By Cara Venassen
SC Staff Writer
Overhyped and underwhelming, The Hunger Games released March 23, 2012 at midnight, amidst throngs of screaming young girls, boys, and sleepy parents. The movie is based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, which follows heroine Katniss Everdeen’s near-death (and voluntary) experience in a cruel game where 12 boys and 12 girls from each of the districts are brought together for a battle royal.
Instead of only one victor emerging, Everdeen manipulates the viewers from the Capitol, ultimately saving the life of her friend through an entertaining deception: Everdeen feigns lust for her friend, Peeta, in order to entice the audience, therefore gaining sponsors, support, and fame. This seems confusing because, frankly, it is.
Without background knowledge gained through reading the novel, unlearned audience members will feel slightly engaged but more closely identify with boredom.
Although the subject is both dystopian and depressing, the film seems too lighthearted for the topic. While it can be argued that this is part of an artistic vision, the scriptwriters simply did not raise the disparity to a respectable level. It is evident that the MPAA imposed restrictions limited the extremes possible for a PG-13 rating; this would be the producer’s target rating due to the young adult following of the novel.
Instead of an earth-shattering, fortuitous presentation of the female heroine, the audience is delivered a soggy interpretation. Yes, Everdeen does exercise more autonomy than most female characters; however, the movie ends with her playing into a generalized male fantasy as the beautiful, helpless, and love-struck damsel-in-distress. While some will argue her role as justifiable manipulation of gender roles, a female heroine should have no need to tread the role of desperate.
Despite limited similarities in content, critics are drawing comparisons between The Hunger Games and Twilight, arguing that Everdeen is the more powerful and admirable female role model comparatively to weak, lovesick Bella Swan. However, this assertion is dangerous because both Everdeen and Swan’s roles in the respective novels and films are unattainable: these characters reside in a strictly fantasized world.
Although fantasy in fiction is not particularly dangerous, these characters were created to mirror the average girl rather than mold something brighter. The young female audience responds to these characters not for heroism but for a different type of exaltation: both Everdeen and Swan find themselves in a love triangle with two very attractive, controlling male characters. This is precisely the antithesis of an ideal heroine because the message it conveys is hackneyed and revolting: without male attention, any great action taken by a woman is void.