THE HUNGER GAMES VS. THE REALITY OF RACISM

You would think that people could just sit back and enjoy a film like The Hunger Games just because of the issues it presents. You would think that people could accept the fact that what a character in a book brings to mind in the imagination would not be the same image when the character is played by a flesh and blood actor.

But, no.

There are some people who are caterwauling and wailing about the casting of three non-white actors in two very important roles in the book—-mainly Rue (played by Amandla Stenberg)

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Thresh, played by Dayo Okeniyi

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and Cinna (played by Lenny Kravitz).

Photo source TopNews

Personally, having never read the Suzanne Collins’ book on which the film is based, I thought it was a good movie about a dystopian world of the future where America (now known as Panem—a take on the Roman panem et circenses), has torn itself into 12 districts after a violent war.

But, two aforementioned characters in the film have some racist Tweeters in a tizzy.  Nadra Kareem Nittle of About.com Race Relations in the following article,  addresses the virulent racism spewed forth against Black actors playing certain roles in the recently released blockbuster film The Hunger Games.

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Then again, this does not surprise me. I mean, how do people think racism continues? From dead older racists who have passed on?

No.

It is continued from generation to generation, which is why I am not surprised at the venom thrown at the two non-white actors who did an excellent job in their portrayal of the characters Cinna and Rue. There were young racists during slavery, Reconstruction, and Jane Crow segregation. There are young racists in present-day America. There will be young racists in the future.

Oh, I forgot—-Black people and other POC have no place in the future.

Shucks, I keep forgetting that.

Over at  The Hunger Games Internet Movie Database Forum Boards, this subject of Rue’s color and the young actress playing her is coming up, and not too prettily:

by Stangg                           18 hours ago (Mon Apr 2 2012 08:41:45)

No where in the book did it say that they were black.  I feel like they did this so that nobody could call the movie racist, so had the token blacks in there.

Then again, Ms. Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss, the protagonists of the movie, had to deal with comments thrown her way because she was not thin and boyish, but, instead, had weight on her (“A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss, but now, at 21, her seductive, womanly figure makes a bad fit for a dystopian fantasy about a people starved into submission”). For Pete’s sake, she grew up in Appalachia (which in the film, was now District 12), and she knew how to hunt and take care of her family (Mother and younger sister). What the heck, why should she look starved to death when she could provide for her family and herself?

Sheesh.

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The “Hunger Games” Race Controversy

By Nadra Kareem Nittle,  March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games may have made Hollywood history by scoring the third largest weekend box office opening ever, but that doesn’t mean the film lacks detractors. In fact, some very vocal critics expressed their distaste for the film on Twitter. Their problem with the movie? They didn’t like the fact that black actors played key characters in the film.

Amandla Stenberg plays Rue, who joins the film’s protagonist, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), for the Hunger Games competition. Dayo Okeniyi plays Thresh, who hails from Rue’s District 11. Author Suzanne Collins described both characters in the book the film is based on as having dark skin, but the fans who were upset over the film’s casting choices apparently overlooked this. Fans also expressed dismay that Lenny Kravitz played Cinna, Katniss’ stylist. His description in the book is more ambiguous, but certain viewers assumed that he was white and did not hesitate to say they were disappointed that a biracial black actor played him. “I thought Cinna was pale, with colored hair, and glasses?? Wtf,” wrote one fan on Twitter in October once they learned Kravitz would play the character. Other Tweeters didn’t explicitly say that Cinna should be played by a white actor but said that Kravitz simply didn’t look like the character. After the movie opened, more of the fans focused on the fact that Stenberg, who’s of black and Danish heritage, played Rue.

“I was pumped about the Hunger Games. Until I learned that a black girl was playing Rue,” said one Tweeter. Another remarked, “Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad.” One Tweeter took aim at both Cinna and Rue, commenting, “Cinna and Rue weren’t supposed to be black… Why did the producer make all the good characters black?”

I found the comment about Rue’s death not being as sad because a black actress played her particularly offensive. It’s one thing to say that you expected a certain character to be a certain race. It’s quite another to say that you lack total empathy for a character because an African American filled the role or that a black actress playing her ruined the entire film for you, as another Tweeter said. Even more disturbing is that I assume most of these Tweeters are young people. So much for racism dying off in another generation or so. What’s more is that Amandla Stenberg, the 13-year-old actress who played Rue, is aware of the controversy and commented on it. She released a statement saying, “‘As a fan of the books, I feel fortunate to be part of The Hunger Games family. It was an amazing experience; I am proud of the film and my performance. I want to thank all of my fans and the entire Hunger Games community for their support and loyalty.”

Can you imagine having to deal with a public, racist backlash at the age of 13? My heart goes out to her.

As for those fans who are upset that the Hunger Games has black characters–I would suggest they study film history. For years, whites played characters who were written as people of color. Natalie Wood played the Puerto Rican Maria in “Westside Story.” Mickey Rooney played the Japanese Mr. Yunioshi in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and Ava Gardner played the biracial black Julie in “Show Boat.” More recently, whites have played Asian roles in films such as “The Last Airbender” and “21” and Latinos in “The Perez Family” and “House of Spirits.” Angelina Jolie played the mixed-race Marianne Pearl in “A Mighty Heart.” Given this, the angry “Hunger Games” fans just need to get over it.

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“Cinna and Rue weren’t supposed to be black… Why did the producer make all the good characters black?”

So, only Whites can play “good characters” and the only roles that should be given to Black actors should be evil ones?

“I was pumped about the Hunger Games. Until I learned that a black girl was playing Rue,” said one Tweeter. Another remarked, “Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad.”

The death of a little Black girl pissed you off? Sick and pathetic. This person shows more than lack of empathy towards the character Rue as played by Amandla Stenberg. That he/she/it cared not about the death of this child who was thrust into a gladiator style fighting against young people older and bigger than her says a lot about the savage hate this commentor had toward’s Ms. Stenberg’s portrayal. Little Amandla has been alled a “black bitch” and “nigger”. A little 13-year-old child. The perverse racism these twitnits posted is merely their chained thoughts let off the chain onto the Internet via Twitter.

Look at the BB!!

White actors as Ms. Nittle states have been playing POC roles for decades, but, have racists such as those over at Twitter raised their voices against such casting? Doubtful. Very doubtful.

But, let the Hollywood studios acknowledged that there are various racial and ethnic people in the world, then out of the woodwork crawl the psychologically challenged and racist.

Damn.

Racism and sexism.

The twin evils that will never die.

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1 Comment

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One response to “THE HUNGER GAMES VS. THE REALITY OF RACISM

  1. Jordan

    Minorities deserve to act in movies just like their white counterparts. Those complaining about the black actors need to get over themselves. You are not special and your are not better than anyone else in this world.

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