Despite very clear indicators of race in the original text of Suzanne Collins‘ novel – she describes skin as dark, even dark brown, and that’s about as clear as she needs to be – some of the audience who rolled out to see The Hunger Games this weekend were shocked to find out that the characters of Rue and Thresh were not white.
Shocked and disappointed and even disgusted.
Taking to Twitter to vent their frustration and confusion, they gave plenty of clues to the depth of their apparent racism.
This compilation of screengrabs come from Hunger Games Tweets, who have plenty more. Thanks to very many of you who sent the link to me.
Now, there’s obviously some issues with reading comprehension here as the book makes the non-white race of these characters incredibly clear, and not just in those two references to their skin. Indeed, if you don’t understand who Rue and Thresh are and where they come from, there’s a whole big slice of the book that you aren’t appreciating.
It’s a tiny bit more complicated when it comes to Cinna, the fashionista designer-mentor. Collins gave no specific indicators of the character’s ethnicity so it might seem easier to understand why audiences are confused by the casting of Lenny Kravitz. I suppose there’s a possibility of them having assumed a ‘typical” bit of white casting from the filmmakers. Still, a number of Tweets reflect the same disgust at Kravitz’ casting as with Amanda Stenberg as Rue and Dayo Okeniyi as Thresh.
And that’s the key concept here: the disgust. Not the surprise or the confusion, which does not necessarily hinge upon racism, but the disappointment, lack of acceptance, and rejection.
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