April 2, 2012

What's Wrong With The Hunger Games Is What No One Noticed

HungerGamesJenniferLawrence300.jpg
guess what happens next



When a media universally misses the point, it's on purpose.

I.

Rue is a little girl in The Hunger Games, and in the movie she's played by a black girl. According to Jezebel, Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Disappointed.


racist-tweets_hunger games.jpg
Well, six people are, anyway.

There's an underlying rage, coming out as overt prejudice and plain old racism. Sternberg is called a "black bitch," a "nigger" and one person writes that though he pictured Rue with "darker skin," he "didn't really take it all the way to black." It's as if that is the worst possible thing a person could be.


So there are some racist fans, so what?   In itself, why would this be surprising?  There are racists everywhere.  I once asked a black guy where I could find some racists and he punched me in the mouth, turns out I'm a racist. Who knew?  Actually, I did, because every time I see a black guy do anything odd I say to myself for no reason at all, "oh, hell no, oh no you didn't."   This is going on in my head, silently, no audience.  Apparently not only do I see race, I hear it.  And god forbid it's a black woman, my neck and skull actually start moving from side to side as I think, "mmmm hhhmmmmm!"   Why do I do this?  I don't talk like that. So much for individuality, so much for free thought, I am so polluted by the world that my reflex thoughts are someone else's.  You don't even want to know whose thoughts I think when I see boobs.

Of course, if this racism was attached to a Transformers movie you can be sure that Jezebel would pronounce all of the Transformers audience racist.  But in this case, it's only some of the audience who are racist, because progressive Jezebel likes The Hunger Games, and they're not racist.  How can they be?  They're post-feminists, i.e.  the racism for Jezebel is merely an opportunity to criticize the bridge trolls who live in Central Time, just in time for the elections.

Most of the "racist" comments I've seen about this complain about the race from a  anti-Hollywood, anti-left perspective, i.e. "there goes liberal Hollywood, pushing the liberal  agenda."    The complaint appears to be not that they don't like black characters in general, but that this was some underhanded move to use the story to promote a political agenda, like making Sherlock Holmes a gay action hero.  Now that's just wrong.  

If that's the case I don't completely fault them, the story is important to these girls/women, and they feel betrayed that someone alters it to suit their interests rather than give a faithful telling of the story, which, as happens to stories, become partly owned by the audience. 

The point here is not whether Rue should be black or not.  What's interesting is how Jezebel seized on the racial controversy, but completely avoided the one bludgeoning them in the face for two hours: this is a book for females, written by a female, with femalist themes, gigantically popular among females, yet is more sexist than a rap video.



II.

Everything that's terrible about THG is in this sentence:

Hunger Games was written by a woman and stars a woman (much as we love JK Rowling, her series isn't named after Hermione) -- making it a true lady-centric blockbuster franchise.

Here's your first point of irony: this true lady-centric blockbuster franchise isn't named after Katniss, it's named after what happens to Katniss, which is why it is truly a lady-centric franchise. 

How would you classify this book/movie's genre?  Is it an action movie with a female twist?  Is it a love story?  A drama?  Sci-fi?

No. It is a fairy tale.

III.

We can start with the obvious.  The book is about 24 kids thrown into an arena to fight to the death, only the toughest, the most resourceful, the strongest will survive, and it better be you because your whole village depends on it.  It is such a scary premise that there was some concern it was too violent for kids to watch.  Well, big surprise:  Katniss wins.  

Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone.  That's weird, what does she do to win?  Take as much time as you want on this, it's an open book test.  The answer is nothing.

This is not a criticism about the entertainment value of the story, but about its popularity and the pretense that it has a strong female character. I like the story of Cinderella, but I doubt that anyone would consider Cinderella a strong female character, yet Katniss and Cinderella are identical.

The traditional progressive complaint about fairy tales like Cinderella is that they supposedly teach girls to want to be princesses and want to live happily ever after.  But is that so bad?  The real problem with fairy tales is that the protagonist never actually does anything to become a princess.  Forget about gerrymandering or slaying a dragon or poisoning her rivals: does she even get a pretty dress, go to the ball and seduce the prince?  Those may be anti-feminist actions, but at least they are actions.  No.  She is given two dresses, carried to the ball, and the Prince comes and finds her. Twice.  Her only direct and volitional action is to leave the ball at midnight, and even that isn't so much a choice as because of a threat. (1)  The clear problem with this isn't that girls will want to hold out for a Prince, but that it might foster the illusion their value is so innately high that even without pretty clothes or a sense of agency a Prince will come find them.  Sleeping Beauty and Snow White are worse: they don't even have to bother to stay alive to get their Prince.

The Hunger Games has this same feminist problem.  Other than the initial volunteering to replace her younger sister, Katniss never makes any decisions of her own, never acts with consequence-- but her life is constructed to appear that she makes important decisions.   She has free will, of course, like any five year old with terrible parents, but at every turn is prevented from acting on the world. She is protected by men-- enemies and allies alike; directed by others, blessed with lucky accidents and when things get impossible there are packages from the sky.  In philosophical terms, she is continuously robbed of agency.  She is deus ex machinaed all the way to the end. (2)


Katniss-Fever.png
For example, though this is a story about kids killing kids, somehow Katniss never actually plans and executes any kids, she's never guilty of murder one.  She does kill Rue's murderer, but it was reflexive, a defensive act.  Importantly, she does not choose NOT to kill,  she does not choose a pacifist position, she explicitly states twice in the book how much she wants to kill.  But she never does it. She tries to kill big bad Cato at the end, twice, and fails.  Only after he is torn to shreds by mutants does she perform a mercy killing on him, at his request.  In other words, she doesn't choose to kill or not kill-- it doesn't come up. (3)

The story goes out of its way to prevent her from having to make choices and especially from bearing their consequences.   Events unfold in such a way that it appears she made a choice, but decisions are actually made for her.  At the end she and Peeta, her kinda-boyfriend, are the last two contestants left.  Only one can live.  What should happen next?  Does she kill him?  Or let him kill her?  Think about it, what does she choose?  Remember, this is about a strong female character forced to play a killing game.  Wait-- never mind, they change the rules at the end: everyone's a winner!

"But she chooses to commit suicide at the end!"  That would have been a choice, but the book robs her of that as well, this is the point.  The book does not allow her to make irreversible choices, it lets her believe she is making free choices and then negates them, again, just like a five year old girl with terrible parents.

She does commit one consciously deliberate act, and it's quite revealing.  At the end of the book, she's ambivalent about whether she loves contestant Peeta.  But the Games allowed two winners only because they appeared to be in love; so all she has to do, for the cameras, is pretend to be in love with a boy she already likes a lot.  But after all she's been through in the arena, this-- what is coincidentally called ACTING-- is what is described, in the shocking last sentence of the chapter,  as "the most dangerous part of The Hunger Games."

This is not hyperbole.  This is literally correct: for someone who has not ever done it, acting with agency would indeed be dangerous.  But those stories aren't fairy tales, those stories are legends.


III.

That the book is successful or exciting is not the point here.  What's fascinating/horrifying is that this fairy tale has managed to convince everyone, especially people who consider themselves feminists, that it represents a form of female empowerment when it is exactly the opposite. What you should not underestimate is how deliberate this magic trick is.  This is society successfully pretending to change so that nothing changes.  The goal is making the other team contribute to their own oblivion.  The goal is status quo.


Jennifer-Lawrence-Rolling-Stone-1-753x1024.jpg

The classic feminist example of "robbed of agency" is the woman who "chooses" to wear makeup, do her hair, display/hide the right amount of cleavage.   Is she choosing this, or is society imposing this false choice on her?  Because if she feels she has to do it in order to land the account, then it's not really her choice.  Hence a controversy about agency.

What makes this such an impossible, lose-lose situation for a woman is that this choice isn't about "what to do" but about who she is, what society wants a woman to be: while she must make herself look pretty, if she is observed doing this she is immediately and simultaneously critiqued for being vain.  The decision about whether to be or not to doll herself up is thus somewhat up to her, but the judgment about whether she is vain is entirely out of her hands-- it is a judgment imposed on her for doing exactly what is expected of her.  Her only hope is that she is can make herself look pretty enough that it looks like it was not on purpose, i.e reveal the results but hide the process. (4) This manipulation of her is all deliberate design-- what society actually wants is that it gets her to be pretty, demarcates her as an object to be gazed upon--  but not bear any of the guilt/responsibility for forcing her into this.  If it works and you are pretty I guess that's some consolation, but imagine if you're not pretty but still have to go through all this, suspecting but never admitting that everyone is going to think, "why'd she even bother?"   Being pretty is in many ways worse, because you're not only competing with other pretty women but with yourself ("you look tired today")  and, as the old saying goes, a beautiful woman dies two deaths.  But before you go try some of our Nivea skin care products.  That's the system, it wants you to participate in your own marginalization so you don't dare unplug.  It's exhausting being a chick.  I mean girl--  woman.  Jesus. (5)

Though this is an example of the feminist agency problem, you should note carefully that the "society" that forces this false choice on women is actually other women, not men, and it starts with the overly invested way mothers reproach their daughters to "dress like a lady."   Certainly the original energy for this madness comes from men, from "the patriarchy", but if every man was executed tonight nothing would change tomorrow.  It's on autopilot.  Case in point: this story of a girl robbed of agency was written by a woman.

So this is why we have a book about a post-apocalyptic killing game that spends zero pages describing how Katniss kills anyone but spends countless pages on how she is dressed, how everyone is dressed.  What will she wear?  What kind of jewelry?   Hair up?  Will the "sponsors" like her better this way or that?   Her chief weapon isn't a bow, it's her appearance.

This is also a good place to observe that the real life, pre-and post movie release controversies about The Hunger Games have also been about physical appearances-- not just race, but is Jennifer Lawrence too tall?  Hair too blonde? 

That's why The Hunger Games is such a diabolical head fake.  Forget about it being entertaining, which I concede it is.  It has managed to convince everyone that a passive character whose main strength is that she thinks a lot of thoughts and feels a lot of feelings, but who ultimately lets every decision be made by someone else-- that is a female hero, a winner. You wouldn't allow yourself to like a story where the woman lacks agency, so it's clothed in a vampire story or a female Running Man so it sounds like she's making things happen.  Or, if you prefer, in order to allow you to like an anti-feminist story, it is necessary to brand it as a vampire story or a female Running Man.   Regardless of how you phrase it, the purpose is to get you to like this kind of a story. It wants you to think this is the next step in female protagonists.  But it's a trick: nothing has changed since the royal ball. 

That these "adolescent girl" stories-- Twilight and THG-- have women who are essentially lead by men, circumstance, and fate-- whose main executive decision is "do I love this guy or that guy"-- is a window on our culture worth discussing.  When you have a daughter, your first question should be, "how is the system going to try to crush her?"  and plan accordingly.  This story's answer is, "no matter what happens, just talk a lot and it'll sort itself out."  That Jezebel is distracted by the racial angle here strikes me as an unconsciously deliberate avoidance of the larger issue.  Oh, the audience is racist, that's the problem.

---

http://twitter.com/thelastpsych




-----------------

I.   The threat is not that her coach will become a pumpkin.  It is "the longer you stay, the more likely you will be detected to be a fraud."  This is a critical childhood anxiety (which is why it is in a fairy tale), a narcissistic anxiety, and a feminist anxiety.   The only thing she has to offer are her looks, and those are artificial (makeup and clothes) and transient.  Eventually, the botox wears off.  Tellingly, it cannot occur to Cinderella to even anti-feministly use her boobs to seduce the Prince and then win him over with her charm/grace/personality.  Ultimate decision and action is always someone else's (godmother, Prince, etc.)

2.  To reinforce this point, consider that "deus ex machina" is translated, "god from the machine" where machine= people who made the story.  So not an act of god, but rather the author putting a god into the story to affect things; the important implication is that it is not random but deliberate.  So when Katniss's potential victim happens to be wearing body armor, it is not an accident that Katniss couldn't kill him, or dumb luck, it was the deliberate intention of the author not allow Katniss to kill him.

The purpose of deus ex machina in ancient stories was to place the final reconciliation at the spiritual level: God saved you, time to commune.  But since Nietzsche said there is no god, "deus ex machina"= man, for the purpose of delivering earthly prizes.  This is the essence of the fairy tale-- as magical as they may be, the end result is always an earthly reward (marriage, riches, survival) and never a spiritual one.  Hence, fairy tales are vital to the religious and non-religious children alike because they act as a bridge away from spiritual to earthly ("time to grow up")-- the child's imaginary world directed away from more imagination and towards the practical; or, in other terms, away from the Imaginary towards the Symbolic.

3. So if Katniss tries to kill someone, and fails, she has agency; but if I, the reader, can predict  that at no point will she actually kill anyone because I can tell the author doesn't want to put her into such a position-- and then she tries to kill someone and "fails", then Katniss lacks agency.  Note that the person who is aware that he has free will feels as though he lacks agency ("it doesn't matter what I do") becomes either depressed or paranoid, or both.


4.  An interesting exception is hair coloring.  The brunette who dyes her hair blonde isn't  trying to look Swedish, the point is to make sure everyone knows it's artificial because it's a signal: I don't want blonde hair, I want to be a <<blonde>>.

5. An example of this and Lacan's partial object is the 40 something woman who looks in the mirror and decides that her entire sexuality is in a single special part of her, say, her butt-- so she diets to make the butt look good at the expense of bony shoulders and a gaunt face.  Men sometimes do the same to their spouses, empowering a single body part of hers with all of the sexuality, e.g. looking at the calf or the hip bone doesn't simply remind him of the 20 year old version of his wife, but becomes the fetish that replaces the long gone 20 year old version. But this isn't illusion or delusion, he is not imagining what his wife looked like, the single body part is enough to generate arousal, in the same way that any fetish (specific kind of shoe, or a foot, or a piece of lace) is entirely sufficient. The problem is that this doesn't make the woman look hotter, it replaces the woman, so now neither the 20 year old version nor the 40 year old version are necessary.

The extreme of this logic is in anorexia, where the whole body is sacrificed in order to get "thin"- but because the thinness isn't directed in a body part but in an idea, a feeling, they still wear baggy clothes not to hide their fat but to hide the collateral damage of emaciation to their body which they are completely aware of. They know other people think they're too thin, they know "87 lbs" is a small number, but the anorexic is trying to control an idea. "I can see that my shoulders are sticking out, I know everyone can see my ribs, but yet I know I am horrifically fat."  The control, the act of not eating, is the special body part; it is the obsessed-over fetish that exists for its own sake.


Addendum:  if you don't know how to read, you should probably click this.








Comments

Great article. Thank you fo... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:46 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Great article. Thank you for taking this one on. Feminism (Jezebel etc.) just doesn't seem like feminism any more.

A friend from another life (college) recently emailed me out of the blue. Since I saw her last, she has earned her BA in Women's Studies. Why did she email me? To tell me how great the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books are, and how they really empowered her.

Why is critical feminism so quiet today?

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I noticed, and I hated it. ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:48 AM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

I noticed, and I hated it. Harry Potter is similar: hardly any agency. Stuff happens, the story carries them, etc. Zero personal power, zero manliness.

But everyone in that movie, Hunger Games, is void of agency. Not just the girl.

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Several months ago, you wro... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:35 AM | Posted by Anna: | Reply

Several months ago, you wrote an article describing how Scott Adams was bludgeoned by Jezebel, et al. for some ill-conceived comments he made about our "female-controlled society." Your thesis, in part, was that these post-feminists undid their own argument by offering up deliberate misreadings bookended with confessional one-liners because they didn't actually know what was wrong with his statement, only that it was wrong.

Rather than being "unconsciously deliberate," I'm guessing that there's a whole lot of that going on here too. The writers can sense the essentially anti-feminist nature of the book/movie, but they can't explain it. They don't engage with it because it would be a humiliation and an admission of comlicity. To the contrary, this is something consciously stifled, if at all. Napoleon is alleged to have said, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity," but replace the specific "malice" with the general "intentionality" and it still floats.

I may be wrong, but for the most part, young women only want feminism inasmuch as it guarantees/stands for their unviolable right to sexual self-expresssion without judgement. This is the essential problem of female empowerment today—teaching value without levying value judgments.

On the other hand, the racial aspect is much more pivotal than you give it credit for being, especially since this is airport literature for aspirational minorities (as I mentioned in a blog post, I only see Puerto Rican girls reading this book on the subway). In effect, they're shortchanged twice. I wouldn't say that this is an underhanded political agenda, but it is bad faith at its worst. Even uneducated people know when they're being duped.

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That "the goal is the statu... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:38 AM | Posted by Craig: | Reply

That "the goal is the status quo" business made me realize for the first time that a society's power structures exist to maintain the status quo (just because anything else is a threat) in the same way that the ego tried to prevent change, because anything different is a threat to itself. There has to be any number of thinkers who've gotten there before me; can anybody point me to what they've had to say? (I'm especially curious to know what might have been said about the social equivalents to the id and superego....)

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"Everyone in that movie is ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:47 AM | Posted, in reply to YOHAMI's comment, by Z. Constantine: | Reply

"Everyone in that movie is void of agency."

... and that is why it reads better as a cathartic cultural psychodrama, rather than a touchstone for female empowerment.

Goethe said "No one is more of a slave than he who thinks himself free without being so." - but that's just as true for her as it is for him.

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"God Wants You Dead" by Sea... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:50 AM | Posted, in reply to Craig's comment, by Z. Constantine: | Reply

"God Wants You Dead" by Sean Hastings and Paul Rosenberg will make for some fun reading (it's not all gospel but the collective identity and memetic superorganism content is exactly what you're looking for) - plus it's free.

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I'd start with Marx.... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:55 AM | Posted, in reply to Craig's comment, by copperbird: | Reply

I'd start with Marx.

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"Note that the person who i... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 2:24 AM | Posted by Sean: | Reply

"Note that the person who is aware that he has free will feels as though he lacks agency ("it doesn't matter what I do") becomes either depressed or paranoid, or both."

Spot. On.

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this is only true if you se... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 3:10 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

this is only true if you see katniss as action hero
and the main point her winning the games, but maybe that was not what the author was trying to say
just because we see this from katniss' point of view does not make her right all the time.
it isn't about feminist or non feminist
katniss was a person who had no agency because she didn't realise that she has the power that the capitol was as scared of her as she of them
she imagined she had no control so she gave up any control she could have. this is shown as a flaw
she lets the 13th district use her as a symbol, a mockingjay, it is explicitly said she is being used. never says she's a hero
the point is not to use her as role model
she's strong and brave and resilient, but she refuses to make decisions. if you read the 2nd and 3rd book you see that this is her downfall
she does get depressed. it is not a happy ending
if she was a "hero" she would be able to face her own demons which she is not able to do
this isn't a fairy tale its a cautionary tale
her biggest fear isn't dying its "selling out"
in contrast to peeta who plays the game by using its own rules against it
he professes his love, (real or not) to give himself and katniss an advantage
he joins with career tributes again to save katniss. but he has no trouble lying to them
katniss feels being real or genuine is the most important thing, not realizing she has made countless deals already
she is not the main character of the story just the point of view we see
the main character is the audience
that is the theme of the books
she wins only because the audience wants her too
the point of the story is not for a hero to defeat everyone
the point is that the audience is the reason this happens in the first place

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Didn't Katniss kill the per... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 3:35 AM | Posted by Curious: | Reply

Didn't Katniss kill the person who killed Rue?

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<a href="http://www.movies.... (Below threshold) This is great, yes. (Haven'... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 4:23 AM | Posted by fraula: | Reply

This is great, yes. (Haven't read Jezebel in years, not even when linked on MeFi, in large part because it seems their "feminism" has been so polluted by pandering to the largest common denominator. Ie, not women as individuals, but women as Women, if that makes sense.)

But those stories aren't fairy tales, those stories are legends.

There are, in fact, fairy tales about women with agency, and your article would have been even stronger if you knew them (but it's understandable that you don't). "The Girl Without Hands" for one, and a fairy tale retelling of the Psyche and Eros legend, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon". (The retelling is better than the Greek legend, where Psyche is deus ex machina'd at the end. She does at least make choices and take risks along the way, though.) There are also loads of Native American fairy tales with women who have agency.

You don't hear about those for three reasons: A. you're a man (less impetus to seek out models for your gender; I know quite a few women who are fond of "Girl With No Hands" variants) B. you live in a media-saturated society where women with agency are known as "ball-breaking bitches" and C. you're white in the US. "If you're consuming it, it's for you". :)

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Just thought of this after ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 4:26 AM | Posted by fraula: | Reply

Just thought of this after posting: isn't it funny how stories of Greek/Roman/Norse gods are entertainment, and yet stories of goddesses are "New Age" = weird, odd, marginalized...

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Didn't Katniss kill the per... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:06 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Didn't Katniss kill the person who killed Rue?

YES.

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Didn't Katniss kill the per... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:06 AM | Posted by True: | Reply

Didn't Katniss kill the person who killed Rue?

YES. She does.

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How the hell is this a sexi... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:26 AM | Posted by slw: | Reply

How the hell is this a sexism issue? Harry Potter does absolutely nothing during the whole series as well, yet I've seen nobody claim that it is because he is male.
Why are characters void of personality and carried along by the story so popular? Do you really even need to ask?

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I just finished reading the... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:44 AM | Posted by Grace: | Reply

I just finished reading the trilogy, which I enjoyed (although not loved). Have you actually read the books? Because your post makes me think not.

Katniss is quite a violent character. She is introduced to us as a hunter (someone who kills for a living), and has killed four people by the end of the first book. One (the murderer of Rue) was in a fit of rage, yes, but the other murders were carefully thought out. In the case of the two killed when she dropped a poisonous wasps' nest on them, she had all night to consider her act, and did it anyway. She shot Cato not out of pity, but because he needed to die to end the Games (though she says she felt pity for him, once she'd already decided he had to go): in other words, for her own advantage. By the end of the trilogy, she is killing unarmed civilians.

Unlike a typical princess story, Katniss is not looking for Prince Charming. She has two love interests, both of whom she uses primarily for her own advantage, using sexual wiles (kisses in this PG-13 rated world) as necessary. One of her kinda-boyfriends even says that he knows Katniss will "pick whoever she thinks she can't survive without": in other words, there is nothing romantic here, it's strictly (or mostly) business. Whether this is feminist or not is debatable, but it's definitely not a fairy tale.

Katniss also makes numerous decisions, with grave consequences. Almost all of them turn out disastrously (which has interesting implications), but she definitely has agency. These decisions include: volunteering for the Games; deciding to become allies with Rue; staging a defiant gesture aimed at the Capitol after Rue's death; and deciding to stage a fake double suicide, thereby forcing the Capitol to pick two winners. These decisions lead directly to the rebellion which occupies center stage in the last two books. The series ends with Katniss deciding to opt out of the role others have attempted to create for her, by assassinating the rebel president (thereby toppling the government), and then retiring back into private life and freedom to hunt in her home province (always her ultimate goal).

Also, it's interesting that you mention beauty, because despite strong social pressure and practical considerations (as a TV star, appearance is everything), Katniss is almost entirely indifferent to her appearance. In an unprompted state, she prefers androgynous clothing (her father's, in fact), does not bathe or groom often, and gives little thought to her looks, to the point that it becomes a source of conflict with others (like her mother). The people in the Hunger Games most concerned with appearance (and who use beauty most blatantly to their advantage) are actually male: Cinna, Finnick, and Plutarch.

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I get a crushing feeling in... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:45 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I get a crushing feeling in my chest when I see a picture of a non-famous gorgeous woman online. I fall in love and have my heart broken by reality in an instant. She inspires feelings of attraction which can never be fulfilled. It's never fun, and I don't know what to do about it, so I say horrible things in the comments. It makes me feel better and it doesn't hurt anybody, but I don't know what to do about feeling horrible about my failure to attract a woman like that.

Currently dating a girl who doesn't look like those gorgeous women. I think it's for the best that I focus on this instead of trying to get something I'm convinced won't work out.

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Ever read Paksenarrion? It... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:12 AM | Posted by DataShade: | Reply

Ever read Paksenarrion? It's never been a movie.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Deed-Paksenarrion-A-Novel/dp/0671721046/

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Slow down, wildwoman. Sinc... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:18 AM | Posted, in reply to Grace's comment, by DataShade: | Reply

Slow down, wildwoman. Since the article talks about hollow outrage over a character being cast as black, I think it's safe to assume this is about the movie. Everything in your post past the question mark is unnecessary.

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@April 3, 2012 3:10 AM | Po... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:20 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by DataShade: | Reply

@April 3, 2012 3:10 AM | Posted by Anonymous: |

It's not about the author's intent, at least, not purely, it's about the post-feminists heralding this movie as exemplary.

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Katniss Everdeen official h... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:24 AM | Posted by Zingo: | Reply

Katniss Everdeen official hunger games kill total is four. Two with mutated killer wasps, one with bow and arrow, one by wounding an adversary so he falls into a pack of mutated wolves. She also destroys all the prepackaged food when she is the only one with hunting skills, forcing starvation on all the remaining players. The suicide at the end is a fake to punk the games designers, and the head games designer is executed for falling for this.

I generally love your work, but respectfully, RTFM.

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@April 3, 2012 5:45 AM | Po... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by DataShade: | Reply

@April 3, 2012 5:45 AM | Posted by Anonymous: |
So... you're using the "average girl" because you know you'll fail if you try for a gorgeous one?

You realize that makes you a terrible human being, right? Wouldn't- no, SHOULDN'T you prefer to be lonely than spend the rest of your life torturing someone with lies and feigned emotion?

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Interesting.In some ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:38 AM | Posted by Dave C.: | Reply

Interesting.
In some ways I thought the movie came up well short, specifically because Katniss did not seem like a traditional narrative hero. She survives almost as much through the will of others as through her own strength, saved time and again by someone else when her time appeared to have run out.
This article, however, explains how that may not be a failure on the part of the story (although it certainly made for a less cinematic experience than I'd hoped), and provokes some reflection on Katniss as the hero of the piece. (http://www.themoviedownloads.net)
Perhaps this also echoes the Harry Potter books, with the new new age young hero, who actually is no stronger or greater than anyone else, but merely seems to inspire strength and loyalty in others.
All that said, I could have done without the CGI Gargoyles from Ghostbusters as the climactic nudge to conclusion.
Now THAT was a letdown.

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Interesting.In some ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:40 AM | Posted by Dave C.: | Reply

Interesting.
In some ways I thought the movie came up well short, specifically because Katniss did not seem like a traditional narrative hero. She survives almost as much through the will of others as through her own strength, saved time and again by someone else when her time appeared to have run out.
This article, however, explains how that may not be a failure on the part of the story (although it certainly made for a less cinematic experience than I'd hoped), and provokes some reflection on Katniss as the hero of the piece. (http://www.themoviedownloads.net)
Perhaps this also echoes the Harry Potter books, with the new new age young hero, who actually is no stronger or greater than anyone else, but merely seems to inspire strength and loyalty in others.
All that said, I could have done without the CGI Gargoyles from Ghostbusters as the climactic nudge to conclusion.
Now THAT was a letdown.

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The point was that they wer... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:42 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The point was that they were devoid of agency. Katniss had 2 places where agency was hers before the hunger games. 1) She volunteered 2) She presented herself as Peter's love interest.

The point of the games is that you actually have no control except what you do for the capitol that generates the interest from them you need to survive, for them to choose for you to survive. The book is very honest about Katniss not being anything special, especially in the latter two. She is a selfish woman, with little social ken or likeability.

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My god, I love your mind.</... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 7:33 AM | Posted by Christina: | Reply

My god, I love your mind.

I'm clicking on your PayPal donation button now.

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Perhaps I'm just a chauvini... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 8:26 AM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Gabe Ruth: | Reply

Perhaps I'm just a chauvinist, but that first one was new to me and struck me as really weird. Reminds me of the weirdest sermon I've ever heard. The priest told a fairy tale about a guy who married a vain woman who demanded he kill his own mother to prove his love, and bring her the mother's heart, which the idiot lost in the woods, but it cried out to him to help him find it because she still loved him and wanted him to be happy.

Have you ever read "Till We Have Faces"?

Not the most compelling iteration of "people are being lied to by themselves" (a genre which I generally appreciate), but two things jumped out at me:
"...for someone who has not ever done it, acting with agency would indeed be dangerous. But those stories aren't fairy tales, those stories are legends."
And as I type from my swivel chair on my boss' time, I am reminded of the self-loathing that would be my constant companion in a just world.
"When you have a daughter, your first question should be, "how is the system going to try to crush her?" and plan accordingly."
A question never far from my mind. My younger sisters turned out pretty well. I worried about them once because I thought they were naive (and they are), but they are freer from doubt and more self-confident than I am. In my cynicism I sometimes wonder if they're faking it, and they might be, but I'm only asking because I know I'm a fraud in a way they are not. You would search my life in vain for any instance of agency at all, at best I've made binary decisions of minimal importance.

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NB: I'm basing my responses... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 9:11 AM | Posted by Cythraul: | Reply

NB: I'm basing my responses on the movie, not having read the book, and a lot of Alone's criticisms depend on information about Katniss's mindset that we don't get in the movie.

"Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone."

You're a bit quick to dismiss arrowing that dude in the chest. She made the decision to carry a weapon, knowing she might need to use it at a moment's notice.

Also, what about the gang she dropped the killer wasps on?

"She does kill Rue's murderer, but it was reflexive, a defensive act."

Any killing inside the Hunger Games, no matter how well planned, is a defensive act.

"That's weird, what does she do to win? Take as much time as you want on this, it's an open book test. The answer is nothing."

Outwitting your opponents such that you survive long enough for them to kill each other off is not "nothing".

Ever read Heinlein's "Tunnel in the Sky"? Students are dropped in an extraterrestrial jungle, and told to survive for a while (a few weeks, IIRC). The hero is advised not to take some huge loadout of heavy weapons, but to instead take no weapon but a hunting knife - on the argument that if he thinks of himself as *prey*, he'll survive longer. If he tries to be the predator, he'll get himself killed.

Let all the predators take each other out.

Also also: The point was not for her to win the game. If she'd merely won the game, she wouldn't have accomplished anything lasting. The game is just that - /a game/, with rules, and a referee. A winner is *allowed*. As Alone once said: That is the process. Just a slightly less-used branch on the Process Flowchart.

To accomplish something, she needs to *break* the game. By manoeuvering the showrunners into allowing two winners, she at the very least galled them. She managed to break off of the flowchart, if perhaps not very far.

"That the book is successful or exciting is not the point here. What's fascinating/horrifying is that this fairy tale has managed to convince everyone, especially people who consider themselves feminists, that it represents a form of female empowerment when it is exactly the opposite. What you should not underestimate is how deliberate this magic trick is. This is society successfully pretending to change so that nothing changes. The goal is making the other team contribute to their own oblivion. The goal is status quo."

To lay out an excessively simple example: A little girl sees Katniss exercising her fake agency, and doesn't see the fakery - she just sees the agency. She then grows up wanting to be like Katniss - "I can do anything, just like Katniss!" If that's what she carries around with her, does it actually matter that Katniss doesn't do anything?

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I don't see that clear of a... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 9:13 AM | Posted, in reply to DataShade's comment, by PLW: | Reply

I don't see that clear of a distinction in the post. TLP seems to be just as hard on the book as the movie. See, e.g., the hook at the end of section I, "this is a book for females, written by a female, with femalist themes, gigantically popular among females, yet is more sexist than a rap video."

Looks to me that TLP is not letting the facts get in the way of his complaint and you are defending him by claiming that we're missing the point. I think I get the point just fine.

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Honestly the Hunger Games s... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 9:16 AM | Posted by jay: | Reply

Honestly the Hunger Games seemed like an overtly moralistic version of Battle Royale and another manga I read way back (can't remember the name). Only, THG's main character was a Mary Sue - a largely empty shell-character with just enough desirable characteristics and plenty of space for the reader/viewer to pour themselves in and project. A fanfic standard. So the Bella comparison's kinda apt as too many teen reads now seem to be written by fanfic authors who got a bookdeal. I'm also a chick who likes a lotta bloodshed so yea...
As far as society crushing women? More often than not it's women crushing women. I don't shave anywhere or wear make-up if I don't want to and guys don't give a damn, it's women who throw the book at me. I'm as much a guy as most of the ones I know and I still got enough swag to pull every time I want some. Girls are the only ones trying to feminize me and tell me I have to wear heels and look skanky to get laid. Guys will punch you, girls will try to destroy you. Men don't have to try anymore, if they want us disempowered? We'll tear each other apart ourselves.

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Preface: I've been reading ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 9:29 AM | Posted by William: | Reply

Preface: I've been reading and loving your work for years and this is my first "wait a minute", so don't think me a contrarian. My issue is when you say Katniss does nothing to win.

A key trait of Katniss' is her survivalist skills. Because she can hunt/cook/gather, abilities she developed from growing up in poverty and having to take care of her family, she is able to sidestep a lot of direct physical confrontations. The others who are highly trained in combat come from privilege and have never had to hunt or be hungry for very long. She is consciously and strategically playing to her strengths. Regardless of whether you've read the book, this is explicit in the movie.

In regards to agency issues, the setting of the story is a society under 1984-style, totalitarian oppression. Of course Katniss' agency is limited. But she does her best to understand the rules and conventions she's subject to, and not only use them to her advantage (putting on a show so she will receive gifts from sponsors) but to act in defiance of them when her back is against the wall (refusing to give the audience a winner by committing suicide with Peeta).

And analogizing Katniss to Cinderella? Come on. After Peeta talks about his feelings for Katniss on television, she physically assaults him, holds him against the wall by his neck and is visibly furious that he "made her look weak."

As far as empowered female characters in fiction go, she is miles and leagues above Cinderella and Bella Swan, and I think the fact that you're painting her as the same helpless girl says more about your perceptions than about societal convention.

24/M

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Anonymous (April 3, 2012 5:... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Guy Fox: | Reply

Anonymous (April 3, 2012 5:45 AM), you don't fall in love with non-famous gorgeous women's photoshopped pictures. You couldn't possibly. You see an accessory that you think will finally complete you. It's not "I want to live and grow old with this woman" (it couldn't be that based on a picture); it's "if I could just get with her, everything would fall into place". The feelings can never be fulfilled because no woman, nor anything else on the outside, can give you the peace you lack. Find that first. Then when you see a picture on the internet, you'll realize that it's just a picture, generated for your consumption, and it's just a representation of a complex person you may or may not get along with at all IRL. You won't feel horrible for lacking that accessory because you'll realize that other people aren't under your control. You won't feel inadequate because you'll expect different things from yourself and others than you do now.

As for the non-gorgeous girl you're currently dating, do her a favour and dump her. You're not satisfied because you're not really with her, you're using her as a blow-up doll while you're fantasizing about other women. Is that fair to her? Maybe down the road it'll work out, and you can try again, but you're just drawing the two of you down a road to misery as it is.

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She does, and it's addresse... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:08 AM | Posted, in reply to True's comment, by J: | Reply

She does, and it's addressed in this article, which you did not finish reading.

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I'd have to point out that ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:23 AM | Posted by Elisabeth: | Reply

I'd have to point out that the character Rue is *meant* to be black.

I can understand (some) frustration at Hollywood randomly inserting black people to satisfy diversity standards. (Look at Dolphin Tale, which took the story of two white scientist engineering a prosthetic tale for a dolphin, and had them played by...Morgan Freeman. That's just stupid.)

But it explicitly states that Rue is, at the very least, mixed race. The USA of the post apocalyptic future is still likely to have some coloured people. What's the big deal?

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She also kills two people w... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:32 AM | Posted, in reply to Curious's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

She also kills two people with the Tracker Jackers, and the last guys alive who's injured. She kills a whole bunch of people over the course of the last two books, including bringing down what are described as helicopter like transport vehicles.

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I read the first two books,... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:34 AM | Posted by Elisabeth: | Reply

I read the first two books, and tried to read the third one before my brain gave out. I have some points:

(1) Katniss does in fact kill people. Maybe it's not a matter of full choice, but this is a story of children and teenagers being forced to fight to the death. Choice doesn't really come into it.

(2) I agree with a lot of your arguments here, but I don't think it's a gender thing.

I did spend the entire second book trying to figure out why every character seemed to be falling over themselves to fawn over this rather ordinary teenager. If you only paid attention to the people surrounding Katniss, and managed to get out of her head, you'd assume she was extraordinary; a mixture between Batman and Jesus.

She's not - the entire series feeds into the narcissistic desire to *be* special without having to *do* something special. She can just do her thang while other people decide she's extraodinary, and spend their entire lives carrying water for her.

What I don't get is how this relates to gender. You yourself made similar comments about The Matrix, and Wanted, which both have male protagonists. I don't think this has much to do with gender. It has more to do with a gender nuetral, peculiarly adolescent mixture of laziness, narcissism and grandiosity.

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Ignore everything you hear ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:43 AM | Posted by Matt Walker: | Reply

Ignore everything you hear from feminists except the.laws they favor. They are not interested in agency. They are WOMEN.

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I like your insights in gen... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:01 AM | Posted by jb: | Reply

I like your insights in general, but this one leaves me a bit cold. Do you really only see agency in cold-blooded murder? To me, destroying all of the food of the enemy is agency. Cutting down the wasp nest was agency. Deciding to mourn Rue's death was agency. Shooting the apple out of the pig's mouth was agency.


Yes, a lot of what happened in the story was out of her control. That's part of what makes it sell - young women feel that their lives are mostly out of their control, and they gravitate to stories that show someone gain control over her life. If it all happened at once, that would be boring and unbelievable. If it happened too often, she'd be a Mary Sue. So Katniss, as a character, has to deal with a lot of things out of her control - fatherly figures she has to appease to gain approval and reward. Unwanted romantic attachments she has to tolerate. Societal definitions of beauty and grace that she has to generally live up to. False relationships she has to endure in order to gain approval and acceptance.

Collins had to walk a fine line - too many kills, and Katniss will seem brutal and malevolent. Too few kills and she'll seem cliche. There is no magical number of kills that's just right. You think it was close to zero. I think it was closer to 1 (half-credit for each of: Glimmer and the boy from 4).

It's also possible that Collins gave Cato body armor not so Katniss would not be in the position of killing him, but to add dramatic tension to the moment. If she kills everyone with arrows, it's not fulfilling as a story. There are other reasons to keep the hero from killing enemies easily, beyond just the desire to make her sympathetic.

I am most of the way through the second book, and while she is still heroic, she is showing some additional agency. I am told the third book is much darker. If it is, and she kills more people, then that indicates that the story really should be read as a trilogy - in the beginning she has little agency, and she grows into someone powerful. Which means (to me) that your criticisms are premature, because no-one's story begins with lots of agency.

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As others have pointed out,... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:25 AM | Posted by Psychohistorian: | Reply

As others have pointed out, there are significant similarities to Harry Potter, who mostly gets pushed around by other people and generally wins due to pure luck / the skill of others / the deck being stacked in his favor. He similarly fails to kill people when he should, and those people are ones who actively chose evil, not innocents who were forced into a twisted game. I think this is a criticism of a sort of modern hero, not a gender issue.

Moreover, Katniss's actions seem necessary for a hero in this context. If she were out there aggressively shooting everyone down, she'd be an anti-hero. I've only seen the movie, but it's clear that the author engineers the death of good/innocent people to be caused by forces other than Katniss. The only people she kills are people who brought themselves into it (district 1 & 2 competitors) and the guy who kills Rue. She does make a number of actual decisions - her overall tactics, the destruction of the food, taking the risk of getting medicine to save Peeta, etc.

Perhaps that's the issue here: if she had to kill Rue and the guy who saved her and the little girl who tried to hide out the whole time, she'd have had to make difficult decisions. But it would be extremely difficult to *like* her. She's thrust into a world most of us consider morally abhorrent, yet we still want her to be "good" according to our own judgement, and the only way to do that is to write out the difficult choices.

Incidentally, for someone who has not read the book, the casting of Rue was pretty much perfect. She was incredibly cute and innocent, which seemed to be the key attributes she was supposed to have.

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Fraula, with all due respec... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:28 AM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Tim: | Reply

Fraula, with all due respect, you present yourself as a sort of expert on fairy tales where women have agency, but your reply was, frankly, rude. Also, you are not an expert on fairy tales and you missed out on a bunch of common/classic tales where women have plenty of agency. In the future, I would recommend exercising humility instead of pretending to know more than you do.

Some classic fairy tales filled with strong female characters who exercise agency are "Molly Whuppie," "The Squire's Bride," and, perhaps to a lesser extent, "Little One Eye, Little Two Eyes, Little Three Eyes." I'm sure there are others too, for I am no expert.

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Overall, the points made we... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:34 AM | Posted by Jill: | Reply

Overall, the points made were true and facts were correct, but Katniss did in fact kill one person, she shot the person who killed Rue. Just wanted to point that out.

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I understand you're calling... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:36 AM | Posted by Isaac: | Reply

I understand you're calling Jezebel to the carpet for missing the point, but I can't help but wonder if your main thesis (that Katniss is robbed of her agency) isn't the point of the books.

You're right that Katniss doesn't kill in a deliberate fashion or without prompting from others; even the scene with the trackerjackers is prompted by Rue and not wholly Katniss's idea. You're right that she spends most of her time avoiding conflict, and that's what prompts several interventions from the Gamemaker. Arguably every major turning point inside the game itself (the fire, the muttations, the rule changes, etc) is contrived or manipulated. Not a single contestant is exercising any free agency once their name is pulled from the fishbowl.

So the only way to "win" the game is not play at all. Which is exactly what Katniss chooses to do. She kills, but she does so reflexively/defensively. When she does go on the offensive, it isn't to eliminate players but to deny their ability to attack others. When the rules change to make her and Peeta (who, at least in the movie, doesn't kill anything at all) combatants, the fundamental choice is to eliminate herself. She's not playing her way, she's not playing in a way that is new or inventive, she's not playing as a way towards something else; true agency is not playing the game in the first place. That's her real threat to The Capitol; she's breaking the illusion of the game.

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"The Girl Without Hands" do... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:06 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

"The Girl Without Hands" doesnt have agency either. The story happens to and around her, not because of her.

BTW Harry Potter made sense to me when I realized he's a girl, and everyone is white knighting and protecting her virginity, which she surrenders to Voldemort at the end, just to find out it wasnt that bad.

This is probably because of the female author. That's how she might imagine the men's world is.

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Katniss had morals she neve... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:19 PM | Posted by ST: | Reply

Katniss had morals she never wavered from even in the face of a gladiators tournament. That is agency.

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Never kills anyone? Katniss... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:25 PM | Posted by Rosie: | Reply

Never kills anyone? Katniss kills a shit ton of people. What book were you reading?
Even in the movie, even if you ignore the tracker jackers that kill at least 1 Career on screen, she shoots Marvel THROUGH THE HEART after he spears Rue.

Everyone in their society is robbed of agency. That’s…sort of the point.

Yet Katniss, and Peeta both, fight to claim agency of their own. They go against the will of the gamemakers. They refuse to be just a part of the games.

[Spoilers ahoy] Katniss goes to the “feast” to get medicine for Peeta with her own agency. She choses to threaten suicide with the nightlock with her own agency. Katniss fights to protect Peeta rather than herself in Catching Fire. She strikes out of her own mission to kill Snow on her own in Mocking Jay. She KILLS Coin of her own volition at the end.

Did you miss HOW Katniss got most of those gifts? By playing the system with her intelligence? Did you miss the entire point that the Hunger Games are DESIGNED to remove the will and agency of these children as an act of subjugation, and that Katniss has to fight against that to retain her sense of self and SUCCEEDS?

To suggest that Katniss has no agency is to demonstrate a severe misreading of the books.

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What's interesting to me is... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:33 PM | Posted by Jake Lockley: | Reply

What's interesting to me is that it seems young adult novels written by women seem to get it wrong, while books written by men (such as Scott Westerfeld) get it right. Is it because the women writers are products/vicitms of the machine? Having read all of the Hunger Games books it only gets worse for the main character and seems to imply even more of a victim's narrative.

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A few thoughts from your po... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 12:43 PM | Posted by Nathan Colquhoun: | Reply

A few thoughts from your post

1. she doesn't want to kill people, she just wants to win - this makes her sound blood thirsty

2. she does take things into her own hands a number of times (getting sponsors attention by shooting the apple from the pig, shooting the apples down to let off the mines (probably her most proactive action), killing rue's killer, volunteering to take sisters place, making food and hunting back at home to feed her family, taking care of her boy when he's wounded to a point of risking her life to do it, cutting down the hornet nest etc.)

3. I have no idea there was feminists loving this movie - so for all that i agree, that's just dumb, this wasn't about female empowerment for me it was about what post apocalyptic world would be like, but it was a book for young adults, so i wasn't reading it thinking that females would feel or think this was about empowering them, my feminist wife read it and just loved the story, i don't think she felt more validated as a feminist because of it.

4. every person in this movie is reactionary, they didn't choose to be in the hunger games, and it was clear she didn't want to be there.

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False.Dropping a g... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:18 PM | Posted by Kit: | Reply

False.

Dropping a giant nest of bees on a group of people so they are stung to death and die of shock is definitely murdering people. Katniss killed two people that way. Further saying it doesn't count because of failure means that Mai is actually the weakest person in the entire series of Avatar. You have to count intent. And she was stalking and hunting Cato in the book. In the movie someone else had that role but we still dropped bees purposefully on them so they were stung to death when running was a clean option also stealing their weapons and running.

False.

She doesn't like Peeta even a little and only concedes to pretend to be in love with him because that's what's getting them fed and supplies AFTER trying to beat him up and attacking him repeatedly when he alludes to the people involved they are a couple for a play for sympathy.

False.

Making a choice and SUCCEEDING in that choice are not entirely different things. We don't treat people who don't die from their suicide attempts as being hunkydory because their choice didn't pan out and get there. They are suicidal. That choice has been made. We don't treat someone who attempted to rape someone but was fought off as not being guilty of a crime. They are an attempted rapist; that should be addressed.

False.

The point of the suicide at the end wasn't about choosing to die. It was about taking power. Non-idiot-readers, Katniss, the Author; it had all been set up that the games NEED a winner, the games NEED a winner. That wasn't about death, that was about chicken and she won. Katniss realized the games needed a winner more than they needed the rules they came up with; obv. Why the frick else would she have taken poisonous berries around JUST IN CASE. That was her hold out pistol in the gunfight. They weren't going to sneak off and commit suicide; she said hold them out so the people can see. She didn't say let's just eat them - Peeta was ready to die anyhoo so ther wasn't a point of betrayal. She was making sure the show producers saw that she had the power in the situation and not them because she could rob the game of what they needed.

It's a cute article, it really is. But just like how they said it sounded cogent but didn't quite click- that's how I feel about their summation.

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“Most hauntingly, a twelve ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:32 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

“Most hauntingly, a twelve year old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.” -Page 45, The Hunger Games

“Up close she looks about 10. She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin…” -Page 98, The Hunger Games

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"It's exhausting being a ch... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 1:51 PM | Posted by Hilomh: | Reply

"It's exhausting being a chick. I mean girl-- woman. Jesus."

My first thought upon reading that was "It IS hard being Jesus." Then it occurred to me that I've never thought about what it was like to BE Jesus. I've spent countless hours imagining what it would be like to be James Bond, Superman, Batman, etc., but never once have I ever put myself into the role of Jesus. I've even fantasied about being Dr. House and walking around curing people and calling them idiots. But Jesus - no way. As if somehow it's less realistic than being Superman...

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There's a theme in the Hung... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 2:05 PM | Posted by BHE: | Reply

There's a theme in the Hunger Games that is in all modern mega-blockbusters, from Star Wars to the Matrix to Harry Potter and beyond. Male or female protagonist.

*Do nothing, become the hero you've always known yourself to be*. You've pointed this out before so I'm surprised you didn't mention it now.

There's a reason nobody reads Horatio Alger novels anymore.

Everybody play the Mega Millions last week, by the way?

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Caveat: Only seen the movie... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 2:12 PM | Posted by M.E. Traylor: | Reply

Caveat: Only seen the movie, not read the book

I find it interesting that you're comparing not committing premeditated murder with passivity. Why is the scale of active/passive/empowered/disempowered being hinged on murder? She did quite a lot with subsistence self-sufficiency, adequate enough to support not only herself but two other people. I live at a hunter-gatherer based wilderness school, and the latter is much more impressive to me than the ability/desire/follow through of murder.

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"So there are some racist f... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 3:53 PM | Posted by Sam: | Reply

"So there are some racist fans, so what? In itself, why would this be surprising?"

- It would be surprising if you are black and it hits you on the face like that. After you have read the book- It is surprising how white readers have projected whiteness onto characters which were described as being other than white.

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I think that this pattern i... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 4:02 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think that this pattern is part of the larger theme of the books and is intentional. I don't think it's something wrong with it. That said, You are ignoring the murder of Cato, the berries, and Katniss' general refusal to play along with the image of the games (which is juxtaposed with Peeta's).

Also many books have a main character who is controlled more by events than by decisions and consequences. Moby Dick springs to mind immediately, or much of Shakespeare. These characters are still considered strong characters for their reactions (internal or external) to these events. Whether or not they escape them is not always part of it.

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This reminds me of when my ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 4:05 PM | Posted by Leslie: | Reply

This reminds me of when my students told me Handmaid's Tale wasn't a feminist book because stuff just happened to the main character. She didn't actually do anything to fight back. Please stop confusing the two.

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In what tradition? Fantasy ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 4:12 PM | Posted, in reply to Dave C.'s comment, by Leslie: | Reply

In what tradition? Fantasy tradition? Frodo MUST return the ring and has no power over its draw? Moby Dick where Ishmael is entangled in another man's obsession? Shakespeare where Romeo and Juliet react to laws and circumstances beyond their power? Even the Odyssey is a character who cannot escape various mythical characters and only completes his voyage at their whim. There are many, many narrative heroes who are only reacting, only working within a set parameter. The pattern is even more powerful in dystopias.

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You're dismissal of the rac... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 4:36 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You're dismissal of the racism with "it's okay, everybody's racist! I mentally re-enact stereotypes of black people all the time!" is so unbelievably hypocritical it is physically painful. That would be similar to someone countering your argument with "it's okay that Katniss is useless, she's a woman! That's what I expect!" You cannot make an equality argument when you yourself are so hypocritical, and clearly, at the very least a little racist yourself. The racism that was demonstrated by fans was important because it was a reflection on the undercurrent of racism that exists within American society today, and which you yourself seem to be a slave of. You, and the others who were surprised that Rue was black (because they clearly did not read the books), seem to have an inability to relate to people outside of your group. If you honestly cannot look at a black woman and think "mmm hmm" then you don't believe that that woman is anything beyond your stereotypes. Your blatant, and honestly unnecessary, racist personal anecdotes that you provided at the beginning of this article were tasteless and disrespectful.

I will agree with you on one thing. Katniss is not a role model for women and her character was never intended to be a role model for a woman. The books are not about her being guided and protected by men, the books are about her complete loss of humanity and PTSD after being placed into a situation of extreme trauma. She just happens to be female. The interesting thing is, gender inequality never seemed to factor in to THG series. Maybe in District 12 the "traditional" gender roles are kept, but by the end of the series, Panem has had two more female presidents than the United States. I agree that forcing Katniss into an icon for women doesn't make sense. But it's not because she's a girl, and she doesn't lack agency BECAUSE she's a girl. She lacks agency because she is in a highly autocratic society that governs everything. She lacks agency because she is placed into a situation where agency is hard to come by. And she grasps at every opportunity to use her agency when she can. But that doesn't make her a strong female lead, it just makes her a stubborn, often stupid, teenager. There are several strong female characters that are introduced in the next two books, especially the third book. In fact, I have a theory that the Suzanne Collins' made essentially every single rebel leader a female in order to make up for the fact that Katniss was a stupid, brash, ineffective character, who was manipulated by everyone around her, men and women alike. She was a stupid kid in a world full of people smarter than her, but she wasn't dumber because she was a woman, she was dumber because she was 17 and generally unintelligent, relying more on emotion than thought.

As a final note, you say, "Note that the person who is aware that he has free will feels as though he lacks agency ("it doesn't matter what I do") becomes either depressed or paranoid, or both" - By the end of the series, Katniss is severely depressed, extremely paranoid, and is fully aware that it does not matter what she does. Did you even read the books?

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He's not saying racism is o... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

He's not saying racism is okay, he's saying "There are people who likes the Hunger Game who are also racists (maybe), which is inconsequential since it doesn't say shit about the Hunger Game, yet that what's Jezebel is talking about anyway."

He's not talking about racism but about Jezebel (in section I anyway).

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She also killed people with... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 5:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Jill's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

She also killed people with the Tracker Jackers and Cato. Those were obviously planned. Besides that, in a place where you are supposed to hunt and kill someone isn't not stalking and killing someone agency? She's actually punished for it with the forest fire and driven back toward other tributes.

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Because other feminists sil... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 6:10 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Because other feminists silenced it or quickly and inaccurately re-framed what it presented when it did not serve their agenda.

Feminism, like any other cause, does do what they accuse "the patriarchy" of doing (manipulating/destroying information) and justifies that action based on typical human, universal logic: if we don't assert ourselves than "they" will, (as they have done in the past). Individuals do it to justify stuff too.

"They" can be "the patriarchy" or anyone else.

The idea underneath that is that the means to an end are justified if the end is justified.

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<a href="http://thirdtierre... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 7:04 PM | Posted by Nando: | Reply

http://thirdtierreality.blogspot.com/

I will wait for "The Hunger Games 2: Law School Edition" to come out.

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I think TLP has a ghost wri... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 7:51 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think TLP has a ghost writer on this one

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While I think a lot of vali... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 7:58 PM | Posted by Enc: | Reply

While I think a lot of valid points are made, I think that this isn't a book about yet another girl being robbed of the ability to choose.

I think it's a book about a person who is not given a choice in their life, and I think that aspect of the book is intentional. I think the ability of a person to insert themselves easily into Katniss's role isn't because that's how girl-aimed romancey novels work, I think it's because the story is almost more about the commentary it gives on society that the characters who demonstrate those ideas.

Having read another book series of Collins' as a kid, I don't find her anti-feminist. Nor hyper-feminist, either. But in the Gregor the Overlander series (which was more main-character driven than Hunger Games, thus the title) she had both strong and weak female characters alongside male ones. Males and females taking both active and passive roles. Katniss might not control her life or make any real decisions, but does Peeta? Do any of the tributes, really? And would we be having this discussion if this book had been written with genders reversed?

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The movie highlights the si... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 8:00 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The movie highlights the significant differences between female versus male thinking. The killing arena is just a window-dressing for a garden variety love conflict, the typical subject of female writers. The combination is apparently the calculus for most blockbusters.

Definitely is odd that feminists enjoyed the film. I think the story and film were very well done, and it's simply hard to dislike, regardless of its reinforcement of traditional gender roles.

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I'm going to give you the b... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 8:12 PM | Posted by Rebecca: | Reply

I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt that you never read the books. Most people going to see the movie as "super fans" read the books many times over, so add all of the books' info into how they interpreted events in the movie. Maybe your misinterpretations stem from that.
A lot of the basic wrongness of your premise has been covered already: she killed 4 people (and she shot to kill at Clove), she figured out the rules of the game and played them to the hilt to get life saving sponsor gifts, murdering innocent people isn't brave agency, it "costs you everything you are,"etc. But maybe the movie didn't adequately portray how Katniss kept her family from starvation by teaching herself hunting skills and going into the forest to hunt, which almost no one did. It was brave of her to go into the black market Hob, too, but she worked up the nerve to do it. That's agency. In the books, she points out that almost no one in the poorer districts volunteer to take anyone's place, even family members. But she did. That's agency. The one thing that is left out of the movie that really changes the meaning of the berries, I think, is the fact that Peeta is bleeding to death from a leg wound the mutts gave him when Katniss decides to pull them out. In ten minutes, he would have bled to death and she could have been declared the winner with no effort on her part. She chose to gamble her life in order to save his, not because she loved him and would rather die than live without him, but from a mix of screw you Capitol, District 12 solidarity, friendship and a lot of other things. She figured out a way she might be able to keep them both alive by using everything she knew about the gamemakers and bet her life on the wager. That's agency to me.
Katniss is a very confused girl, trapped in a world where many people are trying to use her for their own agenda and trying to figure out what they want as well as what she wants, and she gets it wrong all the time. She has romantic relationships (and don't we all?), but they don't define who she is as a person. That's why girls (and their moms) like her. I think she is also appealing to teens because she lives in a world where what you do can matter, not this pathetic playpen we call high school we have here. Bella Swan makes sense for contemporary America- isn't having a vampire boyfriend more interesting than planning out your senior schedule for maximum college application impressivness? But Katniss is living in a real world that requires tough choices and she does her best. That's why we find her so appealing.

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He doesn't say NO agency, h... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 8:38 PM | Posted, in reply to Rebecca's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

He doesn't say NO agency, he says ROBBED of agency, as in shielded from the consequence / the true form of it.

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I saw some of what you were... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 8:40 PM | Posted by Phil A.: | Reply

I saw some of what you were talking about. I noted that the author went way out of her way to avoid putting Katniss in a "morally dubious" situation.

I didn't mind the book, but I would have been more curious to see how her character would deal with the obvious moral dilemma of having to decide between the value of another life, and survival. But whatever.

The whole thing struck me more as an allegory for BPD. In a very loose sense. Everything about who she is is defined by the others around her and her circumstances. Even the relationship isn't based on how she feels, but rather what's required of her by others.

Katniss seems completely incapable of recognizing her own strengths. Most obviously, when she completely plays the audience during the pre-arena interview, she still can't admit to herself that she did a good job of manipulating them and gaining some advantage. Also, she still won't admit her strengths when she gets a 14 or whatever the highest score was on ability.

At one point they contrast Peeta with Katniss when she observes that Peeta has a strong sense of identity that she lacks. When things don't go her way, she lashes out and trashes her room or has other outbursts. Of course, I'm not saying Katniss has BPD, considering a lot of this stuff would be normal under the circumstances, but that's why I call it an "allegory".

I'm also probably wrong because what do I know? Anyway, perhaps it's a bit presumptuous or vain or whatever, but I totally expected you to his on that when I saw this post come up, TLP.

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"if she was a "hero" she wo... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 9:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"if she was a "hero" she would be able to face her own demons"

I'm not sure what you are basing this on. I know it is an idea throughout contemporary American culture. I know heroes in mythology are often defined as those who have wrestled with the Gods and won. What I am aware of in mythology is a very old idea that attempting to entirely do away with/tame demons/monsters leads one to become one.

I mention this because it seems to me to be an idea contemporary America might benefit from knowing. Particularly when contrasted with the popular idea that one can face one's own demons and, by doing this, overcome. It's not a total disavowal on my part, just some irreverence. I suppose someone's comment about Goethe and freedom and thinking yourself free when you still aren't might be relevant here. On the other hand, perhaps that is all freedom really is: a state one thinks oneself to be in.

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Man, I think you need to st... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 10:11 PM | Posted by Taeshawndrix Bicksnewd Freeman, PhD: | Reply

Man, I think you need to stop hanging around that pastabagel guy. He's crampin' your rum-swilling, pirate psychiatrist style with all that crazy post-structuralist mumbo-jumbo.

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This is a sloppy post; you ... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:01 PM | Posted by Anon: | Reply

This is a sloppy post; you intentionally misread the source material (the movie) to suit your argument. B-

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I had understood Katniss' l... (Below threshold)

April 3, 2012 11:56 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I had understood Katniss' lack of autonomy and agency to be the point. It's not as though the overall narrative was unconscious of this fact. It doesn't reflect this aspect of our society as some kind of moral failing; it does so by design.

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Re: the argument that the m... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 12:08 AM | Posted, in reply to Cythraul's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Re: the argument that the movie is in fact feminist because a hypothetical little girl might regard it as such well into adulthood, thus utilizing it for her own "feminist" goals, thereby making it a de facto feminist movie.

Errrr...

Technically, a resourceful little girl can do that with almost anything in the world. Even, like, a sock puppet. Or even a sock. Does *not* make the sock a feminist.

Also, kids are just so beyond needing a movie to shore them up so they can make it through life. Adults aren't, though.

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I like you, Matt. I'd just... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 12:19 AM | Posted, in reply to Matt Walker's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I like you, Matt. I'd just add, as my grandmothers and I would say, "and that is just fine."

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"Katniss had morals she nev... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 12:30 AM | Posted, in reply to ST's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

"Katniss had morals she never wavered from... That is agency."

Morals one *never* wavers from *is* a fairy tale, existing only in the mind of someone who is not grown-up or someone who refuses to grow up.

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I'm not sure the mere fact ... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 12:45 AM | Posted by Isaac: | Reply

I'm not sure the mere fact that Katniss does kill people in the Arena is sufficient to undermine the basic premise TLP is arguing. The killings, with the possible exception of the trackerjacker nest, are all done unmeditated and reflexively, with serious prompting from outside. At no point (and I checked) does Katniss actively plan the death of other contestants; she kills Marvel as he is mid-attack after killing Rue; she kills Cato only after the intervention of the Gamemaster and the muttations and at his request. The remaining two (one in the movie) are the result of the trackerjacker nest, which, again, is not Katniss' idea; it's Rue's. Getting caught up in whether or not Katniss actually kills someone and ignoring the context of the kills is nonsense. Katniss moves, kills, etc. only at the instigation of others, and as the result of the manipulation of the Game. So yes, she is robbed of her agency; my disagreement with TLP (if I'm reading accurately) is that I don't think that's an accident. I think that loss of agency, and Katniss' regaining her choice through not playing the game, is the point of the books/film. The lesson isn't "Yay! Womyn!" or "Down with tyrannical gov't!" or "Aren't all these reality shows bad?" That discussion is playing the 'Game.' The book is urging a different path; if you play the Game, you'll always lose. The only way to win is not to play at all.

Or to get Toby Jones' wig, which is #winning on a whole different level.

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The best argument for this ... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 12:59 AM | Posted by copperbird: | Reply

The best argument for this being a feminist book is because of the one true decision that she does make, which is to ally with Rue. And because she's able to make a co-operative, allying relationship with another woman in the same situation, she is able to survive the games.

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The brunette who d... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 10:36 AM | Posted by Cliche: | Reply

The brunette who dyes her hair blonde isn't trying to look Swedish
You'd think this would be obvious, but it's amazing how many people think asians get plastic surgery in order to resemble "us westerners", as if they don't have their own celebrities they wish to imitate.
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Morals one *never*... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 10:58 AM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Morals one *never* wavers from *is* a fairy tale

This must be why they say girls "mature" faster than boys; they are much quicker to turn politeness and affection into "Daddy, I love you. By the way, I want..."

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Holy smokes. Did you even r... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 11:52 AM | Posted by Alice: | Reply

Holy smokes. Did you even read this book? To be sure, I am shocked that Hunger Games has turned into a simpering "Twilight" bullshitfest. I read it when it first came out, before all this bullshit started around it, trying to market it as a romance. It's simply a dystopian novel in the vein of 1984 and Lord of the Flies. First off, Katniss does kill several kids, viciously. She thinks like a murderer because she's forced to, to survive. She drops a hornet's nest on several children as they sleep, and she assassinates another one point blank as he's trying to kill her friend. If she doesn't get them first, they will tear her to pieces. She's not wrapped up in romance - the romance is fabricated because they have to gain sympathy from the spectators and the government that has the nation entirely dependent on their whim, to suppress another revolution. The tragedy of the book is that Peeta had a mild crush on her to begin with, but she is so dead inside she doesn't give a shit. He's terrified of her and knows she'll kill him, so he figures out other methods to keep from getting murdered. You've mixed up the non-killing with PEETA. He doesn't kill anyone, he uses his wits to keep from getting slaughtered. So no. This book is not a feminist book - it's not a romance - it's a riveting tragedy. This article should REALLY direct its anger toward THG's marketing franchise, trying to make this story into something romantic. Anything but.

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Concerning what you wrote a... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 1:17 PM | Posted by N: | Reply

Concerning what you wrote about the suicide-part: you obviously didn't get the point of the ending: Katniss knew that not having a winner would be a blow to the Capitol (as hinted at in several scenes). She knew they would not let them die. She tricked them. She ACTED and came out alive and kept Peetah alive. Nuff said.

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Also, if you had read the b... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 1:44 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Also, if you had read the book, you would know that the stylists' job is to get sponsors to notice the tributes, and send them care packages, but they have to earn their arbitrary favor. Katniss is not prancing around like a princess hoping to get people to like her - she's there to win by surviving. The stylists have to convince her to win over the people who choose her fate. She's not even comfortable with looking fancy - she's forced to wear these things. It's making the Cinderella makeover story horribly ironic: to look your best in order to murder other kids. The book is a dark satire of the superficiality of celebrity culture. We see it every day in tabloids. Before you sneer at people's poor reading comprehension re: the racism issue, maybe you should stop reading movie reviews so literally.

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Exactly!!! I couldn't agre... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 1:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Exactly!!! I couldn't agree with you more. The whole time I was reading this article I was thinking all the same things you just said. I think you got it spot on. And you definitely cannot judge the character of Katniss until you have completed all three books because it's not until the third one that we really see who she truly is.

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I absolutely loved this art... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 2:56 PM | Posted by lorenkmp: | Reply

I absolutely loved this article. It's been taking me forever to get through the book because I wasn't sure I liked the Katnis, but I couldn't figure out why, but this article hits it on the head: For me it's just too Jane Austen.
Especially when I think about the way other women are described in the book. None of the women are very interesting or motivating or their annoying and pestering.
Even when Katniss leaves District 12 its men that she instructs to protect her Mother and sister if she doesn't return... It's just a mess of cloaked anti-feminism.
4 insight stars

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From the tone and content o... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 3:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

From the tone and content of the above, it's "Up with Katniss, Down with TLP!" I can't recall hearing women so unequivocal on this website before.

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Did the author (or anyone h... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 3:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Did the author (or anyone here) read the books? Or even see the movie? Katniss kills at least two people directly, in the first book alone.

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This is a terrible article.... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 3:56 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is a terrible article. Your assertions are off based and your writing is a jumbled mess.
You assert that she never kills anyone. Then you back-track and say she is never guilty of murder one. Oh, those four people she killed, those were just reflexive, so they don't count. And did you even read the three books? She flat out murders someone toward the end of the third book. So, not sure how that fits in with your theory.
And her being taken care of by men. How about her role as a hunter who was providing for her family for years?

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While I sympathize with tho... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 4:07 PM | Posted by Gabe Ruth: | Reply

While I sympathize with those who are annoyed that TLP didn't read the book, I would urge everyone to read the previous comments before blowing your load.

I would also urge people to consider why you read this blog. Is the author a moron? If you read the book or saw the movie, does this piece make you think that either he didn't or he is a moron? Maybe he's saying something else. I don't have a guess what that could be, but I'm confident I'm not the smartest reader here (happily not the dumbest either).

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there are so many things wr... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 4:22 PM | Posted by anonymous: | Reply

there are so many things wrong about this view of "agency" that i don't even know where to begin and i may not even talk about all of them. Agency is the ability to act for oneself. Yes, i agree that there are many ways that she didn't have agency. but they are the same way in which we all don't have agency. Females didn't get to choose if they wanted to be female, they just were. Does that mean you don't get to exercise agency when you decide what type of a female you want to become? No matter if the world is imposing their views on us, we get to determine whether we succumb to those views or not. "Everybody woman is wearing make up so i HAVE to wear make up" sounds totally ridiculous! nobody has to wear make up because everybody else is, and some girls never wear make up! it's their CHOICE. Katniss's decision to kill out of self-defence was her decision to. She didn't have to. She would have died if she didn't, but she didn't HAVE to.

"she didn't choose not to kill"... how so? i've tried to see it from your point of view, but i can't help but think that that statement is false, especially when she did kill somebody. you can't just take out a fact to make your point. All of the other times she chose not to kill, yet she played the game. She could've CHOSEN to give up and not make the effort. She could've CHOSEN to go on a rampage and try to kill everyone and become the winner that way. She didn't. She CHOSE not to. Because she said she "wanted to kill" and she didn't means she didn't make the choice not to? is this not sounding ridiculous to you? Just because i want to do something and i don't doesn't mean i don't have agency. Just because i want to eat junk food instead of disciplining myself to be heathy doesn't mean that i didn't make the choice not too. Sure, there are things that could INFLUENCE/MOTIVATE me to not eat junk food (ie. society and social standards) but they don't make me be healthy. i choose to do that.

influence and motivation do not deprive one's agency. They still get to choose whether to be motivated and influenced.


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Two other points: First to ... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 4:52 PM | Posted by Rebecca: | Reply

Two other points: First to those who think dropping the tracker jacket nest didn't count because it was Rue's idea and also was reflexive. No one who read the book could forget the lengthy description of Katniss climbing the tree with bloody and burnt hands to saw off the branch holding the nest, trying to work under sound cover of the anthem and then making sure she finished the job in the morning could think it was a reflexive act. And the theory that since it was Rue's idea and there for takes out Katniss's culpability would be a great defense to any hit men in jail.
Secondly, the berries at the end were a complete example of her agency. The whole damn point of the second book was the Capital trying to both force her to disavow that agency by acting like a fool in love, while also punishing her by sending her back into the arena. What they feared, and indeed, what did happen, was the rest of Panem saw her act as agency and took it to mean "if she can defy them, so can we." It's strongly alluded to in the movie and is the reason the gamemaker is forced to kill himself for allowing the rebellious act to succeed.

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"Even uneducated people kno... (Below threshold)

April 4, 2012 11:57 PM | Posted, in reply to Anna's comment, by Carlier: | Reply

"Even uneducated people know when they're being duped."

No, they don't. That's why they're dupes.

"Even uneducated people respond with hostility if they manage to figure out there was an attempt to dupe," sure. But that's a big "if."

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I read the start of your ar... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 12:06 AM | Posted by ACasualReader: | Reply

I read the start of your article and scanned the comments. In case others have made this point, I'm sorry to make it again.

But ... did you actually read the books? If you do, and you pay attention to them at all, you will realize that Rue *is* black. So is Thresh.

The original fuss over fans complaining about Rue being played by a black actress arose from the fact that people read the books and apparently didn't take in the fact that the actress was correctly cast to type. It would be interesting to hear you talk about that phenomenon.

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This article was bad. And y... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 1:26 AM | Posted by Ryan: | Reply

This article was bad. And you should feel bad.

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I bet he felt bad before he... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 3:49 AM | Posted, in reply to Ryan's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I bet he felt bad before he even wrote the piece, anticipating the comments.
It's a flawed article, but it uses feminist thought or what passes as "feminist" and "thought" to criticize feminism and implies how arbitrarily it is applied. That's not bad. It's interesting nobody went after that, they saved it all up to go after a Hollywood blockbuster movie. Um, okay.
Then of course nobody picks up on that and plays right into it, taking a definition from a man they already think doesn't have a clue---he can't even watch a movie!---they take his definition of feminism ("have agency")---and get their panties totally in a bunch insisting an imaginary girl has an awful amount of it based on the fact that she can kill people, she can, yes she did. Great. Wow. So impressive.
I think the post may have had some blathering on about society and how it forms people's tastes and blah blah and it's not feminists' fault (crowdsourcing the superego?). But that falls apart when you read the comments. Nothing about them says "victim" and everything says "willing participant" if not "rabid participant."
So, yeah. I bet he feels terrible about it all. I know I do.

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It took you a lot of words ... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 9:53 AM | Posted by Nadia: | Reply

It took you a lot of words to say what made me uneasy about the book but couldn't put my finger on.

So, good job, I guess.

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I think you've missed the p... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 11:54 AM | Posted by LitGirl: | Reply

I think you've missed the point. The novel IS about female agency, and, yes, that looks different than male enacted agency. Katniss doesn't come out and destroy her competitors like the macho tributes of the wealthy districts. Instead she forms an alliance with another female, Rue. That female bond even leads to her subversive act of placing flowers around Rue after her death: a direct, deliberate challenge to those in charge of the games. She even receives a gift from Rue's district illustrating further how Katniss acts by forming alliances rather than just going around murdering everyone.
Katniss is a strong, female character because she uses the skills she has from being a provider to her family and a caregiver to her sister to outplay the others. She both uses her bow skills and her ability to form female bonds to outlast the other brutal killers. Moreover, she does not just focus on "winning" the games but on playing the game in such a way so that she is not only a pawn of those in charge. She subtly challenges those in charge while using her specific skills to kick butt!

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I'd try Ken Wilber's _Atman... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 12:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Craig's comment, by Ozgur: | Reply

I'd try Ken Wilber's _Atman Project_ for this one, for starters. Move on to other works once you've got that premise, but this specifically addresses that issue.

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Indeed.... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 12:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Sean's comment, by Ozgur: | Reply

Indeed.

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"The novel IS about female ... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 1:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"The novel IS about female agency, and, yes, that looks different than male enacted agency."

Really. In the world of the novel? Or in life, or what?

If Katniss makes a feminist statement, does the world of the novel also depict anything about feminism? Or is Katniss feminism in juxtaposition to the patriarchy?

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"Hmmm, here is a sur... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 2:40 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply


"Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That's weird, what does she do to win? Take as much time as you want on this, it's an open book test. The answer is nothing."

Katniss kills four people, two with mutant wasps, and two with her bow. I can't imagine how you missed this as they're not only in the movie but in the book as well.

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Anna sez: "Even uneducated ... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 3:21 PM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

Anna sez: "Even uneducated people know when they're being duped."
Uneducated people are the only ones who know trhey are being duped.

The rest of us are living in a fable. Alone helps us realize there is a fable, and helps us figure out what it is, and get brave enough to evaluate it.

A crime which was once universally seen, especially by women, as a heinous crime, pracitcing agency to kill your defenseless baby before it was ever born, was formulated into a campaign and sold to women as "empowerment." Largely attributed to Bernard Nathanson and Lawrence Lader:

http://people.southwestern.edu/~bednarb/su_netWorks/projects/saenz/nathanson.html

That is how abortion was sold as feminism here.

In the Asian nations, abortion had to be sold a different way. There was no great "feminism"/"social justice"/"progress" ethos to plug into.

IPPL showed up at the door accompanying the World Bank and any other vehicle of Western influence into these emerging countries. Japan, India, S Korea etc. Population control was sold as modernity and economic progress, largely against the opinions of the uneducated masses. It was largely govt-led social pressure, with communal themes, that 'sold' abortion.

In both cases, pushed by the elistist intellectuals. Quite a different phenomenon in each case. Feminists were and are so eager to be feminists that you could and can largely sell them on anything - even anti-feminist stuff - simply by labeling it as 'feminism.' Now, a 'college girl' drinking like a man, having opportunistic sexual experiences outside of anything resembling a respectful relationship, the obligatory college-years abortion, and HPV are noted as "normal" and an indication that, yes, you've come a long way, baby. Go figure.

Now, with all of our "movements," like Emo and Goth, women are "empowered" and violate the old standards of behavior - sure proof of progress - but we, the dominant culture, end up defining Goth and Emo, and Retro, and Hippie - as yet another opportunity to dress up chicks in hot clothes and ogle them.

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"Now, a 'college girl' drin... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 5:42 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Now, a 'college girl' drinking like a man, having opportunistic sexual experiences outside of anything resembling a respectful relationship, the obligatory college-years abortion, and HPV are noted as "normal" and an indication that, yes, you've come a long way, baby. Go figure."

As a female, I really dislike that feminism encourages women to be callous about sex and sexual partners, rather than encouraging men to be more compassionate and aware about sexual partners. I don't think the casual sex model serves women very well. Nothing against women who want to partake of it but it reminds me of drug cultures. These drugs are so great and there's no consequences! Well.. mostly no consequences!

Well... the huge portion of people for whome their are consequences don't matter, everyone should do this and who gives a fuck who gets destroyed by it!

I would expect this attitude from teens but that I see it in older females who claim to be "leaders" is very perplexing to me. Even if you are very smart about your birth control, accidents can happen. Even if you are on hormonal birth control, you can get an STD. Even if you plan to use condoms as your chosen method, you could experience a non-co-operative partner who forces unprotected sex.

You're much less likely to be able to fend off unprotected sex when you're already in the bedroom underneath someone. Having a lot of sexual partners DOES increase the risk of rape. Going home with people you don't know well DOES increase the risk of rape. Heavy drinking behavior DOES increase the risk of rape.

NONE of the women who engage in these behaviors deserve to be raped. Women want to get to go out and party, dress cute, drink like everyone else, get to flirt and have sex--- not because they want to be raped, or get an STD or unwanted pregnancy; but because these things are fun. So are drugs. This is not to say that I think people should be shamed if they join in on these behaviors but it's maddening to listen to female friend after female friend talk about how hurt she is after non-commital sex and not fit together that it's not working very well for her because "empowered" women are supposed to be fine with it.

Seriously feminism? Of all the horrible fates many women face-- many being disabled, extremely poor, caring for children without resources, learning disabilities that prevent scholastic achievement, sexual abuse and identity issues, mental illness, physical illness-- tons and tons of women with direct needs thatour country fails to address-- and all feminism is doing is fighting for the right to be promiscuous and have abortions? I'm not saying these are valid things that the law should stay out of-- I'm saying-- WHAT THE FUCK ELSE ARE YOU MISSING? Young girls with no family who need mentors? Girls in the foster system who get dumped into the world into the sex industry and porn?

And you're fighting for the rights of privaledged sex workers who happen to like sex work rather than trying to provide services to the many many women who fall prey to a terribly predatory and traumatizing industry? What percent of porn industry workers were foster alumni? 21% vs 4% for the rest of the population?

It's all a battle to expand women's access to more "freedom" when in order for any of that "freedom" to have any meaning at all, women need resources in order to succeed and develop into healthy and complete people. Feminism pressumes women are already complete financially secure educated adults because it's largely a group of women who have job security and some degree of college education. Choice, doesn't mean anything if you can't even reasonably access the resources to achieve it. Do I want to bea sex worker or not? Well I would like to EAT and I just got dumped on the street from the foster care since I turned 18 and this guy says he's take care of me and I'm really pretty if I do some films?

YAY feminism respects womens FREE AGENCY to be exploited by creepy assholes!! YAY, let's give the creepy assholes even MORE tools to exploit vulnerable women? Right!?

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Entertainment is everything... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 5:44 PM | Posted by Tim: | Reply

Entertainment is everything.

When I say entertainment, I mean competition for attention.
Competition for advertising dollars, or just dollars for content.

And that is what Jez, the new york times, the university system, and mobile phones have in common. They don't exist to provide some utility, although they might coincidently do this. They exist to make you want them.

The distinction there is important - an Ipad may not be a better diary than a paper pad, but if it makes me want it, by being shiny, then utility be damned it wins.

Every news source does this. They tap into different niches sure, but very few people reading The Times of London actually need to know about the situation in Iran. It doesn't matter what they do.
It matters that they have an emotional reaction to it, that it makes them feel comfortable, because it's the type of thing the type of person they are reads.
Emotional engagement, a sense of belonging to a group. These are really powerful things. People will kill for them, or buy a magazine next week.

The facts do not matter, reality does not matter, only appearance.
It does not matter to Jez if the story is anti-feminist. It matters that it's readers are emotionally attached to the book, and need a comfortable story to make them feel angry. I say need, I mean 'it's the most obvious / low risk thing to write about this week'.

The film is about things happening to people.
The Jez writer didn't choose to write a story to pull in the readers, (s)he wrote a story like (s)he had learned to, by example, back at university, or wherever. Lack of agency? Caring about things you can't change because they are shiny? A good observation?

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Um, I'm going to stop you r... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 6:09 PM | Posted by Kadee Does: | Reply

Um, I'm going to stop you right there, author. Clearly you and I were reading different books.
First, as other commenters have pointed out, Katniss kills people. Several people. Her killing the boy who killed Rue was talked about in the book at length about being Katnis's first completely intentional kill. With the tracker jackers she tries to wiggle out of saying that she killed them, because technically the poison from their stings did - she just dropped the nest (which was a risk to her own life). But the book purposefully pauses after Rue's death. Katniss looks at the boys body, at the arrow that she shot into his chest, and she realizes that she has become a killer. This is important, because murder is KIND OF a big deal.
And did you forget the several chapters where Katniss saves Peeta's life? She cuts open the material on his thigh, realizes he has blood poisoning, and tries putting leaves on the wound to cure the infection. The were pretty gory scenes, so I'm not entirely sure how you missed the. And then when the Gamemakers offer the "feast," she slips the sleeping/cough medicine to Peeta so that she can get the injection. She runs into the face of danger and is nearly killed in order to save another contestant's life. But you're right, she has no agency whatsoever.
And your point that we spend time focusing on clothes and fashion? The Hunger Games is a TV SHOW. It is literally a reality show where children are forced to kill each other. Did you miss that creepy feeling on your skin when you realized that to the people or the Capitol, the games were supposed to be glamorous and fun? People got sponsored because of how attractive they were to Capitol citizens. Honestly, I thought the whole point of the first book was the author saying "Look at this, children are forced to kill each other in these highly stylized games, and even though it's brutal and disturbing and morally disgusting, you still want to see it." So much time was spent on how the games were making the contestants fancy, like dressing up pieces of meat, it's not even funny.
Yes, the movie did skip over some pretty vital points from the novel that made Katniss a stronger character. But you were talking about the book. I honestly feel like you didn't even read the book, and I can't really take you seriously if you're going to argue that Katniss had no agency if you never for a second took her seriously as a character.

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For clarification:... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 6:19 PM | Posted, in reply to medsvstherapy's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

For clarification:

Abortion and infanticide have gone on forever, regardless of what has or has not made them more obvious in contemporary society.

Also, HPV and other sexually transmitted infections are common to both men and women. (And they are extremely common and increasingly dangerous).

I also suspect modern sexual mores crush or repress or harm or confuse men just as they do (many) women.

Interestingly, some of us were brought up with some idea that women were the emotional caregivers of a family and the ones who taught things like like how to take of oneself. Now stuff like that appears to be taught in school or as some kind of community service thing or collective movement. It's not that women have to do this. It's just that I don't think group organizations are or can be as adept with this stuff. I think it might encourage groupthink and consensus in areas that are more matters of personal concern. Thus the collective endorsement of individual rights and privacy rights actually undermine those rights by making some kind of de facto social issue.

But I'm biased, lately I hate everything, so what do I know.

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God. We're going to find Al... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 6:25 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

God. We're going to find Alone under the railroad tracks traumatized, drunk and decaying. Ruined, swigging Night Train, unable to even keep it together enough to even afford rum...

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"Interestingly, some of us ... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 7:03 PM | Posted by blebla: | Reply

"Interestingly, some of us were brought up with some idea that women were the emotional caregivers of a family and the ones who taught things like like how to take of oneself. Now stuff like that appears to be taught in school or as some kind of community service thing or collective movement. It's not that women have to do this. It's just that I don't think group organizations are or can be as adept with this stuff."

Agreed. When women stopped agreeing to do this we sort of emparted the duty to.... no one. Therapists? Social workers? Psychiatrists?

I don't think love, nurturing, and reliable lifelong support work very well through this model. Not that all women were great at it, but... I'm not sure that having NO ONE that emotionally cares for people as part of their make up because they like to (were socialized to) is particularly a good set up. Perhaps we could socialize both men and women to be emotional supportive of others and to instinctually mentor and support those in their lives in need?

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Dude, Katniss kills Marvel ... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 7:22 PM | Posted by Erin McDonnell: | Reply

Dude, Katniss kills Marvel and Cato and is directly responsible for the death of Glimmer. Just because these were not planned murders does not mean Katniss is weak or does nothing to win the games. Get your info right. And Katniss keeps Peeta alive and pretty much is the reason why he makes it to the end. She is not Cinderella. And Bella in Twilight is actually useless and does absolutely nothing for herself while Katniss keeps her family alive when her father dies and kicks ass in the arena. Honestly, let the book be entertaining, and leave feminism out of it. Relax

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She actually killed 4. Glim... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 8:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Jill's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

She actually killed 4. Glimmer, the boy from 4 , boy from 1 and Cato ( well, he was already almost dead. )

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Thanks for the response. It... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 10:26 PM | Posted, in reply to blebla's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Thanks for the response. It surprises me whenever anyone responds.
The thing is, despite the values (someone stays home for the kids so that they know someone's on the lookout, at least) my mom was not really all of these things or possibly even any of them. She cooked one delicious, nutritious meal a day and discouraged alcohol and occasionally intervened with something at school. She also beat us, minimized or denied any "negative" emotions, and criticized and manipulated my father. I think to a certain extent I formed my own opinions about moms and what they could be, and my best friend's father who stayed home after the mother died was probably my major role model. My father was an emotional nurturer to me until the divorce-he had empathy and was snuggly and fun. I know there are these ideas about men and how they are-that they need to be taught things. Just, in real life I've never seen this to be so-they seem fine. After the divorce, my father married a woman who kept telling me she "didn't know how" to be with children, having been an alcoholic most of her life. Then my father, also an alcoholic, followed suit with that same story and it became true---all the good stuff went out the window just like that, apparently he believed the new story. I just wonder if we aren't creating self-fulfilling prophesies about our men. I've seen at least the men in my family treat women mostly like little princesses-or queens-the women run the show. They could mostly never *not* do whatever they wanted to begin with.? It can't just be my family, unless we women really are uniquely, ah, domineering.
I wonder what others' experience has been. Observable sexism in your own family or just something that was taught in school?

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So everybody, what is TLP's... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 10:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So everybody, what is TLP's next move. I doubt the mistakes in the post were an accident. I'm wondering if he's going to go back and address the racism, if you want to call it that, at the beginning of the post. "Oh no you didn't!"---uh, that's not black, that's everyone who wrote in and commented, though.
Like how he did two posts for the same movie (Shame). What's up for next time?
Anybody-?

Oh, and I'd like to point out, using fairy tales as an illustration of a psychological concern---narcissism in this case, what else---like Bruno Bettelheim, and then switching it and using narcissism in an overly simplistic and literal manner, as an example of gender roles/gender---instead of continuing with the more figurative and symbolic---is a mistake I doubt he missed. It bothers me because I like the idea of a post that talks about The Uses of Enchantment or those kinds of ideas. I assume he was just talking in his feminist voice to make a point, a point which is lost on me. If anyone cares, I think the falling-in-love at fist sight fairy tale theme is meaningful insofar as it could be seen as falling in love with the entire being, and not some limited, minor aspect of it. And is there anything that can be done to "earn" true love by using "agency"? I doubt it.
I don't remember how it happens in the original fairy tales, which I've read and liked though. I just remember what Disney did with those stories, made them simple and cute and different than what they were. That's Disney that did that, not feminism. I've also read feminist writers (well two of them) who talked about their ambivalence toward that, but not a wholesale condemnation.
One option is to read fairy tales as though you're Bettelheim, Jung or even Joseph Campbell and let the magic work, if you're not too old and crabby. I suppose the same could certainly be said about Katniss, regardless of killing people or not killing people. And there's really nothing wrong with that (although I'll own up to personally not being much on hit movies). If TLP is being serious about his comparison of fairy tales and THG, he might be able---next post---to say something embracing both, describing THG as a fairy tale and why that is a GOOD thing. ? I guess we'll see.

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RATS. I wrote this sentence... (Below threshold)

April 5, 2012 10:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

RATS. I wrote this sentence wrong because TLP has got me brainwashed with using "narcissism" in every sentence. My shrink is pissed about that, btw.
It should be:

Oh, and I'd like to point out, using fairy tales as an illustration of a psychological concern---narcissism in this case, what else---like Bruno Bettelheim, and then switching it and using another fairy tale element, gender, in an overly simplistic and literal manner, as an example of gender roles/gender---instead of continuing with the more figurative and symbolic---is a mistake I doubt he missed.

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I'd like to point out that ... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 12:38 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'd like to point out that Katniss kills the boy who killed Rue in the arena. Your statement about Katniss never killing anyone is false. Good article though. Glad I stumbled upon it. :)

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she also shoots cato...... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 12:45 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

she also shoots cato...

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Posting this here as it is... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 12:50 AM | Posted by DGS: | Reply

Posting this here as it is the latest post.


IF you ever wondered about the Abusive boyfriend, or needed more explanation, this is very very good:

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq50.html

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ummm... Katniss killed Rue... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 2:17 AM | Posted by cjh: | Reply

ummm... Katniss killed Rue's killer reflexively, and without a second thought.

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I don't care about anything... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 8:41 AM | Posted by Matt knows best: | Reply

I don't care about anything else but the entertainment factor. and neither should anyone else.

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Good article as always. I c... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 10:21 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Good article as always. I can't believe how stupid the comments are on this one.

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Katniss is understood by wo... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 1:21 PM | Posted by vech: | Reply

Katniss is understood by women as feminist not because she was written by a woman but because it took a woman to write such a character. Someone who decides to take part in the games, who protects and provides for her family, who manages to play the game by her rules and kill only when it is necessary, who saves herself time and time again (without any help) and in the end to change the rules of the game (so she can later lead a revolution against those who are at fault in her society). The fact that she might have some affection for a man is most of the time the furthest thing from her mind and she uses him when she considers it necessary to get achieve her purpose. She is the perfect example of a feminist heroine, a woman who is brave, a provider, independent and with a purpose. Your misinterpretation works exactly because you take characters and events that are there but you give them a meaning that was neither in the book nor the film and at the same time you omit those things that cancel out what you say.

Having read the books and watched the film I don’t think there is anything wrong with The Hunger games. What is wrong is that for some people the idea of female empowerment frustrates so much that they have to invent warped interpretations, of a clearly feminist narrative and a character, in order to appease this discomfort.

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All the characters in the f... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:15 PM | Posted by Cynthia: | Reply

All the characters in the first book have no agency because they're living under a brutal totalitarian dictatorship. The main characters are children who would probably have even less agency/control than most in such circumstances. And I don't think it's unrealistic that Katniss uses other people/forces to help her survive, whether manipulating Haymitch for gifts or dropping wasps on her opponents or what have you. That's how real survival works in the world, it's not often done lone-gunman stylee.

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I haven't seen the movie bu... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:27 PM | Posted by anadromy: | Reply

I haven't seen the movie but I did read the first book just to see what the fuss was about. It was so-so. Not as good as its champions made it out to be but also not nearly as bad as its detractors tried to say, either.

Anyway: You state clearly and emphatically that Katniss never kills anyone. This is what people like to call a factual error. And as it is probably the strongest evidence for your thesis--it is a major problem. Hard to take anything else you say seriously after that one.

Specifically: she kills the kid who kills Rue. She also unleashes a hive of super wasps on a bunch of people. I can't remember if the wasps kills anyone, but they definitely did near fatal damage to several people, if nothing else.

Here's the deal: this was a YOUNG ADULT book. Despite its gruesome premise, like most YA books, it pulls its punches.

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For fuck's sake, here's wha... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:43 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

For fuck's sake, here's what he's saying:

"For example, though this is a story about kids killing kids, somehow Katniss never actually plans and executes any kids, she's never guilty of murder one. She does kill Rue's murderer, but it was reflexive, a defensive act."

NEVER GUILY OF MURDER ONE.

Nothing that she does, in the movie, can be questioned morally. She's rather passive and goes with the flow. Whenever she makes a decision, she's pressured against a wall, and if she has to do something really ugly, it was some other person's idea.

Got it? she's void of agency.

Compare that with Game of Thrones, where everyone is always making morally gray decisions they are not "forced" to make, but that they make anyway, and always have big repercussions.

Katniss does little, only does that little when she's pressed, and when the moment comes, it's a day and night difference where what she did is pretty much the only thing she could have done.

In the movie, there are two exceptions for this where she could have gone further and change something. Shooting the apple and committing suicide. Yet both granted them acceptance, higher rankings and winnership.

In short, it IS a fairly tale.

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Yet both granted *her with ... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:44 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

Yet both granted *her with acceptance, higher rankings and winnership

And the previous comment was me.

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I get what you're trying to... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:49 PM | Posted by jb: | Reply

I get what you're trying to say, Anonymous, but are you seriously saying that the only legitimate form of agency is murder one? Because there are plenty of other actions she took that were meaningful, without being murderous.

Writing a character in a book is difficult. No matter how you write them, if the plot involves action and danger, some people will find them too dangerous, others too passive.

Also, having just finished book 3, by the end of it, she certainly has agency. Maybe you should withhold judgement on her agency until her story is complete.

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Um. Sure. Whatever. Man, th... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:52 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Um. Sure. Whatever. Man, this is why I left academia. A lot of expended verbiage on something quite trivial. I did not wade through until he qualified his initial statement of fact that Kantniss did not kill anyone. So, for that--I guess-thanks for the correction but for fuck's sake, what a weak, weak argument this author is making and how long it took them to make it! Murder One is not murder. Ok. Sure. Katniss is a badass. The fact that she is not a malicious and does not commit premeditated murder does not show a lack of agency IMHO. It makes her (are you ready for it?) a PROTAGONIST.

Have a nice day.

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jb,Shooting the ap... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 5:56 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

jb,

Shooting the apple and committing suicide was almost agency. In the apple, though, she HAD to do something because they were not paying her attention. In the suicide, she HAD to do something because they suddenly changed the rules. She was pressed both times.

Now you can argue that she was pressed the whole time. True. Thus, little margin for agency. Which is the point here.

See, harry potter for example is another agency-void story, and the kid is not that pressed most of the time, yet he continuously goes with the flow and gets undeserved praise, results, loyalty, in exchange of his lack of action.

The hunger games, at least in the movie (I havent read the books), the whole story develops around a void character, that elevates her to messianic proportions while she's not really "doing" much.

She does some stuff, for sure: when the story doesnt give her any other option.

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"Man, this is why I left a... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 6:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"Man, this is why I left academia. A lot of expended verbiage on something quite trivial."

And that sentence is why *I* left academia.

But since you're so superior, thanks for gracing us all with your presence.

What was the purpose of the "Man" at the beginning- an attempt to show the despite the obvious, you're still earthy and real?

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The purpose of "man" was ju... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 6:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

The purpose of "man" was just me typing what I am thinking in my head. Just me being me. Earthy, real, and otherwise. Here's some more: go fuck yourself.

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vech, you raise an interest... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 8:07 PM | Posted, in reply to vech's comment, by kmcqh: | Reply

vech, you raise an interesting question. The way I read Alone's post, he's saying that The Hunger Games is insufficiently feminist; in other words, he'd rather it be more feminist.

Or, as you interpret it, saying that the book is insufficiently feminist is an indirect way of denying Katniss's strength; ie, while he claims he'd rather the book be more feminist, in reality he's just unable to admit that it is feminist.

So, how do you tell the two apart?

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So the new feminist/fairy t... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 8:47 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

So the new feminist/fairy tale ideal is, instead of living happily ever after with the prince, we have a heroine who uses men when she wants for what she can? That used to be called being a whore, didn't it?

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Why make it into a feminist... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2012 10:36 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Why make it into a feminist debate geez.

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I was thinking of reading t... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 3:28 AM | Posted by Etrade Baby: | Reply

I was thinking of reading those because the premise strongly reminded me of Stephen King's "The Long Walk", which I liked very much. But then you write:

She is deus ex machinaed all the way to the end.

And that's exactly what happened to the protagonist of The Long Walk (a 16 yo. boy, btw.) It bugged me too. But then again I wonder if that's not the charm of the whole thing. That someone so obviously average, just like anyone in the audience, was able to pull it off (of course thanks to the help of all kinds of non-average people who never make it personally.)

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When I saw her in Winter... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 3:51 AM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

When I saw her in Winter's Bone I knew we'd hear from this actress again, and soon. Though it sounds like her leading role in Winter's Bone was a lot more kick ass than this stuff. (Sadly not as successful, forever doomed to be "that independent movie.")

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for all of you - please wat... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 6:07 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

for all of you - please watch Battle Royal (2000) and you will know what you are missing.

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Battle Royale*... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 6:13 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Battle Royale*

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Well, in fairy tales outsid... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 12:03 PM | Posted, in reply to Etrade Baby's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

Well, in fairy tales outside of Disney, the prince---a real protagonist, one who moves action forward or is on a quest---***Whether he knows it or not***---usually gets help, often from a creature he has helped first, and that makes a difference. So he gets help because he's a good person. Then he gets, oh free advice as to avoid being the foil of the princesses or gets a magic cloak so he can disappear. Although I will say many fairy tale princes also have some cunning.

Maybe if Katniss is thought of as a prince.

Although I've never heard of a prince who uses princesses to get ahead- that would fall totally flat in a fairy tale, unless he ended up marrying her. Maybe inheriting a kingdom *is* the main point and marrying the girl, a princess, is secondary. That situation does occur in these stories. I'd never "see" that, which tells you where I live.

Actually, now that I think about it, some fairy tale princes lack agency. I mean, Snow White, I think all he did was kiss her; hardly an awesome task. ? He sees her I think, disappears for some time, comes back, kisses her. Big whoop. The dwarfs are the ones who keep her alive, loosening her corset when she can't breathe for example (again, hardly an awesome task, I'm sure they liked it). And Cinderella: well, the prince had to be crazy enough to search a kingdom for someone who fit a shoe based on a few close dances. The sexual undertones here are killing me but I'm not saying anything. Ooops.

People also come to horrible ends in fairy tales if they deserve it. Evil stepmother Queens get dragged to their death inside barrels wherein nails are sticking out. God knows who carries this out but of course it can't be the newly happy couple.

The world of fairy tales is dark. Girls get sent to have their hearts carved out if they're too pretty. Mothers always die or disappear and kings of kingdoms (fathers) are generally absent in some way. Siblings get kidnapped only to be turned into birds later. Young girls get kidnapped and turned over to a life of crime.

Dark, like THG.

I'd disliked (I haven't seen it and I hate action movies, but) THG in part because the idea of adjusting and surviving in a sort of hellish world based on *anything* (agency, luck, whatever) doesn't excite me much. Based on agency, killing people, not killing people, giant wasps, whatever. I mean, I thought I was already trying to do that. So I don't get excited about it. I noticed some women on this thread do though. And on retrospect I can see how THG can be seen as a fairy tale, absolutely.

I think supposedly Bruno Bettelheim said something about fairy tales working specifically because they're unconscious; there's nothing to stop them from working. I have a weird loyalty to Bettelheim because I read him when I was young- about 15. I can't not like him.

I'm rambling. Well, anyway, I don't usually...see things I wouldn't normally see from this blog, although I enjoy it very much. I'm stating a fact, not making a judgment on me or the blog.***But I really like the idea of other women seeing THG as a fairy tale. It does something to my heart. I understand it. Sort of.***

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"Compare that with Game of ... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 4:37 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Phil A: | Reply

"Compare that with Game of Thrones, where everyone is always making morally gray decisions they are not "forced" to make, but that they make anyway, and always have big repercussions."

I know I'm going to get some negatives for this, but A Game of Thrones is a terrible book. Hundreds of pages of almost no plot. Unrealistic characters, complete ignorance of how women generally behave (and possibly think, but I don't know since I'm not a woman). For instance, when Ned's wife walks around naked in front of their housecarl or whatever because, the housecarl has seen her give birth. As if nakedness is always the same thing no matter what the context. I mean, they had just gotten done sexing each other and she's going to walk around naked post coital in front of this guy over her husband's objections?

The book lacks a main character, it never really feels like anything is at stake, and the plot is slower than molasses running uphill in January. I couldn't make it more than 300 pages into the first book before I gave up forever.

I know you didn't ask for my opinion, but that book bothered me so much (in part because people like it so much despite it's flaws) that I can't help but spew hatred out every time I see it brought up.

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fairy tales working spec... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 4:49 PM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by Etrade Baby: | Reply

fairy tales working specifically because they're unconscious; there's nothing to stop them from working.

I like that. It explains why those stories work for me, even though I'm NOT comfortable with the idea of *Do nothing, become the hero you've always known yourself to be* as someone mentioned above.

And this is definitely not an issue particular to stories with female protagonists written by female authors. It happens to male heroes all the time.

Besides I'm very relieved to hear that women love THG. It sounds like a huge improvement compared to the Twilight crap and I'm sure we all (m/w) agree, agency or no agency it has to be better than that drivel.

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Ah, now that Game of Throne... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 4:51 PM | Posted by jb: | Reply

Ah, now that Game of Thrones is popular and mainstream, we have the classic intellectual poseur backlash.

That's right! When someone mentions that they like Game Of Thrones, I don't excuse myself from the conversation. I don't reflect on my own biases and tastes. Heck, I don't even bother to finish the book to find out if my assumptions are borne out. No, I'm so self-absorbed that rather than seek to understand or even consider the possibility that different people have different tastes, I'd rather just spew hatred out every time I see it brought up

Hey Phil A, guess what? Not liking Game of Thrones doesn't make you a bad person. Lots of good people don't like Game of Thrones. What makes you a bad person is your belief that your personal taste rises to the level of moral certitude.

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Phil A,Game of Thr... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 4:56 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

Phil A,

Game of Thrones: I havent read the books so I cant comment on that. Im bringing it up because of the characters show agency on the TV show, compared to the characters on THG movie.

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"And this is definitely not... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 4:58 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

"And this is definitely not an issue particular to stories with female protagonists written by female authors. It happens to male heroes all the time."

Do you mean male heros, written by male authors, who show no agency? mmm I cant think of any, which ones are you talking about? or maybe you mean "super heros"? superheros dont have agency because they live by a strict code. The code replaced agency.

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Now we know it's bad (who a... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 5:01 PM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

Now we know it's bad (who am I kidding, it was bad before); I'm referencing and replying to my own posts.

All this THG: a modern fairy tale reminds me of Auden, a real hero, and of this quotation:


All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

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Princesses do plenty of shi... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 5:31 PM | Posted by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

Princesses do plenty of shit. I'm getting a little tired of this. They cook, they clean, they make gooseberry pies---incidentally, have you ever tried to make one? I have. It's hard because the berries are unbelievably bitter/sour. It's also delicious if you can get it right. Cleaning house, btw, can be seen as representative as putting the universe in order. Not a small task.
The point again, if you do it right, is that nobody's overly conscious of it. It *is.*

Perhaps the reason people aren't drawn to/can't appreciate anything princesses do in fairy tales is that they more intuitively represents the inner world of the self? And of emotions?


From the sound of it Katniss is interested exclusively in the external world...to the expense of the internal, not that she has much choice...(?)...so this potential gets sacrificed in order to create change in the real world, it's almost messianic...

Narcissists like messianic stories. I have no source on this, it's based on observation. They identify with messianic characters without quite knowing why.

I think my concern is, what do we call it when achievement ("agency") is only important how/when the world says it is?

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Do you mean male heros, ... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 6:07 PM | Posted, in reply to YOHAMI's comment, by Etrade Baby: | Reply

Do you mean male heros, written by male authors, who show no agency?

Yes. Try "The Long Walk" by Stephen King. It's similar to THG, except that it's about a 16 year old boy. It's not very long, I'll wait.

I kept wanting to kick him throughout the book. He wasn't really sure why he even joined the game and if it weren't for the others he'd have died 20 times over because he kept doing stupid things.

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Thanks for the suggestion, ... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 6:26 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

Thanks for the suggestion, I'll read it.

"I kept wanting to kick him throughout the book."

Yeah that's how I felt about every character in THG movie, and the same for Harry Potter (the main character only)

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From the New Yorker review ... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 8:57 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

From the New Yorker review of THG:
If, on the other hand, you consider the games as a fever-dream allegory of the adolescent social experience, they become perfectly intelligible. Adults dump teen-agers into the viper pit of high school, spouting a lot of sentimental drivel about what a wonderful stage of life it’s supposed to be. The rules are arbitrary, unfathomable, and subject to sudden change. A brutal social hierarchy prevails, with the rich, the good-looking, and the athletic lording their advantages over everyone else. To survive you have to be totally fake. Adults don’t seem to understand how high the stakes are; your whole life could be over, and they act like it’s just some “phase”! Everyone’s always watching you, scrutinizing your clothes or your friends and obsessing over whether you’re having sex or taking drugs or getting good enough grades, but no one cares who you really are or how you really feel about anything.

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2010/06/14/100614crat_atlarge_miller#ixzz1rPDF7cMu

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"Everyone’s always watching... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 9:00 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

"Everyone’s always watching you, scrutinizing your clothes or your friends and obsessing over whether you’re having sex or taking drugs or getting good enough grades, but no one cares who you really are or how you really feel about anything."

Which sounds a lot like the adult world.

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What a horrible trilogy. Ka... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 9:26 PM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

What a horrible trilogy. Katniss fights to do the right thing which continually leads her to have to...fight more to do the right thing. Moral ambiguity, sure, but this is ridiculous. And she has an inside, an interior world, sort of. It's just not worth very much. I read a review-it was called literary criticism but, come on-written by a fan of this sort of thing and a female. And I still can't believe anybody could get anything out of these books, they're horrible! At least in a real fairy tale there is a resolution and the sense of accomplishment, ignore me for sounding kind of heady-concept-ish, but there is , like, a kingdom within and outside as well (depending on what level/how you read the story). These books are vapid in the true sense of the word- not stupid-just empty, empty, empty. Why would this appeal to anyone regardless of how cool Katniss is?

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"Why would this appeal to a... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 9:31 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

"Why would this appeal to anyone regardless of how cool Katniss is?"

What exactly makes her cool?

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WOW. Cannot say what I mean... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 10:17 PM | Posted, in reply to YOHAMI's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

WOW. Cannot say what I mean at all. But here's this:

Katniss sounds okay by me. She survives, she endures, she does her best, she appears to have more of a heart than the above comments give her credit for. She tries to help people. She's pretty (I mean hell, why not count that).

The whole "agency" thing didn't register on me at all so I can't answer to it, if that's what you're after. I'm one of those people who thinks Auden is heroic (see above) and that Forrest Gump is an everyman hero, in a sense. I like Richard Wilbur's poem about the spiritual being the everyday, "Love Calls Us to the Things of this World." I think Freud's "work and love" comment is about all there is in this world. Not in a bleak way though...I'm not oriented around huge accomplishments. I wouldn't be surprised if people who accomplish some of the best things weren't just being themselves and doing what they do. Wouldn't faze me a bit. Of course, I don't really know. I know a lot of medical discoveries started as accidents.

And I think surviving adolescence in and of itself-joining society and becoming an adult-is intrinsically heroic. It may be the most difficult and profound (and in this species, lengthy) metamorphosis we all face individually. It counts. In any society. I just think that, I mean I decided it at some point and never changed my mind. It reminds me of another Richard Wilbur poem.

I just mean, I wouldn't expect or even want or care whether Katniss accomplished some kind of frickin miracle of agency..whether she was a guy or girl..and in this context, surviving is enough. Surviving is an accomplishment probably. Actually I guess literally, given the juxtaposition of the games/the overall society and also the fact she is a direct participant.

I just can't believe that children are reading this. It makes me worry about their interior landscape. Or makes me think, no wonder they're cutting.

She survives, for what. For what?

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Feminism?! Racism?!?!? Give... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 10:20 PM | Posted by Hn: | Reply

Feminism?! Racism?!?!? Give me a break, it's called FICTION for a reason. It's purely for entertainment and enjoyment not to be dissected and completely ridiculously over analyzed. Read the book, watch the movie, take a chill pill and get over yourself. Good grief!!!!!!!!!!!

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gineva-- When I read the sy... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2012 11:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

gineva-- When I read the synopsis (not planning to read or watch this) I just feel like it reminds me of a synthetic gladiator theater. What is the point of wanting to watch or read about a person being tormented against their will by an evil and cold society? I mean, I take it there is a point, but I'm not sure it's much more noble than what humans got out of the literal gladiator games where humans where quite literally forced into these kinds of battles for the entertainment of others.

If this had been a taleof true human strength being a true hero, the synopsys would not have described society as beingpost war. If evil people have taken over and are forcing terrible killing just for entertainment THE WAR IS NOT OVER.

You mean to tell me that all human beings gave up? If a minority of evil people have all the weapons and are ruling with cruelty, than you use the strength of you minority. Even if it means fighting to the death and it might. DEVELOP BETTER WEAPONS. Learn how to be secretive. Create a plan. Defeat the enemy.

Or if you are the majority who produces the goods for the tyrannical minority STRIKE. Sieze the means of production.

With technology improving, it's of course possible that evil will dominate the masses but if you're a fiction writer-- at least give good a chance.

I guess the authors point was "Well in this story I erased the possibility of good winning, so we can just watch what happens."

Right. Torture porn.

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I appreciate where youre co... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 12:07 AM | Posted by The Next to Last Man: | Reply

I appreciate where youre coming from on this, but I had a different reaction.

You are correct in noting that Katniss does not choose to kill, and she does not choose not to kill. However, I disagree that this represents her lack of agency. I think this choice *is* her agency.

Her seeming paralysis is the reaction of a basically good person thrown into a profoundly evil circumstance. Think about it like this: what would you do, if it were you? Would you kill the other tributes? Knowing that theyre kids, after all? Could you have killed Rue, in order to win? I freely admit I do not know what I would do: my family is at home, waiting on me for food. I have to kill this little girl to get it. Holy fuck.

Katniss does not want to play this game, and so she doesnt(except in self defense)-- her choice is to choose not to play. The shell-shocked look she carries throughout the movie is quite realistic, in that regard -- i.e., "I cant believe this is happening." In particular, I read her shock and disbelief she expresses while traveling to the Capital was not about the technology and wealth she'd never seen; but about the moral depravity of these throngs of people who cheer wildly to see children murder each other.

Katniss wanted no part of that. But she didnt want to die, or cause her district to suffer, either. Hence, her paralysis. She spent her time trying primarily to avoid, or incapacitate (blowing up the supplies) the others. Remember she had the chance the shoot the kid who was guarding the supplied; she didnt.

Its an open question as to whether the screenwriters let her off easy by never entirely forcing the choice. Maybe that makes the movie more palatable to a general audience, because both killing (and becoming a monster, not to mention a pawn) and not killing (and thus harming her district, being seen as weak, plus -- movies over!) would be unacceptable options. It is for a general audience, after all, and (usually) they dont want to force grim reality down your throat quite that starkly (a la, "The Road").

But in a another way, she *does* choose: she chooses to step out of the game, refuse to be a pawn, and deny them a winner by committing suicide. Yes, they stop her, but its clear they, the system, "lost" in so doing. They wanted to force her to kill or die -- not both -- and her, perhaps Sartrean, moment of agency was:

"No".

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What's wrong with The Hunge... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 12:59 AM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

What's wrong with The Hunger Games is that it is a book for grown-ups.

The idea that people attribute agency or lack thereof to Katniss is evidence that a certain level of empathy is missing. They're "adultifying" her.

Although it would take some kind of internal resources to continually try to do the right thing throughout the trilogy despite the circumstances, and results. In a way, being conscious of this kind of struggle is adult, but doing it unconsciously day after day blindly strikes me as something only a child would do. That's sad.

Most disturbing to me is the idea kids---and I suspect (?) that as the book is YA which is age 14, in kid terms that actually means younger, since the sure way to get tweens to read a book is to market it supposedly to teens---
so the most distrurbing thing to me is the possibility that tweens are reading this and it resonates with them.

Then adults miss it because to them Katniss is cool. Or feminist, or whatever.

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All this reminds me of the ... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 11:43 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

All this reminds me of the whole teenage "real man" bullshit, i.e. if you drink sugary drinks to get drunk, you're not a real man, you're a girly faggot.
If rather than smoking, you consume marijuana using a vaporizer in order to avoid damaging your body, you're not a real smoker, you're a pussy.
Occupiers aren't real protestors, etc...

What is wrong with neither wanting to die, nor wanting to kill people?

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Why does this remind you of... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 12:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Why does this remind you of the whole teenage real man thing? The last sentence, it sounds like you are saying what is wrong with wanting to kill people?

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Others have touched on this... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 12:37 PM | Posted by Nathan Brink: | Reply

Others have touched on this as well, but I think there is a difference between the Harry Potter books and the Hunger Games. Harry Potter is simple escapism. Sexism doesn't enter into it, it's just a happy little novel where the good guys win over evil. Hunger Games is a tailored dystopian series, I find. The books are meant to focus on the character and not on the surroundings, but the surroundings are there in order for the reader to identify with it. The world is broken in our culture, the world is very much broken in theirs. Katniss is a character that readers either identify with or aspire to be like. Selfless, strong, determined... They are escapist novels under the cover of a dystopian title.
I'm not saying this is right, just my opinion. Harry Potter is not an evil book, it's a simple book. There's no ulterior motives in it, and best of all, there are not children killing other children as the main premise.

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Speaking of agency, we all ... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 1:06 PM | Posted by Whatever: | Reply

Speaking of agency, we all seem to know what it's not, how about an example of what it looks like. I think David Eddings' Belgariad and Malloreon series are a good example of agency in the protagonist.

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The Capitol represents agen... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 1:53 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The Capitol represents agency.

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Interesting analysis. I hav... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 6:51 PM | Posted by Arinn Dembo: | Reply

Interesting analysis. I haven't read these books, as I am outside the intended demographic, and I'm also so old and cranky that a media blitz intended to make me go see a movie just annoys me.

I can see that this message is being heavily leveraged by the corporatocracy, however, which in and of itself makes it suspect. This is the first thing I've read which made me actually want to read them, if only to see whether I agree with you. I'll have to see whether they're available at the public library.

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It's something I've yet to ... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 7:48 PM | Posted by Les @ LPN Salary: | Reply

It's something I've yet to see to understand where you're coming from!

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I think TLP's criticism abo... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 10:11 PM | Posted by Simon: | Reply

I think TLP's criticism about a lack of agency is more specific than a lot of the responses really give credit for. Most of the negative comments over-generalise about the meaning of "agency".


Agency in the loose sense of "doing stuff" obviously is present for Katniss. She does deliberately do things to bring about a positive outcome (generally "Katniss survives"). But these actions are dictated by events. She's acting out of self-preservation. It's true that she's constrained by events, - but that's the point.

The problem is that the author refuses to let Katniss enter into situations where she can make a free choice.


You can point out how the story itself needed this or that to happen to make sense. But the point is that the story itself, and the constraints placed on Katniss' agency, were created, intentionally, by the author.

And this isn't a character flaw in Katniss. She's not incapable of agency, quite the contrary. She's nauseatingly resourceful and insightful. The problem is she's never given a chance. Remember the key dilemma is "fight or your family suffers" - but Katniss is steered around this issue by the plot and victory is just handed to her at the end.

Some people have suggested that this ending was all Katniss' plan. But all it really does is show up the author's cowardice. What if the story had actually enforced its own rules? The game creators could/should have said "fine, kill yourselves, we'll torture your family if you do".
The ending was the ultimate "deus-ex-machina" move.


The moral of "do nothing and gain everything" is really sad. Doubly so that it's wrapped up in a pseudo-feminist wrapper.

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But is it a deus ex machina... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 11:30 PM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

But is it a deus ex machina given the following two books? Because technically, for one thing, this isn't really the end of the story- it's one volume.

I see possible consistent internal logic to the choice to keep them both alive. It's more sadistic since nothing ever really gets resolved . All the results are dubious. Nothing much changes anyway in the trilogy. Stuff appears to work out just enough to keep Katniss still trying.
If someone occasionally gets positive reinforcement from the Capitol, won't that serve to keep the rest of the citizens trying?
I can see it in theory (although there is a revolution in one of the books- I forget what catalyzed it). A guaranteed losing situation all around is more conducive, I would imagine, to real change, which the Capitol wouldn't want.
Just random thoughts.

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I must say this is a great ... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2012 11:52 PM | Posted by buy-mlbjerseys: | Reply

I must say this is a great article

buy mlb jerseys

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Well the author is allowing... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 12:13 AM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by Simon: | Reply

Well the author is allowing them off the central dilemma of the scenario - "do you do something despicable to save your family and loved ones?" Refusing to participate is a good response, I think it's the correct moral one, but they're let off the concequence of that (their families and loved ones are not killed).

That's a deus ex machina move because, out of the blue, the rules are suddenly changed to bail the characters out. They're excused from the need to make a real moral decision.

It's sad because, as many people have pointed out, the characters do the right thing, morally, but the author just vetoes their right to be true agents.

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What a terrible article. Ap... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 3:01 AM | Posted, in reply to ACasualReader's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

What a terrible article. Apparently TLP thinks there's no deeper observation about American race relations to be made here, and would rather settle some grudge with Jezebel instead. He even completely misses the rather important point about Rue being described as BLACKITY BLACK in the book.

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I hope I don't sound like a... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 8:48 AM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by ginnygeneva@gmail.com: | Reply

I hope I don't sound like a snot, although I am tired and cranky. But I just don't get it. I really don't, Simon. This might offend you, sorry. But:

But I like happy endings. Or happy-ish.

They're kids, they can't be "true agents."

TLP just did that to see what response he could elicit by framing the argument that way. I hope he's happy (she says passive-aggressively and rolls her eyes).

It's hilarious that people would be upset about this. "They made a choice, now let them have the rational consequences of it and die!"
Again, no wonder kids are into cutting. It's like you are saying, "the important thing is whether or not these young people do the right moral thing and they did but then it is bad because they should have died for that, making them true free agents which is more important than surviving...." Hilarious. Really funny.

Like what, they're gonna become self actualized if they die or something? Or some part of you is? I'm serious: if there is a rightness to them both or just Katniss dying as a penalty for a transgression (big, huge superego bearing down here) where does that come from? I know some people instinctively identify love with pain and suffering, I'm not saying I'm immune, just it wouldn't hit me, I don't think, when it comes to literature as much. Is that it- love someone, make a choice, save a life, die? That's why so many people like vampire movies a lot of the time. Novels link love and suffering in such a way it slips under the radar, but ti's there.

Are you saying that in contrast to the lack of choices she gets to make because of the Capitol it would have been some sort of victory that would be balanced (and really predictable) for her to make a choice of defiance and then die....teen novels go there a lot, the pivotal final event that sort of represents the beginning of autonomy...I don't know. I think the book is better this way. Besides, based on what she's done so far in the book, it would have been redundant. She's made defiant choices. Stuff she knew might not help her, stuff that had some risk.

Free will is itself dubious is any environment, dystopian or otherwise.

People get results from choices they've made that don't quite fit their idea of results all the time. That's a basic part of life, isn't it?

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'we still want her to be "g... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 11:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Psychohistorian's comment, by Michael: | Reply

'we still want her to be "good" according to our own judgement, and the only way to do that is to write out the difficult choices.'

I think this is precisely the problem The Last Psychiatrist is writing about. In order for a woman to be a "good hero", she must have all difficult choices written out. Men are not treated similarly; they can make difficult decision and still come out the good guy.

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Hmmm, here is a surprise... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 4:31 PM | Posted by LINDS: | Reply

Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That's weird, what does she do to win? Take as much time as you want on this, it's an open book test. The answer is nothing.

You mean aside from dropping a wasp nest on Glimmer, shooting both Marvel and Cato, and playing a game of chicken with the Gamemakers that forces them to save both her AND Peeta?

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I, too, chime in with disag... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 4:36 PM | Posted by Jessica Leader: | Reply

I, too, chime in with disagreement. I had to think hard about why, but I found Katniss to have made many decisions, including those listed by other commenters and the fact that she manipulates the sponsors to heal Peeta. If she doesn't kill, I don't think that's downfall of her feminism, but rather, what Collins wants to show in her main character.

Collins isn't the only one to have her main character opt out of the society's approach to violence. Remember how Harry Potter ultimately killed Voldemort? Through his trademark disarming spell, not the Killing Curse. He even offered Voldemort the opportunity to show remorse at the end.

I agree that in these books, and especially in this movie, it seems as though Katniss is constantly nudged by her male allies, like Peeta and Hamish. I was especially dismayed by the ending of book two, in which she plays a key part in an insurgency plot but apparently doesn't have enough of a poker face to pull it off, so nobody tells her about it. I think that's more weak writing, though, than a failure of her feminism, or Collins's.

I think your critique is a classic case of feminism biting its own tail when there's a female protagonist. We subject the character to such rigorous interrogation and can pretty much only find her coming up short, whereas we might not exact the same toll on a male character. I am guilty of this as well in my own thinkings, and I think you make some persuasive arguments here, but ultimately, I think Katiss is an active character in a world where it's exceptionally difficult to act.

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It's just more productive t... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 7:33 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

It's just more productive to think of the Capitol as agency that literally fuels itself off of human life. And Katniss as someone unwilling to sacrifice either her humanity or her agency (such as it is). Then events unfold and she realizes the deceptive nature of power in a worldly context. Fortunately she does find love. It sounds like a not-atypical human experience to me: no gender.
Not sure what is problematic here.

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The capitol hardly has any ... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 7:44 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

The capitol hardly has any agency, at least on the movie. Not even the king. They are all slaves of the circumstances. The guy running the games doesnt even have a clue about the reasons behind of it.

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You're wrong. Katniss does ... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 8:40 PM | Posted by Jessica : | Reply

You're wrong. Katniss does kill someone. In the book and in the movie so go watch it again if you need to. She also chose to run into a dangerous situation in order to save Peeta's life. (Pretty heroic in my opinion) And Not to mention she takes her sisters place. Crap article. Check your facts, and stop turning entertainment into a big controversy.

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Honestly, I think you need ... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 9:27 PM | Posted by Sammie: | Reply

Honestly, I think you need to read the trilogy (for the first time, or again, whichever it is). This book is not about empowering women, it is about seeking justice and abolishing oppression. It is right to say that Katniss has no agency, because she lives in a world where she has no rights. This is what is important because there are women AND men living in our advanced, post-modern, empowered, and most importantly "enlightened" society who have absolutely no say in what happens to them. They do not act because they have no agency. And you are right, what is wrong with the Hunger Games is that no one noticed that this is a social critique. That while we live our fluffy lives in our comfortable society, there are people everywhere who become the victims of oppression in order to make OUR lives easy. The most frightening part is that people went to the premier, cheered when Clove was murdered, ooed when the camera flashed to Gale when Katniss kissed Peeta, and missed that their behavior was EXACTLY how the Capitol reacts the Hunger Games. The other tributes are not the enemy, the oppressive Capitol is and thankfully in the movie, Cato's speech at the end helped to bring this out. By focusing on empowering women (and yes I am a proud women) we miss the point that if we are ever to progress we must empower everyone who is a victim of oppression equally and at the same time.

What's wrong with the Hunger Games?
That everyone missed the point.

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I would imagine that agency... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 9:37 PM | Posted, in reply to YOHAMI's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I would imagine that agency is not literally embodied in one person; much more effective to spread it out. ? One person would be an easy target to take out, would always appear less powerful, more open to criticism, blah blah. A system is more baffling, complex and appears more powerful. It presents an illusion of cohesiveness even if it isn't. In a way (in theory) the more humans associated with it, the better. It looks voluntary and participatory as a system that way---a harder target to criticize. And if people are feeding their families that way, well, most people would not endanger their own families over principle. ?
And the more the Capitol can remain silent and still exert power, the better. Language leaves things open to discussion. So somebody walking around not knowing the history/beginning of the games but still doing the job of promoting them? Perfect.
I thought one of the main points in dystopian stories was how the system becomes machinelike (disembodied, orderly, helpmesmartpeopleoutthere, um, innocuous enough to potentially even pass as "the way things are." But maybe my wires are crossed with Hannah Arendt. Or Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. Or both) and perpetuate their own system.
I thought they had a president, not a king? or do they have both?

Definition of AGENCY

1
a : the office or function of an agent
b : the relationship between a principal and that person's agent
2
: the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power : operation
3
: a person or thing through which power is exerted or an end is achieved : instrumentality
4
: an establishment engaged in doing business for another
5
: an administrative division (as of a government)

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"what is wrong with the Hun... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 9:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Sammie's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"what is wrong with the Hunger Games is that no one noticed that this is a social critique...."

I think the word "dystopian" when used to describe something implies criticism of the object that is being described.

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Peter? Lots of commentary ... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 9:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Alexa: | Reply

Peter? Lots of commentary from people who haven't read the books.

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I think it's interesting th... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 9:48 PM | Posted by NoahB: | Reply

I think it's interesting that you equate agency initially, and most powerfully, with killing. I don't think that's coincidental, or that it's unique to you. But I do think it raises some uncomfortable question about what we mean by agency and empowerment.

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I sympathise with your dile... (Below threshold)

April 9, 2012 11:52 PM | Posted, in reply to ginnygeneva@gmail.com's comment, by Simon: | Reply

I sympathise with your dilemma, you want a happy ending but the rules of the scenario prevented it. It seems like the author had the same dilemma and her solution was to break her own rules. It's sloppy writing. Why make rules that you're going to ignore?

Consider Romeo and Juliet. That has a tragic ending where the characters die but their choice of suicide means their love for each other was greater than their own lives. That's why it's a great love story.
Imagine if Friar Lawrence had burst in as Julliet stabbed herself, patched up the wound, administered some antidote to Romeo and told them "oh it's okay your families decided to patch things up". A happier ending but if the story ends like that then it's unfulfilling, right? (also note that R&J is a good example of teenagers having meaningful agency).


There's a comedy show where they did this kind agency-assassination thing to famous films. Here's the one from Trainspotting:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJS-L49Vhm4&t=27m58

I like happy-uplifting endings too, but the ending to Hunger Games is like a parent playing a game with their kid and letting them win. They won but they didn't cause the victory.

I know it's a tired analogy at this point but consider how in Battle Royale the kids work at subverting the game for most of the film. Their efforts are rewarded by some of them surviving. It's a victory that they earned through their own efforts.

Katniss reacts to a chain of events that results in her victory. But she wasn't causing the events. She didn't engineer her victory. Yes, sometimes that's just how life is, but just having life happen to you doesn't automatically make you into a good role model for teenagers (or anyone).

So why did I advocate a depressing ending? It's the only way to preserve Katniss' agency within the rather depressing scenario the author created. Katniss is in a bad spot! By deus-ex-machinaing the ending the author ends on a high note but sells out the significance of her heroine's actions.

I guess my real point is - why not just write a better scenario where you can have both? It's only a mutually exclusive choice because the author set it up that way.

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Romeo and Juliet do not hav... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 2:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Romeo and Juliet do not have “meaningful agency.” They’re kids, (Juliet’s 13); part of their motivation is in reaction of their families’ mutual hatred, and even this famous quotation, popularly thought of as a profound expression of love, is really kid stuff:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"…

The above quotation has more than one meaning as does a lot of great literature and Shakespeare in particular. Romeo means it in a nice way but it’s saying on another level he likes girls and he’d like any girl or any pretty girl. Note that he is technically dismissing her name here, but that’s deceptive, because it’s largely about her name, because the families hate each other which only makes R and J more determined.

The romance moves way abnormally fast for the customs of the times and a lot of the lovey-dovey poetry between the two concerns Juliet’s appearance.

None of the above says “great romance.” Neither does the rest of the book, and at the famous ending is a series of accidents so outrageous, extreme, and unlikely that it can be considered a deus ex machina ending in it’s own right.

And that is why it is considered one of Shakespeare’s *tragedies.*

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They both awake to find the... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 8:39 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Simon: | Reply

They both awake to find their lover dead. They kill themselves rather than live on without them. That's a profound choice.

That quote is actually by Juliet and the section it's lifted from is pretty awesome. I don't think you give the story the credit it deserves. They don't talk about appearance at all. They harp on a lot about their eternal and boundless love for each other and how being apart is torturing them.

Fate conspires against them. The ending is contrived, but it's contrived to allow R&J to become tragic heroes. By killing themselves for love they affirm that the love is greater than themselves as individuals. It's an act of transcendence. They got to live in this impassioned love but faced with their lover's death it meant they had to chose suicide (or else a life spent waiting for death).

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Katniss actually kills a bo... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 9:03 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Katniss actually kills a boy. The one that Kills Rue. Completely unrelated to your argument but she does, in both the book and the movie.

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Between the post and the co... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 11:12 AM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Between the post and the comments and your last one, it's kinda like, there is this angle: choice, action only counts when and if you kill someone, yourself or someone else.

Except in Katniss' case, there seems to be this understanding she was actually trying to manipulate her situation and not trying to die, she succeeds, if people want her to die to make her choice more meaningful, it's not a realization of her agency---her agency has been realized because she didn't die---but it can be seen as some kind of affirmation of the Capitol...which is redundant since we already know the Capitol coexists with human sacrifice. So why affirm it?

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I don't get where the "only... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 11:53 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Simon: | Reply

I don't get where the "only" is coming from. Action counts if you kill someone. Generally. It doesn't always. Star Wars for example. Luke and Han blast away Stormtroopers left right and centre but it doesn't mean anything.

The point isn't killing, it's agency. Agency is bringing about a change in the course of events. Luke and Han deciding to risk their lives to save Leia is an example of agency.

Reacting to a bad situation and surviving is exciting but it's not an exhibition of agency. No more than surviving a car crash is an exhibition of agency.

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Dude, your arguments are so... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 1:41 PM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Dude, your arguments are so self-serving. You're like, R and J represent agency. And agency can't be reacting. But R and J dying is one big series of reactions. It counts, to you, because they died, I think.
Katniss does this very innovative thing the actually works, but it doesn't count because she didn't die.
The Star Wars dudes decide to risk their lives, which counts, to you. Supposedly they're not "reacting" to Princess Lea's dilemma. (eyeball roll) If we are to see "reacting" as basically---what--- having an emotional interest or a compelling reason to act, then it's not agency.
So if you want agency, you must be detached, your actions must have a significant effect *on other people* even if your intentions (R and J) were strictly oriented essentially all around yourself. In which case in you wouldn't be detached...presumably.

Which makes the whole thing a thing---agency---a thing that only exists in a hypothetical universe; it's not realistic and it is very much the Capitol. But if someone dies in this hypothetical universe, it's not deus ex machina, then it's real. Which is interesting because it further aligns you with the Capitol.

I don't know, man. But I'm giving up. I'm quitting. I have other things I have to focus on.

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I didn't say that no reacti... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 2:20 PM | Posted by Simon: | Reply

I didn't say that no reactions can be examples of agency. You can cast the net of "what is a reaction?" pretty wide (as you point out). The key factor is the ability to choose.

I'm talking about Katniss having to react to situations where there's no real choice. Like, "oh crap I'm getting knives thrown at me", pow - arrow to the chest. Or, "damn those guys are trying to kill me, oh look a wasp's nest placed conveniently over their heads", slice, bzzz, win.

There's no choice in these situations. Katniss is never given another way to act that could keep her alive.

R&J do have a choice. Each of them can renounce their love and live on despite the death of their partner. That choice is why their actions have significance.

The film makes no real bones about the way that outside forces are controlling the events inside of the game. The game masters make sure that the players have no real choices to make. The author sets up the rest, making sure Katniss is led through the events and protected from harm when necessary.
I don't get why people are defending it so hard. It's still a fun adventure, it just has some major flaws when it comes to Katniss as role-model.

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"Young women at growing ris... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 2:45 PM | Posted by medsvstherapy: | Reply

"Young women at growing risk of drunk-driving crashes"
You've come a long way, baby. This is feminism for ya.
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-04-young-women-drunk-driving.html

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Katniss is flawed as a role... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 2:56 PM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Katniss is flawed as a role model even though she lives in an environment in which she has no "real" choices. I'm paraphrasing the above statement.

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You know, expecting art to ... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 3:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You know, expecting art to conform itself to something---in an action juxtaposed with dystopian movie to boot, kind of awkward----isn't that just like asking for propaganda movies? Which was the basis for the whole complaint to begin with---Hollywood wants to seem to challenge the status quo without actually changing anything, it's propaganda (sending a message designed to elicit an action)? So in reaction to that, we only want a heroine who will really change things. Which---if this is a sexist society---might be considered a value set with some intrinsic sexist connotations in the first place.
I dunno. I think there's value in trying to respect the integrity of the artist. If we are to accept that the artist did things intentionally to convey something (people tend to confuse easily-digested lessons with conveying something, but that isn't what I mean), what was she conveying? I don't need to point out that respecting the work of a female artist can certainly be seen as not sexist. I believe the author of the book also wrote the screenplay to the movie.

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"If we are to accept that t... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2012 3:51 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

"If we are to accept that the artist did things intentionally to convey something [...], what was she conveying?"

What do you think she was conveying?

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I'm a bit confused as to yo... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 1:00 AM | Posted by Ishicourt: | Reply

I'm a bit confused as to your understanding of "agency". Having extensively studied both film and literary theory, I'm pretty well versed on the idea of agency, and it's far from clear what you expect a character with "agency" to do.

Last time I checked, Katniss volunteered for the games, survived in the wilderness by hunting, fishing, and gathering, teamed up with Rue, destroyed the "careers'" food supplies, and thwarted the Capitol's "only one emerges" agenda by convincing Peeta to feign a suicide attempt with her. There are many more examples and, last time I checked, there are quite a few action verbs in there. Even if we're going to proclaim that the Capitol achieved these results through manipulation and threats of violence, well, the book is about a government enforced battle royale. I mean, holy hell, what else is she supposed to do? If that's the premise of the novel, and you plan on attacking the main character as "devoid of agency", then you best be ready to provide a means by which *anyone* (male or female) could possess agency in such a situation. Besides, it seems like you are neglecting the entire premise of the book: that this is a corrupt world in which the government controls almost all aspects of people's lives. The *point* is that no one has any agency. And Katniss, through the rebellious act of feigning suicide to manipulate the rules, begins a domino effect.

It is entirely unclear to me how a series that is based upon the premise of a girl making a rebellious decision that ultimately leads to the uprising of a suppressed people is a series in which said girl "lacks agency".

I've been in academia long enough to recognize when someone is throwing around a "pop" intellectual term. Maybe we should try to get a better grasp of a notion before we explore it.

(On a similar note, it is equally unclear to me how a boy who actively roams the world, in pursuit of various Horcruxes, with the aim to destroy a powerful villain, lacks agency.)

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i apologize, because I did ... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 11:15 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

i apologize, because I did not get past the second point you were making here. the reason for this is because I saw no need, seeing as you didn't seem to pay attention during the movie, or skimmed the book too quickly. Katniss does, in fact, kill someone during the hunger games. during her defense of Rue. I am not disagreeing with your point, but at the same time, how can you truly make a valid point if the facts are wrong?

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You should probably try *pa... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 12:18 PM | Posted by Marjorie McAtee: | Reply

You should probably try *paying attention* to what you see and/or read before you attempt writing about it. Then maybe, you know, you'll get some of the details right.

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Great article. This is the... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 12:53 PM | Posted by Darcy Town: | Reply

Great article. This is the problem I have with reading most romance-esque novels...is the lady lead seems to be basically doing things within the limits that a man sets down for her. Which can be hot when it comes to the bedroom, but outside of the bedroom not so much.

I like to write strong female leads, without landing on that trope of the weakling dude by her side. What the hell is wrong with having two strong leads side by side? No simpering allowed. :)

~Darcy Town
author of Wastes of Space and the Morningstar Trilogy

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What do you mean she never ... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 1:20 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

What do you mean she never chooses not to kill? She chooses not to kill Foxface, Rue, and Peeta. She gains allies because of these choices and also choices to show respect to other contestants, even though they are instructed to treat each other like animals. Would she be a more deep and compelling character if she didn't hesitate before killing to protect her own life?

Life and literature are full of folks (usually men) who find that agency doesn't mean you live in a world without limitations. In fact, if you think about many classical works that are absolutely male dominated and pre-glimmer-of-feminism, the failure to be able to take charge of one's own destiny is a huge theme. To act like it's a problem for a woman in a book to face these same issues is absurd--no wonder nobody wants to write about women when suddenly treating an issue of deep human and philosophical angst makes you anti-femminist.

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QUOTE If that's the case I ... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 5:04 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

QUOTE If that's the case I don't completely fault them, the story is important to these girls/women, and they feel betrayed that someone alters it to suit their interests rather than give a faithful telling of the story, which, as happens to stories, become partly owned by the audience. ENDQUOTE

The point is that the story is explicit that Rue is, as Elisabeth noted above, mixed race at the very least. There is a more interesting conversation in play here about the whiteness of fantasy (starting with Tolkien and rolling on down the hill from there) and the way people project internalized values onto cultural scripts even when disruptive cues are in place, as is the case in Collins` novel.

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I stopped reading when I re... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 8:04 PM | Posted by K: | Reply

I stopped reading when I realized that the writer either lacks reading comprehension or never read the book. They also appear to have never watched the movie. Katniss kills several people in The Hunger Games (and kills more in later books.)

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So you're basically saying ... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 9:56 PM | Posted, in reply to Simon's comment, by m.: | Reply

So you're basically saying Katniss has no agency because she only survived and dealt with tough situations? Yet you go on to define agency as "Agency is bringing about a change in the course of events. Luke and Han deciding to risk their lives to save Leia is an example of agency."

So Katniss volunteering for her little sister is not an example of an agency? Teaming up with Peeta? Getting Peeta medicine? The bit with the berries? So goeth: she volunteered to save her sister. Getting the medicine for Peeta almost got her killed but she did it anyway even though it had zero to do with her own survival. The berries stunt is her playing the Gamemakers at their own game and thus not only ~surving but also saving Peeta and (maybe unwittingly but still) sparking the rebellion. And that's just the major bits in the first book.

I'm not denying the books and Katniss have flaws (in fact I'm the annoying person who brings them up whenever the books are mentioned) but I think a few people here are either only going by the movie or merely skimmed the book (or not even that).

P.S. If you want to be hardcore textbook about it, she's surving and dealing but still has agency. Why do some people seem to consider these two things mutually exclusive even though it is the basis of a lot of characters?

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Katniss kills two people in... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 10:34 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Katniss kills two people in the movie, and I haven;t read the book in awhile, but at least one there.

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Are you kidding me? Do you ... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2012 11:20 PM | Posted by Joan: | Reply

Are you kidding me? Do you read literature? Did you read this book? Have you read the sequels? Katniss has more agency than almost any other protagonist I've read lately. Her goal in the Hunger Games is not to kill, it is to survive, which she does through her OWN agency. She acts to get the gifts that keep her alive, she constantly takes action, she saves her sister, she saves Peeta, and how could you dismiss the catalyzing action of the book - Katniss stepping in for her sister - when Katniss basically sees it as volunteering for her own death? She sees it as a guaranteed death sentence until her sister makes her promise that she will try to survive and then, amazingly, she does. Yes, that's predictable, but if you're reducing Katniss' agency down to whether she can or cannot successfully kill people (because even the decision to kill someone, the decision to act - even reflexively as she does at Rue's death) is a form of agency. Her story is not about killing, it's about rebelling against the capital in spite of her INTENSE fear. She has TONS of agency and you are totally missing the point of this series.

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You didn't read the book mu... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2012 2:09 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You didn't read the book much, did you?

Issue 1: "The book is about 24 kids thrown into an arena to fight to the death, only the toughest, the most resourceful, the strongest will survive, and it better be you because your whole village depends on it."

Really a minor, nit-picky issue for me. If you had paid attention to the book you'd know that the only NECESSITY of the Hunger Games (for the districts) was submitting the children and appeasing the capital. Had they NOT sent the children, the Capital would have made war. The Districts lived in fear of the Capital coming down on them with their superior technology. Whether the kids won or lost was irrelevant, and the families of the kids would mourn when they lost. Did it change anything for the village if the kid lost? No. The kid merely lost. The village moves on. End of story.

Issue 2: "Hmmm, here is a surprise: Katniss never kills anyone. That's weird, what does she do to win? The answer is nothing."

And also:

"The Hunger Games has this same feminist problem. Other than the initial volunteering to replace her younger sister, Katniss never makes any decisions of her own, never acts with consequence-- but her life is constructed to appear that she makes important decisions."

This is the one that really clued me in to how little you read the book.

First off, she CHOOSES to stay with her family and keep and protect even her depressed mother. Gale offers to run away with her and live in the woods because they'd both be CAPABLE of doing so. She didn't even know if the offer was serious, but her mind was made up, and wasn't about to change for even her best friend.
(Pages 9 & 10)
" 'We could do it you know,' Gale says quietly.
'What?' I ask.
'Leave the district. Run off. Live in the woods. You and I, we could make it,' says Gale.
I don't know how to respond. The idea is so preposterous.

The first thing she does to win starts with curbing Haymitch's alcohol use. Granted, Peeta threw the first punch, but Katniss got in on the intervention by threatening Haymitch with a knife, and initiated it in the first place. (Page 56 and 57.)
" 'So, you're supposed to give us advice,' I say to Haymitch.
'Here's some advice. Stay alive,' says Haymitch, and then bursts out laughing. I exchange a look with Peeta before I remember I'm having nothing to do with him."
(^ Here's where she STARTS it. Admittedly, Peeta throws the first punch. It is also not until KATNISS ACTS UP that Haymitch takes the two of them seriously.)

"When he turns back to reach for the spirits, (alcohol) I drive my knife into the table between his hand and the bottle, barely missing his fingers. I brace myself to deflect his hit, but it doesn't come.Instead, he sits back and squints at us.
'Well, what's this?' says Haymitch. 'Did I actually get a pair of fighters this year?'"

I now bring you to the ACTUAL games, where she takes action not only for herself, but to rescue OTHERS from this horrible nightmare as well. Here she takes action for herself:

Chapter 11 Page 157.

"I hear his (Haymitch's) instructions in my head. 'Just clear out, put as much distance as you can between yourselves and the others, and find a source of water.' "
...
(Page 158)

"... When suddenly I notice Peeta, he's about five tributes to my right, quite a fair distance, still I can tell he's looking at me and I think he might be shaking his head. But the sun's in my eyes,and while I'm puzzeling over it the gong rings out.
And I've missed it! I've missed my chance! Because those extra couple of seconds I've lost by not being ready are enough to change my mind about going in. My feet shuffle for a moment, confused at the direction my brain wants to take and then I lunge forward, scoop up a sheet of plastic and a loaf of bread. The pickings are so small and I'm so angry with Peeta for distracting me that I sprint in twenty yards to retrieve a bright orange backpack that could hold anything because I can't stand leaving with virtually nothing."

So here Katniss has taken initiative. Haymitch AND Peeta told her to essentially stay the Heck away from the Cornucopia, because it's so dangerous, still, she acts on her own and grabs supplies. She ends up getting nearly knifed and killed, but you get the point. So yes. She makes decisions and there are consequences for them. She CHOOSES to kill the girl from District 4 with Tracker Jackers. She CHOOSES to pretend to love Peeta to save BOTH of them. She has initiative. Yes, oftentimes she doesn't have agency, but sometimes her lack of agency drives her to take the biggest risks.

There's more I could nitpick, but this took me a while and I'm officially burned out on tearing this flawed blogpost/review/whatever this thing is apart. So goodnight fair internets. Don't forget to RTFM, or in this case RTFB (Read The Flipping Book!) I assure you, it's well worth the effort, as the movie (which you are CLEARLY basing this off of) had it's flaws.

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The idea that women have be... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2012 1:21 PM | Posted by JohnJ: | Reply

The idea that women have been brainwashed into supporting "the patriarchy" is just another way of excusing women for what they do. There's no "system" that "wants" to oppress women. There's a system that has effects, and one of those effects is to encourage women to be desirable above all, but that's because for centuries a woman's best hope of having a decent life was to be rescued from poverty by some rich guy. For most of history, life has been brutal, nasty, and short. The fact that things have changed now doesn't mean that society automatically changes in response. Saying that the system "wants" to oppress women is just a way of projecting bad intentions on to those who disagree with you about the need for change. They must want to oppress women!

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Indeed, Jezebel is hardly w... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2012 2:34 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tim: | Reply

Indeed, Jezebel is hardly what I would consider feminist at all...in my view liberal feminism just isn't feminism anymore...

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I think, perhaps, you shoul... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2012 7:34 PM | Posted by Antares: | Reply

I think, perhaps, you should actually read the books. Yes, plural, there are three of them.

Then, perhaps, you should read Lao Tzu. Suzanne Collins obviously did.

A heroine can be more than just Conan the Barbarian with tits.

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I enjoyed reading your arti... (Below threshold)

April 13, 2012 12:32 AM | Posted by Rei: | Reply

I enjoyed reading your article, but I am afraid it rather depletes the credibility of your argument when you make it quite evident that you have in fact, not read the book thoroughly.

Let me start off with the clause "Most of the "racist" comments I've seen about this complain about the race from a anti-Hollywood, anti-left perspective, i.e. "there goes liberal Hollywood, pushing the liberal agenda." The complaint appears to be not that they don't like black characters in general, but that this was some underhanded move to use the story to promote a political agenda, like making Sherlock Holmes a gay action hero. Now that's just wrong." I had some trouble comprehending this, but after reading it through a few times, I think that wheat you are trying to state is that the addition of Jezebel and any other african american casting is an effort to encourage diversity (Though the opposite occurred). Now my problem with this is that in the book, Rue is described as having darker skin. So this addition was not based on any racial factors, merely on the facts stated in the book. Your next paragraph states, "If that's the case I don't completely fault them, the story is important to these girls/women, and they feel betrayed that someone alters it to suit their interests rather than give a faithful telling of the story, which, as happens to stories, become partly owned by the audience." As stated in my previous assertion, it was not, in fact, "altered to suit any interests", the only interest suited in the production of the film, was that of the authors. My big problem is with your point that they did not give a "faithful telling of the story". If you had read the story you would know that it is in no way faulty. Now I understand that you are simply interpreting the issues brought about by these "racists", and they do share much of the blame. They did victimize a young girl for something she had absolutely no control over, and it is evident that they had no clear of understanding of the text either. I move next to
your point on "wether Rue should be black or not", and the question is not one that you have the right to be asking. Rue was dark skinned before the books hit the popularity level it now stands at. I find it completely inappropriate for you to pin blame on Jezebel for her role in this controversy, and I do question your morals. But I feel I have dwelled on this topic too long. The next point I address is more of a reference to the story dynamic rather than your personal opinions. When you say that, "only the toughest, the most resourceful, the strongest will survive" you are undermining some of the essential criteria that appeals to the female reader. You seem to be familiar with some of the more obvious plot points, so I will assume you know about the careers. For those who do not know, careers are children trained to join the hunger games who are strong and competitive. If this book were about one of the careers, say Cato or Clive, you may be able to argue that they always win. But alas, a scrawny malnourished 16 year old girl manages to beat the odds and win. You then go on to say that "no surprise: Katniss wins", this statement completely goes against your previous argument that only the strong resourceful ones win. While you may say that Katniss is quite resourceful, by comparison she is no physically strong. This next issue has been addressed, the fact that Katniss "never really killed anyone". I have a lot to say about this. Lets start simple. Katniss did indeed kill more than one person. However, even if she hadn't it would only feed more into the theme of rebellion evident throughout the story. Katniss doesn't want to kill people, none of the tributes woke up one day and said "I think I want to be put in an arena with some other young adults, it seems like a good day to fight to the death". No, the capitol manipulates everyone in their control and Katniss is no different. You go on to compare Katniss to Cinderella. The one common theme I see between the two is the theme of manipulation. However, while Katniss works to free the entire population of Panem from the griips of the capitol in order to increase equality, Cinderella marries a prince and is pampered thereafter. My question for you is how you consider Katniss a princess, and so far this is where you demonstrate your absolute ignorance as far as the books go. In the final book, Katniss takes her place as a rebel leader in order to take down the capitol. She lives a posh lifestyle in which she goes undercover through abandoned streets while bombs land in her wake all in order to free the her fellows. I wish it ended here, I really do, but no you had to take it to the next step. you claim that Katniss never once makes her own decisions after volunteering to step in for her sister. However, the book ends with her blatantly outsmarting the capitol in order to cheat the games and allow two victors. This is what helped fuel the revolution against the capitol. This first real act of rebellion showed the country of Panem that they could stand up against capitol. If you try and argue that Rue's death was the spark that lit the flame, you will only embarrass yourself because it will only prove that you only watched the movie. While Rue's death was a contributing factor, it did nothing but add to the anger that fueled the rebellion. Next you say that because she does not kill in defense, the deed does not count. However, it is much more brutal to murder someone when the situation is not defensive. In the real world it would result in a far longer prison sentence. I see no reason why it matters if she chooses to kill or not, her goal is to defy the capitol, she is a strong role model, not a ruthless killer. unfortunately I have no time to continue to prove your inaccuracy, but I will at some point finish reviewing the article in another comment. I do hope you read this and actually read books hereafter because it makes much more sense to review something you are passionate rather than joining a movement when you have absolutely no viable evidence.

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So this is why we have a... (Below threshold)

April 14, 2012 2:06 PM | Posted by kwh: | Reply

So this is why we have a book about a post-apocalyptic killing game that spends zero pages describing how Katniss kills anyone but spends countless pages on how she is dressed, how everyone is dressed.

I believe you have missed here because you've let Entertainment Weekly and the like choose what the question is. This isn't a book about the killing game, it's a book about a society in which the suffering of others is used for entertainment. Katniss's enemies aren't the other kids (who are only there because the government demands it and who would never have fought if they weren't made to), the enemy is those who profit from the gladiatorial games. Rue wasn't the enemy of anyone; she was killed because people think it's fun to watch killing. And the people who set that up are the enemies.

Insofar as it is a commentary on the collapse of society and people abandoning the duties of citizenship for "bread and circuses", the media can't report on it that way, because it's an indictment of them. "What do the reporters want to be true?" You can be sure it's not "We're leading to the downfall of society because what we do is useless and if we had any decency we wouldn't profit by gossip and salaciously selling the misery of others." Without those things, would Entertainment Weekly even exist?

The media will let you argue about the answer, but they don't want you to disagree about what the question is. That's why they keep going on about the killing game and talking about Katniss as if her victory is by arms. But if you ask "Who are the enemies?", and conclude that it's the media moguls who earn huge money via degrading and disgusting "entertainment", then the clothes and makeup really do matter, because she can't kill a government with an arrow. "A weapon is a device for making your enemy change his mind." She gets something at the end which didn't seem possible at the beginning, using the only weapons which would work against the people who really were her enemies. At the end, with the berries, she was never going to commit suicide: it was a game of chicken against the real enemies. And she won.

I see several missed opportunities in the book/movie, but at least Katniss recognized who the real enemy was.

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Interesting analysis. I hav... (Below threshold)

April 15, 2012 4:39 PM | Posted by DelFresco: | Reply

Interesting analysis. I haven't read the book or seen the movie but I wondered how they'd deal with the problem of having the main character play in this contest, and still be a hero. So they just avoided the whole thing. As you point out, nice trick indeed.

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I observe agency to be asso... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2012 6:14 AM | Posted, in reply to kwh's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I observe agency to be associated with gender and comments about how a persons interpretation of something could be more relevant than the authors original thoughts (as they are reflected in the text.)

“Relevant for what?” I hear being asked. For how it (in this case, a text) shape our minds. A couple of examples:

YOHAMI:
Harry Potter is similar: hardly any agency. Stuff happens, the story carries them, etc. Zero personal power, zero manliness.

Matt Walker:
They are not interested in agency. They are WOMEN.

Jb:
Yes, a lot of what happened in the story was out of her control. That's part of what makes it sell - young women feel that their lives are mostly out of their control, and they gravitate to stories that show someone gain control over her life.

Cythraul:
A little girl sees Katniss exercising her fake agency, and doesn't see the fakery - she just sees the agency. She then grows up wanting to be like Katniss - "I can do anything, just like Katniss!" If that's what she carries around with her, does it actually matter that Katniss doesn't do anything?

First an obvious point, that agency is not to be associated with the end result per se. It is an expression of ones inner conviction/desire and willingness to plan, act, work and execute according to a given goal, benign or malicious. It's painful to read agency so tightly associated with gender. The map an individual acts upon may be heavy influenced by gender and it may be that men exhibit more visible behavior characterized by e.g, but the level of agency is not dependent on the nature of goals being pursued, nor the means utilized. You guys must have forgotten the little you once knew about woman. Do you truly associate your mother with “passive” and father with “active”? Okay, so you had a childhood more out of the ordinary than what's usual.

Not to make it personal, but I have faith in that some of you will recognize blips of the following.

A divorced couple, a history with typical example of true female agency. She was a resourceful and independent woman and it dazzles me to think about the longevity and extension of her initiatives to save that failed relationship. The male was a though guy, ex mercenary and serial businessman – could smell the testosterone. Despite a seemingly non-existent fear of sticking out, picking a fight or seizing an opportunity, he was always a brick in some game and apart from the financial side of it, never able to create the future for himself, as he was guided by the false idols of the Capitol.

Agency – and let's ignore the malicious and ignorant side of it – depend on an intellectual structure. It's the structure in which the past is stored, the present experienced and future calculated. While emotions and impulses may be rulers of the moment it is that intellectual structure which provide a unity of it all and is the framework which aid to guide action.

We become what we eat. Now, are the qualities of the food dependent on the person tasting?

Of course not. While it's obviously true that people will experience different things from the same piece of art, but it's equally true that it's more to it than what meets the (concious) mind. On the short term it might not matter if a little girl read Kateniss as a strong person with agency. On the long term, it's the sum of these stories which will make an imprint in your brain and convey messages you never heard in the first place.

Thank you.

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kwh,I didnt unders... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2012 10:08 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by YOHAMI: | Reply

kwh,

I didnt understand the story about the divorce, the woman with agency and the mercenary. No clue what you meant, so elaborate?

This though:

"It's painful to read agency so tightly associated with gender."

It's a stereotype indeed, and sexist, but it has more to do with the understanding of agency.

Put it in simple words: agency means responsibility and causability. Either you drive the story, or the story happens to you.

When you drive the story you own the story, you're the cause, your decisions have long repercussions you have to deal with, the environment is your mirror, you have the power, you're the active element, and you are either a hero, or a villain.

When the story drives you, when the story happens to you, the environment determines your decisions and channels your actions, you're just the mirror of your environment, you dont have power, you're a passive element, you're a victim in the hands of either a responsible parent or in the hands of an abuser.

Now guess what. The cliche, which is also true a lot of the times, is that women as a whole assume the passive / victim role.

And not just that. Feminism is sexist, by constructing the whole patriarchy theory depicting women as characters without agency, always as victims, and always needed to be protected. Which is extra sad, since it needs to depict "all" men, as a whole, as abusers for the theory to work.

So of course they like Katniss.


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Now if we broaden the under... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2012 10:15 AM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

Now if we broaden the understanding of agency, and we add other stuff into it. Agency can also mean when you're passive, but you get other people to do the deeds for you.

Manipulation for example. Playing the victim for example. Sometimes, in the right circumstance, playing still and crying, showing your pain, forces other people to act on your behalf.

That's how Harry Potter get's shit done for example. He "inspires" a lot of stuff on other people. He does little, but oh boy, does stuff happen around him.

So passive character or... master manipulator, or clueless lucky bastard?

Katniss follows a similar route, with a bit more action on her part, and more direct intentional manipulation. So she's got more agency than Potter.

Without each writer of each story securing a happy ending for both though... neither character has enough personal power to drive the story. Without their loving authors, they would be doomed.

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NICE Come back, good points... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2012 11:26 AM | Posted, in reply to William's comment, by Mike: | Reply

NICE Come back, good points. TLP sometimes gives me tunnel vision. He's as dangerous as the dangers he exposes. I do love his writings though.

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Wow, I completely concur wi... (Below threshold)

April 17, 2012 3:58 PM | Posted, in reply to William's comment, by Christina: | Reply

Wow, I completely concur with Mike. This was a great comment, and very well-reasoned.

I still think there are some problems with THG; but maybe that's just bad writing (much as I liked the books, I did think several times, "wow, that's sure convenient"), and I was all too willing to let Alone tell me there was something even deeper than the bad writing.

Do you have a blog somewhere, William?

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Weird and incoherent story.... (Below threshold)

April 18, 2012 1:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Christina's comment, by Mike: | Reply

Weird and incoherent story. Something about a female being perceived without agency in contrast to her masculine and thrifty husband, while in reality it's other way around. She fought for keeping her family together (but I'm not sure any longer) and acted passionately on it. I'm not sure whether he was a hero or a villain, but his mind was unknowingly subjugated. Never mind.

It's a stereotype indeed, and sexist, but it has more to do with the understanding of agency.

Yes, and I think of it as a flawed understanding and have stated why. We are gender wise wired to excel at different things, behave differently and often seemingly pursue different goals, but that doesn't imply that say females are less passionate or propelled in their quest, nor are they dumber despite their deficits (the other post). While there are notable gender differences one should take care in emphasizing them. Women might be better wired for nurturing, but that doesn't imply that men are not wired for it.

Though I admire Nietzsche (oh, it's you) with his will to power, I humbly realize that man is small, living at the mercy of events and is not the master of his life. I'm not suggesting this as a mindset to adopt, but merely as a realization of facts. To tie it back it could be added that although we are not masters of our lives we do decide how to respond, what meaning to make out of it and what kind of change we learn to desire.

Rhetorical question: Should men and woman ultimately have different goals of life? I'm not talking about how to position or the means of pursuit.

Someone mentioned the idealization of females (a topic also covered by the scand hype author Knausgård, My struggle 1). Perhaps it's in some sense truth to it. Just my five cents. Men are known for being more utilitarian and fond of power, and I believe it at large is a mans world. Decisions about war are being discussed. These people don't consult women and it wouldn't surprise me if the participants were exclusively male. You can be their woman, but you'll be left out in the dark and if you don't work the preferred way you'll be substituted. Despite complaints about the opposite, women aren't very expensive.

Speaking about commonalities. According to studies I've read (well, the abstracts) men and women have one important thing in common: in intimate and close relationships they both rapport to prefer women :) As a rule of thumb men have no relationships to be as close or closer than the one with his wife while the females do (and of course it's with another woman).

Lucky me for having a wife who know her place, taking special care of the kids. I'm repulsed by the idea of say working in a kindergarten spending my hours changing diapers and would actually prefer to clean a sewer with my tongue. That being said, if my wife died it would change. It's not out of my realm and it's not controversial to state that people exhibit very different behavior depending on the context.

---
Yeah I have a blog, but it's wrong. I can see it.

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Katniss shot a dude with he... (Below threshold)

April 19, 2012 1:10 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Katniss shot a dude with her arrow.

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on number 3 katniss did kil... (Below threshold)

April 19, 2012 4:50 PM | Posted by mariah: | Reply

on number 3 katniss did kill marvel if you didn't remember.

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I agree with your criticism... (Below threshold)

April 20, 2012 12:17 AM | Posted by ingrid: | Reply

I agree with your criticism on the (deluded) post-feminist celebration of the film, but for a somewhat different reason. Recall that every sci-fi or fantasy movie always tells us something about our (contemporary technological) condition, and that gender is often used in films to come to terms with or dissimulate this condition for its audience. So the film illustrates on two levels that our contemporary condition is one of an experience of a loss or a lack of agency in a highly technocratic world; and to represent this as a femininization - by way of a female character through which femininity is indeed conventionally re-associated with a lack of agency and an obsession with appearances - the audience is 'duped' into thinking that this loss of agency is merely a female characteristic. So on another level, the film's narrative techniques allow the audience to come to terms with our condition by way of 'selling' to us the illusory idea of a 'strong' female character; feminist content itself becomes part and parcel of consumerist technocracy.

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I don't really have time to... (Below threshold)

April 20, 2012 11:39 AM | Posted by Fie Upon This Quiet Life: | Reply

I don't really have time to read all the comments, so I'm not sure if someone pointed all of this out or not, but anyone who reads the book closely would understand that Rue is described as black in the book. The description says, "[Rue] has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she's very like Prim in size and demeanor." (p. 45) How anyone could get "white girl" out of that description is beyond me.

Second, Katniss DID kill people. You note that she kills Rue's murderer. Before that, she does deliberately drop the tracker jacker nest on the careers in an attempt to kill them. At that point in the games, Katniss only has one weapon - a knife - which, if she threw it at one of them, could have been easily lost. The only way she could kill at that point would be to drop the nest on them.

I think, too, that you've missed the point about the costumes/dresses/stylists. That stuff is all imposed by the capitol, and Katniss hates it. The dresses by Cinna end up having a rhetorical point though -- the wedding dress in book two turns into a Mockingjay, the symbol of the coming rebellion. I think Collin's use of fashion is her way of critiquing our society's obsession with the female as object, not, as you imply, the upholding of those stereotypes.

And finally, if you read book three, you find that the traditional love triangle gets turned on its head when Gale becomes a maniac, no-holds-barred killer in the war and Peeta is highjacked by the capitol. Neither man seems to be a good option, and Katniss ends up rejecting their idea that she will choose whomever she feels she can't survive without. Sure, she ends up with Peeta and she has children with him. But it took years for that to happen. Another thing I take issue with is the idea that a feminist heroine isn't allowed to have love and/or children in her life. Katniss takes some convincing to have children because of the circumstances under which she grew up and the trauma she's gone through -- not just with the HG, but also losing her father, essentially being abandoned by her mother, and losing her sister in the war, not to mention that she'd given up on having children from the very first pages of the book.

While I agree with some of your observations, I think that you sell the books short. There are many fine critiques of our society in there, and many of them have to do with the way we look at women as objects and helpless beings. Remember, too, that Katniss (in the book, but not the movie) is ready to kill Peeta at the end of the games when the rule is revoked about two people winning. It's only when Peeta throws his knife away that she feels any shame about that.

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Isn't it normal to think of... (Below threshold)

April 20, 2012 7:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Guy Fox's comment, by DGS: | Reply

Isn't it normal to think of other women's LOOKS after awhile though?

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Is nobody bothered by the f... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2012 8:59 AM | Posted by shameonyou: | Reply

Is nobody bothered by the fact that the book/ film makes killing human beings entertainment? Is This kind of rubbish what you enjoy reading/watching? Its really dissapointing...

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Have you actually read the ... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2012 2:45 PM | Posted, in reply to shameonyou's comment, by Rei: | Reply

Have you actually read the book? The whole thing is not meant to glorify death in children. It is a metaphor for the society we live in. I don't know what equates it to "rubbish", because for people with the ability to look deeper into the plot, you can see that it is an amplified representation for how our society is corrupt.

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I am curious how you think ... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2012 2:57 PM | Posted, in reply to YOHAMI's comment, by Rei: | Reply

I am curious how you think that Harry Potter does not display manhood adequately. I somewhat understand how you link both Katniss and Harry to the idea of tools, though I'm not sure how that takes away from the plot. The concept for both stories, is the idea that both Katniss and Harry have been made tools of their environments. No, Harry did not decide to be the chosen one, it was an effect of the environment which he grew up in. But when the time come that he must display his "manhood" he follows through. In The Deathly Hallows, Harry chooses to go into the forest to defeat Voldemort because he does not want anybody else to die for him. So, while he does not choose to undertake the part of the "chosen one", he does follow through with what must be done. The Hunger Games is meant to be an enhanced metaphor for the society we live in. If you had read the other two books, you would likely understand that Katniss chooses to lead a rebellion, the entire first book is all about rebellion. She learns to understand that they don't have to go along with the capitol. She chooses not only for herself, but for her entire country.

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Hi Rei,I didnt rea... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2012 3:17 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

Hi Rei,

I didnt read either book, I only watched the movies. That is, the Harry Potter movies and THG one. So take this with a dosis of salt.

Manhood. Males compete and train and adhere to greatest principles. The underlying drive, always, is competition, to possess the higher force, the more fine tuned resource, the bigger cock, etc.

A character is "manlier" when he/she decides, consistently, to defeat the environment, to prevail, to be stronger than, to amass power, to do the higher cause thing, etc.

Harry doesnt defeat Voldemort. He goes to the forest because he doesnt want other people to die, and surrenders. The manly move would have been to go into the forest with either a plan or a bigger cock, and kill the enemy. Prevail.

Then, to make it even more unmanly, Harry gets the hyper powerful bigger than the universe magical stick... and he gets rid of it. Harry doesnt want the power - doesnt want the supreme magic - doesnt want the hussle. All he wants is peace and stability and to grow a family and take his kids to school and the comfort and the familiar. He doesnt want to go further and push the envelope and take decisions that radically alter things, he doesnt want to grow into a legend, he wants to be normal, he wants the mundane.

He has "feminine" goals.

In nature, and in society, a man with such safe ambitions rarely can get them, because men do have to compete other men and rank higher on the men's scale to have a shot at reproduction and stability. Heck. When women, who primarily want stability and comfort and safety and to have stuff done and provided to them, are screening for partners, they usually pick the more dominant, higher ranked men on the scale.

So guys with the ambition of Harry Potter have to chance to do the stuff Harry Potter does on the books.

But his story makes sense if he's a girl. A virgin that everyone wants to protect and is willing to give their lives for. And that she decides to sacrifice herself, when given little other choice, to avoid the suffering of the people she loves.

Now that's a story that has been told SO many times.

Which brings us to Katniss.

"you would likely understand that Katniss chooses to lead a rebellion"

Im going on a limp here and guess that when she "chooses" it's pretty much the only thing she can do, like when she "chooses" to take her sister place and when she "chooses" to team with Peeta.

While anything can be viewed as a "choice", a real choice is when the externals are not pushing it towards only and only possibility or else. Again Game of Thrones is an amazing example of that. I havent read the books either, just watching the show. Im amazed at how each character, including the female ones, constantly take decisions they were not forced to, and how their decisions lead to consequences and change the story, rather than the story using their characters as pawns, like in Harry Potter or THG.

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*So guys with the ambition ... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2012 3:19 PM | Posted by YOHAMI: | Reply

*So guys with the ambition of Harry Potter have [NO] chance to do the stuff Harry Potter does on the books.

Nor can inspire all that movement around them, nor the sympathy nor the loyalty.

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In the book it's clear that... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2012 8:37 PM | Posted by John: | Reply

In the book it's clear that Katniss recognizes how awful her circumstances are and that she hates being a pawn in the game. She does kill people, but she doesn't relish it.

We also have to remember that she's 16. A bit precocious, perhaps, but she's not an adult and not able to handle and see everything the way a more experienced person might.

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Good read, even if I didn't... (Below threshold)

April 23, 2012 12:29 AM | Posted by amy: | Reply

Good read, even if I didn't agree with everyone. I think the comments about how just about *everyone* is robbed of agency in THG was something I hadn't considered.

And I think Mockinjay really makes it clear that Katniss doesn't have agency. President Coin is dressing her up, making her produce propaganda for the rebel cause, which Katniss doesn't really know that much about. Coin didn't even want her, if I recall correctly, and thinks that Katniss would be more useful dead, as a martyr. How's that for a lack of agency?

Til, you know, she shoots Coin instead of Snow. I don't think anyone (except maybe Snow himself) saw that coming. So maybe all THG books do present Katniss without agency... but I think in the moment where she shoots Coin instead of Snow, that's where Katniss is her strongest.

Nevermind that she also stopped the past 75 years from repeating themselves again.

I wish I could talk about this on a more theoretical level, not just on a story-level. Maybe someone else could jump in and share what they think. But I do think that this is probably one of the most critical moments of the series.

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I didn't interpret the Hung... (Below threshold)

April 25, 2012 12:26 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I didn't interpret the Hunger Games like that at all. Katniss has agency insofar as any human does. You are constrained in your choices to a certain degree, but within that set of constraints you can still make your own decisions. That's life, for everyone.

Case in point, no matter how much the author writes to the contrary, I think Katniss made a conscious decision not to participate in the killing.

That's the thing about the "no agency" argument, if feels very unfalsifiable. If you try hard enough, you can attribute anything to lack of agency and "false choices" and all that, but that still doesn't necessarily make it true.

Interesting read though, even though I mostly disagree.

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yes. it did say in the book... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2012 10:14 PM | Posted by madison: | Reply

yes. it did say in the book that rue was black. it said she and thresh's similarities was their dark skin, hair, and eye color. shesh

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Bienvenue à... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2012 11:44 PM | Posted by tn requin: | Reply


Bienvenue à - http://www.tnstocker.com ----

meilleur sevice de la manière suivante:

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It strikes me as strange th... (Below threshold)

May 10, 2012 3:37 AM | Posted by S: | Reply

It strikes me as strange that with all your insight into human nature, you continually miss the true goings-on of feminism and so-called sexism.

Sometimes I wonder if this is because of some agenda, or if you are really that blind.

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How much agency do any of t... (Below threshold)

May 11, 2012 11:43 AM | Posted by ellem: | Reply

How much agency do any of the tributes exercise? They get picked in a lottery in which they have no option but to be included.

Katniss volunteers as tribute to save her sister. In this respect she shows more agency than the other tributes. Plus courage and love for her sister.

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awful articles that display... (Below threshold)

May 16, 2012 6:38 PM | Posted by rats: | Reply

awful articles that display complete ignorance of the book.

katniss' lack of agency is discussed throughout the book. you aren't some magician finding it, you just misunderstood it.

either you haven't read the book or you didn't get the book.

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I am trying to understand y... (Below threshold)

May 18, 2012 10:40 AM | Posted by Joyness Sparkles: | Reply

I am trying to understand your article, but really I see just alot of whining. You yourself are not giving Katniss a choice. If she were a real person and had this experience, you would not allow for the fact that she grew up an introvert and is doing what she thinks is right to win the game.

Are you advocating for the feminist movement that girls start killing? Because that is what this article appears to be doing. I believe compassionate living is the higher choice and as Katniss did kill once out of reflex and once out of mercy, I applaud the strength it must have taken not to jump into the bloodbath. It is easy to follow a crowd, but it takes strength to stand alone. You do not see that kind of strength, as you tore this character to shreds for not following the crowd.

Where did the choice go in feminism? As I see it, you would condemn any woman for not making a choice that you (or the feminist organization) approve of. That is not advocating freewill, but rather control. Every individual should have the right to make his or her own choices (including the choice to follow society or culture) and deal with the good or bad consequences that follow.

The one choice that you choose to ignore is the fact that while every other tribute had no choice to enter the game, Katniss did, she volunteered to save her sister. That act alone should release her from your criticism. Would you do something like that to save someone else? After this piece you have written, I doubt it.

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OMG! RUES IS MENTIONED BLAC... (Below threshold)

May 19, 2012 8:25 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

OMG! RUES IS MENTIONED BLACK IN THE BOOK MAN -READ IT PROPERLY-

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Great artical, but I'd like... (Below threshold)

May 22, 2012 2:30 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Great artical, but I'd like to say that Katniss DOES kill someone--the kid who killed Rue. Also, Rue is supposed to have a darker-colored skin tone--it's in the book! :)

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Give yourself a break. You... (Below threshold)

May 24, 2012 4:39 AM | Posted by Elise: | Reply

Give yourself a break. You are probably not a racist. What goes on in your head in called "unconscientious bias". It's not your fault. just sayin...

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Interesting article. Great... (Below threshold)

May 28, 2012 4:10 PM | Posted by Leon Jesmanowicz: | Reply

Interesting article. Great point by Elise about "unconscientious bias".

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I don't understand why peop... (Below threshold)

June 2, 2012 4:13 AM | Posted by Me: | Reply

I don't understand why people are confused by Rue being black. 1) It makes her look really cute and innocent and 2) IT SAYS IN THE BOOK THAT SHE HAS DARKER SKIN!!!!!!!!! Why is every one being so racist???

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To all you racists out the... (Below threshold)

June 5, 2012 1:46 AM | Posted by Juliana Snow: | Reply

To all you racists out there, you can go take a hike! So what if there are people with darker skins in the world? It doesn't make them any dumber, or more disgusting. What's your problem anyway? Rue isn't "black". She just has darker skin, you bitches. So stop insulting everything and everyone whose skins are just a little darker than yours. One day, the world might have dark colours as the dominant skin colour. Let's see how you racist "white" people deal with insults and glares then, huh?

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Man, it's so funny to read ... (Below threshold)

June 5, 2012 4:33 AM | Posted by szopen: | Reply

Man, it's so funny to read articles written by feminists :) I guess so it wouldn't be so funny if I'd live in USA or in any other place where obsessions such as those expressed here are treated seriously...

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It does not matter about an... (Below threshold)

June 5, 2012 4:17 PM | Posted by Peggy Sm: | Reply

It does not matter about anyones skin color or beleifs or anything about them, they are who they are. Even if it is a fictional book. Katniss kills the boy that killed Rue. She did deserve to win because it is not only about physical strength, but strategy too. You obviously didn't pay attention to the book at all. Get reading before you pick apart something. Back your reasons up.

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I like the cover of Rolling... (Below threshold)

June 6, 2012 1:16 PM | Posted by KOF: | Reply

I like the cover of Rolling stone magazine... Also interesting info in this article! Well done!

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Lol at this pseudo-intellec... (Below threshold)

June 6, 2012 10:48 PM | Posted by todd: | Reply

Lol at this pseudo-intellectual bullshit. This was obviously a cheap ploy for page views. Thanks for the Jennifer Lawrence RS pic, though. Fap fap fap fap fap fap!!!!

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She does make a choice - sh... (Below threshold)

June 8, 2012 7:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

She does make a choice - she is trying to lay low and hide since she isn't as strong of a fighter. I think Hymitch explicitly points out that her game isn't confrontation but survival. And to dismiss her decision to kill Rue's attacker and her choice to drop the deadly nest on her enemies as non-choices is anti-feminist. Third degree murder is the only way for her to be an assertive woman?! Ridiculous! She rescues her friends with her intelligence and skills, and plots an attack on the food supply because she is a survivalist and knows the others can't survive without provisions. I think bikini clad women picking of people with an oozy is much l

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. . .much less of a feminis... (Below threshold)

June 8, 2012 7:07 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

. . .much less of a feminist portrayal of choice than making a decision to win through personal skills.

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I disagreed with TLP on thi... (Below threshold)

June 8, 2012 11:37 PM | Posted by mara: | Reply

I disagreed with TLP on this one. I thought Katniss showed a lot of leadership qualities. She supported her family while her mother totally fell apart. She hunted food and learned how to find edible plants long before she took the place of her sister in the games.
That's why Peeta's mom thought Katniss was a survivor. No one stepped in to save her or her family after her dad died. She just picked herself up and took on the parental role when she realized that would be the only way she could survive.
Her choice to not fight in the Hunger Games, unless pushed, has more to do with the fact that she was not a career. She was not trained to fight the other tributes. Only the careers aggressively hunted other tributes. The ones with no prior battle experience relied on survival techniques. So that was another decision she made, and it was a good one. Kids who were not careers, and attempted to go for the weapons first, were immediately slaughtered early in the game.
Also, I got the impression that Katniss put the berries in her mouth because she outsmarted the gamemakers. She knew there was no way they could let both tributes die. She called their bluff. That was a pretty good decision.

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what was katniss main reas... (Below threshold)

June 11, 2012 3:09 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

what was katniss main reason for telling the story of the hunger games

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Watching The Hunger Games, ... (Below threshold)

June 13, 2012 8:03 AM | Posted by fashion games: | Reply

Watching The Hunger Games, I was struck both by how slickly Ross hit his marks and how many opportunities he was missing to take the film to the next level -- to make it more shocking, lyrical, crazy, daring.

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You acquired a truly helpfu... (Below threshold)

June 14, 2012 4:26 AM | Posted by Randy Masters: | Reply

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That´s so true. The writer ... (Below threshold)

June 15, 2012 5:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Samantha: | Reply

That´s so true. The writer didn´t get that. She/he just decided to critisize it without actually thinking -REALLY thinking- about it.

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yes... (Below threshold)

June 16, 2012 6:35 AM | Posted, in reply to Curious's comment, by Danny: | Reply

yes

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yes Katniss does kill the p... (Below threshold)

June 16, 2012 6:38 AM | Posted, in reply to Curious's comment, by Danny: | Reply

yes Katniss does kill the person who killed rue and the guy that was left to the dogs so he didn't have to suffer as much.

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the way rue cato and clove ... (Below threshold)

June 17, 2012 4:02 PM | Posted by june: | Reply

the way rue cato and clove looked wasnt the way i imagined that makes me mad.i thought rue would be pale with glossy dark brown hair.and i thought clove was blonde and that cato had brown hair.but on the bright side peeta katniss prim and glimmer look how i imagined.so yay kinda.i cant wait to see the movie.also i dont know if this sounds twisted but i like cato and clove.icant even explain it but i do.maybe its because they are just awesome and the personality of cato reminds me of a guyfriend

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sorry for randomly switchin... (Below threshold)

June 17, 2012 4:14 PM | Posted by june : | Reply

sorry for randomly switching the subject i had to let my anger out by writing to let everyone know what i think. seriously they could get characters who look the way they are described.grrr.i like cinna in the book he seems toats cool.

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I guess we'll have to see h... (Below threshold)

June 18, 2012 12:40 PM | Posted by thundt: | Reply

I guess we'll have to see how the video game turns out. Maybe it'll be a second-person shooter ;-)

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Troll...You're obv... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2012 5:00 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by CaptainObvious: | Reply

Troll...

You're obviously a women pretending to be male.

LMAO

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Also, you all need to chill... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2012 5:23 PM | Posted by CaptainObvious: | Reply

Also, you all need to chill out.
First of all, yes this book is 100% feminist.
How do I know all of this?
Well, The book was authored by a self proclaimed feminist.
She is also 49 years old.

This is all the evidence you need for an assumption like this.
I did the research, no need to thank me

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Is this the smart ass elsew... (Below threshold)

June 19, 2012 8:18 PM | Posted, in reply to CaptainObvious's comment, by Gabe Ruth: | Reply

Is this the smart ass elsewhere known as The Dull Sycophant?

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I'm sorry, I really disagre... (Below threshold)

June 23, 2012 3:00 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm sorry, I really disagree. I can see how you believe Katniss is robbed of her powers of decision making and that opinion is as valid as any; to a degree, she certainly is. Of course, she is not robbed simply because she is a woman - most of the characters, if not all of the characters, man or woman are robbed of their choices and power because of the world they live in. I, however, don't buy that Katniss makes no power or no decisions; even if you deny her every other decision she makes, her decision to volunteer for her sister sets off a revolution. The poisonous berries she used - her choice, if you will, a choice she created against the options of kill or be killed she was given - forced the creators of the Games to changed the rules. Her ACTIONS, the decision she made (no one forced her into it or gave the idea to her) CAUSED change. How can you get any more powerful, more action than that? And you claim she was robbed of that choice, well it's all in the interpretation. Do you really think she wanted to die? If you do, then yes, she was robbed of her choice. But I believe she didn't want to die - if she did, she had plenty of chance beforehand - but she wanted to prevent the creators from 'winning' - and she did. And why are you so hung up on her never killing anyone (besides Rue's killer)? Does a woman have to be violent and having 'masculine' traits to be considered powerful? Katniss never had any bloodlust, she never wanted to kill anyone like you say - she wanted to survive, and would kill if she had to. So she was not robbed of her choice. The fact that she never participated in the kind of frenzied, brutual murders that the Games people so wanted should be a point of strength, no weakness, that she managed to avoid doing what they so wanted to see.
I agree that, yes, a lot of the events happen to her (along with all the others) but to suggest that every single one of her actions meant nothing, was just something that was made to happen, is, in my humble opinion, a severe oversight that reduces a strong young woman in an incredibly controlled and dangerous situation to a mere trifle. Forget the fact she instigates a revolution, saves herself and Peeta (on several occasions), has been providing for her family for years, survives a death trap (aided by the help of others, yes, but no doubt through her own knowledge and abilities as well), you claim that all these things have happened through her, but not because of her? How exactly does one do all those things without ever making a conscious decision? If you truly believe that, well, more power to you. But I still see Katniss as a girl, that desite growing up in a tightly-controlled, dangerous and poverty-stricken environment, not only manages to survive and keep her family alive, but also inspires, through compassion for others and defiance towards the political system, a revolution that she consistenly must sustain, even through severe emotional and physical trauma (throughout the whole trilogy). If that is not a 'real' hero/heroine, I'm at a loss as to who is - perhaps if she went into the Hunger Games, viciously killed a bunch of kids and then committed suicide with the poisonous berries, letting the Games continue on their merry way and the revolution to someone else later (like Gale, who had no moral issue with killing the enemy), then she would have been a real hero in your eyes.

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I'm sorry, I really disagre... (Below threshold)

June 23, 2012 3:00 AM | Posted by Steph: | Reply

I'm sorry, I really disagree. I can see how you believe Katniss is robbed of her powers of decision making and that opinion is as valid as any; to a degree, she certainly is. Of course, she is not robbed simply because she is a woman - most of the characters, if not all of the characters, man or woman are robbed of their choices and power because of the world they live in. I, however, don't buy that Katniss makes no power or no decisions; even if you deny her every other decision she makes, her decision to volunteer for her sister sets off a revolution. The poisonous berries she used - her choice, if you will, a choice she created against the options of kill or be killed she was given - forced the creators of the Games to changed the rules. Her ACTIONS, the decision she made (no one forced her into it or gave the idea to her) CAUSED change. How can you get any more powerful, more action than that? And you claim she was robbed of that choice, well it's all in the interpretation. Do you really think she wanted to die? If you do, then yes, she was robbed of her choice. But I believe she didn't want to die - if she did, she had plenty of chance beforehand - but she wanted to prevent the creators from 'winning' - and she did. And why are you so hung up on her never killing anyone (besides Rue's killer)? Does a woman have to be violent and having 'masculine' traits to be considered powerful? Katniss never had any bloodlust, she never wanted to kill anyone like you say - she wanted to survive, and would kill if she had to. So she was not robbed of her choice. The fact that she never participated in the kind of frenzied, brutual murders that the Games people so wanted should be a point of strength, no weakness, that she managed to avoid doing what they so wanted to see.
I agree that, yes, a lot of the events happen to her (along with all the others) but to suggest that every single one of her actions meant nothing, was just something that was made to happen, is, in my humble opinion, a severe oversight that reduces a strong young woman in an incredibly controlled and dangerous situation to a mere trifle. Forget the fact she instigates a revolution, saves herself and Peeta (on several occasions), has been providing for her family for years, survives a death trap (aided by the help of others, yes, but no doubt through her own knowledge and abilities as well), you claim that all these things have happened through her, but not because of her? How exactly does one do all those things without ever making a conscious decision? If you truly believe that, well, more power to you. But I still see Katniss as a girl, that desite growing up in a tightly-controlled, dangerous and poverty-stricken environment, not only manages to survive and keep her family alive, but also inspires, through compassion for others and defiance towards the political system, a revolution that she consistenly must sustain, even through severe emotional and physical trauma (throughout the whole trilogy). If that is not a 'real' hero/heroine, I'm at a loss as to who is - perhaps if she went into the Hunger Games, viciously killed a bunch of kids and then committed suicide with the poisonous berries, letting the Games continue on their merry way and the revolution to someone else later (like Gale, who had no moral issue with killing the enemy), then she would have been a real hero in your eyes.

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You acquired a truly helpfu... (Below threshold)

June 23, 2012 7:06 AM | Posted by David Mart: | Reply

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How did Katniss do nothing?... (Below threshold)

July 1, 2012 4:18 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

How did Katniss do nothing? Was that business with tracker jackers not for keeps? Gee, nobody told Glimmer that, or that gal from District 4. Now, lets skip over venom nightmares and look at Rue, the black girl in question. Obviously, that ear problem was just her over exagerating. And apparently, watching a girl die who acts and is a similiar age as the sister you've sworn to protect isn't traumatizing AT ALL! Or was Marvels spear just a Nerf toy that Rue had an alergic reaction too?
All sarcasm aside, I do not remember this version of Cinderella. As I recall, children wete not murdered in that story, which leads me to believe that you, sir, are a moron

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This article is what I woul... (Below threshold)

July 6, 2012 10:17 AM | Posted by Rue: | Reply

This article is what I would call "inventing hypocrisy." All for the purpose of feigning cerebral agency, I estimate.

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Rue is black, you guys know... (Below threshold)

July 19, 2012 11:33 AM | Posted by Naomi: | Reply

Rue is black, you guys know that right? All of district 11 (or whatever district she came from) is black, that is where Thresh comes from. I'd be okay with it if people were a little surprised but saying that one if one character is black "ruins the whole movie" really hurts. I mean come on guys! Dark skin and braids!

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While i was reading the boo... (Below threshold)

July 31, 2012 6:02 PM | Posted by Pedro: | Reply

While i was reading the book, I felt a lot of anger towards katnis. It just seemed that her decisions or actions were all going to get her nowhere and that she was doing it wrong and just leting her get manipulated. So after some time I just stopped focusing on her and caring about other characters.

Well I guess your article pretty much explained to me why I didn't liked her. She always seemed as the frail character that needs to be defended, even by her stylist. He turned out being a better character than her...

Great blog BTW. O got here from a brazilian blog.
Glad they recomended you ;)

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So let me get this straight... (Below threshold)

August 18, 2012 6:31 AM | Posted by shdo: | Reply

So let me get this straight, the scope/basis of the movie is to be "last standing" after being pitted against 24 competitors from 12 districts or two from each. However, in the unlikely event that one seems to be winning a game stacked against them from the beginning, then the proprieters of said game can "insert" into the game "fail-safes" to insure their win? No?? Lol that is ludicrous and don't understand the concept of watching a movie that in the end has no merit, moral, or direction...unless of course, yours is to be depressed. So so many other points to make but, hey why should I put forth more effort when clearly the director didn't.

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Hey there, idiots. As most ... (Below threshold)

August 19, 2012 5:35 PM | Posted by Sydney: | Reply

Hey there, idiots. As most of you apparently didn't notice, Katniss did kill. Before Rue's death she shot Marvel in the heart with an arrow and he died. Wake up and get a life.

Yours Truly, ME

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Just to let you know, Katn... (Below threshold)

August 26, 2012 3:55 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Just to let you know, Katniss DOES kill.

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So...out of the hundreds of... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2012 3:29 AM | Posted by Sydney Poopy Pants: | Reply

So...out of the hundreds of kids in a district, only two are chosen each year? During the years that you will be eligible to be chosen, only six people from your gender will be chosen. So the odds are roughly 6 in hundreds or maybe even thousands that you will ever be chosen. It is very unlikely that you or your loved ones would ever be chosen, therefore, it makes no sense that everyone had such anxiety over the upcoming reaping.
BTW, this terrible movie was really popular with the 12-18 demographic. funny that.

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Actually, there aren't that... (Below threshold)

August 28, 2012 10:48 AM | Posted, in reply to Sydney Poopy Pants's comment, by Pedro: | Reply

Actually, there aren't that many people on the world anymore. It says on the book and it's actually a point that worries many characters at some points. Plus, you can put your number for the Hunger games again and again in order to get more food. Katnis had her name put there like 50 times or so, so she had a good chance of being picked up.

The movies is kind of meh. The details is what makes the books a good reading. I suggest buying it. I couldn't stop reading.

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Were you in the bathroom wh... (Below threshold)

August 30, 2012 3:48 PM | Posted by Maggie: | Reply

Were you in the bathroom when she shot the arrow into the wall? (BEHIND the backers)

The books are better, and I agree the movie could have done more.
Still, she's no Disney Princess simply drifting with the current.

She's a survivor, thrown into an alien world - rather than fight it blindly, she learns the rules and works them to her advantage.

Female protagonists can be subtle. Often they aren't, but don't you think you're falling for the "if we don't act like men, we won't be treated as well as men" fallacy?

I was much more disappointed with "Brave"

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The person who wrote this h... (Below threshold)

September 3, 2012 8:49 PM | Posted by someone: | Reply

The person who wrote this has something wrong! It's a good book and good movie! STOP COMPLAINING!and katniss survied becuase if she didnt it would be a crap book! Katniss did kill someone,it was the guy who killed rue

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I have to say while maybe n... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 3:46 AM | Posted by Lola: | Reply

I have to say while maybe not completely obvious in the film...to some at least, Katniss did in fact kill at least three people, which is my only argument here, she killed Glimmer by dropping the tracker jacks on her, she killed Rues killer and she did in fact mercy kill Cato right at the end of it all.

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The book is a bit embarrass... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 10:09 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

The book is a bit embarrassing for girls in the same way that James Bond movies are embarrassing for men.

Too much wish-fulfillment fantasy. For one thing, the idea that girls would have the slightest chance in arena combat against men is ridiculous. It's not just that men are a lot stronger. Men are also a lot faster. Perhaps most importantly, men are better at tactical and strategic thinking and are much more emotionally suited to fighting.

Of course Collins decided to borrow a page from Twilight and have 2 attractive men who are completely hot for Katniss and are not the least bit interested in any other girl. Katniss herself is ambivalent. This is also a completely unrealistic fantasy.

It's also unsurprising that important people pay attention to Katniss. For example a personal visit from President Snow. And the mayor's daughter wanting to be her friend. And giving her a valuable heirloom.

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^^^^You're a sexist,... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 12:06 PM | Posted by Maggie Ahrens : | Reply

^^^^
You're a sexist, or a fool.
Or you're speaking form your own insecurities.

I'm a female fighter in the SCA. Medieval reenactment, including fighting with polearms, swords, and spears.

(Actual Combat, not choreographed fights, but the weapons are not piercing or cutting, just crushing)
People get hurt sometimes, and I usually sport some festive bruising.

Given equal training and resources, a woman can do just FINE in combat with a man.

Assuming you're trying to kill each other, not trade punches.

http://www.amazon.com/The-armored-rose-Tobi-Beck/dp/0966939905
^ book on training female fighters (anatomical and mental differences)

Women who fight
http://s538.photobucket.com/albums/ff347/isabellaevangelista/Female%20Armored%20Combat%20Fighters%20SCA/?start=all


Also "Borrow a page from Twilight" .... as if. As if that hackneyed idiot and her smoldering pile of dung was the first instance to use sexual conflict to drive a story.

Read more books. Please.

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"Given equal training and r... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 3:51 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Given equal training and resources, a woman can do just FINE in combat with a man."

Then why does the Olympics have girls' archery; girls' fencing; and girls' boxing? Duh, because they would get slaughtered if they had to compete against men.

Seriously, what do you think would happen if a men's fencing champion went against a girls' fencing champion? Do you deny that men are a lot stronger and faster than girls?

"first instance to use sexual conflict to drive a story."

I'm not sure what your point is here. Do you think it's realistic that two desirable men would both be completely devoted to one girl? Or do you agree that it's just a female wish-fulfillment fantasy, just like James Bond movies are a male wish-fulfillment fantasy?

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so...men are men, but women... (Below threshold)

September 6, 2012 9:32 PM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by tim: | Reply

so...men are men, but women are...girls?

yeah...better re-think that one, brah.

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"so...men are men, but wome... (Below threshold)

September 7, 2012 4:40 AM | Posted, in reply to tim's comment, by sabril: | Reply

"so...men are men, but women are...girls?"

Yes, I prefer to refer to the females of the human species that way. I agree it's a bit sexist.

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"a bit" huh?lol. i... (Below threshold)

September 8, 2012 4:22 AM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"a bit" huh?

lol. it's a little more than a bit sexist.

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"it's a little more than a ... (Below threshold)

September 8, 2012 5:41 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"it's a little more than a bit sexist."

:shrug: call it whatever you like, it doesn't affect my basic argument. Hunger Games is a wish fulfillment fantasy and Katniss is a Mary Sue.

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This story is definitely se... (Below threshold)

September 8, 2012 9:35 PM | Posted by Tyler James: | Reply

This story is definitely sexist against men. All the men in power are evil patriarchs in a fantasy world, and no one in the ruling class acts even remotely like a human being. In fact, humanity becomes strongly deficient in this movie (I have not read the book - good, now that's out of the way). Katniss supposedly loves the guy back in District 12, but this story does not focus on real love. It focuses on empowering a girl based on grandiose idealism, disclaiming the importance of warfare as it protects the peace of a sovereign nation, turning the gender hierarchy on its head and disenfranchising men with gratuitous scenes of gender dominance. The power women have - their traditional expectations of men to provide for and protect them, I mean - is not enough for Katniss. She does not shrug off patriarchal offerings, though, and does not disown real female power. No - she wants that power, the power of the archetypal alpha male, and the ability to objectify a man in a relationship. This story has nothing to do with love - it's an explosively sensual psychologically twisted fiasco that was great to watch, but I will never buy Collins' books because of what she represents.

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Definitely true. It's also ... (Below threshold)

September 8, 2012 9:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Lola's comment, by Tyler James: | Reply

Definitely true. It's also clear that the 'tracker' wasp killing is vengeance against the successful traditional female - Glimmer is better all-around at physical violence than Katniss, and she physically resembles a high school prom queen. Really, if there is a powerful female in the story, it's Glimmer - but she's psychotic and likes to abuse her power to kill people.

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Hon, have you accually read... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 3:30 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hon, have you accually read the books yet. If not READ THE BOOKS before you judge. Katniss is accually quite violent. So please reasearch thoroughly.

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Yes, I really cringed at th... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 11:30 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

Yes, I really cringed at the scene in the training center where Katniss ordered Peeta to throw the big weight. It's embarrassing that this should appeal to girls.

I also agree about Glimmer. I don't think it's an accident that Katniss kills her in a way that (1) is very painful; and (2) completely destroyed her good looks.

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Babe, please don't nitpick ... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 1:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Tyler James: | Reply

Babe, please don't nitpick by asking a question I clearly answered. :)
I'm not arguing that she isn't violent. How is the written story so different that it changes anything I discussed?

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And just after that heavy-o... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 1:53 PM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by Tyler James: | Reply

And just after that heavy-object-throwing scene, Peeta's back in his room drawing artistic camouflage on his arm, which he says he learned because he 'used to decorate the cakes down at the bakery.'
He WHAT?!
He wasn't an artisan, is too lean to look like he enjoys cake on a large scale, and what's worse - even if he were like some subservient love-interest, she gives him nothing but guff about it. Ridiculous.

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Also in the film version - ... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2012 2:10 PM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by Tyler James: | Reply

Also in the film version - Effie Trinket, the pink-haired chaperone, is the only one fighting against Katniss's decision to shoot the apple. She's the momma-figure Katniss wants to show up.

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Problem with this article: ... (Below threshold)

September 13, 2012 3:04 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Problem with this article: Katniss DID kill someone - Marvel (he's the one who killed Rue ;(

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I believe you've mistaken h... (Below threshold)

September 14, 2012 6:22 PM | Posted by thais: | Reply

I believe you've mistaken hero for Rambo.

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Nah, Rambo would have liber... (Below threshold)

September 14, 2012 11:25 PM | Posted, in reply to thais's comment, by Tyler James: | Reply

Nah, Rambo would have liberated the districts with an M60.

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You lost me near the start ... (Below threshold)

September 19, 2012 6:05 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You lost me near the start of your argument. Umm, YES Katniss does kill. Did you read the books? She does it in the movie too, I don't know why you think she doesn't kill.

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Um… you realize that she sh... (Below threshold)

September 20, 2012 11:56 AM | Posted by epn: | Reply

Um… you realize that she shoots a kid through the throat after he kills Ru, right? How can you say she did nothing? The whole story is about resourcefulness and personal merit. You're completely missing the point.

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"You don't even want to kno... (Below threshold)

October 12, 2012 10:42 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"You don't even want to know whose thoughts I think when I see boobs."

Tucker Max?

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I thought this movie was pr... (Below threshold)

October 19, 2012 9:25 AM | Posted by TJ: | Reply

I thought this movie was pretty much crap. I did not read the books and I assume they are vastly superior. I only hope that a different director gets to do the sequel. Look how "Batman" was rescued from the dung-heap.

The hyper promotion of this movie is more interesting than anything that actually occurred in it.

Flame On.

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It didn't bother me that th... (Below threshold)

November 3, 2012 9:44 AM | Posted by Kiyah: | Reply

It didn't bother me that they made Rue black for the movie. It bothered me that they made Katniss white and womanly! Katniss is brown, and she grew up *starving*, I'm pretty sure that someone describes her as about the size of Rue. Gah, hiring a twenty-something with a bust :(

Also yes, lots ave already said before me that Katniss does plan and carry out at least one murder - Glimmer. She wants the bow, and she sees an opportunity to take some people out with impunity. Plus, you know, denying people their food and med support isn't exactly leaving the murdering to the rest of the pack (as she was advised to do, and given the death count on day one...) She demonstrates in the whole soppy cave passage (which I hated) that food and medical supplies are absolutely crucial to survival.

The one who takes the hiding and outlasting method to its logical conclusion is Foxface, and frankly she does awesomely. If it weren't mandated that the heroine must win rather than escape or something, my money and support would have been on her. Someone who can get past Cato to sit in the supply drop is absolutely capable of sticking a knife in him when all his support is gone... or simply outlasting him, like she did all the others.

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Um, just to point out, Katn... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 11:13 AM | Posted by Amber: | Reply

Um, just to point out, Katniss does kill someone. She kills Glimmer with a bee hive and directly shoots the district 1 kid in the throat...

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"Then why does the... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 11:26 AM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"Then why does the Olympics have girls' archery; girls' fencing; and girls' boxing? Duh, because they would get slaughtered if they had to compete against men."

You're wrong about it not affecting your point. It affects it. Girls would never compete against men. They'd compete against boys.

This is what you attempted to refute:

"Given equal training and resources, a woman can do just FINE in combat with a man."

Your argument is invalid because you don't understand how language works.

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"Your argument is invalid b... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 2:09 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Your argument is invalid because you don't understand how language works."

No, it is you who do not understand since it is obvious from the context what I am talking about.

But let me ask you this: Why are olympic sports like Fencing sex-segregated? And do you seriously dispute that they would be dominated by male competitors if they were not?

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Having never made that clai... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 3:05 PM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

Having never made that claim, I'm not interested in your attempts to debate me.

The fact of the matter is I understand clearly what you have said, even though you don't.

It is not enough for you to speak of the differences between men and women. Moreover, you don't even believe in women. Because you don't like to acknowledge them it is as if they don't exist. You believe in girls. I'm assuming you believe in 72 year old girls as well?

This is interesting. It shows there is really something wrong with your ability to reason and your ability to talk about the subject of women. The physical biological differences between men and women are less so, unless you bring up the intersexed.

Having a discussion about women with some one who doesn't even acknowledge they exist would be as meaningful as talking to my cat about it.

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I'm assuming you believe in... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 4:12 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm assuming you believe in 72 year old girls as well?
***
what a weird remark, but it reminded me of a saying:
Grandmothers are just antique little girls.

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"Grandmothers are just anti... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2012 4:39 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

"Grandmothers are just antique little girls."

I find that saying much stranger. Do you think of your mother as a child then? In reality, this is saying that all women are handicapped non-adults incapable of meaningful consent and in need of caretakers.

No grandmother is a little girl. No one over the age of adulthood is a child.

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"I'm assuming you believe i... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 6:44 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"I'm assuming you believe in 72 year old girls as well?"

Yes of course. And at the gym, they change in the girls' locker room.

Anyway, it seems you do not dispute my underlying point, which is that male fencers are (in general and on average) superior to female fencers; that male boxers are (in general and on average) superior to female boxers; that male archers are (in general and on average superior to female archers).

And that it's unrealistic that female competitors in a hunger-games style competition would have the slightest chance against male competitors. It doesn't matter whether you refer to the female competitors as "girls"; "women"; "ladies"; or "spaghetti monsters." The point stands.

Instead of disputing my basic point, you would apparently prefer to pretend I said something different from what I actually said. Sorry, but I have no interest in playing that game.

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Even though I definitely do... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 7:03 PM | Posted by Vanonymous: | Reply

Even though I definitely don't understand what's being debated here, I'm interested.

Re sport it's amusing, in "Chess" the competitions are generally divided by gender.

But never mind that useless piece of information. What are you people debating? Anyone up for a clarification? I love women and I'm ashamed to share that it's probably nothing I'd like more than to be close to one, in terms of friendship and physical intimacy - and in that order.

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It's a non-debate. I simply... (Below threshold)

November 11, 2012 10:04 PM | Posted, in reply to Vanonymous's comment, by tornpapernapkin: | Reply

It's a non-debate. I simply am saying that being incapable of using the correct words to make an argument damages that argument. Sabril is frustrated, it seems, that I don't care to make any other point or to enter into a debate with some one which they care about and I don't. How unfortunate.

Ironically, I care more about what was actually said than giving some one a platform to masturbate on. How goalposts shift indeed. Glad I didn't waste my time with that one!

So, insofar as clarification, there you go.

That's not useless, I don't think, by the way. It's interesting because it is a non-physical game.

why would you be ashamed to want to be with a woman though? Isn't that pretty normal for people who aren't gay men or asexual?

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"But never mind that useles... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 6:05 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"But never mind that useless piece of information. What are you people debating?"

I don't know either. Tornpapernapkin doesn't seem to dispute my basic point, which is that in a hunger-games style fight to the death, female competitors would stand essentially no chance.

On the surface, the objection seems to be that I generally refer to female humans as "girls."

"I simply am saying that being incapable of using the correct words to make an argument damages that argument. "

Lol, thank you for your CONCERN. It's nice to know how CONCERNED you are that I make my argument as effectively as possible.


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Okay.Incapability ... (Below threshold)

November 12, 2012 9:51 PM | Posted, in reply to tornpapernapkin's comment, by Vanonymous: | Reply

Okay.

Incapability of using the correct words do damage the argument, as you say.

Btw I tried to articulate that it's that there is nothing I'd like more that shame me, not that I seek friendship per se. It's people over ideals. Corruption. At minimum nothing to be proud over.

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Actually Katniss does kill ... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2012 4:02 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Actually Katniss does kill 2 people in fact. She kills the boy who killed Rue and Cato. Cato suffers at the end of the games as the capitol dogs eat him alive and she eventually shoots him and puts him out of misery.

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yes katniss did kill marvel... (Below threshold)

November 29, 2012 5:14 PM | Posted, in reply to Curious's comment, by imt601: | Reply

yes katniss did kill marvel btw that's his name i'm like a hunger games expert to and the movie was filmed in virginia

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great article.. i had many ... (Below threshold)

December 7, 2012 3:20 PM | Posted by Bill: | Reply

great article.. i had many the same qualms but how can you talk about them when so many do not think and just recite news blurbs

as for the on going talk about what feminists are, etc.. they do not want men to dress down and be fat, broke, etc so they are in the same boat but just want to take over the wheel

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A good thinker to read is G... (Below threshold)

December 12, 2012 9:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Craig's comment, by Jennifer Frances Armstrong: | Reply

A good thinker to read is Georges Bataille. He spoke explicitly of "destruction" as a positive agenda. Of course, it threatens the ego, but that is the whole point: It opens the door to an experience of the sacred.

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K katniss did kill people. ... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 9:49 AM | Posted by Mary: | Reply

K katniss did kill people. Honestly, read the book.

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I can understand your point... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:11 PM | Posted by Sarah J: | Reply

I can understand your points though I'd have to disagree with you on some of them. The way I see The Hunger Games, it's not THAT great but it's certainly a step up from Twilight.

The focus on her appearance, well, that was an important point of the book and it was one of the things that I did really like about the series. It's about the commentary on celebrity and image, how part of her survival is about how the public THINKS she is.

And she did kill people, not just taking down Rue's killer but using the wasps to kill some of the Career tributes as well.

And, yeah, I did hate the focus on the romance. I did like the whole thing where she questions whether or not he really liked her, but that was it. She spent the whole first book hanging out with him, you KNOW she's going to end up with him in the end. The romance was such a boring part of the book and I felt that a lot of it was forced. Katniss sees Peeta as this great guy even though he does nothing to warrant much respect save for being "a nice guy". I feel like too many of her actions were dictated based on her (what I see as shallow) relationship with him.

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So, after all of that...</p... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2012 4:59 PM | Posted by GRL: | Reply

So, after all of that...

Any ideas on how to keep my daughter from being crushed?

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But...she drops a hive of k... (Below threshold)

December 18, 2012 5:29 AM | Posted by Riley: | Reply

But...she drops a hive of killer wasps on group of tributes, knowing full well that they would die? How is that not preplanned? She's not reacting, or defending herself, she is making an aggressive attack on a group of children who have been forced into the same situation as herself?

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Wow. I'm impressed by how t... (Below threshold)

December 23, 2012 10:59 PM | Posted by opalquean: | Reply

Wow. I'm impressed by how thoroughly you've missed the mark. Did you actually read the books, or just watch the movie?

I don't really have time to respond to all of your inane claims and all of the times you contradict yourself. But here are a few things:

1. Katniss takes care of her family after her father dies and her mother sinks into depression. How does this not give her agency?
2. By skating over the moment when she volunteers as tribute to protect Rue, you show how disingenuous you're being in this article, twisting facts (when you bother to include actual facts) to fit your little theory. That moment, that choice, is a HUGE deal. You can't claim that she has little agency and then skim over that.
3. Though she obviously doesn't have a choice (after volunteering) about her participation in her training, public appearances, etc., she (and Peeta) do make the CHOICE to convince Hamitch to actually mentor them, and they then work with him to give them their best chance to get sponsors, and thus survive.
4. She freaking STAYS ALIVE in the arena. That shows a good bit of strength and agency, considering that both people and the arena itself are trying to kill her. She doesn't have to kill anyone, instinctively or not, to show agency. (Though you should be able to see the ridiculousness of your argument here, as you insist that she doesn't make choices, then admit that she does and they get 'negated.' This may be hard for you, poor at literary analysis as you are, to understand, but the choices do matter, even if she isn't able to enact them as she'd like. Perhaps it will help your comprehension if I translate this concept into a platitude: It's not just the destination that matters, it's the journey.)
5. She allies herself with Rue (another CHOICE; funny how those keep popping up) and they form a plan allowing them to attack, but on their terms. Though some small-minded people only think of a literal fight between two characters as a true attack, even you should be able to understand that getting the fight onto her terms was a great strategic move and showed a great deal of strength.
6. How you can't see how the intelligence she shows through her communications with Hamitch when in the arena and the way she plays the romance angle for sympathy (aka sponsors and later support) are not her getting led around by men, but her using what she is given and working with her allies, is just incredible. The strength we are talking about when we talk about "strong female characters" doesn't always have to be literal, sweet pea.
6. And I see you've skated over the moment where she suggests they both eat the berries. Meaning she is taking on the Capitol, forcing their hand. I guess that shows a bit too much agency for you to explain away with your twisting of the text, huh?

There is so, so much more to refute your argument, both in this book and the next two, but I'm bored now. It's more like kicking a puppy than arguing with an intelligent human.

But for the record: her chief weapon is not a bow, and it is certainly not her appearance. It's her intelligence, her cunning, and her drive. And the fact that she has other weapons in her arsenal, including the bow, her appearance, and yes, her friends and allies, male and female, does not make her a weak or passive character. It makes her MORE BELIEVABLE, because someone less extraordinary simply could not have accomplished the things she did. They couldn't even have survived to the age she was at the time the first book started.

Next time you want to try to talk about a book, read it first. Maybe read it twice, so some of it actually sinks in. Then try to make actual points, not just spout buzzwords. I'll concede that once or twice you came near making an actually interesting argument (always one I've seen better made elsewhere), but the only thing in this post that wasn't somewhere on the spectrum between poorly constructed and just plain wrong was your indictment of Jezebel, which actually made sense.

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[quote]"But she chooses to ... (Below threshold)

December 25, 2012 7:06 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

[quote]"But she chooses to commit suicide at the end!" That would have been a choice, but the book robs her of that as well, this is the point. The book does not allow her to make irreversible choices, it lets her believe she is making free choices and then negates them, again, just like a five year old girl with terrible parents.[/quote]You missed the point. Katniss and Peeta decided on that course of action to deny the Gamemakers their little ceremony; they did it to buck the rules. They did it to play along with the "star-crossed lovers" angle developed by Peeta.

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Maybe you should read the s... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2013 11:40 PM | Posted by Kevin: | Reply

Maybe you should read the source material (i.e. the books) before you comment on the lack of action from Katniss.
Becasue they are called the HUNGER games... What the movie did a TERRIBLE job of conveying to the audience is the difficulty of staving off hunger, dehydration and the difficulty of survival during this 2 week ordeal, something Katniss very well.
Although opalquean may have been a little harsh in his/her critique, I've got to agree with her saying you missed the mark on this one.

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your comment is longer than... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2013 7:35 AM | Posted, in reply to opalquean's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

your comment is longer than all the "running man: running girl" books combined

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@Kevin - They did worse tha... (Below threshold)

January 4, 2013 5:58 PM | Posted by Joe: | Reply

@Kevin - They did worse than a terrible job in the movies, they actively tried NOT to show general survival. One could be fooled watching the Hunger Games movies into thinking the games were a couple days at most, when they were actually couple weeks long. The movie was terrible in general that way at playing up the sexy parts and neutering the actually important but more dull storylines.


**** SPOILER ALERT**** (Read all 3 books and then read below, or don't, i don't care)


Regardless, Katniss fools you. The article hits the nail pretty much on the end. Consider her role in the later books, as the leader of the thing i wont spoil for those who accidentally read this (and by proxy the author) obviously and unabashedly declares her as a symbolic leader only (this is a fact, referenced numerous times by multiple characters with dissenting views, implicitly and explicity), unable to participate in any real way, but propagandized as a strong capable leader by attributing her mistakes and other peoples successes as proof.

The irony is most delicious.

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Mind you, I haven't read th... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 2:14 AM | Posted, in reply to Kevin's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Mind you, I haven't read the books, but what you've pointed out goes equally for all the characters. They must all have enough survival skills and take enough action to simply survive nature for those few weeks in the game. So I don't see how that part of the story makes her stand out in any way that would change the article's conclusions.

So when it comes to their head-to-head fight for survival, the article says it; she's not in control of her destiny in a meaningful way that warrants her praise as a uniquely strong woman character.

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Stories for boys are about ... (Below threshold)

January 5, 2013 11:07 AM | Posted by Bryan: | Reply

Stories for boys are about boys who go out and DO things. Stories for girls are for girls who are taken out and have things done to them. All the girl has to do is "be good", and good things happen to her. The boy has to actually work for what he gets.

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You think perhaps Katniss's... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 1:03 PM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by Larry : | Reply

You think perhaps Katniss's ambivalence has something to do with her decision not to have kids? Further Peeta's feelings for her are only revealed to her after she is in the "Games" a situation where the romance threatens to be a hinderance. It was only after the rule change could she afford to feel anything positive toward Peeta. Her other friend doesn't exist in the arena. The movie leaves it to a sequel to resolve the triangle.

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The article is short on fac... (Below threshold)

January 6, 2013 1:44 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The article is short on facts and long on sophistry. Sure, there's feminism, so what. Katniss is a self-trained hunter. She displays considerable agency given those in the outdistricts are essentially slaves to the Capitol. But even slavery presents limited choices. She kills not once but three times with the calculated attack on Glimmer having the potential to kill several. In the end she kills Cato, an act of pity while he is being torn apart by the hounds. She kills Marvel in an act of self-defense, only to find his knife striking Rue, after the fact. The rule change doesn't force her to go back for Peeta, that's her choice. THe ultimate act of agency was the ruse of suicide to force the Gamemaster to honor the rule change. Cato falls into the role of the traditional bully, arogant yet a coward, hence his need to recruit a supporting crew to do his work or back him up. He is the one who displays little agency: he's been groomed for this role since early childhood and rather blindly goes thru the motions of what's required of him, no thoughts of rebellion unlike Katniss. Atmost he reaches a pathetic wallow in the end but fails to transcend it and secures his fate by refusing to rebel and at least die with a measure of dignity.

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False, sir! By dropping the... (Below threshold)

January 7, 2013 5:36 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

False, sir! By dropping the tracker jacket nest on the careers, Katniss killed Glimmer. She also killed Marvel after he killed Rue. At the end of the book/movie, she kills Cato as well. If you're going to be critical of one of the best things that ever happened to me, at least get your facts right.

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Did you read the article at... (Below threshold)

January 23, 2013 5:41 PM | Posted, in reply to True's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Did you read the article at all? She address this.

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Did you read the book, or j... (Below threshold)

January 24, 2013 11:46 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Did you read the book, or just watch the movie? Did you read the same book I did? Have you read the remaining two books? I'm sorry, but you are so far off on this one, it is hard to believe your article is at all sincere...

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Well it does actually menti... (Below threshold)

February 4, 2013 3:48 PM | Posted by Joe: | Reply

Well it does actually mention rue is black in the book and it is not just survival of the fittest it is about your knowledge of how to deal with these difficult situations and is a allergory of modern life

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"I read the book. You need... (Below threshold)

February 5, 2013 10:30 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by JoeHook: | Reply

"I read the book. You need to read with a highlighter."

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Well, you point out that ka... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 4:45 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Well, you point out that katniss nver killed anyone? She did. Marvel? you know, the kid who killed rue? And cato too. Technically she killed glimmer too. Sort of.

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Sweet article. you really k... (Below threshold)

February 8, 2013 8:12 PM | Posted by Serge: | Reply

Sweet article. you really know how to cut into the gooey core of things.
What do you think of Xena the? She defiantly has agency. If all our Legends are characters with agency and usually feature a male in these parts, and so our society has now prescribed agency as a masculine trait, then women are trapped to believe that in order to identify as feminine, to "hold the card" if you will. Are women doomed? Is there actually a solution?

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Katniss never kills anyone<... (Below threshold)

February 21, 2013 3:08 AM | Posted by Anne Onie Moss: | Reply

Katniss never kills anyone
She does kill Rue's murderer
she perform a mercy killing on him

ow you're hurting my brain
what about the bees she killed people with bees like you'd kill people with a bow


katniss survived it's a valid strategy it's the same as haymitch's
everyone needs sponsors, not just katniss peeta is more concerned with what people think of him


she didn't choose to commit suicide she chose to bluff to risk death she planned for exactly what happened the capitol played right into her hands didn't take her choice

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Ehhh... I'm obviously not a... (Below threshold)

February 28, 2013 1:31 AM | Posted by Someguywastinghistime: | Reply

Ehhh... I'm obviously not as well read as you but I think you're running with this one... First off, I am a dude so take that as you will. I read these books because I thought they were hardcore violent and pretty twisted, also entertaining. I never read or understand these as "empowering to women," or "representing feminism." I never honestly understood why these books took off to begin with since I thought they were pretty dark and hopelessly violent but I think people just like to read between the lines and focus on what they personally enjoy. Anyway, are you forgetting how she straight up mercs two people in the last book? I think the whole story kind of flirts with what you're bringing up about how she's just hopelessly shuffled from one extreme situation to another and how she's supposed to just "play a part" in someone else's game (be that a man's or a woman's, both are represented by either camp vying for power in the end... which in my mind severs gender from being a relevant factor and just turns it into you vs them). I think the point of these books was that people will sell you part and parcel to get what they want and if you have needs or an agenda of your own you must ACT and claim what you want. Katniss doesn't get this because she is a stupid child and children are stupid. Eventually though she gets tired of all the bullshit (because her sister gets merc'ed and that was the whole fucking point of starting this travesty). I don't understand a lot of people's reactions to these books and quite frankly I just think people are stupid and will always equate female lead with feminism and female empowerment. Basically it's like how tomb raider games are feministic because the large breasted wet dream is holding the guns and therefore the "power," even though all I'm really paying attention to is that if I make her run up inclines just right her tits will jiggle oh so marvelously.

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New players may find the go... (Below threshold)

March 16, 2013 7:31 PM | Posted by Gaynelle: | Reply

New players may find the going tough to begin with only having the bare essentials, but Modern Warfare 2 makes it all worth your while. If I personally gave this game an award I would give it Best Storyline of 2007 Cause I believe that this storyline is the most original out of any game of 2007. In 1909, he won the National Riding and Rodeo Championship.

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So stop bitching and write ... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2013 12:36 PM | Posted by WhiteRue: | Reply

So stop bitching and write a story that you think is better.

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This is just another articl... (Below threshold)

April 8, 2013 5:23 PM | Posted by Jacobitess: | Reply

This is just another article that makes me glad I've chosen the Church for my metaphysical foundation rather than any modern/postmodern ideology.

I'm not the only woman who wears makeup only when she feels like it, or when the occasion calls for that extra cut of formality. My girlfriends do the same (except that one sweet, silly girl who's convinced she has no eyes without liner). Clothing-wise, the prettiest thing that comes out of the secondhand box or off the clearance rack is awesome (just need to find room for a sewing machine now). And true ladies, comfortable in their skin, realize that heterosexual men like bodies that are actually feminine, requiring only proper nutrition and reasonable exercise to maintain--not brutal punishment and depravation.

And as much as 'progressivists/liberals/neo-conservatives' may hate this fact, women only stress over being the perfect princess when they've been convinced that they need to 'do' something first and 'be' something second. As Chesterton and Wilde so eloquently argued, a woman's essence recides in who and what she is. What she does will follow from that energy and character.

Sorry for veering away from 'The Hunger Games', but I disagreed with the article's assumption that womanhood as this author sees it, is happiest when embued by this cheerless, anti-feminine, anti-cosmetic, anti-girlishness feminism.

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"Let the women learn in sil... (Below threshold)

April 10, 2013 3:24 PM | Posted, in reply to Jacobitess's comment, by JoeHook: | Reply

"Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (I Timothy 2:11-14)

"Give me any plague, but the plague of the heart: and any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman." (Eccles. 25:13)

"If she go not as thou wouldest have her, cut her off from thy flesh, and give her a bill of divorce, and let her go." (Eccles. 25: 26)

I would very much hesitate before seeking the Churches counsel on what womanhood is, a womans "place", and her "status".

And theres PLENTY more where that came from
(Ephesians 5:22-24)(1 Corinthians 11:9)(Leviticus 21:9)(Leviticus 12:2-5)

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I have read all of the book... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 4:42 AM | Posted by Girl: | Reply

I have read all of the books and watched the movie.

Reading some of the comments above, I would like to make a few comments and corrections of my own:
1. Katniss is not in love with 'The boy back home' AKA Gale
2. Katniss also kills the district 4 girl with the tracker jacker nest
3. If you are going to comment please read the books! The movie is only the first book and to be honest the movie misses out many important things.
4. Face it girls would have as good as chance as boys in this situation.
5. The fact that Katniss is a girl makes no difference to the story whatsoever! You people are being sexist when saying that women only want a safe life ect. I am a women and I don't, please don't be stereo-typical.
6. All this about Katniss having no personality is rubbish, her killings were not forced - she could have ran away from Marvel, She shot him. She could have left Cato to the mutts, she shot him.
7. She volunteered for her sister!!! If that doesn't so guts what does?

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"Face it girls would have a... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 7:26 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Face it girls would have as good as chance as boys in this situation."

Asserting it doesn't make it so. The fact is that the male of the human species is far superior to the female in terms of running speed, endurance, strength, general speed of movement, etc. That's why the olympics have separate events for men and girls in running, throwing, archery, etc. And that's why girls would stand very little chance in a Hunger-Games style arena combat.

I realize you probably like to fantasize that you could hold your own against guys, but that's exactly why the book is so appealing to you -- wish fulfillment fantasy.


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We are not talking about pr... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 10:31 AM | Posted by Girl: | Reply

We are not talking about professionals here jsqwksk

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We are not talking about tr... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 10:34 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

We are not talking about trained men and women we are talking about 12 year olds!!! I am the 2nd fast person in my year and the fastest is also a girl! It is not just about strength it's about being clever and being able to survive!!!

Sorry for the post above :) knocked my laptop on the floor :P

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If you pick random boys bet... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 11:27 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

If you pick random boys between the ages of 12 and 17 and do the same for random girls, the boys will be markedly stronger faster and so on compared to the girls.

Sorry if reality offends you. I realize that in movies you regularly see girls who can kick ass but that's just Hollywood fantasy.

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in the movie, why did Katni... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 12:24 PM | Posted by Bill: | Reply

in the movie, why did Katniss only perk up with the black guy.. and she never trusted any of the white guys.. is it her upbringing? dont trust the rich white folk or something? it was pretty obvious she was biased and it wasn't because of the character of the people, just the race

they should of casted her character as a native america, would of made more sense

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It's true what you say.... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 3:20 PM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by West: | Reply

It's true what you say.

Furthermore, even chess is divided by gender.

Faster, stronger...smarter?

Idunno, anyone have a take on it?

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First of all it's girls and... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 4:17 PM | Posted by Girl: | Reply

First of all it's girls and boys between the ages of 12-18!
Bill, what are you talking about??? If anyone knows what he is trying to say please tell me.
And girls can kick ass!!! I know so, I have done and will do. So face it your a idiot that has no idea what they're talking about.

BTW: Are you a boy because if you are that would explain a lot...

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Girl: I was clear what I ... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 4:29 PM | Posted by Bill: | Reply

Girl: I was clear what I said. If you watch the movie you see Katniss frown at all guys until the black shows up. Watch it again - she acts like a normal girl around him and a guy hater to the rest

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"First of all it's girls an... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2013 4:48 PM | Posted, in reply to Girl's comment, by sabril: | Reply

"First of all it's girls and boys between the ages of 12-18!"

Nice nitpick, but that makes my point even stronger. A 12 year old girl might be pretty close in strength and speed to a 12 year old boy. By 18, your average boy is substantially stronger and faster than your average 18 year old girl.


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Actually girls are at their... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2013 2:32 PM | Posted by Girl: | Reply

Actually girls are at their peek when they are 16-17-18 boys are at the peek when they are in their twenty's. Furthermore, The hunger games is not just won on speed and strength, you need to be clever to win.
Bill: Please tell me what scene your talking about and I am presuming 'the black guy' is Thresh.

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"Actually girls are at thei... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2013 3:47 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Actually girls are at their peek when they are 16-17-18 boys are at the peek when they are in their twenty's."

I'm not sure what your point is here. Do you dispute that the average boy between the ages of 12 and 18 is significantly stronger and faster than the average girl between the ages of 12 and 18?

"you need to be clever to win."

Again, I'm not sure what your point is here. Are you disputing that superior strength, speed, and endurance would be a significant advantage in a Hunger Games scenario?


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Girl: yes that was him.. i... (Below threshold)

April 12, 2013 4:59 PM | Posted, in reply to Girl's comment, by Bill: | Reply

Girl: yes that was him.. i am just trying to figure out if she was ethnic in the book then it would make sense.. then they should of casted her as an Native American or something instead of some brooding spoiled mallgirl which is what she acted like until she met the black guy Thresh.. i am just wondering if she was biased/racist in the book for whatever reason

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I think the appeal of havin... (Below threshold)

April 16, 2013 12:34 AM | Posted by Wadada: | Reply

I think the appeal of having to prove yourself and look cool all the time and making sure everyone likes you has more to do with a narcissistic society than women feeling subconsciously inferior to men.

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So, did you like Kill Bill ... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2013 3:23 PM | Posted by flavia: | Reply

So, did you like Kill Bill and Deathproof?

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"but that this was some und... (Below threshold)

April 22, 2013 5:29 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

"but that this was some underhanded move to use the story to promote a political agenda, like making Sherlock Holmes a gay action hero. Now that's just wrong. "

In the book, Rue has very dark skin.

Having a black actress play Rue isn't like making Sherlock Holmes a gay action hero. It's like making Harry Potter a schoolboy.

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"'First of all it's girls a... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2013 10:32 AM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by Reader: | Reply

"'First of all it's girls and boys between the ages of 12-18!'

"Nice nitpick, but that makes my point even stronger. A 12 year old girl might be pretty close in strength and speed to a 12 year old boy. By 18, your average boy is substantially stronger and faster than your average 18 year old girl."

Good points!

If this was Greco-Roman wrestling or something, the 18-year-old boys would always win.

Thing is, it's *not*. I didn't see the movie, but in the books the Hunger Games are a reality-TV spectacle, not a level playing ground.

Being strong counts.

Being fast counts.

Appealing to the audience so one gets more Sponsors sending one food and medicine counts.

Being lucky enough to not be at the exact locations targeted when the Gamemakers throw random deadly stuff in counts.

Being socially savvy so one can use those temporary alliances to one's advantage counts.

In the Districts where few teenagers volunteer to be Tributes, being lucky enough to not be blind/deaf/etc. when one's name is picked from a hat (like, who'd have the advantage, an 18-year-old average girl from District 9 or an 18-year-old blind boy from District 10? because he wouldn't be immune from Reaping) counts.

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"Good points!"Than... (Below threshold)

May 1, 2013 12:52 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Good points!"

Thank you, but I'm not sure what your point is. If strength and speed are important, then all things being equal, boys will dominate girls in the competition. So the fact that there are factors involved would not make much difference.

You see this in other sports like fencing, ice hockey, soccer, football, and so on. Other factors are important like hand-eye coordination; the ability to think quickly; and dumb luck. But strength and speed are important enough that men dominate these sports.

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Other sports like fencing d... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 7:30 AM | Posted, in reply to sabril's comment, by Reader: | Reply

Other sports like fencing don't have *as many* other factors weighing in *as heavily*.

For starters, the best fencers in wheelchairs and the best fencers who can walk don't face each other in Olympic fencing. The ones in wheelchairs face each other in Paralympics fencing instead. Meanwhile, the Hunger Games *would* pit a kid who can't walk against a bunch of kids who can walk.

Then there's the referees trying to keep things fair in sports IRL and the Gamemakers not trying to keep things fair in the Hunger Games.

From book 1:

"...There was a guy like that a few years ago from District 6 called Titus. He went completely savage and the Gamemakers had to have him stunned with electric guns to collect the bodies of the players he'd killed before he ate them. There are no rules in the arena, but cannibalism doesn't play well with the Capitol audience, so they tried to head it off. There was some speculation that the avalanche that finally took Titus out was specifically engineered to ensure the victor was not a lunatic..."

If strength and speed would have been enough to dominate the Hunger Games, then of course Titus would have won that year.

For another factor, the Hunger Games takes place over a long time in an arena without enough food for everyone. Charming the audience enough to get many deliveries of more food could outweigh initial strength and speed (how strong and fast could a very uncharismatic 18-year-old boy be after a couple weeks of starving int he woods after a round of interviews and training in which he repelled both potential Sponsors in the audience and any potential alliance members among other Tributes?) in the Hunger Games - in a way it doesn't outweigh strength and speed in any sports IRL.

Also from book 1:

"...Besides, I'm distracted by my latest idea about the Careers and their supplies. Somehow Rue and I must find a way to destroy
their food. I'm pretty sure feeding themselves will be a tremendous struggle. Traditionally, the Career tributes' strategy
is to get hold of all the food early on and work from there. The years when they have not protected it well — one year a pack of hideous reptiles destroyed it, another a Gamemakers' flood washed it away — those are usually the years that tributes
from other districts have won. That the Careers have been better fed growing up is actually to their disadvantage, because they don't know how to be hungry. Not the way Rue and I do..."

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"Meanwhile, the Hunger Game... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 7:51 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Meanwhile, the Hunger Games *would* pit a kid who can't walk against a bunch of kids who can walk."

Again, I am not sure what your point is. Paralysis is roughly evenly distributed between boys and girls, correct?

I have no problem believing that in a real life hunger games scenario, there might be the occasional contestant with a serious disability who was eliminated early regardless of sex. That doesn't change the fact that generally speaking, girls would get slaughtered in a real life hunger games.

"If strength and speed would have been enough to dominate the Hunger Games, then of course Titus would have won that year."

I agree . . . but so what?

"Charming the audience enough to get many deliveries of more food could outweigh initial strength and speed "

Yet again . . . so what? Is there any indication in the book that girls are better at charming the audience than boys? Of course not, because that would undermine the fantasy that girls can compete against boys on an equal footing.

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Sabril, what you're trying ... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 2:43 PM | Posted by Girl: | Reply

Sabril, what you're trying to say is a girl who has trained all her life and quote 'Knows fifty ways to kill you with a knife.' Would be beaten by some boy who can't use weapons very well.

I think not!!!

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"Again, I am not sure what ... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 3:40 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

"Again, I am not sure what your point is. Paralysis is roughly evenly distributed between boys and girls, correct?"

Yes, you're right! In a group of a million random teens, there's going to be roughly the same number of paralyzed boys and paralyzed girls.

On a level playing field, all the boys or girls will face other boys or girls with roughly equal degrees of paralysis or lack thereof.

In a group of only 24 teens over a dozen of whom were picked randomly, the odds of 0 paralyzed teens, 1 paralyzed boy and 0 paralyzed girls, or 0 paralyzed boys and 1 paralyzed girl would be much higher.

"If strength and speed would have been enough to dominate the Hunger Games, then of course Titus would have won that year."

"I agree . . . but so what?"

But so the guy who played by the rulebook, used all his strength and speed, and would have won if referees kept the playing field level...

...instead had the Gamemakers tip over the playing field and bury his ass under it..

"... Is there any indication in the book that girls are better at charming the audience than boys?..."

There were indications that the audience in the Capitol wanted to watch an exciting and surprising spectacle, and that the Gamemakers catered to this audience. If the winner was always an 18-year-old boy, it would have been less surprising.

"Of course not, because that would undermine the fantasy that girls can compete against boys on an equal footing."

It's not a fantasy about girls competing against boys on an equal footing in the first place.

It's a fantasy about girls competing against boys on a part random, part skewed, more part Roman gladiatorial games + part "Reality" TV + part Bumfights than part anything-to-do-with-real-sports footing.

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"Sabril, what you're trying... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 3:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Girl's comment, by sabril: | Reply

"Sabril, what you're trying to say is a girl who has trained all her life and quote 'Knows fifty ways to kill you with a knife.'"

Oh really? Please quote me where I said or suggested such a thing. Failing that, please admit that I said no such thing and apologize for misrepresenting my position.

Your choice.

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"Sabril, what you're trying... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 3:47 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Sabril, what you're trying to say is a girl who has trained all her life and quote 'Knows fifty ways to kill you with a knife.'Would be beaten by some boy who can't use weapons very well."

Oh really? Please quote me where I said or suggested such a thing. Failing that, please admit that I said no such thing and apologize for misrepresenting my position.

Your choice.

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"But so the guy who played ... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 3:53 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"But so the guy who played by the rulebook, used all his strength and speed, and would have won if referees kept the playing field level..."

Again, so what? All things being equal, boys would have a huge advantage over girls in a hunger games type fight. Nothing you have said contradicts this.

"There were indications that the audience in the Capitol wanted to watch an exciting and surprising spectacle, and that the Gamemakers catered to this audience."

I guess that means "no." Please quote from the book even the slightest shred of evidence that the gamemakers helped rig the game to give the girls an advantage in order to make the game more exciting or surprising.

"It's a fantasy about girls competing against boys on a part random, part skewed, more part Roman gladiatorial games + part "Reality" TV + part Bumfights than part anything-to-do-with-real-sports footing. "

Yet again, so what?

Do you dispute that all things being equal, boys would have a huge advantage over girls in a hunger games type competition?

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"'But so the guy who played... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 5:32 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

"'But so the guy who played by the rulebook, used all his strength and speed, and would have won if referees kept the playing field level...'

"Again, so what?"

So, Titus's losing the Games his year is an example right from the source books of what "hunger games type fight" means in the first place.

"All things being equal, boys would have a huge advantage over girls in a hunger games type fight. Nothing you have said contradicts this."

I have contradicted the notion that a hunger games type fight could have all things be equal in the first place. :)

If all things were being equal, then it would be some other, fairer, saner type of fight instead of a Hunger Games type fight in the first place. ;)

"Please quote from the book even the slightest shred of evidence that the gamemakers helped rig the game to give the girls an advantage in order to make the game more exciting or surprising."

From the books, I got the impression simply that the Gamemakers wanted to make the show *less* predictable.

From knowing math, I know that having one of the 12 boys win every time, cutting the number of Tributes who might end up the winner from 24 to 12, would obviously make the games *more* predictable.

Therefore, I got the impression that the Gamemakers wouldn't want to let one of the 12 boys win every time.

"Do you dispute that all things being equal, boys would have a huge advantage over girls in a hunger games type competition?"

If all things were being equal, then it *couldn't be a Hunger Games type* show in the first place.

I agree that all things being equal, boys have a huge advantage over girls in many actual sports IRL like fencing, ice hockey, soccer, football, and so on.

Those competitions are real competitions, not Hunger Games type spectacles (and thank God they aren't). Players aren't yanked into the game at random. Refs don't make up new rules mid-game. Parts of the playing field aren't deliberately set on fire by stadium staff while people try to play there. Fans in the stands don't toss their favorites energy bars during the games. No one wins points for winning a teammate's trust then stabbing him or her in the back.

Meanwhile, would you dispute that all dice being unloaded being unweighted, 6 would come up 1/6 of the times a loaded die was rolled? No, you'd be all "c'mon, rolling a loaded die isn't an all-dice-being-unloaded scenario in the first place." :)

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"So, Titus's losing the Gam... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 10:27 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"So, Titus's losing the Games his year is an example right from the source books of what "hunger games type fight" means in the first place."

:Shrug: That does not contradict anything I have said. I am not saying that things like strength and speed are the only factors. I am saying that they are important enough that boys would dominate over girls in a Hunger Games type competition. So there are other factors in play too. So what?

"I have contradicted the notion that a hunger games type fight could have all things be equal in the first place. "

Well that is not sufficient to prove your point. You must also show that any such inequality is sufficient to make up for the male advantage. You have not done so.

"If all things were being equal, then it *couldn't be a Hunger Games type* show in the first place.

I agree that all things being equal, boys have a huge advantage over girls in many actual sports IRL like fencing, ice hockey, soccer, football, and so on."

By your use of the phrase, all things are not equal in fencing, ice hockey, soccer, and football. Refs make bad calls. Blind luck plays a big role. Fans sometimes distract the players.

None of this matters (in terms of males having a big advantage of females) because the other factors do not favor females over males.

The only argument you have that other factors might help girls to overcome their disadvantage is that the people running the game can be expected to help girls since it makes the game more interesting and surprising. But there is no evidence beyond your speculation that this happened in the book. And the book does mention that the "careers" dominate the games, winning almost every year. If your hypothesis were correct, the gamemakers would have made sure that this did not happen.


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" I am saying that they are... (Below threshold)

May 2, 2013 11:04 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

" I am saying that they are important enough that boys would dominate over girls in a Hunger Games type competition. So there are other factors in play too. So what?"

So you keep talking about Hunger Games type competitions as if they're normal sports, when they're anything but.

"Well that is not sufficient to prove your point. You must also show that any such inequality is sufficient to make up for the male advantage. You have not done so."

Getting a giant pile of rubble or mud or whatever dumped on him made up for Titus's male advantage in this part of book 1:

"...There was a guy like that a few years ago from District 6 called Titus. He went completely savage and the Gamemakers had to have him stunned with electric guns to collect the bodies of the players he'd killed before he ate them. There are no rules in the arena, but cannibalism doesn't play well with the Capitol audience, so they tried to head it off. There was some speculation that the avalanche that finally took Titus out was specifically engineered to ensure the victor was not a lunatic..."

"By your use of the phrase, all things are not equal in fencing, ice hockey, soccer, and football. Refs make bad calls. Blind luck plays a big role. Fans sometimes distract the players."

They're a hell of a lot *closer* to equal in real sports IRL than in the Hunger Games, which in the books doesn't have referees and does have administrators who *actively kill tributes*.

"None of this matters (in terms of males having a big advantage of females) because the other factors do not favor females over males."

True!

Starting with a million, the number of girls a random factor affects and the number of boys a random factor affects can be expected to roughly cancel out. For example IRL, out of a million I'd expect roughly equal numbers of boys and girls to use wheelchairs(http://dsc.ucsf.edu/publication.php says "Very few children (88,000, or 0.1 percent of the population under 18 years of age) use wheelchairs." about America).

Starting with only 20something, that's lots less likely since the random factors wouldn't affect fractions of people. For example IRL, in my 11th grade homeroom class of 20 there was 1 boy using a wheelchair and 0 girls using a wheelchair. The class could not possibly get any closer than 1/20 or 0/20 to 1/1000. Anyway, we weren't trying to hurt each other. :)

"And the book does mention that the "careers" dominate the games, winning almost every year."

...and sometimes a female Career wins (as shown in book 2), and sometimes a non-Career wins, and once someone who scored only a 3 out of 12 when demonstrating his skills to the Gamemakers won...

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"So you keep talking about ... (Below threshold)

May 3, 2013 3:03 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"So you keep talking about Hunger Games type competitions as if they're normal sports, when they're anything but."

Fundamentally, there is no difference.

1. There are some important factors involved which definitely favor male contestants. You do not dispute this.

2. There are other factors involved which do not favor male contestants or female contestants. You do not seem to seriously dispute this.

3. As a result of (1) and (2), males (would) dominate. This follows logically from (1) and (2).

Do you disagree with (1), (2), or (3)?

"Getting a giant pile of rubble or mud or whatever dumped on him made up for Titus's male advantage in this part of book 1: "

There is a big difference between what happens in one specific case and what happens in general and on average.

Are you claiming that these sorts of interventions are (or would be) disproportionately aimed at male competitors? A simple yes or no will do.

"They're a hell of a lot *closer* to equal in real sports IRL than in the Hunger Games, which in the books doesn't have referees and does have administrators who *actively kill tributes*."

That's a distinction without a difference since in regular sports you are not trying to kill anyone. In regular sports, arbitrary decisions by referees can and do have the effect of causing players to lose the game.

"and sometimes a female Career wins (as shown in book 2), and sometimes a non-Career wins, and once someone who scored only a 3 out of 12 when demonstrating his skills to the Gamemakers won."

Irrelevant. In the story, careers dominate. If your hypothesis were correct, careers would not dominate. Your hypothesis is wrong.

Do you agree that (1) in the book, careers are said to dominate?

A simple yes or no will do.

Do you agree that if (in the book) the gamemakers regularly and systematically intervened to produced surprising and unexpected results, careers would not dominate?

A simple yes or no will do.

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Hi Sabril :)"1. T... (Below threshold)

May 4, 2013 11:07 AM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

Hi Sabril :)

"1. There are some important factors involved which definitely favor male contestants. You do not dispute this.

"2. There are other factors involved which do not favor male contestants or female contestants. You do not seem to seriously dispute this.

"3. As a result of (1) and (2), males (would) dominate. This follows logically from (1) and (2).

"Do you disagree with (1), (2), or (3)?"

Nope, not at all. :D

I'm just adding that as one more result of (2), *sometimes* one of the 12 girls in a show of 24 would win even if *more than half of the other times* one of the 12 boys in a show of 24 would win.

Of course the older boys would dominate the shows over the years, they just wouldn't dominate so completely that a girl (especially an older one who'd been training for years) would *never* win.

From book 1:

"...The exceptions are the kids from the wealthier districts, the
volunteers, the ones who have been fed and trained throughout
their lives for this moment. The tributes from 1, 2, and 4
traditionally have this look about them. It's technically against
the rules to train tributes before they reach the Capitol but it
happens every year. In District 12, we call them the Career
Tributes, or just the Careers..."

Out of the 24 kids in each Hunger Game show, only 6 are Careers.

Out of the 6 Careers in each Hunger Game show, there's only 3 boys (remember, each District sent 1 boy and 1 girl each year).

Meanwhile, there wouldn't always be enough distance weapons to go around, so if there's only 1 distance weapon at the beginning and a girl gets it (the female Career Glimmer got the only set of bow and arrows at first in book 1), then that year a girl would have that advantage over the boys (an advantage she wouldn't have if all 3 male Careers had bows to pull and arrows to fire too).

Then there's the random factors killing off a bunch of the kids who survived, or ran away from, the hand-to-hand fighting at the beginning. Fires, landslides, drownings (see book 2), large lab-produced wild carnivores, deadly stinging insects, getting stabbed in one's sleep, maybe even Career-on-Career-of-the-same-sex hand-to-hand violence too.

Lump all the Tributes over the years of this bloodshed together, and you're right, that non-gender-advantaging heinousness would kill roughly equal number of male Careers and female Careers. The 2 male Careers and 3 female Careers killed in one year would cancel out the 3 male Careers and 2 female Careers killed in another year...

...but still wouldn't stop that 3rd male Career in the former from winning his year (especially since he'd have advantages over the non-Career boys and girls in his year's show) and still wouldn't stop that 3rd female Career from winning her year (especially since she'd have advantages over the non-Career boys and girls in her year's show).

"...That's a distinction without a difference since in regular sports you are not trying to kill anyone. In regular sports, arbitrary decisions by referees can and do have the effect of causing players to lose the game..."

I agree with you there, that's true about the refs! :) At the same time, in regular sports there aren't *as many* arbitrary decisions by referees knocking players out of the game.

"'and sometimes a female Career wins (as shown in book 2), and sometimes a non-Career wins, and once someone who scored only a 3 out of 12 when demonstrating his skills to the Gamemakers won.'

"Irrelevant..."

First you call something in the story irrelevant...

"...In the story, careers dominate..."

...then you call something else in the same story relevant.

"...If your hypothesis were correct, careers would not dominate. Your hypothesis is wrong."

If my hypothesis were correct, Careers would not *always* win. Dominate by winning the majority of the time? Of course! Completely eliminate the possibility of someone else like Katniss ever winning in any year? Nah.

"Do you agree that (1) in the book, careers are said to dominate?

"A simple yes or no will do."

Definitely.

"Do you agree that if (in the book) the gamemakers regularly and systematically intervened to produced surprising and unexpected results, careers would not dominate?

"A simple yes or no will do."

That would actually depend on how weighted they made their own interventions. If they decided to make it completely random, a career would win only 6 shows out of every 24 shows. If they decided to make it completely unrandom, a Career would win every show. Nothing in the books said those were their only 2 options and that a 3rd option like, say, having a Career win 17 to 19 shows out of every 24 shows was off the table. ;)

Ah, just remembered two more factors:

If anyone in the audience in the Capitol would be receptive to "underdog appeal," whoever has the most strength and speed would win the least of *that* bit of advantage.

Another factor from book 2:

"...'On the seventy-fifth anniversary, as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them cannot overcome the power of the Capitol, the male and female tributes will be reaped from their existing pool of victors.'..."

It's not completely implausible that the Gamemakers would want to send a milder version of the same message to the audience in the Districts by occasionally killing off the strongest, fastest Tribute themselves. Those few years now and then, whoever was the strongest and fastest would have *that* disadvantage. It *is* completely implausible that referees in real-life sports would want to send any sort of that message to audiences IRL. ;)

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I agree with most things in... (Below threshold)

May 7, 2013 10:32 AM | Posted by Addison: | Reply

I agree with most things in this article, and it was a real eye opener. I do, however, disagree with what you said about Katniss not killing anyone. She actually kills two people: the one who killed Rue, and Cato at the end. Just saying.

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i just hated that anyone wo... (Below threshold)

May 7, 2013 4:44 PM | Posted by ilovepie: | Reply

i just hated that anyone would ever say something like that about a black person. I know you wouldn't think she would be black but its nothing to get upset about. So whoever said that about rue a JERKS.

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"Nope, not at all."<p... (Below threshold)

May 8, 2013 4:26 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"Nope, not at all."

Then you don't disagree with my argument.

"I'm just adding that as one more result of (2), *sometimes* one of the 12 girls "

You have not shown evidence of sufficient arbitrariness to all girls to win regularly if occasionally.

"Meanwhile, there wouldn't always be enough distance weapons to go around, so if there's only 1 distance weapon at the beginning and a girl gets it (the female Career Glimmer got the only set of bow and arrows at first in book 1), then that year a girl would have that advantage over the boys"

If such a weapon provided such a terrible advantage, then a girl would pretty much never get it. Any girl who tried would be out-sprinted and/or overpowered right out of the blocks.

"First you call something in the story irrelevant...

. . .

...then you call something else in the same story relevant"

So what? Some things in the story are relevant to your point and some things are not.

Your argument (unless you have abandoned it) is that the game-makers can be counted on to rig the game so as to produced unexpected and surprising results. Therefore, according to your argument, boys would not dominate since the game-makers would rig the game in favor of girls to level the playing field.

If your argument held any water at all, one would expect that the "careers" would not dominate. Which they do. The fact that an occasional non-career might win does not rescue your argument.

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"You have not shown evidenc... (Below threshold)

May 8, 2013 1:38 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

"You have not shown evidence of sufficient arbitrariness to all girls to win regularly if occasionally."

Why would I bother to do that? I'm not arguing that girls would win *regularly* instead of occasionally in the first place.

"So what? Some things in the story are relevant to your point and some things are not."

My point is about what a "Hunger Games style" competition would be in the first place. Things in the story that define what the Hunger Games style actually is are definitely relevant. ;)

"If such a weapon provided such a terrible advantage, then a girl would pretty much never get it. Any girl who tried would be out-sprinted and/or overpowered right out of the blocks."

This argument right here fails to take into account all the other things the male Careers (and everyone else) would have to deal with at the beginning of the show.

In the books, a male Career has a number of *other* priorities right out of the blocks in addition to outsprinting everyone else for the bow and arrows. Killing other Tributes right away, not getting killed by another male Career himself right away, figuring out how to cross water safely even though he may never have had a chance to swim (see book 2), etc.

"Your argument (unless you have abandoned it) is that the game-makers can be counted on to rig the game so as to produced unexpected and surprising results."

Yes, that is my argument. :)

"Therefore, according to your argument, boys would not dominate since the game-makers would rig the game in favor of girls to level the playing field."

No, that is not a conclusion of my argument. ;) According to my argument they would *not* rig the show *to level the playing field*. They're not fair, they're not interested in good sportsmanship, they're bloodthirsty jerks, remember?

According to my argument they would rig the show to *tilt the playing field in a number of different directions, and not always the same direction each time*. *That* is what would prevent male Careers from *always* winning even though they'd dominate, and what would give girls (including female Careers) a chance of *occasionally* winning.

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" I'm not arguing that girl... (Below threshold)

May 8, 2013 5:40 PM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

" I'm not arguing that girls would win *regularly* instead of occasionally in the first place."

So you are not arguing that girls would win occasionally but regularly? You feel it would be that unusual?

"Things in the story that define what the Hunger Games style actually is are definitely relevant"

Not necessarily, it depends what your point is.

"In the books, a male Career has a number of *other* priorities right out of the blocks in addition to outsprinting everyone else for the bow and arrows"

If a bow and arrow conferred such a tremendous advantage, then it would necessarily be given an extremely high priority.

" According to my argument they would *not* rig the show *to level the playing field*. "

That's just a semantic objection. Call it whatever you want -- according to your argument, the game-makers would try to create unexpected results. That necessarily entails giving an advantage to people who would not be expected to win, such as non-careers.

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"So you are not arguing tha... (Below threshold)

May 9, 2013 2:46 PM | Posted by Reader: | Reply

"So you are not arguing that girls would win occasionally but regularly? You feel it would be that unusual?"

There's a *difference* between occasionally and regularly. Learn it. ;)

"according to your argument, the game-makers would try to create unexpected results. That necessarily entails giving an advantage to people who would not be expected to win, such as non-careers."

Yes - *and* it *doesn't* necessarily entail giving them *enough* of an advantage to let a girl win the show *half the time*.

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"There's a *difference* bet... (Below threshold)

May 10, 2013 3:37 AM | Posted by sabril: | Reply

"There's a *difference* between occasionally and regularly."

Of course I am well aware that there is a difference. But you seem to believe that "regularly" and "occasionally" are mutually exclusive, i.e. it is impossible for something to happen both occasionally and regularly.

"Yes - *and* it *doesn't* necessarily entail giving them *enough* of an advantage to let a girl win the show *half the time*."

Well what percentage of the time would non-careers win but for the game-makers rigging of the game against careers, in your view?

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I have great sympathy and a... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2013 6:26 AM | Posted by Peeta: | Reply

I have great sympathy and admiration for Kateniss. It must have been frustrating to be overlooked like that, just because she's a woman.

Think I now has read most there is to read about Kateniss. It's been a nice experience. Anyone read that Kateniss presented herself as religious while in reality being atheist? Some of you may think I'm splitting hair since monotheism overlap greatly with atheism, but I have a fine sense for details and want to make sure I've got it all right.

People like Katniss, what do they do when their career in THG is over? The transition to civilian life is known to inflict trauma or depression, so I'm guessing Kateniss would prefer Capitol to monitor her condition in through vulnerable period. Or perhaps I'm confusing it with another book.

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People didn't like the hung... (Below threshold)

May 12, 2013 6:54 PM | Posted by David M.: | Reply

People didn't like the hunger games because Rue was black? What racist ass-holes.

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i can honestly say this is ... (Below threshold)

May 31, 2013 1:06 AM | Posted by allie: | Reply

i can honestly say this is the weakest argument for or against anything i have ever seen.

the hunger games is about a young girl’s struggle for survival as she tries NOT to get killed OR to kill. katniss tries hard to keep a firm hold on her humanity throughout the games and into the other books in the series. which obviously you haven't read or, if you did, you didn't understand what you read.

and last time i checked "she kills people" wasn't a cornerstone of feminist icons. and even if it was, "oh but but that tribute who killed rue, she just killed as INSTINCT" isn't a legitimate argument either. she killed plenty of people throughout the series and became stronger and stronger as she continued trying not to do so. in a world that was ENTIRELY full of self-serving people, she cared about others. the fact that she even volunteered to take her sister's place in the first place is a testament to what kind of person katniss is, given that it's established right then and there that nobody else had ever volunteered to take the place of a sibling in the games.

i won't even continue. you don't understand the books at all, you're kind of ridiculous, and your point is invalid.

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wow.. next time you need to... (Below threshold)

May 31, 2013 12:47 PM | Posted by SerenRose: | Reply

wow.. next time you need to actually READ ALL THE BOOKS. because right now? you sound like a complete and utter moron.


you are like all those people who assume that katniss has light brown hair, green eyes and is utterly white, when it quite clearly states she has dark hair/black hair GREY EYES and OLIVE SKIN.

Read the books and UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU ARE READING before talking about it, unless you really are that stupid, then "here's your sign"

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Did you read the books? Thi... (Below threshold)

June 13, 2013 11:07 AM | Posted by Jenn: | Reply

Did you read the books? This is a story of dystopian society, in which all power is taken away,from everyone. Katniss is written as a strong, yet broken survivor. She is not written to live up to a feminist ideal (I say this as a self identified feminist) she is meant to be an example of a young adult growing up in what has been a oppressed/war torn society for 75 plus years.

Are you saying her only power is to intentionally, and with fore thought kill or she's a wuss who just lets the world take her where it might- She is constantly in search of her power, frustrated by those that would control her, one way and then another, and just when she thinks she is free of it, she sees she is yet again under someones thumb. And if you truly believe premeditated murder... it's trilogy...you might want to read to the end instead of merely reading one third of it.

And you think Jezebel missed the point!?

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I enjoy your commentary on ... (Below threshold)

June 28, 2013 3:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I enjoy your commentary on this work. I think you've overlooked a valuable approach to this series and why it is relevant to teenagers, but your point that Jezebel is full of blind idiots is well-taken.

These books put a thrilling facade on the experience of being a teenager and they do so by some of the very qualities that you are critiquing as being "anti-feminist".

Its a coming of age story that resonates with teenagers because it reflects how a teenager feels. She is trying to have agency and yet can't quite seem to have it because the powers that be rob her of it. Things happen "to her" and "around her" and this resonates with teens because that is how they feel. Their limited agency is constantly bound by all the external forces with which they must interact.

Its not terribly feminist, I agree, but I'd give it to my teenage son or daughter regardless because I think agency, and the feeling of lacking it as a teenager moving towards autonomy, is a feeling that transcends gender issues.

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I think you may be right, b... (Below threshold)

June 28, 2013 5:56 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I think you may be right, but that also makes it a poor choice of "hero" for anyone. The thing is that she could have easily had agency, at any point she wanted. She could have refused to have anything to do with the Games. She could have refused, on principle to be dressed like a clown in order to put on a spectacle. She could have refused to fight. She could have taken a bunch of kids and hid in the woods and pointedly NOT fighting. What niggles me is not that she had no agency, but that she believed she had no agency.

I think that idea is being sold more and more often, and it hurts the youth as they literally cannot figure out a way to fix their own problems. Which is why they did the OWS thing -- which in the demands is much more about getting someone else to take care of them rather than coming up with a way to deal with their own problems. For example, suppose the kids demanding loan forgiveness were willing to trade said loan forgiveness for a year of service either in a millitary unit or in some charity cause? They get the loans paid, but THEY do it, rather than waiting for someone else to do it. They, like Katniss will never do those kinds of things, not because they cannot, but because they believe they cannot. There are ways to fix a lot of our problems -- but they require people to take agency.

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sherwood florida nigga... (Below threshold)

July 3, 2013 11:15 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

sherwood florida nigga

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Did any of these "Katniss d... (Below threshold)

July 3, 2013 2:51 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Did any of these "Katniss doesn't have/ believe she has agency" (New vocab words are fun. YAY! let's over use them!) read these books? It's almost not worth commenting on.

She lives in 4+ generation dystopia. The story is a trilogy, so watching the first movie (which is, while a fair adaptation, is not the book)is only the first third of her journey, hardly makes you an expert on what is going on in the story.

You are right though, she feels she has no "agency", that she and her district are wholly under the thumb of the Capital. And that there is no fighting it, only surviving. She begins a consummate survivor, she takes care of her family, herself and through an alliance turned friendship Gale and his family. She doesn't have time to think about relationships that exist do not serve the purpose of helping her family's survival- at least that's what her rational/survivor mind tells her, people whom she realizes she truly cares for take her by surprise. She is broken. So are many around, in different ways and to different degrees.

Her whole journey, the whole point of the story is her finding her power, and how best to use it. And THAT makes it a fantastic "feminist" story, a fantastic human story. She joins the ranks of the Hero With A Thousand Faces club.

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You do realize that the com... (Below threshold)

July 4, 2013 8:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Dovahkiin: | Reply

You do realize that the comment appears on a post describing the movie, right?

And no, having it take 3 books (and likely 3 movies) to make a decision she has to stick with IS NOT FEMINIST. It's feminist like men like their feminist -- give us stuff, men.

But whatever, lets look at the first book -- does she CHOOSE to kill or CHOOSE not to kill? Does she CHOOSE to dress in flames, or is that once again chosen for her. She's cinderella with a bow. She doesn't really take control of her life in this situation. She gets other people to take control. She has a fairy godmother in the Sponsers, she has a handsome prince Peeta, she has other people at every point telling her exactly what to do and how to do it.

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Excellent point. ... (Below threshold)

July 10, 2013 8:29 AM | Posted, in reply to fraula's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Excellent point.

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this is shit.all u h... (Below threshold)

July 24, 2013 3:11 AM | Posted by lucy : | Reply

this is shit.
all u have to do is enjoy the book, not look for reasons on how to offend it. Katniss does kill people in the hunger games, rue is mad black, andi bet u would die straight up if u tried doing wat she did.

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Rue is black in the books. ... (Below threshold)

July 30, 2013 2:46 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Rue is black in the books. Also, what does feminism mean to you? Is it all about neutralizing gender by reversing roles, or more what I feel it should be, owning your womanhood and defining for yourself what that means.

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I noticed what is wrong wit... (Below threshold)

August 1, 2013 12:43 PM | Posted by Todd: | Reply

I noticed what is wrong with the books and it has nothing to do with anything mentioned in this post.

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If you believe that Katniss... (Below threshold)

September 17, 2013 9:26 PM | Posted by Kaitlynn: | Reply

If you believe that Katniss isn't a strong woman who makes seemingly impossible decisions and acts in a decisive manner to save herself and others, you need to read the rest of the books. It's a series of three.

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what about Katniss after Ru... (Below threshold)

October 7, 2013 8:57 PM | Posted by Zach: | Reply

what about Katniss after Rue was killed, what happened to that person? I am pretty sure she shot an arrow somewhere through his body.

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yes you're rite and she kil... (Below threshold)

October 28, 2013 9:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Kaitlynn's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

yes you're rite and she kills alot more people in the second and third books anyway

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It doesn't seem like you re... (Below threshold)

November 2, 2013 1:35 AM | Posted by jeod: | Reply

It doesn't seem like you read the book at all. Perhaps you skimmed the Wikipedia synopsis? Most of your reckless accusations are baseless. Anyone who has spent time reading the book (even just once) would find your interpretation ridiculous and incongruously inaccurate.

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Isn't Deux ex Machina prope... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2013 9:59 PM | Posted by Anon: | Reply

Isn't Deux ex Machina properly translated as "machination of God"?

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"Deus ex Machina" properly ... (Below threshold)

November 10, 2013 10:55 PM | Posted by Bryan: | Reply

"Deus ex Machina" properly translates as "god out of the machine". It refers to a practice in low-grade Latin plays that resolve their plots by means of a character who is some god or another. The god is brought onto stage by some machine that simulates flying, appearing in a cloud, etc. Then the god fixes everything. It's a sign of incompetent writing.

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It's been a while since I w... (Below threshold)

November 13, 2013 7:47 PM | Posted, in reply to Curious's comment, by Anon: | Reply

It's been a while since I watched THG, but wasn't Katniss responsible for multiple deaths? Just off the top of my head, she directly caused deaths with the "bees" intentionally or not, Rue's murderer and of course she kills Cato in self-defence at the end, so that's at least three kills attributed to her, which possibly makes her one of the most prominent killers in the 74th HG?

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Being 'responsible for' dea... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2013 7:12 AM | Posted by Chaz: | Reply

Being 'responsible for' death is not the same as killing people.

To kill someone, you ideally have to shoot, strangle, bash them over the head or stab them.

You should raise your hand, and they fall. That's killing.

Not wasps, not wolves, not starvation. No intermediate agents or elapsed time. No possibility of escape.

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You clearly didn't read the... (Below threshold)

December 1, 2013 4:59 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

You clearly didn't read the book, or watched the movie, so you should just shut up instead of say a bunch of stupidity, you know.

And she directly killed two characters. Like, arrow-through-the-heart-and-the-head killed. So, really, just read the damn thing if you want to criticize it.

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Blah blah blah - troll... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2013 1:45 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Mr X: | Reply

Blah blah blah - troll

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Bullshit. If Katniss were a... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2013 6:14 AM | Posted by Dani: | Reply

Bullshit. If Katniss were a boy, nobody would matter.

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When I first read this, I b... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2013 5:38 PM | Posted by Rae: | Reply

When I first read this, I berated myself for missing what was blatantly “more sexist than a rap video.” How could I be so blind about the Hunger Games?! But then I turned on my brain and was sorely bothered by TLP’s arguments.

My gravest concern is that the whole premise of this blog post is an illusory correlation (let me just brush the dust off of my social psych book here…please correct me, more informed people, if I remember this wrong). My college professor illustrated the concept with the negative stereotype that Asians are bad drivers. She told us: an individual may encounter 20 bad drivers on their way home from work (this was Boston, so she was using a conservative estimate), but when we notice the one bad driver who is Asian, that interaction is more likely to reinforce the negative stereotype about Asian drivers (whether we believe the stereotype or not). We might even fleetingly ask ourselves: “Could it be true? Is he driving poorly because he is Asian?” Meanwhile, the 19 Swedes who almost ran us off the road only register as careless drivers, rather than drivers who drive while Swedish.

In THG, certainly Katniss serves as a vehicle for an escapist fantasy, but this is a lucrative and therefore reoccurring theme in modern YA fiction. Harry Potter has been mentioned already, and I can’t even type “Twilight” without gagging, and those are only two famous examples of a pervasive trend. To argue that Katniss is a sexist story as a result – more sexist than a rap video, even! – is to besmirch perhaps one of the most feminist of the YA fantasy options currently on the market (big claim worthy of its own analysis, I know), and I would prefer to give Collins points for her efforts. How neat that not only is Katniss the hero, but Peeta is, essentially, the damsel?! And then Katniss rejects Gale as a partner, holding her own priorities equal in value to his, refusing to be tamed by the strong bad-boy. In a genre (and society) where women are often expected to compromise their interests, I read that as a pretty powerful statement.

My point is sort of backwards, but it seems to me like TLP is experiencing an illusory correlation. The stereotype is that female characters lack agency, or that female authors can’t write female characters with agency. I don’t know if TLP believes these stereotypes openly, but someone who is aware of the stereotype will more readily identify examples that validate it. In this case, TLP claims that Katniss lacks agency because the story is sexist, dodging several reasonable (and to me, obvious) explanations for her reactionary ways. He is quick to tear down the character as weak-because-female, rather than weak-because-valid-story-line. If Katniss was a man, would he have behaved differently in this story? Do *any* of the characters in the story have agency?

I’ll come back to that, but I just want to point out some vile comments on this thread that support my point. They argue that the Katniss’s lack of agency is a direct result of the author’s gender. I noted one: “This is probably because of the female author. That's how she might imagine the men's world is.” And a second: “What's interesting to me is that it seems young adult novels written by women seem to get it wrong, while books written by men (such as Scott Westerfeld) get it right. Is it because the women writers are products/vicitms of the machine? Having read all of the Hunger Games books it only gets worse for the main character and seems to imply even more of a victim's narrative.” I have trouble articulating the rage I feel about these comments, especially the second one. But first, “the men’s world”?? Which wholly belongs to men, and is totally different and separate from the women’s world, obviously. OH WAIT. And does anyone really think that Suzanne Collins is a VICTIM? Sorry folks, she played the YA fantasy market like a harp and is sitting on bajillions of cash, while you troll comment feeds feeling manly and superior. Can you honestly think of no stories about men where the events did not turn in the character’s favor? If so, then you are both poorly read, AND a misogynist. Vomit, vomit, vomit.

Back to Katniss. Why must we attribute Katniss’s lack of agency to her gender, or to latent anti-feminism on the part of the author? I see two reasonable alternatives: 1) the worst case scenario is that Katniss is a puppet character for an escapist story, never meant to have agency because that would deny the readers their escape. Katniss’s intangible specialness leads her to a thrilling adventure nonetheless. Popularity and financial rewards are bestowed upon the author. 2) Giving Collins the benefit of the doubt, we can imagine quite plausibly that Katniss’s lack of agency is a direct result of the autocratic society that contrived a kids-only killing game so horrific that it forces 11/13ths of the country’s populace into subservience. The entire social, political, economic, and cultural structure of this dystopian world is designed to remove agency from every. single. character. Those who comply are subordinated (the capital, the victors, the laborers), and those who rebel (Cinna, among many), are killed. Perhaps the whole point of the story is to witness a hero, denied power and choice by the manipulators who control her world, fighting for independence from the divided powers that want to use her.

It might be obvious which explanation I favor, but I wanted to air my grievances regarding this rampant tear-down of a female character (and author) in the name of “feminism.” It seems like every female character in pop culture goes through the same. None are perfect – because no humans are perfect – and male characters are rarely subjected to this level of scrutiny. I don’t want perfect “strong” female characters. I want female characters that have access to the entire spectrum of attributes that male characters are allowed to express. I, for one, am glad that my young sister can enjoy stories that depict an alternative to the standard damsel. Instead of dragging this one through the mud (though “more sexist than a rap video” sure has gotten TLP some serious page hits, so there’s that), let’s encourage authors who are clearly trying for something better.

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_For example, though this i... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2013 10:13 AM | Posted by J.F.: | Reply

_For example, though this is a story about kids killing kids, somehow Katniss never actually plans and executes any kids, she's never guilty of murder one. She does kill Rue's murderer, but it was reflexive, a defensive act. Importantly, she does not choose NOT to kill, she does not choose a pacifist position, she explicitly states twice in the book how much she wants to kill. But she never does it. She tries to kill big bad Cato at the end, twice, and fails. Only after he is torn to shreds by mutants does she perform a mercy killing on him, at his request. In other words, she doesn't choose to kill or not kill-- it doesn't come up._
1) "...never plans..." I guess the author of the article missed the whole "drop a nest of deadly hornets, "tracker jackers," onto the group of kids camped out at the base of the tree she was in?
2) "...it was reflexive, a defensive act." The entire point of the competition is kill or be killed, so every death in that arena is a defensive act. And if your reflex at seeing someone appear who is trying to kill you isn't to kill him first, then you're not going to win.
3) "...she perform a mercy killing on him, at his request." That's still planning and executing a killing.

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Katniss killed the girl fro... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2014 6:30 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Katniss killed the girl from 2 by dropping tracker-jackers on her, the boy from 1 with an arrow and the boy from 2 with an arrow.

She made the decisive decision to sacrifice her and Peeta's life instead of allowing the gamers "a winner". So I content this antithesis is bullshit.

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Katniss actually did both d... (Below threshold)

February 13, 2014 2:59 PM | Posted by Janessa: | Reply

Katniss actually did both drop a tracker jacket hive on someone, and also shot someone in the neck. And indirectly killed Cato. xD But still, really good points made.

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I completely agree with you... (Below threshold)

February 20, 2014 10:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I completely agree with you

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You idiot -.- They pointed ... (Below threshold)

February 22, 2014 6:53 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

You idiot -.- They pointed out that that was a reflexive action. It was also not for the sake of winning it was to avenge Rue. You can't call yourself a fan if you don't even know who Marvel is.

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Well the whole "people maki... (Below threshold)

April 11, 2014 1:15 AM | Posted, in reply to YOHAMI's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Well the whole "people making decisions for her" thing is supposed to happen, just some. Stupid people came along and said "hay let's tell everyone she's a hero" and so it happened. 😑

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Yah, I know! Do your resear... (Below threshold)

April 19, 2014 10:01 PM | Posted, in reply to Curious's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Yah, I know! Do your research!

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why does anybody care what ... (Below threshold)

May 14, 2014 12:09 AM | Posted by MinnieA1 (Janice): | Reply

why does anybody care what color skin or race Rue is? Like that's not important. Personally I like the little girl that played Rue, she was just so cute and made me very emotional when she died. I love how she played the character Rue, she just made me feel like I was with them in The Hunger Games. But, all these racial comments about Rue being Black is just so irrelevant because last time I checked District 1-12 aren't Caucasian communities only. Obviously Blacks and Whites live in the same community. But, if The Hunger Games just had Caucasian's there would have been a controversy regarding that.

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With regard to Katniss not ... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2014 5:05 PM | Posted by Bobbie Kaye Kane: | Reply

With regard to Katniss not killing anyone, I believe you are wrong. Yes, she killed Marvel reflexively, after seeing Rue killed.

But she also killed Glimmer by sawing off the branch holding the tracker jacker nest. This was a deliberate act, and were it not part of the Hunger Games, she'd likely be prosecuted.

And what happened to Kato? He was being attacked by the mutts, and Katniss, mercifully, finished him off with an arrow.

She also tried to kill Gloss, but was outmatched until Thresh came along.

So I disagree with your assertion that Katniss didn't kill anyone. First degree murder? No, but they all died by her hand.

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Actually. Katniss does kill... (Below threshold)

July 24, 2014 1:51 PM | Posted by whatever: | Reply

Actually. Katniss does kill in the third book, so there goes your cinderella theory

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She kills people. SPOILERS ... (Below threshold)

July 24, 2014 1:54 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

She kills people. SPOILERS AHEAD!! First book Glimmer, Marvel, and Cato. In the second book, she kills Gloss. In the third book, she kills multiple Peacekeepers, a Capitol citizen, and President Coin.

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First of all this article i... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2014 10:05 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

First of all this article is way off
1. JK Rowling did not write the hunger games anyone that read the book would've known this Suzanne Collins did!!!!!!
2. In the book it kinda describes rue as black or brown and why should it fucking matter and if it does matter to you then your a huge racist like the author of this article!!
3 katniss does kill people in the first book and secound book and third!
4. How is this like Cinderella? Yes she wears one or two fancy dresses that doesn't make her Cinderella!
5. How is it degrading to women katniss is the mockingjay a symbol of hope and power and a voice to people who don't have one also at the end with the berries it wasn't an act of suicide it was an act of telling the Capitol there no longer in charge of her or anyone else she was a symbol of standing up for yourself which she does threw out the series!!!!!!! So tell me how this is degrading to women standing up for what you believe in!?!?

P.S to the author I'm glad that dude punched you in the face and he should do it again and a lot harder

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wow. I hope this comment wa... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2014 1:55 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by chupacabra: | Reply

wow. I hope this comment was meant to be sarcastic.

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It's a troll or a tumblr qu... (Below threshold)

August 12, 2014 3:54 PM | Posted, in reply to chupacabra's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

It's a troll or a tumblr queen. Either way, don't feed it.

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Hello,This is not an... (Below threshold)

September 2, 2014 8:57 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hello,
This is not any entertainment, this is not funny at all !!!
Kids killing kids!!! What kind of value book or movie is bringing??? How sick people must be, to create such nightmare. This is utopia of human kind. "0" values, only money and sick entertainment behind!!!

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IN THE BOOK RUE IS BLACK IN... (Below threshold)

September 9, 2014 2:16 PM | Posted by Katniss: | Reply

IN THE BOOK RUE IS BLACK IN THE FILM RUE IS BLACK WHAT IS THE PROBLEM!!!!??????

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