Friday, March 30, 2012

The Idiocy of Racism - Twitter and The Hunger Games

I gave in to the hype.  I succumbed to the trend and read the first book in Suzanne Collins' series.  My husband and I have plans to go see the movie tomorrow.

I'd write about the book, about the things I loved about it and the things I didn't.  About the things that disturbed me, about how I question who the moral center of the story is, about all that.  But I won't.

This isn't a review of the book, and I certainly don't want to ruin anything for those of you out there that haven't read it yet...even if it appears I am the one showing up late to the game here.

What I am writing about is the outrage some fans have expressed.  The things people have thrown up on Twitter as immediate criticisms of the movie.  The most newsworthy of which have to do with the color of some of the characters.


Twitter images pulled and linked from
 http://hungergamestweets.tumblr.com/page/6
There are more.  Many more tweets like these ones exist.

Sometimes I loathe the instant nature of the internet as it exists today.  Anyone with an opinion about anything can spew it out there for all the world to see, regardless of how ignorant and uninformed it is, how racist and inappropriate it is.

Most times, all they end up doing is making themselves look like idiots.  These people did just that.

The book describes Rue as looking about ten, with "bright dark eyes and satiny brown skin".  The other character from her district, Thresh is described with skin and eyes the same color, though he is much older, larger and stronger than she is.

Forgive me, but those descriptions match up perfectly with the casting.   Seems the people complaining aren't just racist, but obviously didn't read the books either.

I don't remember Cinna's character being described in the book in terms of his skin color, though his eyes were green.  People are even up in arms about Lenny Kravitz being cast in that role.  Maybe it's just me, but I'll take any reason to admire that man on a large screen that I can get.  He's devastatingly handsome with just enough flair to him that I'm sure he was the perfect person to fit the role.

Out of the millions of people who've seen this movie already, and there are a great number of them, as this one is a box office monster, you have a handful of people stirring up a controversy that never needed to exist had they actually read the book.

That Pandora's Box has been opened, though, regardless of how or why it was opened, and must be dealt with.

I have many issues with this controversy, obviously, beyond the fact that those whining didn't read the book. Or if they did, they didn't pay very much attention.

Why would the racial makeup of people in a post apocalyptic world be white washed?  Why would people assume that it would be, should be, is "supposed to be"?  It makes me sick to think that in this day and age, there are still so many people who live with this mindset.

The one tweet about how he wasn't sad that Rue died because of the color of her skin is so shocking and appalling that I don't even need to point out all the things wrong with it.

If there is anything to be upset about in terms of racial issues in the book, I'd point more to the fact that the district where Rue and Thresh are from is the agricultural one, where the people are forced to work in the fields, but never allowed to reap what they sow.  That, to me, is offensive, and unfortunately reflective of the unpleasant history of this nation.

Then again, I'm one of those people who tends to think that post apocalyptic times would be more likely to truly level the playing field and do away with racial inequities.  That people wouldn't be pigeonholed by the color of their skin and assigned to do work based on that alone.  The book begs to differ, and I take issue with that far more than with the color of the skin of any character.

No one is talking about that issue, though.  Mostly because my argument is one for color-blindness, not color-based superiority as these now-infamous Twitter profiles seem to push for.

Not sure how I'd fare in the world of The Hunger Games.

The self-righteous little brats on Twitter, though, they wouldn't last long in the arena.  That's for sure.

4 comments:

  1. You know what's weird, as I was reading it...I never pictured anyone's skin color...hair color yes, eyes yes, but skin...eh. I thought the girl cast as Prim was actually too light in my own views..her hair too light....her skin too light...her eyes not grey enough...but I haven't seen the movie, so I am not sure how well the casting went in regards to acting. The only thing I want from Cinna is over the top gay...cause that's how I pictured him....skin color..who cares...

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  2. I am incredibly disturbed by our country's continued racism. What about the fact that while we might not all be the same color we are all in fact a part of the HUMAN RACE?? Why is it so easy to hate?? Thanks for posting this!

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  3. I'm late to the party, too. Just started reading it. But I immediately pictured Rue as black. I'd be interested to hear what the author thought. But anyway, I'm with you. The more disturbing part of this is the reaction to her death -- the not caring part. Or caring less. I suppose you need to give that person some credit for coming clean. Let's face it -- our world values dark-skinned humans as a whole as less valuable. Just look at how we react to genocide or natural disasters in different parts of the world.

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  4. Reading about those tweets over the last few days has been difficult. I keep forgetting that racism and sexism is not behind us. I keep forgetting society requires labels (gender, race, etc.)before they can determine what a person is worth.

    I'm not a huge fan of the books but the story was compelling and I cried reading them...and I cried watching the movie.

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