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The Hunger Games: Race, Controversy and the 1% Gone Wild (3284 hits)

Very rarely does a movie live up to the quality of the book that its based on, let alone the pre-launch hype of the media. It appears that The Hunger Games has done both, opening up this weekend as the 3rd leading movie of all time behind only Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Dark Knight.

Instead of focusing on the very well told story and moral lessons of greed and power dominating the masses, some have instead decided to focus on the ethnicity of some of the main characters.

The Hunger Games, based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, is a futuristic tale of a world where the 1% has essentially taken over. In order to keep the population under control they have created 12 Districts or rings around the Capitol city, with poverty and despair increasing based on the distance that the District is from the center. Of course those who reside in Capitol City live in sheer opulence; oblivious to the struggles of the rest of the districts and they have come to entertain themselves by sponsoring the annual Hunger Games.

Not just for entertainment, the Hunger Games are a means of control over the Districts, with each District forced to send 2 members to a fight to the death as a means of showing their allegiance to the leaders of Capitol city.

The plight of the 99% who live in the districts is well told, as is the death battle of the Hunger Games competition. You feel for many of the main characters who are forced to do battle, but one of the characters in particular draws a great deal of sympathy during the film. There is a little African American 12-year-old named Rue who is forced into the death battle and for many she typified all that was wrong and right with the society that Collins laid out in her book and in the movie. Not to be a spoiler for those who haven’t seen the movie, suffice it to say that if you have a heart you will find yourself rooting for little Rue to make it, and the actress who plays her (Amandla Stenberg) is a potential breakout star. For some however the casting of Amandla to play Rue has drawn heavy criticism.

Racist Fans and the Casting Controversy

There are some moviegoers who object to the casting of an African American to play Rue, even though in the book Rue is very plainly identified as an African American character:

"…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…"

Because of this casting there has been a flurry of tweets from some internet sites ranging from a dislike of the movie due to this casting, all the way to an ambivalence toward her demise . A sample tweet from a disappointed fan:

"Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the innocent blonde girl you picture," and "Kk call me racist but when i found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad #ihatemyself."

Many of these negative tweets have been deleted or the accounts suspended, but hundreds of thousands saw this initial outpouring of racism and ignorance and for them it put a stain on what is a wonderful film.

It is a shame that in the 21st century people cannot get over their preconceived notion that “a white life has value” and “a black life is somehow worth less”. The value of each life is the same and we should all root for Rue whether she is black, white or green.

For those who read the book and ignored the intentional description of Rue’s features, it is clear that these are people who can only see what they want to see, but know that most people live in reality and not a world of hopeful delusion. I sincerely hope that The Hunger Games goes on to do fabulously well at the box office and I wish ALL the actors, the author and the movie makers much success in their future endeavors.
Posted By: Darrell Garrett
Thursday, March 29th 2012 at 12:36PM
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Too bad that many who read do not always comprehend the message the author intended. Minds wander and so often thoughts of the negative precede the positive. Same theory that "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." One's eye should probably look for the best in things before seeing the ugliness. However, good things somehow can be thought of as ugly...we have to examine ourselves and then determine that we can define that it's no delusion to think on what is good. Enjoyed the read.
Saturday, March 31st 2012 at 9:25AM
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