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Racism looms over 'Hunger Games' sequel casting

1:17 pm - 05/10/2012
(From Yahoo.ca)

Racism looms over 'Hunger Games' sequel casting

Who knew that race would become such a contentious issue for the movie adaptations of Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy?

While Collins' novels and first film in the series were, of course, not without controversy -- they do centre on a society that battles children to the death for entertainment after all -- race never played any kind of implicit or explicit role in the stories. Tell that to some very vocal and blatantly racist "Hunger Games" fans, who have repeatedly taken issue with the casting of minority actors for certain roles. The latest instance sees those negative fans weigh in on a fan campaign to have a black actor cast as the character Finnick Odair in the upcoming sequel, "Catching Fire."

It all started during the lead-up to the release of "The Hunger Games" movie, with some fans voicing complaints about some of the casting choices -- specifically, they were upset that actors of colour were cast. After seeing the film, many tweeters also let their feelings about the actors playing the characters of Rue and Thresh, and it wasn't pretty. Here's a sampling of some of the unfortunate and outright bigoted comments.

"Why does rue have to be black. Not gonna lie, kinda ruined the movie," read one comment.

"Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the innocent blonde girl you picture," read another.

And another: "Call me racist but when i found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad #ihatemyself"

Who needs proper grammar and punctuation when you're already ignorant? These so-called fans apparently missed the part in the books when Collins described the characters in question as having "dark brown skin." Director Gary Ross decided to be faithful to this description for the film version, and in keeping with Collins's depiction, the actors chosen to play the characters in the film (Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi) were of African American descent.

Similarly, the fan campaign to have the half-Swedish, half-African American actor Jesse Williams ("Cabin in the Woods," "Grey's Anatomy") cast as Finnick reflects Collins' description of the character from the "Catching Fire" novel. Described as having "tan skin," "bronze-colored hair," and "sea green eyes," one look at Williams makes him seem ideal for the part. The actor fits the bill to a tee, but that hasn't stopped fans from decrying the suggestion based on his race.

"finnick is supposed to be a blonde white boy and that's that people!" said one commenter on Perez Hilton.

"im not trying to be racist or anything but i always pictured finick as a blonde white boy. its not that i dont like jesse because he is colored," said another commenter.

A sure-fire way to convince people that you're not racist is to start a sentence with "I'm not trying to be racist" and then proceed to call the person you're talking about "colored." Thankfully, the majority of the commenters liked the choice of Williams and took the others to task over their remarks.
More at the Source... Where the writer of the article also notes that there was no such outcry over the casting of Jennifer Lawrence, a blue eyed blonde, as the main character in the film, despite said character being described in the book as having dark hair, olive skin, and grey eyes.

This sh*t just makes me so angry. WTF, white people??

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bleed_peroxide 10th-May-2012 05:38 pm (UTC)
This is one thing I hate about the fandom and why I just enjoy the books/movies "alone".

You have one half of the fandom that actually seems to have read the fucking books, and supported the choice to cast POC actors for - gee whiz - POC characters. They were the same ones that spoke their dissent when JL was cast as Katniss, who - despite being a likeable person and doing very well in the role - was not the proper choice for the character.

Then you have the fans that are all RUE ISN'T BLACK HER DEATH ISN'T TRAGIC NOW and were mysteriously quiet when JL was cast.

I think it's a matter of which part of the fandom you're exposed to. I've only ever seen the side of fandom on LiveJournal and Tumblr, most of whom are also socially aware and (in my opinion) aren't assholes. I think the racist idiots part of the fandom are just on more vocal platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which I'm not that involved in.
ascendings 10th-May-2012 05:44 pm (UTC)
i've only read the books and i'm not into fandom whatsoever...but why is JL not the proper choice for the character? i haven't seen the movie yet so :(
floranna 10th-May-2012 05:39 pm (UTC)
When I looked this picture I thought that he only needs green contacts and then he is perfect.

ANd those people make me even more ashamed to be white.
mahasin 10th-May-2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
I'm pretty sure his eyes are actually green.
chaya 10th-May-2012 05:41 pm (UTC)
"its not that i dont like jesse because he is colored"

eyetosky 10th-May-2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
I KNOW, Seriously! "colored"? Who even uses that phrasing anymore aside from historical discussions about water fountains??
poetic_pixie_13 10th-May-2012 05:43 pm (UTC)
"Why does rue have to be black. Not gonna lie, kinda ruined the movie," read one comment.
"Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the innocent blonde girl you picture," read another.
And another: "Call me racist but when i found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad #ihatemyself"

Why do does the fanbase have to be so fucking racist. It kind of kinda ruins my day.

Honestly, the reactions to Rue's casting makes me want to punch people. Repeatedly. In the face. Because, fuck you. The idea that Amandla Stenberg, this sweet little girl, couldn't represent the innocence of Rue's character is just, argh. Black kids apparently are born bad. (Trayvon Martin and Emmett Till and CeCe McDonald would like a word with you.)

I always pictured tonnes of characters, including Katniss, as being poc, so fuck you're 'but it doesn't match how I imagined them!' bullshit.

I'm happy this post reminded me that Jesse Williams exists, because, oh, hai. I'mma focus on that cause I've had enough white bullshit for this week/month/life.
floranna 10th-May-2012 05:55 pm (UTC)
I watched the movie before I read the books, but as I knew from the beginning that only Peeta and Katniss would survive, I wasn't shocked that she died. But it still hurt me badly.

I just don't get this people. Her actress was just so perfect. I just wanted to hold her, hug her, brush her hair and she gave me all of my protective big sister feelings on full force.

I just don't get these people.
spyral_path 10th-May-2012 05:47 pm (UTC)
I thought there was controversy over the casting of Jennifer Lawrence. The actress even commented on it herself, basically dismissing it by saying that she didn't understand the fuss since hair could be dyed.
chibi_lurrel 10th-May-2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
yeah, Suzanne Collins actually got asked about it and basically tried to handwave whether she meant for the Seam to be biracial or not.

So maybe there's not as much controversy from white people?
jocelyncs 10th-May-2012 05:59 pm (UTC)
Going to skip the whole racism issue because it makes me cuss at my computer.

...Hmm, moving onto Jesse Williams..

I admit, he's not how I quite imagined Finnick - I thought of his hair as auburn. The eyes and skin, however, are perfect. I also hope if he does get cast, his hair is longer - I picture Finnick as having longer, wavy hair that blows in the wind. *fangirl moment*

I know nothing of this guy's acting skill - anyone seen him? He any good? Finnick's got some nuances. They need someone good in the role.
dumpweeds 10th-May-2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
he's really good, imo. I love him on grey's anatomy /jesse williams stan

oop...html fail

Edited at 2012-05-10 06:22 pm (UTC)
imnotasquirrel 10th-May-2012 06:00 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how so many people see "bronze hair" and "green eyes" and take that to mean red or blond hair and blue eyes.....

Did they fail art class?

Edited at 2012-05-10 06:01 pm (UTC)
madelynnm 10th-May-2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
Bronze hair, in terms of actual hair color if you were to go to a stylist would be blonde to dirty blonde, maybe even a little red.


Personally, I pictured Finnick to look like Prince Thor from the Little Mermaid, shiny, glistening, same attitude and all. But that being said I'd much rather the dude up there play him, cause he's fucking hot.
we_got_caught 10th-May-2012 06:05 pm (UTC)
That guy is gorgeous.
tankmachine 10th-May-2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
i feel like the only one who doesn't find him that attractive

he looks like a sloth idk
fluorescenta 10th-May-2012 06:46 pm (UTC)
beoweasel 10th-May-2012 06:08 pm (UTC)

And while it's a couple of years old, Bob "MovieBob" Chipman from Escapist Magazine spoke about the complaints people had over the casting of Heimdall in the movie, Thor. I felt it was relevant for this:

Edited at 2012-05-10 06:10 pm (UTC)
lickbrains 10th-May-2012 07:04 pm (UTC)
hogod, MovieBob is one of the best <3
brucelynn 10th-May-2012 06:09 pm (UTC)


so disguisting
dumpweeds 10th-May-2012 06:13 pm (UTC)

quizzicalsphinx 10th-May-2012 06:19 pm (UTC)
I had no idea this guy existed but he has now immeasurably enhanced my life.
soleiltropiques 10th-May-2012 06:22 pm (UTC)
Good point!
latin_lunatic 10th-May-2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
I would say this is almost as bad as the Avatar The Last Airbender casting controversy if it weren't for the classy "Rue is black? Her death isn't as sad now" reactions. It's worse.

Edited at 2012-05-10 06:27 pm (UTC)
bleed_peroxide 10th-May-2012 06:43 pm (UTC)
I always thought that Dev Patel would have made a much better Sokka. I've heard he was really, really good in Slumdog Millionaire and his smile is just so Sokka.
simplefaith08 10th-May-2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
Let me show you how very shocked I am that a large faction of the THG fandom continue to be racist hypocrites:

world_dancer 10th-May-2012 06:38 pm (UTC)
Bronze hair indicates "reddish" or "reddish tint." Bronze is primarily made of copper, so this makes sense. So bronze hair & green eyes, I can see why some people would protest that this actor looks nothing like Finnick. He'd need a wig & contacts.

Honestly, I've always been perplexed by Finnick's looks. I keep picturing him as some bad Atlantis cartoon person because no one looks the way he's described that I've ever seen. He's too brown of skin to be a white boy with a tan, and too genetically Caucasian in the description of his hair and eyes to be a black boy. He's the kind of character you only see in anime.

So unlike the arguments about Rue and Thresh -- who were brown brown brown in the book -- I don't think that all the people who'd argue that this guy doesn't fit Finnick are inherently racist. The problem is a description that doesn't really match anyone.

Personally, at this point, I'd really just be happy if they cast a Minnesotan or Michigander from the Upper Peninsula so that they had the right "accent." I'm determined that has to be the right accent despite the area not being on the sea coast presently because of the occupation of fishing, the references to the strange accent, and his name, which is pretty Scandinavian. And, again, a problem with description that doesn't give a clear image -- in this case of the lay of the land. I'm probably going to face disappointment on this point. But like any fan, I'd argue in favor of my interpretation of the very skimpy facts.
dumpweeds 10th-May-2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
jesse williams' eyes are really more green

while he's a little older than finnick (finnick is mid-twenties while jesse is 30), I think he's the perfect fit. ngl, I always imagined him as black. I don't pay attention to detail, apparently.

on a side note, I assumed finnick was from the gulf or around there?

eta: omg how do I html today

Edited at 2012-05-10 06:46 pm (UTC)
shepaintedfire 10th-May-2012 06:39 pm (UTC)
Ngl, I read the books after seeing the trailer for the movie, so all of the actors pretty much matched my impression of the characters. However, since #JesseForFinnick has become a thing, I can't picture anyone else as Finnick. Dude is gorgeous and omg his EYES. smh at people suggesting Ian Somerhalder, that creepy fuck doesn't hold a candle to Jesse.
effervescent 10th-May-2012 07:00 pm (UTC)
Ian seems too old for the Finnick in my head, I don't think he would work at all, even if I love him. It'll be interesting to see who they pick in the end.
igglepoof 10th-May-2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
I would cast those kids to piss those assholes off!

Fuck em!
thistlerose 10th-May-2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
Well, damn. I may have given up on "Grey's Anatomy" too soon. (Haven't watched it since Katherine Heigl left. Not because I liked her so much but because that's about when my patience with these characters ran out.)

People are so gross. I would love to see this man as Finick.
mollywobbles867 10th-May-2012 08:08 pm (UTC)
Oh, it has gotten so good since she left and probably because she left. You should give it another chance! I mean it's had its crappy story lines, but the good ones outweigh them by a lot, imo.
eyetosky 10th-May-2012 06:50 pm (UTC)
Goddamn, people. Reading comprehension fail of immeasurable proportions.

"'finnick is supposed to be a blonde white boy and that's that people!' said one commenter on Perez Hilton."

Except for the name of the character, everything about this sentence hurt my soul.
luminescnece 11th-May-2012 12:37 am (UTC)
Yeah... these people are awfully proud of their piss poor reading skills.

Rue was described as a poc. PLENTY OF CHARACTERS WERE. .-.

lickbrains 10th-May-2012 06:51 pm (UTC)
Jesse Williams. UNF.

And race should have been a factor when creating the film. I mean, do you see poc's or more white people in low-income areas? And who's working in the sweatshops and coffee fields? HINT, HINT: NOT WHITE PEOPLE. I have a lot of feels about the movie, few of them good.
gretchystretchy 10th-May-2012 06:58 pm (UTC)
Jesse Williams is hot as fuck, and I think he'd be a great Finnick.

(Shallow comment is shallow.)
effervescent 10th-May-2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
Sigh. I'm not surprised after the whole drama with Rue/Thresh/Cinna, though. If even canon POC characters (referring to Rue and thresh) are greeted with shock and dismay when they're POC in the movies, then of course they're going to object to Finnick possibly being POC. He seems to be the one that a lot of people crush on, besides Gale.

I'm divided on Jesse being Finnick, though. I think he'd be awesome, but [Spoiler (click to open)]considering that he dies in the end, I'd almost like him not to be a POC so that not every main POC character ends up having something bad happen to them. :|
shukivengeance 10th-May-2012 07:01 pm (UTC)
Having not read the books I may be missing a lot of context, but I'm kind of torn on this. For the characters who are ambiguous like Katniss and Finnick etc, dark/tanned skin doesn't automatically mean the character is a POC because I'm pretty sure that everyone in the poor districts probably spends a lot of time outside, but at the same time I wouldn't object to them being played by a POC either. Jesse is beautiful, and when I read the description of her I kinda imagined Katniss as being somewhat latina or something.

In the cases like Thresh or Rue where the description makes it obvious, people's reactions and ignorance have been disgusting. And I thought Rue's actress was an adorable little angel.
soleiltropiques 10th-May-2012 07:20 pm (UTC)
All I can say to this is...

Exactly. IA completely.
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