It seems there are a lot of people out there that need to re-read their cherished “The Hunger Games” trilogy books a little closer. After a blockbuster opening weekend that made “The Hunger Games” the third biggest opening of all time, Twitter was alight with opinions. Some were praise, some were disappointment with the adaptation of the book to a major motion picture. Now, almost every book with a good following that is made into a movie receives plenty of criticism. After all, the challenge in adapting a novel into a screenplay is that everything must be expressed in a visual format. Where in a book, the author can simply express what a character is thinking with the written word, on the screen, writers and directors must find creative ways to translate this into physical action so that the same message is conveyed by the moving pictures on the screen instead of simply reading a direct paragraph. Also, time constraints force the makers of the film to edit out certain parts or choose one part as more critical to the story than another. All of these can cause fans of the book to get a little upset, but “The Hunger Games” has struck a nerve of a different kind. Apparently, some enterprising Tweeters feel that the casting of African Americans in key roles in the film ruined their experience.
The comments that have been circling around Twitter revolve around three of the characters in “The Hunger Games,” none of which are main characters, but still prominent supporting roles. The first is the character of Rue, played by a young black girl named Amandla Sternberg. Another is Cinna, which is played by rock star Lenny Kravitz. Cinna is stylist that helps design the main character, Katniss Everdeen’s wardrobe. Here’s a sampling of some of the inflammatory Tweets, in order from bad to worse:
“Why does Rue have to be black…not gonna lie. Kinda ruined the movie.”
“KK, call me racist but when I found out Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad.”
“Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.”
This kind of played out earlier when the original posters showing the actors and actresses in character for the film were first released. Many expressed surprise (or maybe dismay) at some of the characters that were revealed
to be black. The funny thing is that as terrible as some of these comments are at first glance, they get even more terrible when you take into account that it doesn’t even jive with the text of the book. Most of the Tweets going around that seem to have a problem with the actors cast in the film cite their impressions from the book as the reason for their “surprise.” Not so. In the book, the character of Rue is described as dark-skinned. The author, Suzanne Collins, weighed in on the issue, saying that Rue has brown skin and eyes, but other than that she is very similar to Katniss’ sister, the reason that they bond in the film that focuses on class oppression in a futuristic society. Lenny Kravitz’ character Cinna is not clearly defined in a racial context in the book, so it seems fair enough that it would be open to interpretation. Meaning that the casting people for the film were probably focused on who would bring that character to the screen the best, not what color the actor or actress happened to be.
When Jennifer Lawrence was cast as the main character, no one was outraged at all. Even though she had to dye her hair brown and get a suntan in order to match the description of the character she was chosen to play. The really hateful thing about the comments goes back to the fact that the Rue character being cast as a black actress is entirely consistent with the book. So, these people either did not read the book, or did not pay a whole lot of attention when they did, despite proclaiming their undying love for the trilogy. And if they didn’t read the book, there can be no other reason for the comments than attempting to get attention or just promote a racist point of view in general.