Mockingjay: Part One
Check out all of the posts from our Dystopias Theme Week here.
Though we get a sense of District Thirteen’s manipulations in the novel, Katniss savvily negotiates with them, resists their orders, and remains distrustful of their motivations, in contrast to her comparatively slight unease in the film. While these changes leave most of the major plot elements intact, they undermine our sense of Katniss as an intelligent political actor who is connected to and moved by the revolution itself, rather than just her personal stake in the events.
Unfortunately, I don’t think these four “cold, intelligent women” are illuminating “problematic mechanisms of power” at all. Rather, they are expressions of the persistent distrust of female authority in our current culture. These characters serve as a type of sexist shorthand for a society gone terribly, terribly wrong.
While my conversations with my friends’ 12-year-old daughters about the trilogy always began with “Team Peeta!” or “Team Gale!” our conversations in the classroom focused on the scholarship of female collectives and violent resistance; we didn’t need Gale and Peeta as fodder for conversation. But on the last day of class, I introduced Adrienne Rich’s idea of compulsory heterosexuality to complicate the larger conversation in which readers—and viewers—find themselves forced to choose a camp, just as Katniss is forced to do.
While watching ‘Mockingjay Part I,’ I had an epiphany. I asked myself why Katniss Everdeen is such a compelling heroine to audiences and why other heroines modeled after her are popping up all over the place? There’s no denying that audiences (especially young women) are hungry for strong female representation on screen. We love to see Katniss use her wits and her bow to save the day, but in ‘Mockingjay Part I,’ there is very little action (Katniss uses her bow only once), and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is still riveting. Why, do you think, that is?