Never expected to be talking about The Hunger Games in the context of racism, but here we are.
AZM Ally Kenneth Lyons, Jr. writes in with word that apparently, there is a select group of people who saw the movie this past weekend who were surprised to see Amandla Stenberg play the character of Rue. In the book, Rue is described as having “dark brown skin and eyes” so to me it makes sense that cast someone who has, um, dark brown skin and eyes. Apparently, it doesn’t make sense to everyone.
One of the powers of literary fiction is that your mind gets to cast the characters in any way you see fit. Sometimes, even if the description of a character is explicit, your mind swaps in your personal ideal. I guess some people read “brown skin and eyes” and thought, hey, Rue’s a cute little blond. I mean, I guess Snooki has brown skin, well, brown-orange skin. Were they thinking Rue was a Snooki with blond hair? So confused.
If there were no physical descriptions of skin tone in the book, I could more than understand the confusion. I don’t understand why it would ruin the movie, but I could understand some of the surprise. I think a few of the tweets that have been posted were ones of genuine surprise. Maybe some read the bit about Rue looking like Prim just glossed over the brown skin part.
I suspect that this reaction to Rue is a minority opinion. Until Kenneth sent over this tumblr, the only thing I ever heard about The Hunger Games was ZOMG FUCKING HUNGER GAMES HAVE YOU READ THE BOOKS THEY ARE THE AWESOME SAUCE HOLY SHIT THE MOVIE AND STUFF! A quick search of twitter now comes up with a whole lot of people making fun of those who are surprised that Rue is black. The box office numbers clearly indicate that more people did not have a problem with Rue than did. That gives me a lot of hope.