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3.15.2011

Katniss Everdeen

For those of you who follow YA news, film adaptation news, or popular media news in general, you should be at least vaguely aware of the significant casting decisions currently being made by our Hollywood brethren in regards to the upcoming film adaptation of Suzanne Collins's bestselling Hunger Games series (previous posts on the first, second, and third books here).

One of the most pervasive conversations in the blogosphere is the question of Katniss' race. The most recent acknowledgment of the problem that I've read is Gwenda Bond's article over at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Katniss is described as having dark hair and olive-toned skin, yet none of the actresses considered have been people of color. What gives?

Despite our outrage at other instances of whitewashing (anyone remember the original cover of Justine Larbalestier's Liar?) this is one I'm just not getting behind. In the first place, most people who have a problem with the casting of a blonde or a brunette begin talking about how Katniss' race is integral to her status as a lower class coal miner's daughter from District 12. I have no argument with the class distinction. But until casting decisions started being made, no one was having conversations about race distinctions in the Hunger Games. Yes, Katniss is "backwater," but no, she is not necessarily representative of one or another marginalized race.

Clearly, Jennifer Lawrence - the most heated name being bandied about for the role - is not quite olive-toned or dark-haired. Hailee Steinfeld, rumored to be a second casting option, is considerably more so. In the end, however, I would hate to think that the casting director's final choice is determined solely by either girl's appearance. My hope is that they choose the person best suited for Katniss' character. Because in the end, what we remember the protagonist of Collins' trilogy for most of all is not the color of her skin, hair, eyes, or clothes - but for the strength and fragility of her character.

2 comments:

  1. Bravo!!...this is exactly how I feel about the whole matter.The skin, hair, eye color and clothes are superficial...it's the actress that brings the character to life. Whether it's Jennifer Lawrence (my personal pick) or Hailee Steinfeld the fans will get an amazing performance.

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  2. Thanks for chiming in. Having said all this, if I thought for a moment that Katniss' race was a real issue, I would be completely on board with the argument. I am not at all against casting outside the (unfortunately) default pool of white girls in Hollywood. Mostly, I'm just so relieved that Kristen Stewart never made it past the first hyped-up articles a few months ago that I'd almost be happy with one of the Fanning girls. Almost... My point is, we pick our battles.

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