The good news? The Hunger Games made $55 million at the box office its opening weekend, making it the third-best debut in North American box office history. The bad news, however, reflects a level of idiocy that we weren’t really expecting.
As CNN reports, “Only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Dark Knight — both sequels, with the strength of a franchise behind each — recorded bigger opening weekends.” Plus, unlike those two flicks, Hunger Games was written by a woman and stars a woman (much as we love JK Rowling, her series isn’t named after Hermione) — making it a true lady-centric blockbuster franchise.
Now as you may know, Katniss, the main character in the book and film, was described as having “straight black hair” and “olive skin.” It’s a post-apocalyptic world, so she could be a mix of things, but some pictured a Native American. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence won the part and dyed her hair dark.
But when it came to the casting of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna, many audience members did not understand why there were black actors playing those parts. Cinna’s skin is not discussed in the book, so truthfully, though Lenny Kravitz was cast, a white, Asian or Latino actor could have played the part.
But. On page 45 of Suzanne Collins’s book, Katniss sees Rue for the first time:
…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that’s she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor…
Later, she sees Thresh:
The boy tribute from District 11, Thresh, has the same dark skin as Rue, but the resemblance stops there. He’s one of the giants, probably six and a half feet tall and built like an ox.
Dark skin. That is what the novelist, the creator of the series, specified. But there were plenty of audience members who were “shocked,” or confused, or just plain angry.
The tumblr Hunger Games Tweets has collected a smattering of Twitter postings, with the goal of exposing “Hunger Games fans on Twitter who dare to call themselves fans yet don’t know anything about the books.” What people are saying is disappointing, sad, stomach-churning, and just plain racist.
One young woman considered the movie “ruined.” Another wants to know why they “made all the good characters black.” Good people cannot possibly be black. Black people are villainous. Duh.
The actress Amandla Stenberg literally looks like a tiny angel, but this movie-goer equates blonde with innocence. A little black girl is not automatically innocent, no. Only a little white girl. Actually, only a blonde.
The posts go on and on and on. It’s not just a coupe of tweets, it’s not just a coincidence. There’s an underlying rage, coming out as overt prejudice and plain old racism. It’s as if that is the worst possible thing a person could be. As the person who runs the tumblr writes:
Here’s what scares me…
All these… people… read the Hunger Games. Clearly, they all fell in love with and cared about Rue. Though what they really fell in love with was an image of Rue that they’d created in their minds. A girl that they knew they could love and adore and mourn at the thought of knowing that she’s been brutally killed.
And then the casting is revealed (or they go see the movie) and they’re shocked to see that Rue is black. Now… this is so much more than, “Oh, she’s bigger than I thought.” The reactions, are all based on feelings of disgust.
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.
There are MAJOR TIE-INS to these reactions and the injustices that we see around the world today. I don’t even need to spell it out because I know that you’re all a smart bunch.
This is a BIG problem. Think of all the murdered children. Think of all the missing children that get NO SCREEN TIME on the news.
It is NOT a coincidence.