An Emotional Investment in The Hunger Games

Some good friends of mine highly encouraged me to read The Hunger Games trilogy, and I trust their taste so I did it. I literally read all three books in one week. I couldn’t put them down. I became so anti-social, it was ridiculous. People at work would comment “Hey! I haven’t seen you around the office lately.” That’s because I’m sitting in a park bench during my lunch break trying to finish the books as fast as I can on my kindle while somehow also stuffing a sandwich in my mouth. Additionally, I told my friends (the ones who aren’t Hunger Games fans) last Friday that I couldn’t hang out because I needed to finish the last book. They called me a nerd. It’s ok they’re just jealous.

What’s not to like? The books have got a great story, a kick-ass heroine, and it makes you think about the world we live in today. War, violence, reality TV, soldiers coming back from war, dealing with PTSD and how we’ve been dealing with all of this in the decade that the US has been at war. It’s a lot to take in, but it’s worth thinking about.

So now that I’m done reading, naturally I became way too emotionally invested in everything related to the books. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  1. Bought my tickets for the movie coming out on Friday (yay!)
  2. Watched pretty much every stupid Youtube video related to the movie (mostly interviews with the cast where I laughed along with their jokes as if I know them personally)
  3. Read random people’s reviews/debates of the books on the Internet
  4. Watched more Youtube videos (this time of interviews with author, Suzanne Collins),
  5. Analyzed the story and characters with my friends who are fans for hours over the phone
  6. Watched the movie trailer a dozen more times
  7. Daydreamed about being able climb trees efficiently and then…
  8. Went back to watching more Youtube videos

I can honestly say that I know more about the lives of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (who play Katniss and Peeta respectively) than is socially acceptable. But just to let you know, we would be such good friends. No joke.

However, it wasn’t until today that I noticed something: Katniss Everdeen, the kick-ass heroine, is described in the books as being a 16-year old girl who’s olive-skinned and scrawny with dark hair. As much as I truly adore and have a creepy friend crush on Jennifer Lawrence, she definitely does not fit this description. Of course when it comes to acting talent, she is hands down the perfect girl for this role. I’ve always been a strong supporter of casting someone with talent rather than the exact looks for a part. It’s just common sense. If the actor can convince the audience of the role he or she is playing, then that’s it. They should get the job. Take Memoirs of A Geisha for example. The roles played by Ziyi Zhang, Gong Li and Michelle Yeoh caused quite a stir since these actresses are Chinese and Malaysian and yet they starred in a movie as Japanese characters. Critics wrote articles about how ridiculous that is and blah blah blah. Yet we have Australian actors playing Americans and Americans playing Brits and Brits playing Irish characters all the time, and the list goes on. When it came down to it, the director, Rob Marshall, felt that these actresses were best suited for the roles.

I suppose people have stronger feelings about this subject when there are minorities involved. I guess it just makes me a little sad when I read back and see what Katniss is supposed to look like. Even in my head I kept imagining Jennifer Lawrence’s face as Katniss because I had seen the movie trailer before reading the books. That was actually kind of irritating. It was as if my imagination went into lockdown mode and said, “Who cares what she looks like?! Just finish the story!”

The main reason I feel blue about this is because I TOTALLY could have played Katniss! Dark hair, olive skin, scrawny? Check, check and check. Never mind that I have no acting skills whatsoever, it still would have been awesome. But really, deep down I know it would have been pretty amazing to to see thousands of fans cheering for a brown girl, especially at a time when the media only shows us footage of people and events that make us think we should either feel hate or pity towards anyone who’s got brown/olive skin. Because you know. That’s the developing world.

Besides that, I am genuinely very excited to see the movie. Jennifer Lawrence is an incredible actress. I mean she already has an Oscar nomination. I have no doubts that she will be amazing as Katniss. And next time an “olive-skinned” girl needs to be cast, I’ll audition. Problem solved.

By the way, if you want to read a hilarious blog post about The Hunger Games, read this: The Embarrassing Side Effects of Having Recently Read “The Hunger Games” by Holley Maher