Husband and I saw The Hunger Games this weekend. Now, I have to say that I love-love-love those books. The Hunger Games trilogy is my favorite of all time, and I don't say that lightly. Husband, on the other hand, went through the series feeling kind of meh. So I wasn't sure he would like the movie. I wasn't sure I would like the movie.
But I did. I loved it. I thought it was practically perfect in every way. And I thought Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job as Katniss; I thought she nailed the role in every scene.
But there's this:
Much of the criticisms are going to be waved away with some variation on "but Jennifer Lawrence is BRILLIANT!" and she is. But the fact that Lawrence is brilliant as the central character, Katniss Everdeen, does not retroactively justify the casting call for an olive-skinned, dark-haired, grey-eyed character which contained the specifications: "She should be Caucasian, between ages 15 and 20, who could portray someone 'underfed but strong,' and 'naturally pretty underneath her tomboyishness.'"
Actresses of color were not even given a chance.
And I still don't know how to feel about the Katniss call. On the one hand, I personally imagined Katniss as white, and I (mistakenly) thought white = Caucasian (without understanding the nuances of Appalachian lineages), so at no point did I expect Katniss to be anything other than white. And that's my own Privilege showing. And I absolutely do think it's a problem that Hollywood doesn't even give actresses of color a chance at these roles.
On the other hand, apparently that casting call came out from the actual author. (I can't find a source for this, though.) And I have unclear feelings on how much an author should be able to dictate the transfer to visual media, but my initial feeling is "kind of a lot" since the visual version is probably going to be what sticks in everyone's mind from here on out. (For instance, as disappointing as the movie was, Mrs. Coulter will now always be Nicole Kidman to me.)
And I don't know how to correlate my one feeling on Author Influence over my other feelings that Multi-Racial Casts are the way we should go for movies because they're awesome and genetics and continuity be damned. So I have no idea how to feel about any of this. I'm doing a lot of listening and thinking mostly.
But then there's this. I was listening to audiobook version of "The Help" yesterday, and I realized something: Hilly Holbrook has "olive skin". Just like Katniss Everdeen. Huh. So now I'm wondering just how many "olive skinned" protagonists have been whitened by Hollywood lately.
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Miss Hilly got a round face and dark brown hair in the beehive. Her skin be olive color, with freckles and moles. ~ The Help, Chapter 1
He could be my brother. Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes. ~ The Hunger Games, Chapter 1
Open thread below.