While waiting for the next Uni City chapter (should be up on Friday, for those of you on the edge of your seats), I thought I’d write up a brief post.
I saw The Hunger Games this past weekend, like most people in the world did. I really liked it. This was one of those rare (yet increasingly more common) movies that I liked even better than their source material.
Anyway, I’m going to introduce a new column: Armchair Author. I’ve read the first two books of the series and I think the author missed at least one really interesting facet of her world that could have been focused on more closely. Namely, District 11.
I’ve talked about this in person when I was reading, but with all this press the institutional racists have been getting by tweeting surprise over Rue’s race, I figured I’d bring it up here too. (Don’t know what I’m talking about there? Check out this tumblr or this write-up.)
From what I remember in the books (the first two at least) Suzanne Collins made District 11 out to be an analogue of a huge plantation for the whole nation of Panem. This is the district tasked with tending the crops and shipping them off to the other districts. All the characters were described as dark skinned (despite what some tweeters remember from their klan book klubs). It’s even mentioned that the District 11ers were harshly punished if they took any food for themselves. What does this sound like to you?
It seemed like Collins was sending a racially charged message, but then didn’t really go anywhere with it. There’s an entire race segregated into a ghetto-district, but race was such a nonissue in the novels that self-claiming fans missed that a main character was black.
From my armchair I can safely say that, if I were writing it, The Hunger Games would have had a lot more to say about race in the future which would reflect more of how our own society sees (or doesn’t see) race.
The Hunger Games did deal with a lot of issues—class, privacy, freedom, innocence, just to name a few—but I feel it would have been more rich if it spent some time on race too.
I might have to come back when I get around to reading the final book if they do address race more, but the perfect time to bring it up would have been the second book when District 11 riots (which the filmmakers snuck into the movie). I guess I’ll have to wait and see.
So, what do you think? Do you wish race was more directly addressed? Can you think of other sweeping changes that would have made The Hunger Games (movie or books) better? (Like maybe making Katniss less annoying.) Let me know in the comment section.
Until next time, Story-friends.