of a little black girl, when we’re already dealing with them regarding the very real death of young black man.
Barbara Card Atkinson lives in California with two kids, one husband and too many dogs. She writes for work and for fun, as a copywriter, and as a pop culture smartmouth. She likes most people, the color orange and whenever anyone makes coffee.
image via lionsgate