Eager fans find meager concerns with ‘The Hunger Games’

If you want to know what I thought about “The Hunger Games” movie, which came out Friday, you can read my review in the Arts & Leisure section. But that’s not going to stop me from writing about it here, too.

The difference is that I’m about to get really mad – which is a change from the review, in case you haven’t read it yet. Which you should.

I fell in love with “The Hunger Games” franchise when I read the first book for one of my literature classes last year. You could say I became obsessed with it, but that might be a slight understatement. I mean, it’s no “Harry Potter,” but these comprise some quality young adult literature.

I especially love how Suzanne Collins, the author of the trilogy, gives the reader just enough details to paint a picture of what’s going on. Like, for example, how she describes the character of Rue on page 45. This is when Katniss – the protagonist and narrator from District 12 – is describing the other tributes, as the participants in the Games are called: “…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She had dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.”

So, basically, this girl reminds Katniss of her sister, Prim, besides the fact that Rue is dark-skinned. Collins says later in the novel, in fact, that the population of District 11 is largely African-American. And that’s what we know about Rue.

So why, then, did some people find scandal in the fact that she and the other tribute from District 11, Thresh, were played by black actors? I can understand that readers may have overlooked that detail – it’s not as though it’s a major plot point in the novel or anything.

What makes me angry is that people are choosing to get mad over this fact. They think the movie makers did something wrong by casting African-Americans in the movie.

In reality, they stuck to the book. Which, for a lot of film adaptations, is a feat in itself. These people have no reason to be mad over the casting, and I hope they come to realize what a big mistake they’ve made.

An editorial posted Monday on Jezebel.com, an open forum site, offers several examples of racist tweets from disappointed “Hunger Games” fans. The best ones include: @FrankeeFresh, who said, “Why is Rue a little black girl? #sticktothebookDUDE;” @Joe_Longley, who tweeted, “EWW rue is black?? I’m not watching;” and, my favorite, @maggie_mcd11, who wrote, “Why does rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie.”

I was under the impression that we’re living in the 21st century. You know, the one where skin color doesn’t really matter; where the president of the United States is African-American. But clearly, some fans of “The Hunger Games” novels don’t agree.

How does the race of one supporting character ruin the movie? How does the race of ANY character ruin the movie? It’s just disappointing to realize that maybe the United States isn’t as progressive as we think it is. Before we indulge ourselves in technology, why don’t we take a step back and teach people – especially our children – about what it really means to be human?

That includes stopping with the racist attitudes. In “The Hunger Games,” Peeta – the other tribute from District 12 – makes the point that he doesn’t want the Games to change him; he doesn’t want to become a killing machine that has no value for human life.

Maybe we can all learn more from this trilogy than we thought.



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