Thursday, April 19, 2012

Condescending Dude Review of Hunger Games

In general, I found this review of The Hunger Games movie to be kind of condescending.

First, the title (which, of course, may not have been the author's):

"'The Hunger Games': A lightweight Twi-pocalypse"


The comparisons some people make to Twilight truly boggle my mind. The basic reasoning process seems to be, well, both books were written by women and are about a young female protagonist who likes two different guys therefore they're virtually indistinguishable.

And in what logical universe is The Hunger Games more "lightweight" than the notoriously fluffy Twilight?

Kinda ridiculous.

The critic then makes a couple of ticky-tacky complaints that, apparently for him, doom the whole entire film. One, he finds the concept of state censorship and control of information to be completely implausible. And two, he is skeptical of the clothing that the women wear in District 12. "Have blue jeans for women and indoor plumbing been abolished?" he parenthetically asks.

Expounding upon these totally deep critiques, he says:

"If that sounds like too much intellectual heavy lifting to apply to a girl-centric action-romance that mashes up a bunch of disparate influences and ingredients, from Greek mythology to Orwell to Stephen King, well, it probably is. My point is that the patchwork of 'The Hunger Games' never really holds together or makes any sense, except as an elementary fairy tale about a young girl’s coming of age and an incipient romantic triangle (which is the focus of the film, far more than the book)."

Disregarding that totally-gross first sentence.... the "romantic triangle" is the "focus of the film"?


Indeed, because the film doesn't give us access to Katniss' inner thoughts in the way that the books, written in first-person narrative, do, the "romantic triangle" is far less of a theme than in the books. The major overt reference to the "romantic triangle" that I remember include a short clip of Gale Looking Sad While Peeta and Katniss Kiss Onscreen.

Indeed, this inapt critique seems to tell us more about how the critic might view a female character than it does about how the character was actually portrayed. Oh hai, there's a girl. What is her relation to the guys in the movie?

Another telling parenthetical*:

"(In the book, you couldn’t be quite sure Katniss wasn’t a lesbian, at least at first.)"

Okay. I'd maybe grant him that when I read the books I was hoping Katniss was a lesbian in a wishful-thinking kinda way. But that's only because lesbians can read lesbian subtext into anything.

But still, the general rule, unfortunately, is that characters are heterosexual unless stated otherwise. The critic's reasoning process seems to be that any lady character who isn't continually thinking about, pining over, and 100% confident with respect to boys, is possibly a lesbian.

*What's up with all the parentheticals, anyway? Sometimes they're an appropriate way to convey information, but oftentimes the information in parentheses should be supplemental or concessionary in nature. And not, like, an unsupported contentious conclusion.

Back in Legal Writing, one rule we learned was that parenthetical statements should usually be avoided when constructing an argument. That's because, oftentimes, people tend to use them to throw in supplemental information that they fail to support, in a classic instance of telling, rather than showing.

Likewise, in this particular piece, some of the critic's most contentious, interesting, and/or annoying points were placed in unexplained, unelaborated-upon parentheses. Like that lesbian bit, above. He just says Katniss seems like a lesbian in the book, he doesn't tell us why he thinks that or how she is apparently acting like a lez.

It's as though, if an argument or claim is in parentheses it's automatically true and doesn't require evidence- and if countered, the critic can back up with hir hands in the air and say, "What, it was just a passing thought. Why are you being such a stickler?"

But, whatevs. That's probably too much intellectual heavy lifting to apply to a film review.

1 comment:

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