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Today in Depressing

Sad: Amandla Stenberg is Perfectly Aware of All the Racist Tweets Saying That She Ruined The Hunger Games

Way back in the day, when casting was revealed for the twelve tributes of The Hunger Games‘s movie adaptation, there was a hiccup of sorts. It was the first time that some fans were presented with a fact that they might have glossed over while reading the books. It was the first time I saw the “Wait, Rue and Cinna are black?” conversation happening. As I am constantly reminding myself, not everybody follows movie news as closely as others, and so this weekend the movie’s release began the “conversation” anew, and with a vengeance. Apparently, there were a lot of people out there who felt that Rue’s race “ruined” the movie, that it made her death “less sad,” made her character less “innocent,” and that, along with Cinna, the producers had made all the “good” characters black.

Rue, to make things more infuriating from the reading comprehension standpoint, is explicitly described as having dark skin and hair, and Suzanne Collins has also said outright and publicly that she and her fellow District 11 tribute Thresh are African-American. The whole thing is sad and depressing enough without knowing that thirteen-year-old actress Amandla Stenberg, the voracious reader, fan of the books, and to all appearances a very sweet and eloquent young lady who played Rue, knows all about it.

However, she released this statement yesterday, which at least gives the sense that she’s keeping upbeat about it all.

As a fan of the books, I feel fortunate to be part of The Hunger Games family. It was an amazing experience; I am proud of the film and my performance. I want to thank all of my fans and the entire Hunger Games community for their support and loyalty.

Her costar Isabelle Fuhrman, who played Clove (the girl with the knives), was more specific when talking to EOnline:

I think Amandla was fantastic in it, and she’s so beautiful. She’s exactly how I imagined her to be.

I think it’s just terrible. She’s such an amazing actress and she’s so sweet. I guess people read things differently and imagine things different, but I think she was the perfect choice for Rue.

The thing is, even if Stenberg didn’t absolutely fit the description of Rue in the books (which she does, and better than Jennifer Lawrence fits the canonical description of Katniss, I might add), there would be nothing wrong with recasting her as a person of color.

Now here’s where somebody calls me a hypocrite in the comments, but the fact is that POC actors are grossly under-represented in Hollywood and television and there are hundreds of roles that go to white actors because we see white as the “default” regardless of whether or not a character has been written to have any defined racial heritage at all. So, yes, in a world where The Hunger Games described Rue as white, her character’s race would still have no concrete presence in the story (that is, her character’s job in the story isn’t to teach Katniss an after-school-lesson about trusting black people, or her ability to climb trees isn’t predicated on her coming from, oh, a long line of Russian military snipers, to name two character details (of limited narrative value, I admit) that would in a different story have called for racially specific casting). And it would be well within the rights of producers, and even the morally better choice to cast her with an actress of color and give the movie a more diverse cast. See also: Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, whose skin color is never described in the books.

This is why the Racebending controversy was a real thing, deserving of Hollywood’s notice. This is why nobody should get mad over Lawrence Fishburne being cast as Perry White.

Edit: And before someone trots out the “studios are just looking to make money” argument, please read the third to last paragraph in my post on Lego Friends.

(E Online via Jezebel.)

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  • Kyrax2
  • Wil Sisney

    Amandla Stenberg has a right to be proud of her portrayal of Rue.  I found it to be spot-on accurate to the novel.  The racist idiots who decided not to see the movie for that reason deserve to miss it.  I always pictured both Rue and Cinna as black, but even if I had pictured them as albino Germans the performances they delivered in the film would have silenced any concerns I ever had.  I thought Rue was one of the real highlights of the film and I’m glad that Amandla is proud of her performance.

  • Victoria Eden

    Poor girl. I loved Rue. Definite emotional reaction to you know what (might want to put that under a spoiler hider thing).

  • Ritchie Tiongson

    Amandla was absolutely adorable. Excellent performance from one so young. I thought she was perfect.

  • Ganieda

    Some days I cannot even look the Internet in the face. 

    (Also a high point of my weekend: the blogger who said you shouldn’t trust positive reviews of The Hunger Games, because they are written by ladies, and ladies, amirite? But that pales in comparison to the good people taking to Twitter to expose their lack of reading comprehension skills and also souls.) 

    With that said, Ms. Stenberg is clearly talented and adorable, and by all accounts also very smart and charming, and she is handling this in a totally classy way. Don’t let the haters get you down. 

  • Kalo

    Oh gawwd How could anyone complain about Lenny Kravitz as Cinna?! Him and his eyeliner were beyond hot in that movie <3

  • K.K.

    Not going to lie, there were a couple moments when I was just waiting for him and Katniss to kiss.

  • Terence Ng

    I thought she was great as Rue. These hopefully limited ugly reactions are what they are: racism. I’m glad people are calling it out as such.
    Also, hell yeah to Isabelle Fuhrman for addressing it head on.

  • Joy P

     You beat me to it. I was actually about to post just that. It really does kind of sum it all up quite nicely. So much so that I wish I could rent digital billboards all around the country and have it playing 24/7 :)  So thank you dude

  • Anonymous

    Thanks! I was writing the post fast and sort of forgot.

  • Dawn Morgan

    I didn’t read the books (am I allowed to write that here?! ;) but little Rue made the movie for me. She was adorable, the epitome of humanity that was absent in most of the other characters. Screw the racists. Obviously the entire story is over their tiny, closed minds.  

  • Anonymous

    I must admit that I was suprised that Rue was played by black girl. But I’m from a country where the “darker skinned” minority are Romani people so I  imagined her as a romani. 

    I got kinda angry about something else regarding Hunger Games. There are many comments around the web like this: “oh, how terrible! but there is no way that something like this would ever happen”  or “Thank god, this is not real”

    Seriously? The whole setting of the book is based on Soviet Union. 25 years ago there wasn’t a  fence around the country I live in. There were two of them, and between them were starved dogs. All  watched by guards who used to shoot before asking.

    Frankly, I would choose Hunger Games over Russia occupation. 
    Communism killed more people than nacism, yet no one seem to remember it.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that this is awful, especially if Amandla knows about it. She was freaking perfect and I had to grip my friend’s hand during that scene because it was just so sad to watch.

    However, I do think race is important to the Hunger Games. That’s why, even though Jennifer Lawrence was fantastic as Katniss, I feel the role should have gone to someone who matched the description in the book. People in The Seam look less white than the people who are from the other part of District 12. It means something that the agricultural district is predominantly black. And that we see very few non-white people in The Capitol (which is why I think Cinna not being cast as white was a pretty smart idea). I’ve read a few interpretations online that seem to think that Rue and Thresh might not have been as kind to Katniss is she looked like the Aryan brutes from Districts 1 and 2. 
    The Hunger Games isn’t about race, but it does deal with class issues and there is a lot of intersectionality between the two. 

    Regardless, it’s great to have a big movie like this with a more diverse cast and I would hope that Hollywood listens to the sensible people about this matter instead of the ‘I’m not racists but…’ idiots screaming about the movie being ruined.

  • Anonymous

    TVTropes calls it “Race Lift” – to change the ethnicity of a character, or to choose a minority ethnicity for a character whose ethnicity was never specified, in the interest of increasing racial diversity (and demographic reach).

    As a rule, it’s seen as political correctness, since there’s “no need” to change the character, or in he second scenario, decide that the character is not as “I” have envisioned them.  It’s the same reaction when a comics company comes out with a new ethnic version of an established superhero.  The mindset is that they are being “shoved down our throats”, and in some cases, like the new Blue Beetle, they’re missing out on some great stuff.

    In all but a few cases, the switch matters very little.  Yes, if they’d decided to make Ron Weasley and his family black, it might have met with some blowback.  But a couple of random other Hogswarters, BFD. 

    In a lot of cases, an amended version of Chris Claremont’s rule of thumb can be used – “Is there any reason this character can’t be a (type)?” 

    I saw a production of The Music Man on Broadway some years back, and they cast a black couple as Mayor Shin and his wife.  Now I’ll lay odds there were not too many black peoplem in Turn of the 20th century Iowa, and NONE of them were the mayor of a town.  But the guy was hilarious, and the casting made for a good show, and wasn’t suposed to be a political statement.

  • Jamie Smith

    Funny thing for me was that I never caught on to the point that Rue was intended by the author to be black. I just kind of skimmed over that in the book, so when I saw her for the first time, I had a moment of cognitive dissonance. But that’s what you have to expect when you see a film adaptation of a book.

    My wife and I were talking about this, and she surprised me by saying that she never internally visualizes a book while reading it, so she never really has any opinion on the appearance of characters in film adaptations. I’m the opposite: I have a clear picture in my mind of what most characters look like.

    But I don’t get to cast anything but the movie in my head, so when a director comes up with a casting choice that doesn’t gibe with what I thought it should be, oh well. Anyone who can honestly say that the casting choices of a film adaptation ruin the story for them, particularly in a case like this, where the author of the books was involved in the film production, is extremely narcissistic.

  • Diana

    I hate that a thirteen-year-old actress who should be basking in the glow of her first (blockbuster) film and amazing performance has to be confronted with racist fuckwits completely lacking in empathy or human feeling.

    Stenberg did a great job as Rue and I hope she knows there are thousands of fans who think she’s awesome.

  • Nicholas Svara

    For the record, the exact wording from the US version of the book is as follows:
    Rue: “She has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin…”
    Thresh: “Thresh has the same dark skin as Rue…”

    Unless the foreign versions change this, it’s pretty clear that they’re supposed to be black.  Cinna is a slightly more iffy prospect…

    “I’m taken aback by how normal he looks. Most of the stylists they interview on television are so dyed, stenciled, and surgically altered they’re grotesque. But Cinna’s close-cropped hair appears to be its natural shade of brown. He’s in a simple black shirt and pants. The only concession to self-alteration seems to be metallic gold eyeliner that has been applied with a light hand.”

    They could have pulled in someone in a Klingon costume, and it would be close to the ethnicity stated in the book.

  • Jamie Smith

     Thanks for linking to that. I hadn’t seen it, and it’s frickin’ brilliant.

  • Bel

     I don’t think the West ever fully appreciated it in any way that would engender sympathy for those living under the rule of oppressive regimes.

  • Kath

    It was communism in name only. I think Marx and so forth would not label what happened as “Communism”. Same with, say, Herr You-Know-Who and Germany – the party was the National Socialist Party, but they were far from socialists.

    It doesn’t make what happened in Eastern Europe and Russia any less sad or horrific, however.

  • Nikki Lincoln

    Thank you for sharing this! That perfectly sums it up. 

  • Anonymous

    Shame some people are acting this way.

  • Ariel Wetzel

    I am really happy The Mary Sue is honoring Stenberg’s talent and performance, but I would recommend avoiding describing an African American as “eloquent.”  There’s a bit of a racist history of of well-meaning white liberals gasping, “you’re so eloquent!” when black folks use standard American English (remember folks said that about Obama but not McCain?).

  • Anonymous

    I really don’t think the racist tweets deserve to be acknowledged with public outcry: they’re trolls and myopic idiots.  It’s no more worthy of notice than Youtube or Reddit comments.

    “So, yes, in a world where The Hunger Games described Rue as white, her character’s race would still have no concrete presence in the story… And it would be well within the rights of producers, and even the morally better choice to cast her with a non-white actress and give the movie a more diverse cast.”

    I disagree, because not only do I feel it is not “morally better” at all, but I feel it’s self-defeating.  A person’s race ALWAYS has an impact on their upbringing, as surely as their income, location and gender does.  I am against race changes for the exact same reason I would be against changing their nationality, hair colour, height, build or whatnot.  Our ethnic origin is part of who we are, and changing it IS changing a fundamental aspect of our being.

    This is why I overwhelmingly support introduction of new or existing characters of varied ethnic diversities, because they are allowed to be themselves instead of being the “race-lifted” versions of pre-existing ones.  If Marvel made Peter Parker black, or a new film cast a black actor as Peter Parker, I would be against it, because a black teenager has vastly different experiences growing up than a white teenager due to issues like endemic racism and parochial attitudes.  However, Marvel made a new Spider-Man who was *always* Hispanic/Black, which automatically distinguishes him as a new, independent individual free from either distortion or insulting mollycoddling of readers.

    I don’t want to see Will Smith as Steve Rogers or Djimon Hounsou as Superman, because like it or not, their ethnicity would fundamentally alter the history of their character in that they are no longer white males, and so you either acknowledge this (and thus acknowledge the changes) by depicting the racial climate of 1940s America and Clark Kent’s upbringing in 1970s/80s Kansas, or ignore it, and insult the very idea of multicultural diversity by depicting ethnicity as something interchangeable and uninteresting.

    To me, the truly “morally better” choice would be to adapt works which are already ethnically diverse rather than awkwardly enforce it in the name of ticking boxes.  Blade has proven black superheroes can be a success, so where’s our Luke Cage movie?  The Falcon?  Bronze Tiger?  Why isn’t Black Panther in the Avengers movie?  Why isn’t there a Storm spinoff?  Why didn’t they make a Jon Stewart Green Lantern movie?  A proper Steel movie? What about black female supers like Vixen, Voodoo or Misty Night?

    Ultimately, I agree that racebending is a problem, as is the “Default White” phenomenon, but I think the way to combat it is to start from the ground up by introducing black characters and creations which were intended to be that way from creation, rather than race-lifting.

  • Teresa Jusino

    Definitely get that. “You speak so WELL!” :) At the same time, I thought it was intended as eloquent for a 13 year old rather than for a black girl. 

  • Jill Oliver

     Perhaps that was just because Obama was and McCain wasn’t?  I’m not going to stop giving people well deserved compliments because some people think it is backhanded and not sincerely meant. That is their perception.

  • Mariah Tess

    He came across as gay to me in the book so a romance with Katniss never even crossed my mind.

  • Mariah Tess

    I thought the stereo-typical description of the ppl from District 11, in itself, was a little racist. One of the poorest districts who Farmed and were out in the sun all day in the fields picking cotton, corn, grain, etc. (don’t quote me on the cotton picking thing, but am I right?) I mean, how can you read the book and not think Rue and Thresh were black? I pictured D11 as the South. And if you notice, most of those tweets came from young kids and their generation can say ANYTHING online and get away with it. There are no rules or laws to prohibit stuff like that so there’s this mecca (called Twitter) where kids go and feed off of each other. And they think it’s ok bc parents have no access and no one tells them that it’s wrong or that they should develop a moral conscious. Sometimes I think racism in America made a comeback with the internet age and Obama was the tipping point bc adults were the ones who fueled the hate. Sad, but kind of true. Anyway, do I honestly think those kids harbor that kind of hate for other races? No. But it’s become a fad to be racist in social media and no one seems to know how to control it. (This is coming from an avid gamer and if you game online then you know how explicitly racism, homophobia and sexism exist). The internet is generation Y’s world. Like the Lord of the Flies or some shit. Adults have no control over what their kids are getting into or saying.

  • Diana

    Seriously. Another major issue is people getting bent about the casting of actors of color for characters whose appearances aren’t elaborated on. There’s NO REASON Cinna shouldn’t be black, or Latino, or Thai, for crying out loud. White is not the default.

  • Anonymous

    This, indeed, was the only thing I meant by it.

  • Anonymous

    This, indeed, was the only thing I meant by it.

  • Ashe

     Thank you for this very well-thought out and descriptive reply. You pretty much hit the nail on the head with the whole issue. Instead of having to resort to race-lifting, let’s just have more characters be of color to begin with.

    I know if somebody did a biography of me, and made me white instead of mixed, they would have to erase at least a fourth of my life experiences. Whether I like it or not, they have shaped my outlook on myself and the world.

  • Anonymous

    I definitely agree with you. But until those adaptations actually get made on any kind of regular basis, I’ll be supporting filmmakers who chose to racebend towards diversity. Yes, a real person’s race is inextricable from their identity, but when a fictional character’s actions and role in a story have no relation to their ethnic background (there are more examples of this but take Jake Sully of Avatar for one), there’s no reason not to give a non-white actor one of the rare prominent roles that Hollywood seems to allow.

    Also, the more I think about it, “ethically” may have been a better choice of words than “morally” for my post.

  • Ashe

    This will sound odd, but even though ignorance is bliss, the sooner she knows the assholes lurking out there, the better. Better she knows now and is able to adjust to it than when she’s an adult and the shock is much harder.

    I will say, though, that a person of color in America who hasn’t already reached the conclusion of how they’re viewed early in their life are pretty rare indeed.

    Amandla Stenberg is a talented young actress and I hope Hollywood’s systemic bullshit doesn’t squander what should, and hopefully will be, a successful and enriching career for her. Also, the argument that racism is okay as long as it makes dollars has got to be the worst. People who use that mode of thought seem to forget that decades and decades ago, when black people were working as maids and lowly day laborers, white people benefited financially from their imposed poverty and limited freedom all the time.

    But that wasn’t okay, now was it?

  • Anonymous

    I’m not against race-bending for the most part, especially when it comes to characters very few people outside of comic fans have actually heard of like Nick Fury.

    But I do agree that it can (and has) become a crutch for not giving existing or new minority superheroes their time in the spotlight. I do really think it is annoying that looking at Marvel’s next slate of films in production, they can’t be bothered to attempt at least one non-white hero.

  • Janalyn Glover

    I really enjoyed Amandla Stenberg’s performance and was horribly disgusted to see people who objected on grounds of racism. I was ashamed to be on the same Internet as those jagoffs.

    But mainly, I really enjoyed her performance. She was awesome. I have never cried so hard at a death in a movie in my life and I once worked in a field that made it necessary to be familiar with every film in which someone’s dog dies. I have bookmarked her iMDB and will be seeing EVERYTHING, be it another film, a TV series or even voice-over work for cartoons that she does in the future, even if I have to purchase a cable TV subscription to do so. When I read books containing a character she could play (and I can think of six awesome roles for her before she turns eighteen, just off the top of my head,) I will handwrite tree-meat letters to studios demanding she be considered. I will actively look for and purchase works which contain nice roles for her, thus driving up the marketability and making it more likely that such books and graphic novels will be made into films and she will be cast.

    This is not a reaction to people resenting an actress for stupid, backward racist reasons. I do this for every performer I’m a huge fan of. Fifteen-year-old me wrote to Warner Brothers demanding Alan Rickman be offered the role of Snape and six-year-old me insisted on being taken to every movie the late Patrick Swayze did, including ‘To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.’ This is standard operating procedure for a performer who, from the fan’s point of view, is WORTH a demonstration of effort and appreciation for truly impressive work.

    Ms. Stenberg, if you’re reading, please don’t let the racist jagoffs on the Internet bother you. You have more devoted and loyal fans now than any one of them ever will, and you’re only at the very beginning of what I’m sure will be an astonishing career.

  • Anonymous

    Except race lifting actually give POC actors more a better chance at getting a  role. When race-lifting is used towards diversity, it’s a good thing.

  • Emily Elizabeth Fern

    That hits the nail on the head, thanks for sharing.

  • Chemise Rogers

     That sounds nice but speaking from experience…having actually gotten backhanded complements of that nature, a person will always question the complimenters motive. You will feel that you gave a compliment, good for you, but being complimented is supposed to be a positive experience. Because of negative experiences that person receiving the compliment will not have a positive experience. They will only be reminded of the fuckwit who assumed that they couldn’t speak properly. So what is the point of even giving the compliment if it won’t fulfill it’s intended purpose? And why should the person who has dealt with enough fuckwits to even have such a reaction be the one to moderate their behavior? They are the ones being damaged by  the harmful stereotype that blacks do not use standard English.

    Take for example how awkward it can be for some women to have a man(especially one they don’t know too well) mention their appearance. It’s the same kind of awkwardness.

  • Katie Marinelli

    This is basically what I wrote on the yahoo article about this yesterday.

    There was only one time I’ve ever had an ‘Oh they cast a black actor for this role?’ moment and that was for Nick Fury with Samuel L Jackson. It was surprising because I grew up with him being the cartoon character that kinda looked like David Hasselhoff. It caught me off guard but you know what? It didn’t ruin the character. I highly enjoyed his portrayal of Nick Fury. In fact the only part of the character I didn’t like had nothing to do with Sam Jackson but with the writers because I wished they had included the Infiniti formula. 

    The only time I really believe that a character should not be changed from their race is if their characterization and growth depend on that aspect. Are they a Mexican girl growing up as an illegal immigrant in the US? Then why would you cast someone obviously white? On the other hand if this is the story about Irish boy looking into his family’s history, you’re probably not going to want an Asian kid playing the role. Other than that, its the actor’s ability to play the character that should be important. Now if Jackson had sucked as Nick Fury. My response wouldn’t be “Because he was black he ruined the role.” It would be “His acting sucked in the role and it ruined the character.”

    The girl they got for Rue was absolutely perfect, acting and appearance. Whether or not Rue was cast white, black, Asian, or rainbow the girl they chose had the innocence and heartbreaking features that the writer had intended most for the character. And Cinna? Perfectly cast as well.

  • Sophia

    I thought Amandla was PERFECT for the role. She was a great actress and I think she MADE the movie. She is so cute and beautiful and exactly how I pictured her. I thought even though the actor who played Thresh had only a small part but was also a great choice, still exactly how I pictured him. I loved the choice the casting people made with Lenny Kravitz being Cinna. He was great and he portrayed the role wonderfully. And anyways people why does it matter what race they are. Everyone who wrote racist comments about the actors should feel horrible about themselves and I am disgusted with them for being like that. I loved the Hunger Games before I saw what the characters looked  like in the movie and I still love it now.

  • Victoria Eden

    You’re welcome. I’m sure you don’t any more cries of “YOU SPOILED IT!”

  • Life Lessons

    Yes yes word and I back you up 100%.

    I for one did not see Cinna as black but oh Lenny Kravitz was PERFECT!!!

    Thanks again for this excellent post.

  • Zharre

    I didn’t read The Hunger Games trilogy until recently, well after the movies were announced, and after I’d seen a few of the posters. I hadn’t seen enough to register or really remember, so I didn’t have any visuals set in mind for any characters before I started reading.

    With regards to race… to me, while Katniss frequently describes how people look, my brain muddled it a lot. Well, ‘mixed’ is perhaps a better term, racial mixing. None of the districts had very strong racial stamps to me, I kind of mentally dipped into the large pool of traits we have in this world and applied what seemed most fitting. (I tend to do that in ‘future’/'post-apocalyptic’ imaginings… that we, as a race, would blend more and more.)

    Cinna is the only one that pretty much nailed how I thought he looked. When I saw Kravitz as Cinna, my response was ‘Oh my, he IS Cinna!’ My own Rue looks nothing like Amandla.. and yet… and yet, when I saw her as Rue, it was the only time I mentally squealed. SHE IS PERFECT. Even though she’s not Rue as I imagined her, she embodies Rue perfectly.

    Haven’t been able to see the movie yet, but I’m greatly looking forward to it.

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t read these books at all, but I read a pretty decent line of logic for casting/reading Cinna as black elsewhere in discussion of this ridiculousness: Someone who frequently wears gold eye makeup pointed out that it was hardly “striking” on her (white) face, because the color is so close in tone to her skin. However, metallic gold eye makeup DOES stand out against dark skin in a pretty noticeable way.

    That said, though, I think “Look how handsome Lenny Kravitz is!” is a good enough reason to cast him as anyone. (I hear he’s actually a good actor, too!)

  • Anonymous

    You know what? Frankly, anything that pisses off racists is probably a good thing. Personally, seeing how they reacted to the casting of a black actress as Rue just makes me wish that they’d cast Katniss, Peeta and all the other tributes as black as well. Now THAT would have been a brave choice…

  • Anonymous

     I hear you!  It’s one of the best explanations regarding this issue that I’ve ever seen.  His “Big Picture” stuff is always so good!

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it, though?  I’ve got it bookmarked so I can show it to people whenever they make a stupid comment about this issue.  I’ve been impressed with a lot of his videos, especially ones tagged ‘The Big Picture’.

  • Anonymous

     You’re welcome!  I love this guy’s stuff, he really knows how to present things clearly and concisely.

  • Anonymous

     You’re quite welcome!  I felt that way, too.

  • Anonymous

    It’s sad she has to hear about these stupid people’s tweets. How do I write to her to let her know I loved her as Rue?

  • Anonymous

    But that also would have actually been going against the book. (Well, Katniss has olive toned skin in the book). Peeta is specified as being blonde so he’s at least partially if not fully white. And if everyone is black, you miss out on the Career tributes being these huge Aryans. The point is that Panem is diverse and that the darker you are the poorer you seem to be. Even within District 12, you have the blonde haired blue eyed people and then you have the people from The Seam.

    I know the movie had a couple of Asian tributes. I wish that, since they weren’t tributes who were really part of the story (aside from dying), the cameras had at least lingered on them a little more rather than just making them images in the sky.
    But I totally agree with your ‘if it pisses off the racists, it must be good’ idea. 

  • Anonymous

    The only thing I would have changed is throwing some hazel or green contacts on him… so it would be book accurate.

  • Joanna

    Same here actually =)

  • Julia

    Please change the word “non-white” to “black” . “Non-white” implies a normality of whiteness. Thx.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll admit that non-white is not a perfect term, but I intended to include actors who are neither white nor black in my statements. Would “person of color,” “POC,” or “POCs” be an appropriate compromise?

  • mildred louis

    Right off the bat I’ll say that I’ve never read the books and have yet to see the movie (though I fully intend to do both, they’re just not top priority on my “must read” list). But I’ll also be completely honest and say that I’m completely and totally disgusted by the kind of reactions I’ve seen to her casting. It’s pretty depressing. And I mean terribly, terribly depressing. There’s days where I feel lucky enough to be born in the time that I have but there’s also brief moments where I wonder if I’m going to actually see the world regress back to Pre-Civil rights times and I get a slight chill up my spine and worry about not only myself but my future kids, too. It’s just weird and odd and just flat out disturbing that there’s people who are flat out -bothered- by black people (or minorities in general) being placed in movies. Seeing the reaction to this just gave me flashbacks to the whole Avatar casting debacle where there was a rather freakish racial divide in the film that should not have been (read as typical white = good, minority = bad) which just made no sense what so ever since the show in and of itself clearly dictates the ethnicity of pretty much all major characters through multiple means.

    At any rate, the tl;dr version of my reply is Oh my god. What is this world coming to.

  • Anonymous

     Is it wrong that I pictured Cinna as black merely because the name “Cinna” reminded me of cinnamon?  So, he was cinnamon-colored?  Or cinnabar – isn’t that dark red?

  • Anonymous

     John Stewart was my favorite Green Lantern

  • Ariel Wetzel

    I get the intent of the comment is well-meaning.  I am just pointing out the impact.

  • Ariel Wetzel


  • Anonymous

    Thanks for your response. While I do my best, I’m admittedly less experienced in talking about issues of race than I am of gender, so advice is welcome. I was aware of the implied problems with “non-white” but had initially decided against using POC in this article because I have also read examinations of its use being problematic. Although, to be honest, I can’t remember the specific argument made against it, so it might be more accurate to describe the decision as one made quickly so that I could get a post done that generally said all the things I wanted to say.

    Anyway, like I said, (I hope) I’ve gotten pretty good at making those quick decisions well in posts about gender, but am still developing those instincts in other, just as important, areas. Thanks for the feedback.

  • Lake Desire

    No worries! Somebody will always contest some term… and terminologies should be contested, critiqued, and changed, but people of color is an umbrella term that is pretty widely and inoffensively used.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    Personally, I’d love to see Will Smith as Captain America or Djimon Hounsou as Superman, but I agree that in those cases such a change couldn’t be done without, as you said, having to radically alter the characters’ pasts.

    However, in the case where–as I believe it is with the Hunger Games movie, and it certainly was with the Norse Gods in Thor–the ethnicity of the character would not change who that character is as a person, I’m all for it, for the reason mentioned in the article. Diversity in any kind of media won’t be accepted unless and until people can actually see it. Personally, I was disappointed that so few characters were people of colour in the Hunger Games.

  • Adam Whitley

    In the context of the presidential debates (or even comparing Obama to how Bush spoke) I think at the very least it should be safe to say someone spoke eloquently without being labeled a racist.

  • Anonymous

    Am I the only person who imagined Rue as Asian?

    Our own experiences always color what we see in our imaginations. I am white and unless a character is expressly denoted as being another race, that is my default. I had a teacher who read everyone in my class a story and left the character descriptions out of it. Then asked us to describe them after. The black kids said they were black, the white kids said they were white, the asian kids said they were asian. I think in cases of ambiguity Hollywood looks at what it ‘believes to be’ its key demo and then casts accordingly so that audience will be more likely to identify with the character. It’s not just race either. Used to be a lot of villains were British because of our colonial history. Brits were an easy choice. 

    With Hunger Games specifically, even though I imagined Rue as Asian, the moment I saw the actor cast to play her, I thought back on the description and went, ‘yeah. She works.’ Can’t wait to see it. 

    P.S. I can’t get that video posted in the comments to play so might be that he said what I was fumbling about with. 

  • Michelle Fitzgerald

    The funny thing is my introduction to the Blue Beetle was via that goofy new Batman: The Brave and the Bold (OMFG GREAT series btw!!) where he is Hispanic and I frankly loved him. So the idea of him being white is strange to me now!! Of course now that I realize he’s a classic golden age character of course he’d be white to start with.

    Frankly I love this version of Blue Beetle, he’s so much more interesting. I mean really… like I need yet -another- white, straight, male, character to escape into. I grew up with those, I have hundreds to pick from around me… how about something at least a little different please!?

    BTW everyone needs to watch the Brave and the Bold episode where it’s a musical ^_^ Black Canary is just the bees knees in it!

  • Jennifer Vetere

     Honestly, I always thought Cinna was black as well.  I’m not sure if it was his name, but I always pictured him that way.  I still want to go back and re=read THG and see if his skin color really isn’t mentioned. 

  • Brian

    FYI, that is the third Blue Beetle, who is Hispanic in the comics. The most famous BB is the second, who was white on the show as well.

  • Erin Edwards

    First off, I don’t understand why racism is still such a huge issue for people, especially our youth. Amandla Stenberg was fantastic! She is exactly how I pictured Rue. Also, I for one pictured Cinna as being hispanic and slightly more effeminate, but that’s just how my imagination made him since his physical description wasn’t explicit in the books. Having said that, I think Lenny Kravitz was perfectly spot-on.

  • Tea Domi

    In the book, if these idiots pay more attention Rue is the same colour as in the movie (black, not to be racist) so really just enjoy the movie/book and stop with these negative comments. I am 12 and i love this book and i think Cinna was played excellent

  • Anonymous

    What is crazy to me is I am now all weirded out by the casting of Plutarch Heavensbee.  I do not know why, but when I read the books I had Laurence Fishburn as Morpheus stuck in my head for some reason.  I do not think his race is ever discussed in the book.

  • Anonymous

    I just saw the movie … so forgive the 4-month old comment. But I actually found the Capitol more racially diverse, which makes sense for a large metropolis, and conversely, District 12 highly homogenous. I don’t think it would have stuck out to me except the imagery in District 12 was obviously supposed to evoke the American Depression and dustbowl, which I kind of picture having more African-Americans. 

  • Babs Carlton

    In the movie I noticed more diversity in the Capitol, but in the book there seemed to be little to no mention of it from what I remember. Then again, I mostly remember hearing about dyed hair and tattoos so maybe, like with Cinna, race wasn’t specified and I just pictured white people because, you know, oppressive upper class. 

    And with District 12 being largely homogenous, that is a problem with the casting in the movies. Because in the books, Katniss mentions the difference between the people in The Seam and the people in the other, wealthier part of District 12 (I can’t remember what it was called) as having different coloring (Seam = olive skin, grey eyes, dark hair Other part= white skin, blue eyes, blonde hair)  as well as different economic statuses several times. 

    And no problem on the 4 month old comment. It’s kind of refreshing to see one that isn’t an obvious troll trying to start an argument. 

  • argentwolfwing

    Amandia Stenberg is a beautiful, talented actress and I really appreciated her portrayal of Rue. It was beautiful and heart-breaking. I’d like to point out another movie based on a book, where in the book the character was described as black (and her race was important to the story) and they cast Renee Zellweiger. I’m talking, of course, about Ruby in “Cold Mountain,” a wonderful book in its own right.

  • Anonymous

    I seem to recall in my Russian Revolution class in high school (which was essentially an elective, by the way) learning that Stalin killed more Jews than Hitler. It was eye-opening, and as others have said, certainly doesn’t diminish the horror of WWII.

  • Anonymous

    What can you expect, racists are morons, and apparently reading comprehension isn’t exactly high on their list of skills.

  • Mary Eld

    I had imagined Rue looking more Rom or Spanish, but it didn’t bother me in the least that she was portrayed by a black actress. She was brilliant in the role, as well as just happening to be strikingly lovely and cute as a button… Racism is just pathetic, and it’s unfortunate that the semi-anonymity of the net makes it easier for ignorant, hate filled bumhats to feel safe expressing their sad little opinions.