Thinking Too Much About The Hunger Games

In case you weren't up on Twitter trends yesterday, the Hunger Games trailer has just released. It looks like this:

Most responses to it went something like this: "OOOOO! WOW! OMG!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!!" with a lot of emoticons and maybe 40,000 more exclamation points and an equal number of ReTweets. Folks instantly started debating about who looked the part or what moment was their favorite, how they're glad it showed X and didn't spoil Y, and whether Gale or Peeta had enough face-time in those teasing two and a half minutes. (Although I never got into the "Team" debate, those bandwagons were a bit too crowded already.) I can honestly say my heart fluttered, but it might be more the Fear Factor because I know what's coming; I know this book and my anticipation since the announcement of the sale of movie rights has been high, worried and hopeful as many others were about what would and wouldn't be depicted when these books were brought to life via Hollywood. But the one thing that struck me watching the trailer is the same thing that struck me when they announced who would be portraying Katniss: the issue of class.

I wrote about this before, but as the residents of District Twelve gathered together onscreen, what I thought was that everyone looked far too healthy, too well-fed, too white to be the residents of the downtrodden miner district. Look at them. Look at Gale and Katniss as we open: they might be sneering at the system from their hidden place beyond the fence, but they are both young, full-lipped, beautiful with rosy cheeks and strong bodies. Healthy. Strong. It's hard to believe that Katniss has ever been on the brink of starvation, let alone submitting her name repeatedly for extra shares of fuel and food.

I can believe her cry when she volunteers, the crack in her voice as they take Prim away, but I can't seem to make the intuitive leap that any of these people are supposed to be from the sickly, resource-poor outskirts of Panem. Maybe I'm stuck thinking that Suzanne Collins' District 12 looks more like Peter Jackson's District 9 in my mind--gritty and gray and suffused with broken things like buildings and people and dreams. Maybe I'm sensitive to my imagining Katniss like the Afghan Girl or Peeta like some kid a Shipbreaker shantytown. (I shall admit that I squealed a little bit when I saw Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. Hooray!)

And I'm sure it will be very pretty. And I bet Jennifer Lawrence will be amazing. I'm also confident that the *essence* of the book will definitely be there. I'm sure a lot of folks will love seeing this on the Big Screen (and hopefully convince others to pick up the books!), but part of me winces just a little bit at the implied hand-holding, like when some "official-type people" claim authors "write down" to YA; as if those who read these books aren't mature enough to handle seeing something a little less clean, a little less white in their favorite stories. And while I have had mixed-feelings about showing the brutal murders of children by children being glorified as entertainment, (an interesting parallel between the Capitol and what we're doing right now), I am more disturbed by the idea that such stories must be softened or bleached to fit into the mindset of the majority.

Because, as part of the majority, it kinda looks like White Man's Guilt.


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