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87 Responses

  1. sossajes
    sossajes March 27, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    i never pictured cinna as white, and thought rue was perfect. it completely blows me away that so many people are so comfortable with their racism–which is a huge function of my privilege.

  2. Jadey
    Jadey March 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

    Haven’t read the books or seen the movie, but I have two words for these assholes:

    Fuck. Y’all.

    Also, hella double-standard with the rampant white-washing of POC characters!

    Does anyone know if the author has weighed in?

  3. Sierra
    Sierra March 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm |

    To be quite honest, I remember having it bother me that of the two characters who were explicitly of colour (aside from Katniss’ ambiguous “olive skin”), one’s primary purpose was to die, and the other was a large, brutal guy who could hardly speak English and was compared to an ox. I always picture Thresh as black and Rue as a dark-skinned Indian (because Collins said “dark brown skin”, and I figured that if she meant black she’d have said “black”), but when I saw who was playing Rue, my thought wasn’t, “Oh God, she’s a few shades darker than I imagined her, the book is ruined!” It was, “I love that they found such a cute little girl to play her.” As much as I would have preferred different characterisations for the characters of colour , I’d have been very disappointed if they’d completely whitewashed the movie (as opposed to only sort of whitewashing it, as they did).

    What really gets me is that while, yes, Rue was described as being dark-skinned, it shouldn’t matter. Even if her physical description was incredibly ambiguous, and it never said she was of colour, why would the book not saying she was black mean that casting a black actress would be inaccurate? The book also doesn’t specify that (to pick a random example) Effie is white, but no one demands to know why she has a white actress when the book didn’t say this.

  4. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen March 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm |

    This is rich. You’d think “Hunger Games” readers would be more enlightened, being fans of a book where a strong, powerful girl manages to defeat her oppressors — but I guess even a forward-looking franchise has its bigots. In the book, Rue’s a WOC… and in the film, she’s a WOC. Egads, how awful that the film followed the book!

    “Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.” I guess a lot of folks simply can’t conceive that a “black girl” can possibly be “innocent.”

  5. shfree
    shfree March 27, 2012 at 2:25 pm |

    It reminds me of the whole Earthsea clusterfuck on SciFi, but in reverse. When they whitewashed Ged, who is supposed to be brown, people were pissed. LeGuin herself weighed in with her disappointment about the whole thing.

    I know I personally didn’t do a close, slow reading of the book, so I didn’t really see that Rue was supposed to be black. But that tends to be my reading style, as I plow quickly through a book for a first read for the plot, then do a closer read for the detail with the next oh, thirty reads or so. Regardless, I don’t give a good god damn what a character looks like, unless it is so against the author’s vision of a character that it is a figurative slap in the face to that vision, a la Earthsea.

  6. Kyrsten
    Kyrsten March 27, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    I did picture Cinna as being Italian while I read, but Kravitz was a good fit. I also pictured Thresh as black in my head when reading. I pretty much adored all the castings. Rue’s death had me in tears for the rest of the movie. The only casting I did not like was President Snow. He seemed too Santa Claus, and not the thin snake-like man the books described. He also seemed too ungroomed to be the President of Panem.

  7. Serad Anon
    Serad Anon March 27, 2012 at 2:52 pm |

    On the grand scheme of things, I’m rather irritated when any film whitewashes or otherwise makes the characters not as described in the books.

    Or even not the film, like some of the earlier editions of Dawn by Octavia Butler- the cover depicted a blonde white woman and the story was very clearly about an African American woman.

    From what I’ve heard Collins participated very closely with the film adaptation, so I can only presume that it was the main characters that were whitewashed.

  8. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen March 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm |

    Eh, part of me wonders if these self-entitled scumbags would complain less if Lionsgate had cast a lighter-skinned biracial actor (such as Zoë Kravitz but younger) to play Rue. I’d reckon so, based on past marketing research I’ve seen. And some of that research is decades old, so this response to Rue is a sorry commentary on “post-racial America.”

    Or even not the film, like some of the earlier editions of Dawn by Octavia Butler- the cover depicted a blonde white woman and the story was very clearly about an African American woman.

    Wow. Somewhere along that line was a failure to communicate.

  9. slacktivist » I mean to confound these bungers

    [...] adorable Amandla Sternberg, was described as having ‘dark brown skin and eyes’ – thus the ruination of the film at the hands of a dark-skinned, dark-eyed actress.”“Health care reform made lifetime limits illegal — which is why Violet’s [...]

  10. faithless
    faithless March 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm |

    strange, I don’t remember any of this kind of controversy in the Harry Potter universe when the movies came out and they didn’t change the races of the kid who announced the quidditch matches and had a crush on that 1 gryffindor keeper girl (who if I remember was also black)

    I have yet to read the hunger games series but, I’m kinda curious what makes this character so special?

  11. Open Thread And Link Farm, I’ll Dig Out Your Eye Edition | Alas, a Blog

    [...] Hunger Games: What do you mean, the black girl was black? [...]

  12. Jessica Isabel
    Jessica Isabel March 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm |

    and here I was pissed that of the tributes, only 2 were brown. I think there was a Latino guy in there somewhere but they killed him in the opening melee. Someone please explain why the Careers are a whole pack of blondes (except Clove). You couldn’t throw in an Asian guy? Also, maybe this is my own stereotypical psyche rearing its ugly head, but I can’t remember how Cato was described. All I remember was reading the name ‘Cato’ and assuming he was going to be Asian ala Green Hornet. I kind of thought that’s the reference Collins was making. Whatever.

    The movie was good. I appreciated the many many brown faces in scenes with crowds. I loved the scene in District 11 – although for a moment I thought the man who started the riot was Rue’s father since his anguish seemed parental.

    I just have one question: Donald Sutherland, can you please explain to me why in a society that values aesthetics above all else and you are the ruler of said society, didn’t you trim your goddamn beard? /endrant

  13. Nentuaby
    Nentuaby March 27, 2012 at 3:47 pm |

    Faithless– Rue’s waaaaaay more important than that background-whatserface from Harry Potter. She’s one of the four most important supporting characters to the plot, her influence strongly shapes the protagonist’s character development, and she’s carefully crafted by the author to be hugely endearing. This is a lot more like people missing something significant about, say, Luna.

  14. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker March 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |

    All I remember was reading the name ‘Cato’ and assuming he was going to be Asian ala Green Hornet. I kind of thought that’s the reference Collins was making. Whatever.

    The name Cato is a reference to the Roman statesmen Cato the Elder and Cato the Younger, just as Cinna is a reference to the patrician Cinna family. I’m really surprised people miss the Roman references in the books. The whole aesthetic is based on them; the country is called Panem for chrissakes.

    /end derail

    Also, people are fucking terrible and I really hope Amandla Stenberg is being protected from this stuff.

  15. Matt
    Matt March 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

    I cannot imagine anyone but Kravitz playing Cinna.
    He was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO good.
    I also thought Stenberg totally qualified as innocent. And adorable.
    I dunno how you could argue those two as great casting choices.

  16. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley March 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm |

    It reminds me of the whole Earthsea clusterfuck on SciFi, but in reverse. When they whitewashed Ged, who is supposed to be brown, people were pissed. LeGuin herself weighed in with her disappointment about the whole thing.

    Yeah no, those two things are not the same. Making a POC character white is way fucking different then making a white character a POC

    White people get represented all the fucking time in media, POC get next to nothing (and are told to like it). So yeah when a POC character is whitewashed anger is justifiable but a white character becoming a POC, should be seen as fucking progress!

    Hell your comparison doesn’t even make sense anyway, the character was always a POC.

  17. ginmar
    ginmar March 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm |

    Thresh and Rue both came from District 11, where they do harvesting and grain—-and thresh is something you do with grain. Rue is a spice, too, I think. Rue was probably one of the most touching characters in the book and I refuse to detail my reaction to her death, because it was so embarrassing. That scene is easily one of the most touching I’ve ever read in any book, and Thresh’s reaction to it humanizes him and gives you a glimpse of what he could have been had he not been starved and trained to do nothing but work and fight to the death.

    And the chilling thing for me is that people who are saying that Rue’s death didn’t mean anything to them because she’s black…..she’s a little girl. That’s about as savage an attitude as you can find. If they can’t find it in their hearts to mourn a sweet, adorable little girl, nobody is safe from them. And the actress was absolutely how I pictured her. Cinna was somebody I pictured more in terms of clothes than anything else, because his personality came across so strongly in his character, his intuition and his kind, brave, decency. I haven’t seen the movie, but even in the previews Kravitz IS Cinna. I did kind of wonder, in reading the book, if ‘Cinna’ was a reference to his skin color as well, what with cinnamon and all.

  18. Grace
    Grace March 27, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

    I have yet to read the hunger games series but, I’m kinda curious what makes this character so special?

    @Faithless–What Nentuaby said. Rue’s a very important character with the most emotionally wrenching storyline. She’s the youngest kid picked for the gladiatorial death match, and throughout the whole series, she’s a symbol for innocence and goodness, an iconic victim of injustice. So not only can these people not see a black girl as a symbol of innocence and goodness, they’re actively angry that someone tried to make them empathize with a black girl. The author of the Hunger Games tumblr has a great post about it here:

    These people are MAD that the girl that they cried over while reading the book was “some black girl” all along. So now they’re angry. Wasted tears, wasted emotions. It’s sad to think that had they known that she was black all along, there would have been no sorrow or sadness over her death.

  19. Chataya
    Chataya March 27, 2012 at 5:41 pm |

    strange, I don’t remember any of this kind of controversy in the Harry Potter universe when the movies came out and they didn’t change the races of the kid who announced the quidditch matches and had a crush on that 1 gryffindor keeper girl (who if I remember was also black)

    I take it you missed the whole Blaise Zabini kerfluffle, when half the Harry Potter fandom erupted into a rage fit over the reveal that he was a black man rather than hawt white bishi boy. Wizards attending unmappable schools and playing rugby on broomsticks? Believable. Black people in Britain? Totally unheard of!

    Reactions like this only serve to reinforce Hollywood’s godawful white-washing.

  20. Andie
    Andie March 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm |

    Oh my fucking god. Every goddamn time a movie comes out and a POC gets cast as a character that is not explicitly black, Asian, native or whathaveyou we get every “I’m not racist, but… ” asshole going on about how political correctness gone rampant…

    I mean, holy shit… Is it THAT unbelievable that a POC might actually get cast for being a good actor rather than simply to fulfill some liberal affirmative action type agenda?

  21. Verity Khat
    Verity Khat March 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm |

    I spent the weekend wanting to punch a whole bunch of people over this. A) If you didn’t know Rue was dark-skinned, you fail at reading comprehension. B) If that affects how you feel about her, YOU FAIL AT COMPASSION. C) Amandla Sternberg was perfect and precious and anyone who says otherwise does not have a human heart. *turns into a sobbing snot-monster for the billionth time*

    Collins leaves quite a bit to the imagination in the books–physical appearance isn’t described nearly as often as character traits…or at least that’s how I read it–so I’d imagined a more diverse populace. I was a bit shocked I sat down in the movie and was shown black people only living in District 11. (I spotted one extra with darker skin in District 12. ONE.) It made Rue’s fate and Thresh’s portrayal so much more upsetting.

    I couldn’t decide if Lionsgate was being stupid, or if Panem really would segregate like that. The presence of Cinna (omg Kravitz was PERFECTION!) and another black stylist (is that supposed to be Portia or Octavia?) in the Capitol would argue against true segregation, so what gives, Lionsgate?!

    And Donald Sutherland is WAY creepier clean- or close-shaven, so mark me down for the wondering-about-that crowd.

    Plus — and I know this is way, way off-topic, sorry — why were the Tributes all so CLEAN in the Arena?! These kids are dodging fireballs and tumbling down hills and falling out of trees. I don’t care how many dips they take in the river, they should be filthy. A little grime would have been nice.

  22. Mok
    Mok March 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

    Actually, the selection of 2 black “tributes” out of a total of 24 isn’t that improbable, even with the current US makeup. Based on the last Census, roughly 1/8th of the US population is black, and 1/6th is Hispanic, therefore on average, 3 of the tributes would be black and 4 would be Hispanic. However, any given sample will likely depart from this simply because of the small sample size. Imagine you roll 24 dice: while you should get 4 6′s on average, any given roll may turn up 2 or 8 or none, etc.

    Of course, this being fiction rather than a textbook on probability, you have to note that a whiter-than-average group was picked, for reasons well detailed in this post and comments and elsewhere. But statistically speaking, it’s not *that* far off the mark.

  23. Kimz
    Kimz March 27, 2012 at 6:08 pm |

    You know, I sort of thought that, given that these people have the rudiments of reading down (though clearly they don’t read very well) they would know how completly horrific these comments are.

    Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture

    There is something really broken in these people if they don’t see the actress, and her portrayal of Rue as innocent and tragic, severely broken.

    Moving into a brief derailment – and I’m sorry – but I’m a scientist and numbers matter to me.

    If the 24 tributes were chosen to be representative of the US governments estimates of race from 2009 then the breakdown (and the actors portraying tributes who might fit each category) would be as follows:

    4 – Hispanic or Latino
    Imanol Yepez-Frias – boy district 9
    (?)Tara Macken – girl District 4

    3- Black
    Amandla Stenberg – girl District 11
    Dayo Okeniyi – boy District 11
    Chris Mark – boy District 5

    1 – Bi-racial or other
    Samuel Tan – boy District 8
    Jeremy Marinas – boy District 10
    Sam Ly – boy District 7

    16-White (not Hispanic or Latino)
    The rest?

    They didn’t all get equal screen time, or much at all casting directors did there best to get a cross section of faces.

    None of this – none of this takes away from the horror of what we’re seeing on twitter, which makes me physically ill.

  24. Zach
    Zach March 27, 2012 at 6:14 pm |

    I took “dark skin” and “young girl” from the book and came up with an image of a character resembling a cousin of mine who is half-Asian, with a very tan complexion. So, I admit to having a brief “why isn’t Rue Asian?” moment while watching the film. It lasted two seconds.

    I can’t imagine being racist enough to let Rue being black ruin the movie for me.

  25. Grace
    Grace March 27, 2012 at 6:31 pm |

    Amandla Sternberg was perfect and precious and anyone who says otherwise does not have a human heart. *turns into a sobbing snot-monster for the billionth time*

    @Verity Khat–RIGHT?! I’m going to see it on Thursday, and I don’t know how I’m not going to bawl. She is the cutest child I have ever seen!

  26. Edward
    Edward March 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm |

    I didn’t get a chance to see the movie, but I think this is just plain sad and it shows just how ignorant some people can be. From what I’ve read online, the characters that people are fussing about in the book were black. What is the problem with casting black actors as black people?

    Or maybe the problem is that black people were cast in the movie at all. That has to be it and it’s a damn shame that in 2012 people are still this ignorant. I am just appalled at people feeling less sympathy for a black girl dying than a white girl dying. So a little black girl dies it’s ok, we can move on with our lives. :/ I’d feel sympathy if ANY girl died, the race should not make a damn difference but I don’t know. Sad……..just sad.

  27. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 27, 2012 at 6:42 pm |

    take it you missed the whole Blaise Zabini kerfluffle

    I did, and I’m a huge HP fan. But, to me Blaise was black in my thoughts anyway, so I think I’d be upset if he wasn’t. It would seem like needless white washing.

  28. Jordan S
    Jordan S March 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm |

    So basically people are blaming a movie for not living up to their racist views.

  29. Andie
    Andie March 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm |

    I don’t even remember who Blaise was… Time to reread the books again.

  30. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen March 27, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

    I really hope Amandla Stenberg is being protected from this stuff.

    Oh, I hope she knows about these attacks and takes a public stand against this bull****, on behalf of actors of colour everywhere.

  31. thisnokayy
    thisnokayy March 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm |

    that is sad. cinna was a good character, and amandla s. as rue was awesome! she is sooo pretty, but i really wish some people would STFU! they have the perfect cast!! race doesnt matter!!!

  32. Ruchama
    Ruchama March 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm |

    I can understand people who read the books quickly not noticing that Rue was black, especially if they only read the first book — there’s a scene where Katniss first sees all the other tributes, and about eight of them are given names and physical descriptions, and Rue is in that list, but then she doesn’t become a significant character until a while later in the book, when people might have forgotten that earlier scene. (There are a few scenes in the second book that remind the reader that Rue was black.) But I don’t understand having any reaction to seeing her in the movie other than, “Rue was black? I guess I must have missed that.”

  33. tmc
    tmc March 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm |

    @librarygoose:

    On the subject of HP: racist white folks were also shocked – SHOCKED! – and super duper pissed that Cho Chang turned out to be Asian. The actress, Katie Leung, received death threats. Cuz, y’know, Asian women can’t play Asian characters.

  34. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker March 27, 2012 at 8:25 pm |

    Oh, I hope she knows about these attacks and takes a public stand against this bull****, on behalf of actors of colour everywhere.

    When she’s older, sure. But she’s thirteen. And like Caperton said, this is her breakout role.

  35. karak
    karak March 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm |

    I thought Cinna was brown and Rue and Thresh were dark black.

    Cinna…Cinnamon… brown person. In my mind, he was multiracial, dark, and handsome. Lenny Kravitz is just about dead on, actually.

    The little girl who plays Rue is actually whiter than I imagined. Yet, she still seems charming. I’m looking forward to seeing the film anyway.

    This actually reminds of when I saw the fourth Harry Potter film and realized that Cho Chang… was Asian. Yeah. The name didn’t tip me off.

  36. Amelia ze lurker
    Amelia ze lurker March 27, 2012 at 8:27 pm |

    On the subject of HP: racist white folks were also shocked – SHOCKED! – and super duper pissed that Cho Chang turned out to be Asian

    Cho Chang. Cho…Chang.

    I. Do. Not. Understand.

    Maybe they thought she was like that character from Seinfeld, Donna Changstein, who enjoys letting people think she’s Chinese when she’s not? Except instead of being disappointed she’s not Chinese, like Jerry, they’re disappointed she IS. Ye gods.

  37. addicted4444
    addicted4444 March 27, 2012 at 8:32 pm |

    These people are ridiculous. There are very few explicitly non-white characters in the book to begin with. In the book’s defense, however, if such an apocalyptic scenario were to happen in the US, it is almost a 100% certain that the districts would be divided by race, since pitting the districts against each other seems to be a key strategy for the Capitol. And in the modern day US, unfortunately, there would be few better ways than via race. I think while the book wasn’t explicit about this, the movies might be, making District 11 folks largely colored.

  38. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm |

    racist white folks were also shocked – SHOCKED! – and super duper pissed that Cho Chang turned out to be Asian.

    That seems really fucking dumb based on the fact that I am, like, 90% sure JK mentioned that she was Asian. I kinda want to go get my copy of PoA and check that out.

  39. Racism still exists. « Elephant Towers

    [...] don’t have much to say that hasn’t already been stated. A part of me is actually really surprised. I guess I sort of thought that that [...]

  40. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable March 27, 2012 at 10:13 pm |

    I wonder if this is just me. When I read a book, characters don’t make a huge impression on me. As far as I’m concerned, they’re kind of face-less and gray. I think it helps me identify more with all the characters in a way that makes the book meaningful to me. But, for example, Effie in the books has pink hair (I haven’t seen the movie and don’t know if she’s even in it), but the only time that would matter for my little gray faceless Effie is when it is explicitly mentioned. Pink hair pings into existence, then back out.

    Anyway, so in movie versions of books that I have read, it just gives the temporary gray mass some kind of momentary form. I guess this is weird? I just can’t imagine being shocked by particular character’s appearance. Which leads me to the conclusion that racist people are the worst.

    (That’s not really what got me there, but I’m kind of sleepy).

    Landscapes, however, are a different matter. I have a very specific image of what is going on around my faceless fuckers, and can personally navigate my “arena.”

  41. Sierra
    Sierra March 27, 2012 at 11:00 pm |

    I remember being very briefly surprised when I first saw Cho Chang in the movies – the books described her dark hair and dark eyes, and I’d picture her as looking very much like Jennifer Lawerence as Katniss. I had a brief moment of thinking, “Oh, Cho is Asian?”, before thinking, “Oh, right, her name is Cho Chang, no shit she’s Asian. Hey, look, ingrained racism in my brain that caused me to picture a character as white even when her name was obviously meant to mean she was of colour. Damn, I should work on not doing that.” I can understand people who missed Rue’s description and pictured her as white; I do not understand people who had any objection to the movie saying otherwise (I wouldn’t understand it even if the book didn’t say she was dark-skinned).

  42. Brennan
    Brennan March 27, 2012 at 11:15 pm |

    I’m sorry to say I’d never heard of Lenny Kravitz before the movie, but he’s pretty much exactly what I pictured, despite the limited description. I think it’s because Cinna’s whole understated, unflappable demeanor reminds me a little of President Obama.

    As for the dearth of POC extras, the only districts we see in this movie are 11 and 12. Yes, 12 looked like Wonderbread, West Virginia, but it’s a plot point in the book that the population of 12 is pretty homogeneous because of its small size and relative isolation. Once they’d committed to casting Katniss as white (I’m still not sure how I feel about that, but she *does* have a blonde, blue-eyed full sibling), then it made sense to follow suit with the rest of the district.

    @ Echo Zen,

    According to imdb, Amandla is biracial herself. To my eye, at least, she appears quite light skinned, though Rue looked a little darker since many of her scenes were dimly lit. If anything, Rue struck me as a little too light for someone who works fourteen hour days in an orchard. Anyway, I doubt the scumbags would have been satisfied with anyone who didn’t look like the blonde Hallmark character they were picturing.

  43. konkonsn
    konkonsn March 27, 2012 at 11:51 pm |

    Her death wasn’t significant because of what she was (a kid Katniss cared about) but because of who she was (a character we cared about).

    And that’s really the whole issue behind this and other examples people are pointing out. It’s ok to have a PoC as a character, but as soon as they are someone you can identify with and have emotions for, then suddenly it’s a problem.

    And I guess I don’t know enough about racism and race theory to get how this works. How does one facet of a character make all the other parts of that character suddenly unrelatable? Is it that you can’t people black women as multifaceted? That you can’t imagine them as an actual human outside of stereotypes? And so those stereotypes suddenly trump everything you’ve otherwise learned about them as a person? Is that how this works?

  44. Dani
    Dani March 28, 2012 at 12:02 am |

    @Brennan
    The reason Prim is blonde and blue eyed but Katniss is olive skinned (she did have the gray eyes and dark hair in the movie though, and with Jennifer’s talent, that was close enough for me), is because their dad is like Katniss but their mum is a merchant’s daughter, who, in the book, are all described as having lighter/blonde hair (though not sure about the eyes)

    @addicted4444
    I 100% agree with you. The capitol has the gall to have the games in the first place, you really think they’re care about evenly distributing different skin colours to different areas? The northeastern US has generally been whiter than the rest of the country, where as a lot of black people live mid-south, which is where most believe District 11 is. Honestly I was suprised to not see at least one more asian and latino, but in a random draw when the majority in most of the districts are white, the results do favour the white (not ina good way of course cause that means they die.)

    I myself pictured Cinna as white (though how I missed the Cinna = Cinnamon thing, I’ll never know *Facepalm*) and I was dubious about Lenny… but not because of his skin. My problem with him was that I thought he was too old. I still kinda do, even after seeing the movie. BUT I thought he was very good and did my favourite justice, and that’s everything I could have asked for. <3

    As for Amandla? She IS Rue. There is no other that could have played her. She is THE best cast IMO. I hope she doesn't know about the asses that are making these comments and if she does, I REALLY hope she knows to ignore them and not let them get her down. She was AMAZING. I dont give a crap what colour she is.

    Though I did have to point out, I found her way more adorable than Prim, who was supposed to have been just as cute and vulnerable. Go figure. Maybe the racsists will start yabbering about the fans who love Rue next *rolls eyes* Idiots, all of them.

  45. konkonsn
    konkonsn March 28, 2012 at 2:19 am |

    Caperton – Sorry, that was a general you. Or rather, a ‘you’ specifically directed to those racist tweeters.

  46. ellid
    ellid March 28, 2012 at 6:21 am |

    The “OMG Blaise is black!” flap was nowhere near as bad as the “OMG BLAISE IS A BOY!” flap. Someone early on had gotten the idea that “Blaise” is a girl’s name, and a metric shitload of fan fiction where Blaise was female had been written. Finding out that he was male really upset a lot of people who clearly hadn’t done any background reading on the Arthurian legend…..

  47. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune March 28, 2012 at 8:24 am |

    @PrettyAmiable,

    Nope, not just you. I have huge difficulties with facial recognition, compounded by the fact that I cannot look people in the eyes for very long without becoming anxious and upset, so people in books tend to be rather faceless for me. If race is a plot point, I remember it, ditto clothing, but otherwise I just fall into thinking of the character as a character.

    Maybe that’s just my facefail and being lazy, though. D: I dunno. I’m conscious enough of race when I watch things….

  48. revser
    revser March 28, 2012 at 8:41 am |

    I read the book really quickly, and missed the description where Rue was obviously black. But that is a reading comprehension fail on my part. Amandla Stenberg was PERFECT. Rue in my mind was like a tiny little bird, gracefully fluttering from tree to tree. She is the youngest and most lovable of the tributes, and her death is tragic. I was a mess of tears and snot in the theater, and anyone who somehow thinks that death is not sad is heartless.

    I do wish that they had left in the part about the bread from district 11. It showed (in the book) how beloved Rue was in her own district, how these desperately poor people were scraping together money to send her a gift of food. And then it shows how thankful they were to Katniss for her actions, which helps set up Katniss’s role as a hero/symbol of resistance. Katniss’s action with the flowers is an act of resistance that says “What happened here is WRONG. This is NOT OKAY.” And it wakes people up to the idea that they can actually DO something to resist the evil of the Capitol.

    Cinna’s casting did surprise me. In the book, Cinna is said to have green eyes (which are highlighted by the gold eyeliner). So I was expecting a lighter-skinned person since green eyes tend to appear with lighter skin. That said, Lenny Kravitz did a great job. And green eyes are also one of Harry Potter’s most-discussed physical traits in the books, and no one freaked out when blue-eyed Daniel Radcliffe was cast.

    And I agree with the other commentors who thought Donald Sutherland wasn’t well-groomed enough or creepy enough. In the books, he had Emperor Palpatine levels of scary going on. But I’m not sure how you convey the sickly-sweet rose smell on film.

  49. Nicole
    Nicole March 28, 2012 at 9:13 am |

    I was surprised by the lack of Asian characters in the film…because let’s face it. There was Cinna, Rue and…Thresh? (Rue’s counterpart. Forget his name). From the description of Katniss, I wasn’t sure if she was just a tanned/outdoor white, or Asian or hispanic (her skin color wasn’t described as white, but her family’s was)

    As for Cinna…well, gold eyeliner looks MUCH better on people with darker skin than it would on a white guy.

    It has been a while since reading the book, but I seem to remember that one character’s description (a girl) made me think she might be Asian…can’t remember who though

    It is so obvious that the movie was produced by white American’s. Not only is there limited inclusion of skin colors other than “white”, the inclusion seemed to be limited to white and a couple black characters. I’m pretty sure, going from the populations of India and China, that the future (or even just current American society!) looks nothing like that…I don’t know, maybe the demographics here in Canada are different, but in my current workplace, there are nearly as many Asian employees as white, and there are a ton of people from Sri Lanka, India, etc.

  50. Nicole
    Nicole March 28, 2012 at 9:15 am |

    Oh, crap! I forgot the most important bit! I LOVED the actress who played Rue! She was so adorable! I wish they had done a bit more characterization of Rue, but from the bits that girl got to do, she was wonderful. And I was kind of in love with her hair

  51. Blah
    Blah March 28, 2012 at 11:11 am |

    I’m afraid it’s difficult for me to care about who is cast as what in this film. It’s a terrible book, by a lousy author. She’s awful at world building, awful at characterization, and really, the only thing she succeeded at, is ripping off Battle Royale, and making it palatable to westerners.

    Just chalk it up to another desperate grab by Hollywood to find the next Harry Potter/Twilight.

    I’d be mighty surprised if the entire series hits the screen before the fad wears out, like all the others have done before it.

  52. Donna L
    Donna L March 28, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    the inclusion seemed to be limited to white and a couple black characters. I’m pretty sure, going from the populations of India and China, that the future (or even just current American society!) looks nothing like that…I don’t know, maybe the demographics here in Canada are different, but in my current workplace, there are nearly as many Asian employees as white, and there are a ton of people from Sri Lanka, India, etc.

    FYI re USA demographics: if you’re talking specifically about the USA, obviously it depends greatly on geographical location, but based on people’s self-identification in the 2010 Census, 4.8% of the total US population identifies as Asian-American. You can’t extrapolate from a single workplace in Canada to draw conclusions about a neighboring country of more than 300 million people. For better or worse (I’ll withhold comment), there are way more white people out there than one might think living in, say, New York City: 72.4% of the US population identifies themselves as white, including 8.7% as white Hispanic (representing about half of the total Hispanic population). 12.6% self-identifies as black or African-American.

  53. Radfem
    Radfem March 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm |

    I really liked the book and movie but wondered why Panam had little to no Latinos in it. Because in my neck of the woods, Latinos comprise at least 45% of the population.

    Guess the South-western part of the U.S. was in district 13.

    Didn’t picture Katniss as white. Certainly didn’t picture her as the actress who played her though she did a good job.

    Loved Cinna in the book and the movie as he was my favorite character. Rue I figured was Black. The actors who played them really did well.

    As for flak as embarrassing a representation as it is, from what I read about the actress who played Rue she sounds like she can handle it. Acting’s tough, tough especially for girls and women of color. But I think people will see more and more of her in the future.

  54. Ruchama
    Ruchama March 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm |

    There were a few other tributes who were played by non-white actors. From looking through IMDB, I see Tara Macken from District 4 (Filipina mother, Irish father), Ashton Moio from District 6 (had to google him, but on his Twitter page, he’s mentioned that he’s Mexican), and Sam Tan from District 8 (can’t find much info about him, but I’m pretty sure he’s mixed race and part Asian.)

  55. Sunspear
    Sunspear March 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |

    The thing about Hunger Games, from reading the books, is that race wasn’t a consideration *in* the world, at least not for Katniss. She sees skin color, but she doesn’t go “oh, that person is black”, it’s just a descriptor. So in her world, there probably would have been a lot more mixed-race people, even if the narration doesn’t talk about it. Which is just another reason why they had no excuse to have such a white cast.

    (and yes, there are black people in Appalachia. Maybe not in Whitebread, West Virginia, but in college towns and cities like Roanoke.)

  56. Picks o’ the Day 3.28.12 « The Cassandra Files

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  57. Marcie
    Marcie March 29, 2012 at 4:00 am |

    I’m thankful I’m not a film maker.
    It seems nearly impossible to tell a story without offending someone.
    All characters in all films should be played by clones of the Greendale Human Being, everyone (except maybe PETA) should be ok with this.

  58. Alice
    Alice March 29, 2012 at 10:18 am |

    Meh. I pictured Haymitch as older, President Snow as more evil-looking, Foxface as more sneaky-looking and both Gale and Katniss as less white-looking. Didn’t go on Twitter to bash the actors and actresses for that.

  59. kia
    kia March 29, 2012 at 10:14 pm |

    Hello. I haven’t read the book or watched the movie because I don’t really like that kind of thing but as I understand it is about kids forced to compete for their lives as part of a reality tv show. If something like that happened in real life you can bet most of the contestants would be black or brown. they would never send their own kids to die they would send poor Black kids, white kids would be protected. That’s how it is now. If white kids are over-represented in the cast it probably means future dystopian society is less racist than 2012 society. I’m sure you mean well but a movie about Black and Brown kids dying on tv for the entertainment of white audiences would not really be a great anti-racist statement.

  60. kia
    kia March 29, 2012 at 11:06 pm |

    Another thought I forgot to add the demographic discussion above, apparently demographic trends show white people will be a minority in America at some time in the future, but if the movie showed the society as mostly brown/non-white the message would be that America degenerated into this kind of savage child-killing society because uncivilized brown people took over. That is the fear of a lot of racist white people, brown people will take over and civilization will fall, so if the movie actually portrayed the demographic trends acurately it would just confirm their fears.

    This is why I hate sci-fi, I don’t think it is possible to remove racism from the genre. In fact since we live in white supremacy it is probably not possible to remove racism from anything and there will never be a way to make a movie that isn’t racist until we live in a society that isn’t racist. Meanwhile I still won’t watch it because I’m not a sci-fi fan.

  61. mimsyborogove
    mimsyborogove March 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

    I didn’t imagine a woman of colour when I read the book. To be fair, that’s because when I read about a slight, nimble girl named Rue I imagine the character from Princess Tutu. http://i39.photobucket.com/albums/e155/teh_Itachi/pt9p8.jpg

  62. maggiemay
    maggiemay March 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm |

    havent read the hunger games books and dont intend 2—dystopian stories depress the hell out of me—but a similar thing happened w/ the hitchhiker’s guide—a lot of ppl complained about mos def as ford prefect—but i thought he was great

  63. EG
    EG March 31, 2012 at 10:57 am |

    OT: Mos Def was awesome as Ford Prefect! It is amazing to me how many Americans are shocked, shocked at the suggestion that there are people in England who are not entirely of white Anglo-Saxon/Norman stock. It was the center of an Empire, for fuck’s sake.

  64. librarygoose
    librarygoose March 31, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    Still OT: You think that considering that cluster fuck of a movie, Mos Def (who I swear changed his name recently) would be the least of the problems.

  65. Opheelia
    Opheelia March 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm |

    I appear to be the only person who read the books and built a force field around myself when Rue entered the picture. I’m a big crier when reading, but all I could think was, “it’s going to come down to rue and katniss. I know katniss is in the next books. This is the worst.” when it WASNT katniss who killed her, I was relieved. Affected, for sure, but I didn’t let myself love her because I knew something horrible was going to happen. I’m actually going to reread the first one because o it.

    That being said, people who felt differently about her after seeing her totally accurate depiction should be ashamed.

  66. kia
    kia April 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm |

    The Games are run not by the people but by the government (“The Capitol”) as a way of exerting control over the people as punishment for a past rebellion. The parents don’t send their kids or anyone else’s kids–the government takes their kids in an elaborate ceremony and forces the people to watch the sadistic game to remind them how powerless and at the government’s mercy they are. (The people who live in the rich, luxurious Capitol don’t have to give up their kids and do enjoy watching the Games, and there’s a whole statement there, but it’s hard to understand if you haven’t read the book.)

    Your comment isn’t an argument against what I said. It is also the government not the white masses that sends poor black and brown kids to prison and to war in 2012, if they were taking white kids in those numbers it would not be tolerated. If the government in the movie is terrorising white communities and Black communities equally that is an improvement on the 2012 government, that was only my point. More black characters in movies seems like an anti-racist cause but it depends on the movies. If people were campaigning for real Black actors to replace white actors in black-face in ministrel shows, they might think they were campaigning for equality but they would be misguided

    In any case I don’t intend to read the book but I have read your posts on this website before and I don’t think you should comment on race issues.

  67. librarygoose
    librarygoose April 2, 2012 at 12:50 am |

    @Kia

    If the government in the movie is terrorising white communities and Black communities equally that is an improvement on the 2012 government, that was only my point.

    I got this from your original statement, but I don’t think that Caperton was arguing with this. I think Caperton was just giving some back information to help understand the story. You said you hadn’t read the books, and now you say you never intend to. Caperton seemed to just be filling in the blanks of the plot, “nerdsplaining” if you will. I say this as someone who will trap you and explain why the minute details of Harry Potter books are actually really fascinating, after you tell me you only saw one movie and didn’t care for it.

    I also want to say that I generally agree with your points,

    but if the movie showed the society as mostly brown/non-white the message would be that America degenerated into this kind of savage child-killing society because uncivilized brown people took over.

    This seems super true, people are fucking horrible and I’m sure this is the moral most people would get.

    I would also like to go on record in defense of Sci-Fi, not because it isn’t racist, sexist, or any of the bad “ists”. It is, after all, a reflection of society.

  68. lian92
    lian92 April 3, 2012 at 6:43 am |

    Blah Takami wasnt that great at charectarisation and worlbuilding i found a million annoying plot holes, and the translation sucked. Any way i found Hg thought provoking and rooted for the charecters, way better than any one in Battle Royale ,especcially Shuya the Garystu. And this topic is about Rue not Battle Royale. I hate the rasist coments Rue was my favorit charecter and brought unbelieveble, light to the story. Her perpuse wasnt to die but to provoke the rebbelion and be the loveble charecter she was, and i never imagined her anything but black.

  69. lian92
    lian92 April 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm |

    I dont think Hunger games are rasist, but i woud prefer if there woud be more minorities and Jews in books . I mean i did notise that there are no Jews in Panem or other Distopian books . I guess Hitler had his way and we all died off in this versions.

  70. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 3, 2012 at 2:36 pm |

    lian- I’m reading the books now, and I envision a lot of the characters as racial minorities. I mean, a few of them are described as blonde, but a lot of them have dark skin of various sorts. But, as far as I can tell, religion isn’t really mentioned in the Hunger Games universe (I’m only halfway through Catching Fire, so I could be wrong), and often isn’t mentioned in distopian literature in general. So I’m not sure why Jews would be mentioned in particular. Even if in the distopian future, Jews are just an ethnic background (an idea which has…issues), HG doesn’t mention specific ethnicities by name. And, if we’re talking about statistics with the reaping and whatnot, Jews are only 2% of the population, so they’d be unlikely to have a Jewish tribute. Plus, if District 13 is in the NE, that’s the highest population center of Jews.

    I just thought way too much about that. \geekery

    Anyways, if you’re interested in sci fi with Jews, I highly recommend Brian Deutch’s Hereville book! It’s a comic book for kids, so it’s a quick read and super enjoyable. I also enjoyed a lot of the stories in Wandering Stars, More Wandering Stars, and People of the Book. They’re science fiction anthologies with all Jewish authors. I also found this website that lists science fiction works that have Jewish characters.

  71. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable April 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm |

    (I’m only halfway through Catching Fire, so I could be wrong),

    OMG ME TOO. Book twins!

  72. DonnaL
    DonnaL April 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm |

    I also enjoyed a lot of the stories in Wandering Stars, More Wandering Stars, and People of the Book. They’re science fiction anthologies with all Jewish authors. I also found this website that lists science fiction works that have Jewish characters.

    Thanks. I went through a period of several years in my teens when I read almost nothing in my free time but science fiction and stories by H.P. Lovecraft (and his followers), and I remember being disappointed that even though there were plenty of Jewish authors, there were almost no Jewish characters. (Kind of like on TV, where the first regular Jewish characters I remember who weren’t played for comedy might have been on Thirtysomething.)

    More recently, I very much liked Marge Piercy’s book “He, She, and It,” also known as “Body of Glass,” which was sort of a version of the Golem story set in the future.

    There’s also this list: http://www.amazon.com/Jewish-science-fiction-and-fantasy/lm/13HL3CDLP525I

  73. Shoshie
    Shoshie April 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm |

    PrettyAmiable- Hell’s yeah!

    DonnaL- I totally clung to the few Jewish sci fi characters I found. I loooooooooved the Animorphs series when I was in Middle School, and was elated when the author made 2/5 of the main cast Jewish. That was an awesome series. This may sound silly, but those books seriously changed my life.

  74. Peter
    Peter April 3, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    OK y’all are so racist. Rue was always black. I thought Rue’s actor did an AMAZING job. Cinna was one I never thought of color but his actor was great.

    So deal with it you little babies. Thresh was always black, Rue was always black. That’s how they were described, that’s how they were cast.

    Since when was Rue blond hair. She was described as black hair and dark skin.

  75. Jadey
    Jadey April 3, 2012 at 4:37 pm |

    Brian Deutch’s Hereville book!

    Tiny nitpick: Barry Deutsch.

    :D

  76. lian92
    lian92 April 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

    Thanks ill check it out i guess i just feel a bit defensive when it comes to my nationality, and i dont mean Religion technicaly spieking im Juish cause my perents were born Jews, but unfortunatly i cant call myself a Religius Jew ,cause though i regularly visit Israel i dont know Hebrew or Idish and celebrate New year on 31rd of December. but by nationality i am and always felt a Jew. considering Rasist coments ,those people are probebly just saying what they learned from there perents, if they are teenagers theres maybe still a chance for change there but if not well hope there woud be less people like that in the future.

  77. Donna L
    Donna L April 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm |

    unfortunatly i cant call myself a Religius Jew ,cause though i regularly visit Israel i dont know Hebrew or Idish

    Certainly If you’re Reform, you can be religious without knowing Hebrew. And I don’t think anyone has to know Yiddish, at least for strictly religious purposes.

  78. Ivy
    Ivy April 10, 2012 at 6:10 am |

    Black Is a part of Amanda’s identity but people should stop labelling her just black when she is clearly biracial. she’s gorgeous! and what’s with the Asians always playing the weak role? it’s so annoying and discriminative.

  79. OfSpartax3
    OfSpartax3 April 10, 2012 at 1:28 pm |

    Oh, this issue right here gets me all torn apart like a dramatic dialogue line. I must admit, the tweets were worthy of a snort or two. Not only are many of these people racists who lack the ability to pay attention to detail, they ALSO can not spell and insist on insulting a 13 year old child LyK DiZZ.

    Twitter is full of morons. So is the media. Black women are rarely protrayed properly in the media. We are lucky to be protrayed in general.

    I fail to see why these “fans” (quotations because if it was all about the literature, they wouldn’t be all up in arms about the cosmetics) needed the author to set in it stone as “Rue was a BLACK child” in order for people to get over their petty disappointments of the actress being black.

    Jesus, folks. Bigger issues are at hand. Really. If you all wanna rage about her being black, why not wonder why every black person in the media are the aesthetically-pleasing-natural-hair-having-light -skin-tone type? Amandla is a doll, she really is. However, I want to see a blotchy, natural frizzy haired, pimple dotted, 5 different shades of brown woman in a movie. The real looking black women. None of this apartheid bullshit. As a black woman with skin a deep brown, this whole debate does nothing but make me eye roll.

    sigh

  80. Movies and Books « Fraser Sherman's Blog

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  81. Malkavian
    Malkavian April 15, 2012 at 7:50 pm |

    . If you all wanna rage about her being black, why not wonder why every black person in the media are the aesthetically-pleasing-natural-hair-having-light -skin-tone type? Amandla is a doll, she really is. However, I want to see a blotchy, natural frizzy haired, pimple dotted, 5 different shades of brown woman in a movie. The real looking black women. None of this apartheid bullshit. As a black woman with skin a deep brown, this whole debate does nothing but make me eye roll.

    I understand your point, but this is as counterproductive as ‘real women have curves’. In the same way that saying real women have curves devalues skinny women by insinuating that they are not ‘real’ women, saying that lighter skinned black women are not ‘real-looking’ denigrating their identity as black women. As a snarkier point, you never see anyone in Hollywood with pimples or blotchy skin, and I’m pretty sure they exist in all races.

    Really, the characters who were farthest from my expectations were Effie and Haymitch. I expected Haymitch to look much older and less attractive and to be more ornery and belligerently drunk. And I expected Effie to look a lot more delicate. Otherwise I thought casting was pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised by Kravitz’s acting skills. And Rue exceeded my expectations by far-she was as innocent and birdlike as I had imagine and I bawled my eyes out in the theater when she died. I also did notice some minorities in the less-plot relevant tributes as I was watching.

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