'The Hunger Games' tweets a new low

Without having read “The Hunger Games,” I decided to attend the midnight showing of the film last Thursday. Admittedly, I felt a little out of place in a sea of middle schoolers and diehard fans who were rabidly excited for a movie of which they already knew the end. This isn’t a movie review, so I won’t bore you with trifles. Overall, though, I thought the movie was fun to watch and well cast. For me, “The Hunger Games” was seven dollars well spent.

The movie’s reception, however, has been remarkable, especially on Twitter. Star Jennifer Lawrence has been criticized for her weight. A truly awful New York Times columnist wrote, "A few years ago Ms. Lawrence might have looked hungry enough to play Katniss.”

Amandla Stenberg, who plays a young District 11 tribute named Rue, is apparently rubbing some fans the wrong way. Stenberg is African-American, and the only mention of her character’s race in the book describes her as having “dark brown skin.” Twitter users took to the Internet to voice their concerns about the casting of the talented young African-American girl, in favor of “sticking to the book.” Yes, really.

The Tumblr blog Hunger Games Tweets and its subsequent Twitter account, both operated by the same person, have been compiling these unfortunate tweets not only for the “lulz,” but also to hold people accountable for their racist remarks and record some snarky, but well-deserved replies aimed at these morons.

Stenberg has since responded eloquently to these comments, and as a 13-year-old, she has displayed courage and grace when replying to “fans” of the series that question her race.  Stenberg said, "It was an amazing experience. I am proud of the film and my performance. I want to thank all of my fans and the entire Hunger Games community for their support and loyalty."

Luckily, Stenberg has support from her fellow cast members and the overwhelming majority of fans. Isabelle Fuhrman, the actress who plays tribute Clove, publicly commented, "I think Amandla was fantastic in it, and she's so beautiful … I think it's just terrible. She's such an amazing actress, and she's so sweet. I guess people read things differently and imagine things differently, but I think she was the perfect choice for Rue." Thank goodness someone in Hollywood has a brain.

My question is: Why does an actor’s race or size matter so much?

Race in the entertainment industry has always been a contentious issue, and this just serves to reinforce that the stage and screen still aren’t equitable territory for all talented actors and actresses. With the average American woman being larger than a size 2, we can’t always expect every actress to have a waif-like figure and represent an accurate portrayal of who we are. Maybe the film and media industries need to do a little soul searching, but we as an audience need to re-evaluate what an ideal actress is because that old archetype is long outdated.


Reach the columnist at amentze@asu.edu


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