A Good Book Can Have Awful Fans

I haven't read The Hunger Games nor have I seen the movie. I've heard great things about both, and the box office records show the series is a genuine pop culture hit. As I'm learning by reading the Harry Potter series, just because a series is "the cool thing to like" doesn't mean it can't be a classic and a worthwhile piece of art. I do want to read the series, and when I do, I'll check out the film.

Being a great work doesn't mean you attract great fans. Being a pop culture phenomenon translates into attracting all kinds of people from the intellectual to the open minded to the bigots. Over on Jezebel, there is an article by Dodai Stewart who looks at Hunger Game fans that get their racism on. In a very, "hey let's all pretend it is 1950 again, and keep 'them' out of our soda shops" kind of racism. I am sure most Hunger Game fans are smart and accepting folks, and maybe even these particular folks are normally wonderful, but their response to the casting of particular characters has made them look like narrow minded asshats.

The article has some spoilers, so if you plan on watching the film real soon then you might want to pass until after. And most of the Twitter accounts mentioned in this article appear to have been deactivated, so I don't have any evidence that these people actually exist. I sort of hope I'm being duped by some parody article, but sadly, the sources point to this being the awful truth.

So, essentially you have several fans in an uproar because they went to see the movie and saw that some of their favourite characters were played by Black actors. Because "oh my god, they let those people act!" The problem seems to be these fans envisioned the characters as nice white folks, and were a little peeved to see the director thought differently than their vision. The funny thing is the book describes the main character as having "olive skin" but there isn't any protest that they cast a very white Jennifer Lawrence. The book also described some characters as dark skinned, but when their roles were cast by Black actors then there was frustration.

I'm guessing the reader glossed over the "dark skin" description and decided they preferred their characters to be ivory white. I realize some will automatically assume a character is white if the reader themselves is white and the author doesn't continually specify ethnicity. Maybe they were expecting the character to speak Ebonics or rap during intermittent parts of the novel to clarify their race?

Based off the description, I am sure Suzanne Collins did envision the characters to be black, and even for the main character to not be white either. It is just a matter of the readers prejudice showing through. Sure it is fine to envision a character as white, but it gets a little silly to be upset when your vision doesn't match. Especially when the text proves your vision was always wrong.

Anyway, enough of my rantings about a racist fan response to a film I haven't seen. Read the article, because it does some mighty fine analysis of a very annoying situation.