The Hunger Games
Despite industry claims that no one will pay and audiences aren’t interested in seeing a superheroine-led film, the dazzling success of series like ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘Divergent’ prove that the world is ready for women to take charge and lead. While we’re seeing movement in response to growing demand for female superhero representation, there is still a long way to go before we reach parity.
Check out what we’ve been reading this week – and let us know what you’ve been reading/writing in the comments!
Certainly, teenagers strain against authority and exert their independence. This doesn’t mean they’re immune to other big issues that plague society – issues such as sexism and racism. If the novels being written for this demographic want to call themselves true dystopias based on a futuristic society in which our current way of living led to some global disaster, then the writers of the novels and the film adaptations shouldn’t shy away from some of the biggest issues in current politics and society.
Check out all of the posts from our Dystopias Theme Week here.
Dystopia, in its futuristic escapism and its contemporary relevance, is an ideal genre for the young adult demographic. By pushing the boundaries of disturbing content and reflecting on youthful idealism, dystopian narratives trust the YA consumer to be both literary in their consumption of the book or film, but also socially and morally insightful in their view of the imagined world they hold.
Maria essentially makes Freder the chosen one—she inspires him to go underground and gives him his purpose when he awakens to the dystopian system in which he lives. Without her, the story does not proceed and the system continues unopposed.
What helps ‘Evangelion’ continue to grow its popularity is not the focus on religious or sci-fi elements, but its commitment to showcasing the fragility of humanity through its flawed and destructive characters tasked with saving the world and themselves. And how does the franchise show this? By literally placing the future of what’s left of the world in the hand of dysfunctional and emotionally fragile children.
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.
However, the truth and realness of reality TV is, and always has been, a myth. A basic concept of psychology is that the act of observing a thing changes that thing. How could a camera crew with all their equipment following people around not affect what those people do and say? How could knowing that millions will be watching and listening not affect their actions?
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?