Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress and she did a wonderful job in the role of Katniss. That being said, I would have preferred a biracial actress to play this part because I can think of so few heroines with “olive colored skin” that when one finally appears she ought not to be white washed.
(spoilers) Think how much more incredible the scene where Katniss covers Rue in flowers would have been if Katniss and Rue were both women of color. Think how much more powerful it would be if it weren’t a white woman mourning the loss of a black woman. (We’ve seen that before. We’ve seen privileged characters learn from less privileged ones.) Think how amazing it would be for women of color to see themselves represented in every scene that Rue and Katniss share. The Hunger Games has already shown itself to be an incredibly popular film. Just imagine if such a successful film contained scenes which included only actresses of color. I would trade in Jennifer Lawrence’s performance for that.
ALL OF THIS.
Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress and a lovely human being and normally I would be very happy to see a movie that features her. But that image of two women of color bonding, helping each other, impacting each others lives? We need that. As a people. With the way they cast this movie we have three notable characters (Rue, Thresh, and Cinna) playing the role of the Black Best Friend to a white person. And that’s so old. So tired. We need to show people of color as people. Not just as a White Person’s Little Helper.
I understand and appreciate the criticisms previously mentioned, but in defense of the movie, it’s set far into the future. That could mean that all people during that time period are equally oppressed by The Capitol. Sure color blindness doesn’t exist in this day in age, but when an entire nation is being oppressed by one super force of a government, a black person’s struggle is equal to the white person’s struggle. Not to mention each came from communities seemingly entirely composed of people of their own race, which means that they wouldn’t have experience white privilege in Katniss’s district because everyone was white. There was class segregation based on profession in District 12 but no room for race segregation or disadvantage. My thoughts are all hypothetical and forgive me for playing devil’s advocate but the movie is based on the book which is set way in the future.
The problem is that the audience the book/movie is intended for are NOT from the future, which means that all of the problems of today’s movie industry (whitewashing roles, intentionally restricting casting calls to only white actors and actresses - which happened when casting Katniss, etc) are always relevant. Again, as said: “I would have preferred a biracial actress to play this part because I can think of so few heroines with “olive colored skin” that when one finally appears she ought not to be white washed.” The lack of POC characters in our media, more particularly those portrayed in a positive light and as heroes instead of supporting roles, is always a relevant and important issue and a byproduct of a society with institutionalized racism.
Other important points were already expressed in the original commentary.
“That could mean that all people during that time period are equally oppressed by The Capitol. Sure color blindness doesn’t exist in this day in age, but when an entire nation is being oppressed by one super force of a government, a black person’s struggle is equal to the white person’s struggle.”
Oh my god, did we even read the same book? The Hunger Games has an explicitly racial dimension. The conditions of District 11 is a recreation of enslavement—everything from its geographic location (U.S. American South, based on the fact that it borders Appalachia and you take a train south to get there) to the type of labor they are made to do to (fieldwork) the way the people are punished (that would be brutally, with whips.) Then there’s dichotomy established between the way the Black intellectually disabled boy was treated (i.e. he was murdered) versus the way the intellectually disabled boy from District 12 was treated (“like a pet.”)
“Not to mention each came from communities seemingly entirely composed of people of their own race, which means that they wouldn’t have experience white privilege in Katniss’s district because everyone was white. There was class segregation based on profession in District 12 but no room for race segregation or disadvantage.”
Everyone in District 12 WAS NOT WHITE. DISTRICT 12 WAS EXPLICITLY SEGREGATED BY RACE. The people made to do dangerous physical labor (the coal miners of the Seam) are all olive skinned and dark haired, and they routinely starve to death. The white people in District 12 were also oppressed by the Capitol, but they were definitely privileged over the people of color in the Seam.
While I understand the sentiment of this, isn’t it a massive stretch to call book-Katniss a woman of colour? She is described as ‘olive-skinned’ which is certainly racially ambiguous. People have used the term to describe me, and I’m white British. Equally, it could refer to someone of, for example, Central American descent.
But isn’t any racial ambiguity there might have been cleared up by the fact that Katniss has a blonde little sister pretty? Since Katniss and Prim share the same genetics (they’re not from different marriages or anything) this makes the Everdeen sisters pretty unambiguously white, right?
Please correct me if I’ve missed something here. I totes agree that there’s racial subtext in The Hunger Games. And I certainly would have been all in favour of them casting Katniss as a person of colour in the film (and doing the same with Prim, to make sense). There are plenty of good arguments in favour of that casting - I just don’t see that authenticity to the book is one of them.
Race in Panem does not perfectly match up to race in the United States in modern times (racial categories are socially constructed) but Katniss experiences differential racialization for resembling someone from the Seam even if she is half-Merchant. Meanwhile, her sister Prim is able to be “passing.” (This is common in mixed race families where some kids may look more white than others, while others have darker or olive skin.) In that sense, Katniss doesn’t have access to the Merchant racial privilege that Prim or Peeta have. And she talks about this a lot. There are also scenes in the book where Katniss compares her skintone to that of people from Rue’s district, District 11. That and I mean, come on, Panem is some sort of future dystopic North America, and all of the heroes are white?