"The Hunger Games" faces racist commentary

By Jasmine King



The biggest controversy of the weekend: race in the blockbuster hit “The Hunger Games.” Almost 10 days after the movie premiered, it is obviously something bold and different that this topic is still buzzing. Suzanne Collins, the author, describes each of the characters with such precision that it wasn’t difficult for directors to place people who look similar to the characters in those roles. Being true to the entire story is not something that movie adaptations are notorious for. Instead, they find the most fitting actors for their vision of how the story will play out. Skin color should not have an effect on how the audience feels about their characters. Sad to say, though, this is not the case. Audience members are outraged by the fact that Thresh and Rue are dark-skinned. One anonymous tweeter even went as far as to say, “Kk call me a racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad. #ihatemyself.”  This sentiment, I am guessing, comes from the fact that in the book, Suzanne Collins’ describes that Katniss has such a connection with Rue because Rue resembles Katniss’s little sister, Primrose.

But the racism gets worse; it bothers me more that the two African-American characters are from District 11–the poor agriculture district. Which is an interesting point in itself to the fact that Suzanne Collin’s herself confirmed that District 11 is located in the “Deep South.” In further investigation of District 11, the inhabitants of District 11 are described as having “dark skin and dark hair.” The most disturbing action comes with the fact that if any person in District 11 was caught stealing crops, that person would be publicly whipped, which happened often. I am sure that I’m not the only one who connected this with slavery. I am honestly not sure if Suzanne Collins was trying to say that our country will go back to its dark days of enslaving human beings or whether District 11 was located in the Deep South because it is the best place to grow crops and she is generalizing that dark skinned people happen to live there. But, if only for the reason that I love Suzanne Collins’ writing, I will say it is the latter.

These two controversies over race should not occur. The color of someone’s skin should not determine the merit of their acting, but the fact that Rue is dark skinned is overshadowing any thought about how well the actress played that role. And to end on this note about the race controversy in general, we, as Americans, say that we are past slavery, but we cannot say that we are past prejudices.

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