I credit the author, Suzanne Collins with a lot in The Hunger Games. She gave our youth a dystopian society where race was so mixed, so screwy and crazy . . . that it was of the few things that mattered. Which is important, because sadly we have an African-American president and this still gives people diarrhea. She gave us a young woman who was a role model for young girls to be strong, independent, and a credit to themselves. Oh, and to not starve themselves.
She also gave us a very sad portrait of what war actually can do to people, especially kids, and truthfully, she could have been so much more harsh about how badly civil wars treat people. This part is important because war will cause societies to fracture and remake themselves the best that they can. Which often means, *gasp* racial lines get mixed, and the most unexpected people are characters in stories.
WAIT, WHAT DID I JUST SAY????? I SAID PEOPLE. Not anything about race being a determining factor about whether you are part of a story line or not. There were only a few lines where race was a distinct mention or mental image in these books- the characters of Rue, Thresh, and Cinna. You understood Rue and Thresh were African-American from a few other disturbing things. In district 11, people were essentially slaves, working agriculture for wealthy land owners. If you were caught by your ‘owner’ not harvesting, etc., you could be raped, tortured, or killed.
Oh. Did I mention where they were from geographically matches for historically accurate places that used slave labor. Cinna may have been from the Capitol, but if you did pay any attention, ummm, he’s supposed to not be white. Why is this such a knee jerk thing, the problem with colors in film? I won’t even bring up that the runners up to Jennifer Lawrence for Katniss Everdeen were an unknown young actress of Bangladeshi descent (her mother is actually a popular Bollywood actress) and another actress of Sephardic & Moroccan descent (she’s actually super popular but again, not naming names). Point is, not caucasian.
Moving on. I guess a whole lot of people really wanted some sort of RPat type for Finnick. Despite a description of him being ‘bronzed, green eyes, and a fisher/sailor-man. I had a very clear idea in MY head of a very Mediterranean looking man. AKA, he may not be caucasian again. *GASP* Yes, I know, someone cart me away for being color blind. Jesse Williams, from the terror that is Grey’s Anatomy, got cast and I was incredibly pleased. He’s of African-American/Seminole/Swedish/Greek descents.
He has bronze skin. He has green eyes. He has incredible sense of comedic timing and presence. He is both ‘American’ and ‘Mediterranean’ looking enough to fit what I saw in my head. It seems to blow my mind how people don’t seem to understand the color spectrum of how bronze is a shade of BROWN. Also funnily enough, little known heritage fact, Seminole Indians and Swedish people are great fishermen.
The term ‘color blind casting’ has become a politically correct piece of slang for ‘use as many Caucasian actors as possible’ and it does a disservice to every actor out there. Whether you’re a Polish-French-Danish pale thing with a funny nose like me who, incidentally, during my theatre years- got cast in characters that could have been male or female, vixens, drunks, crazies, or seriously sad or stars like Reese Witherspoon or Denzel Washington, who are practically damned if they ever go against type, let alone ‘color’.
I easily saw a man like this for Finnick in THG. A man you couldn’t quite place, smarter than you thought possible because he was impossibly beautiful, and let’s face it- if you read the books- a man who is seriously abused with little chance at happiness. What I don’t understand is why in a dystopian world where race is something of a non-issue for every character, when we read and watch it and proclaim undying love for it HERE and NOW, we all seem to have issues with race within the cast.
This has to stop. We are sending a message to the young people watching the movies and reading these books. It’s the same message we were sending with the Harry Potter series. Muggles, or those of non-wizard blood lines, could not be discriminated against and tortured. It was a fight for an equal civilization. Let’s go ahead ad look at ourselves in those foggy mirrors because none of us want to admit the great big multi-ethnic elephant in the room is that so many people are still racist to the core. What are THG books about?
That dissemination between classes is disgusting? That race is not an issue? That we fight for our kids to play together? That choices define entire futures? Well then. We welcome a beautiful representation for ‘bronzed’ Finnick, just like we welcome a ‘fat’ Katniss.