Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Hunger Games

Have you guys heard about all the controversy surrounding race and the Hunger Games movie? I first heard about it here: 37 Paddington.

Apparently, a lot of moviegoers were unhappy that the characters of Rue, Thresh and Cinna were cast  as Black actors. In the book, 12-year-old Rue is described as having dark brown skin and eyes.  Amandla Stenberg, who plays Rue in the movie, in fact has brown skin and eyes. Thresh, played by Dayo Okeniyi, is also described as having dark brown skin. The book's author did not specify skin color for the character of Cinna, the Capitol stylist played by Lenny Kravitz.

In an effort to illustrate the fact that readers/moviegoers were not simply disappointed that whatever image of these characters they had in their minds was not accurately depicted in the movie and that their disappointment was perhaps more about race, it's important to mention another point about the movie's cast. Katniss, the main character in the book, was described as having straight black hair and olive skin. Many people imagined her as Native American, but blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence played the part. There was not any backlash in reaction to this casting decision. However, there was a rash of tweets and Facebook comments in reaction to the casting choices for Rue, Cinna and Thresh. Here are some examples:



via 37 Paddington

When I read these comments, I think about the color of Sabine's skin and eyes and the texture of her hair. I think about how I've never known what it's like to be hated because of my physical attributes--things a group of people decided were ugly or offensive or not good enough simply because they are different from their own. I would take a lifetime of that hatred and carry it on my shoulders if it meant that Sabine did not have to experience it. 

When people say we are in a post-racist society, I think they should log on to Twitter or Facebook and check out some the crap they might discover. These tweets and comments speak to the fact that we are nowhere near post-racist.

When Kadin and I talked about this the other night, he said that experiencing that hatred will be a part of Sabine's life. He told me I cannot spare her that and on some level, I need to accept this fact. He added that we simply need to give her as much love, affection, support, confidence and happy moments to combat and carry her through that negativity. So that's what we'll do...for this most beautiful, alive, loving, generous, silly, brave, strong and amazing girl who I'm lucky enough to call daughter.

4 comments:

foleydog said...

And this makes me quite sympathetic toward my father who never wanted to have children. He said it would be awful to subject a child to this - and he was right. Between this 'controversy' and Trayvon Martin I have great trepidation about my son's future.

Laura Mauk said...

@Anon, nice to know I'm not the only one out there (which of course I'm not--but good to hear from you). And I, too, perfectly understand now where your father was coming from.

Laura Mauk said...

@Foleydog--comment above was meant for you (not sure where I got Anon).

Angella Lister said...

wow, i had no idea till just now you'd linked my blog. thank you for this post, for your full hearted mother's response to the sobering tweets. your daughter will be just fine. both her parents are already making sure of it. She's simply beautiful, by the way. I am glad i clicked over here from Miss A's blog today. I will be back.

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