Friday, March 23, 2012

Katniss is Olive Skinned, Deal With It

I've been getting a lot of hits from a new tumblr that has generated some interesting conversations and comments. Notably, quite a few people are reacting that they also read Katniss as a WOC. Compared to the type and amount of comments I've gotten, I thought perhaps following this feed might give you more information about the many opinions out there.

Katniss is Olive-Skinned:

"THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT THE WHITE-WASHING OF KATNISS EVERDEEN AND GALE HAWTHORNE IN THE HUNGER GAMES MOVIE ADAPTATIONS. THE BOOKS PRESENTED AN INTERESTING VIEW OF RACISM AND COLORISM, WITH THE DARKER OLIVE-SKINNED SEAM CLASS CONFINED TO THE LOWER-PAYING MINING JOBS WITHIN DISTRICT 12. THIS WAS NEGATED WITH THE CASTING OF JENNIFER LAWRENCE AND LIAM HEMSWORTH. WHILE I DO NOT DOUBT JENNIFER'S ACTING ABILITY, THIS WAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR AN UNDISCOVERED POC ACTOR TO RECEIVE A MAJOR ROLE IN A MAJOR SERIES FOR TEENS. AT THE VERY LEAST, LIONSGATE SHOULD HAVE GIVEN POC A CHANCE TO AUDITION FOR THE ROLE. INSTEAD, THEY SEVERELY LIMITED THEIR CASTING CHOICES BY SPECIFICALLY CALLING FOR CAUCASIAN ACTORS TO AUDITION FOR THE ROLE."

The page linking my post is here - Why Katniss Everdeen Is A Woman Of Color - and you can follow the comments for more perspectives.

I've quoted some of my favorites below. If I've quoted you and you want me to remove the quote or the link back, please let me know :)
"I’ve been wondering about this because my sister and I are three-quarters Scots-Irish and the rest is either Tonkawa or Caddo. So one fourth Native American. My sister has beautiful olive-toned skin and extremely curly dark hair and is in fact often mistaken for being hispanic or mix-raced but she is, by census-definition, Caucasian. Katniss could be someone like my sister, and considering Prim is blond haired and blue eyed, that seems pretty likely. I do believe they should’ve cast someone a bit darker in skin tone than blonde blue eyed Jennifer Lawrence."

"I imagined Katniss as a POC as well.

And I feel like, in the book, race was very lightly touched upon and Suzanne Collins could have expanded on that, but she just… mentioned it and did nothing with it. Like, the Capitol and the richest districts being pretty much all-white, the largest agricultural district that the whole nation depended on for food being mostly black (and Rue tells how incredibly strict the Peacekeepers there are. Panem depends on District 11 for food, but the workers there are literally treated as slaves), and the poorest district divided in two classes: the richer class being white and blonde, and the working class described as more mixed-race.

There’s so much reflection of current power dynamics and the way people of colour are treated even today in there, yet Collins never did anything with it, which gives me a sad."

"I also think it’s really important to note that Katniss becomes a White Savior if she is white. As a woman of color, Katniss is supposed to rouse the others to revolution. As a white woman, though she’s brave and amazing, she becomes a person from the outside, looking in and trying to liberate what she might not entirely understand."

(Special thanks to those who are critically engaging with my post, whether or not you agree with it; and to those calling people out on calling me "uneducated" (lol) for talking about race).

2 comments:

  1. I was about to comment in two parts, because I just couldn´t get it any shorter. But mostly I just wanted to thank you for your first post on this, as it really made me think.

    And I guess maybe that´s enough to say, as my first maybe rather pertubed reaction to the idea, that the books had to be a metaphor for the current struggles of people of color to matter, came definitely from a very privileged position. And my thought process is not that important to fill your blog with it.

    In the end I very much do agree with your post: "Why Katniss Everdeen Is A Woman Of Color". And I think I got a lot more from the books with your post in mind. (I had skimmed it before reading the books.) So thank you for sharing your position, which I did find through tumblr.

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  2. Hi awelle,

    I'm glad you enjoyed it! I certainly didn't write it meaning to change anyone's minds or perspectives, but I'm happy if it made reading the books better :) I don't get too many kind words these days, so thank you!

    Lex

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