Monday, March 12, 2012

A Hunger Games Post

"Cleaning me up is just a preliminary step to determining my new look. With my acid-damaged hair, sunburned skin, and ugly scars, the prep team has to make me pretty and then damage, burn, and scar me in a more attractive way." -Katniss Everdeen, in Mockingjay

Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy has been great fun to read. The stories contain violence, so I can understand why some people would think otherwise and/or wouldn't find the stories suitable for kids.

(This post doesn't contain plot spoilers, just a general summary of the protagonist)

I do enjoy Katniss Everdeen as a protagonist. In the above-quoted scene, she is receiving a make-over that is supposed to transform her into an acceptable-looking girl after the violence that was inflicted upon her in a fighting arena damaged her body. It is not lost on her, though, that the make-over process is mimicking the very violence that has resulted in her needing the make-over in the first place.

In this way, the reader is invited to think about the arbitrariness of beauty standards.

Katniss is not a perfect character, but she is, I believe, a feminist one (at least, she beats the hell out of Bella Swan in that regard). Not only is she a female protagonist, she's a hero. And that's big, because sadly, not enough images of girls and women being heroic are in the media today. Despite women and girls performing small and large acts of heroism every day, the Netflix category called "action movies" is a dude-fest of men being every type of hero imaginable- soldiers, iron men, flying men, fighting men, police men, pilot men, batmen, and so on, with women relegated to role of cheerleader to male hero or victim of male aggression.

Relatedly, Katniss seems to have difficulty throughout the trilogy seeing herself as a hero. Instead, she seems to believe she's essentially a bad person because of the violence her government coerced her into performing. That, too, might resonate with girls and women for whom any act of aggression, assertion, or violence is something we are made to feel Incredibly Guilty about, while oftentimes the same acts performed by men are celebrated or condoned.

What do you all think of the trilogy? Are you reading it? Do you plan to?

1 comment:

bibigo said...

Read it, enjoyed it, read it again and enjoyed it the second time as well. A bit irritated by the epilogue, but liked the development of Katniss throughout the series. Was introduced to the books by a wonderful teacher who uses them for her grade 9 class. It makes a nice change from the "female hero dressed as a boy in order to be allowed to have adventures" trope that keeps surfacing in YA fiction.