Outcry over black characters in Hunger Games unwarranted

Despite the overwhelming amount of buzz surrounding “The Hunger Games,” fans of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy have been stung by something far worse than a tracker jacker. Racism has reached a new level of barbarity perhaps in its most venomous form to date.

An unexpected outbreak of “Hunger Games” haters has surfaced all over Twitter. According to many tweets, audience members are upset that three of the film’s main characters are black. These so-called “fans” are shocked, confused and angry about the movie’s portrayal of Cinna, Rue and Thresh.

Although Collins specifically describes all three characters as having “dark skin,” tweets such as “Stick to the book dude,” and “why did the producer make all the good characters black” are flooding the Internet. A “‘Hunger Games’ Tweets” Tumblr has now been created, compiling all of the nasty and ignorant comments. Fortunately, the Tumblr notes that since its creation, the number of tweets and negativity has declined. Either the fake fans actually went back and re-read the book or they left their racist remarks behind. After all, Collins’ characters are from the future, which seems to have no racial discrimination.

Described as having olive skin and straight black hair in the book, Katniss’ appearance seems to be the furthest from the novel’s description. Yet there hasn’t been nearly as many comments made to discredit her fair skin and blue eyes on screen when compared to all the other actors.

Books have the uncanny ability of allowing readers to create their own inventive depictions of characters and become attached to them. But no matter how strong the attachment may be, a true fan would stick by his or her beloved characters no matter what their shade of skin is in a movie.

In 2011, a professor of Indiana University’s Department of Telecommunications studied how the racial makeup of movie casts impacts the movie preferences of audiences. The study found that a higher percentage of black actors in a movie correlated to a lower percentage of white audience members interested in watching the movie. The study also notes that the result continually occurred regardless of the gender, age or genre of the movie used in the study.

It is embarrassing to think that people only respond to characters according to their race. Had Rue been casted with an Asian or Native American actress or if Bono had played Cinna, would the same negativity have been displayed on Twitter?

Not everyone can be expected to love such an anticipated novel-turned-movie, but the viral spreading of racist commentary has escalated to the point that it’s receiving national media attention. MSN, USA Today, Huffington Post, and several others have made this story front and center of their online news, showing just how big of a discussion this controversy has caused.

— Caroline Nachazel is a junior studying journalism and communication. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .


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