The Girl On Fire Is Charred By Controversy


It has been number one at the box office for two consecutive weeks, raking in nearly $365 million- we all know it better as The Hunger Games.


It surpassed films such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II, The Dark Knight and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn to become the highest-grossing weekend debut for a film that was not a sequel.


It was received well by critics and was even described as “certified fresh” from film review site, Rotten Tomatoes.


Based on the book by Suzanne Collins, the film adaptation of the popular book series was one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year and amongst fans and critics, it did not disappoint. However, it was not without its controversy.


In a dystopian future, the country of Panem is made up of 12 districts, and the Capitol which is the epicentre of wealth in Panem and controlling power of it all.  As part of a tradition which began as punishment after now non-existent District 13 tried to stage an up-rise against the Capitol, it started the famed Hunger Games where two tributes, a boy and girl from each district are thrown into an arena where they have to fight for their survival in a blood bath until only one remains standing as the victor.


When Katniss Everdeen (portrayed by Academy Award nominee, Jennifer Lawrence; Winter’s Bone, X-men: First Class), hears the name of her young sister, Prim being called out- she becomes the first voluntary tribute to come from her district along with Peeta Mellark who is played by Josh Hutcherson (Zathura, Journey 2).


After arriving to the Capitol where they encounter the tributes from other districts, they are greeted by President Snow, played by Canadian actor Donald Sutherland. In a sudden whirlwind of fame, the tributes are interviewed about the games, where they try their best to gain the support of the people of influence in the Capitol, or sponsors.


But the fame is nothing compared to what they have to endure in the arena.  Head game-maker, Seneca Crane who is played by Wes Bentley (American Beauty), has the power to throw anything into the arena in order to deter a tributes success.  It makes for better entertainment as the games a broadcast throughout Panem with districts hoping that it is not one of theirs who end up dead when the sound of the cannon booms around the arena, signifying death.


The story is bloody, violent, and brutal which reflects the controversy which was met after several movie-goers and supposed fans caused an uproar with racist comments after realizing that District 11’s tribute Rue, played by 13-year-old newcomer, Amandla Stenberg and Cinna, played by rocker, Lenny Kravitz were being portrayed by actors of bi-racial backgrounds which include African-American ancestry. One Tweeter going as far as, “Kk call me racist but when I found out that Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad #ihatemyself”. Well, at least the person had the decency to hate himself after that Tweet. He has since deleted his account and rightfully so, in my opinion.


Many websites including Tumblr, and Jezebel published sites or articles that were meant to combat the prejudice tweeters and stop the insanity in its tracks, and show support for the casting of Stenberg and Kravitz in the film.


Courtesy of Lionsgate


First and foremost- the most disturbing is the fact that this little girl is thrown in an arena of death, and peoples’ main concern is the colour of her skin.  At the end of the day, she is someone Katniss has chosen to protect and as readers, everyone should be on Katniss’ side as she tries to keep a little girl from harm’s way in the arena.  Upon seeing the film- if you are not affected by what happens to the young girl and are firstly concerned with her ethnic background, you are part of what is wrong with today’s society.


Secondly, Suzanne Collins said in an interview that Thresh and Rue, the tributes from District Eleven are meant to be African-American.  It also speaks to the bad reading comprehension of these people who dare call themselves, “fans.” Page 45 of the novel clearly states, “…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.” Stenberg


As for Cinna- he was never described beyond his black clothing and gold eyeliner. Therefore he could have been played by someone of any race.  For example, the gold eyeliner made me think of legendary musician, Prince- but I did not take to Twitter to complain about casting. In fact, I watched the movie and fell in love with Lenny Kravitz all over again. He was charismatic, caring, and genuinely more than just Katniss’ stylist- he was a true friend to her in her time of need.


Much like The Help, The Hunger Games demonstrates that there is never a perfect time to stand up and do what is right- but it is something that is necessary and equality- whether from the Capitol’s tight reign or the protection of a young girl in the arena is something that needs to be done.


In the film and novel, there are characters like Katniss, Peeta, and Cinna who make it their business to keep others safe and help one another in this post-apocalyptic world, and it’s nice to see that writers at Jezebel and Huger Games Tweets along with other fans of the franchise are making it their business to shut down these hateful, unintelligent people.


So, a film based on a novel that is meant to shed light on the darkness in others and in the world unintentionally but evidently showed this to the world. Not only is it only something that can be found within books, but it is all around us and we as a collective society need to combat the world’s evils. This movie gets 4 out of 5 stars.

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