Racist Hunger Games fans illustrate all that is wrong in the world

Despite my immense excitement, I still haven’t yet seen The Hunger Games. While I’m sure there will be some things in the movie that aren’t how I imagined from the books, you know what won’t be surprising? The fact that some of the characters are played by people of color. That’s because it’s abundantly clear in the books that the nation of Panem is a multi-racial society–and at least two major characters are explicitly described as black.

But, as Jos mentioned yesterday, there are some horribly racist people on Twitter who are not only shocked but downright pissed off to learn that Rue and Thresh, who are described in the books as having “dark brown skin,” actually, ya know, have dark brown skin. The tumblr Hunger Games Tweets has collected some of the worst tweets. Here’s a terrible, bile-inducing taste:

First, a little reading comprehension would be nice. Second, author Suzanne Collins was quite clear that Rue and Thresh are African-American, but there’s also absolutely no reason to just assume that all of the other characters in Panem are Caucasian. In fact, the film was significantly white-washed as it is. As Julian Sanchez points out, the Hunger Games is set in the distant-future and in the not-to-distant future, non-Hispanic whites will make up less than half of the U.S. population. At some point, Hollywood will hopefully start reflecting that reality–and audiences will need to let go of the apparently incredibly ingrained belief that the default color must be white.

But it’s not simply that these Tweeters mistakenly had a different image in their heads and were surprised by the casting in the film. The reactions to Rue are particularly sobering. For those who haven’t read the books, (spoiler alert!) Rue is the youngest and smallest competitor who is loved by all and then tragically killed. These Tweeters are straight-up disgusted to learn that the character they adored is black. As the person behind the blog writes, “These people are MAD that the girl that they cried over while reading the book was ‘some black girl’ all along.”

As the writer of the blog rightly points out, this isn’t just about one blockbuster film or an obnoxious minority on Twitter. This shit matters. The sentiment so awfully and succinctly summed up in the first tweet above–that a black girl cannot, by definition, be a little, innocent girl–is reflected everywhere. This is why 40 percent of missing persons are people are color but the media usually only gives a damn about the young, white, upper-middle class girls. This is why people of color make up 30 percent of the U.S. population, but 60 percent of those imprisoned, why black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes, and why 80 percent of people who receive the death penalty have murdered white people. This is why some children’s lives are valued more than others. This is why a black boy can seemingly never be “innocent” enough–at least not if he’s wearing a hoodie.

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11 Comments

  1. Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Not to nitpick, but Katniss herself is described as having olive skin and almost black hair, which sounds to me like it could be Hispanic or even Middle Eastern. Only characters from district 1 and from the towns (the rich people) in district 12 were described as explicitly white. Gotta remember that nearly all old heritage from before The Dark Days (the natural disasters through the rise of Panem) has been stamped out in the name of unity. That sounds like an anti-racist and anti-nationalist message to me…

    • Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

      please have my children, for the love of god where are all the women like u

    • Posted March 28, 2012 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      Oh yeah, definitely. That’s what I meant when I said the film had been significantly white-washed as it is. I didn’t picture Katniss as white either.

  2. Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Wow. What exactly is wrong with Rue being black. I have yet to read the books, considering I don’t have much free time on my hands, but I had enough free time to watch the movie. And Rue was adorable, fun, quick, and I was sad when she died.

    And Thresh? Eh, for the brief moments he was on screen, he was cool.

    It did feel a little annoying to see District 11, a bunch of black people, be the ones who started a riot over Rue’s death, but then again, they are her District, and they all loved Rue because how could you not? Well, maybe if you’re a sociopathic career tribute.

    I’ll admit, when reading a book and I’ve got a cast in my head, and I’ll sometimes be like “Ugh, she’s supposed to be a brunette!” (yeah, as a natural brunette, I get protective of brunettes) but usually, if it says “dark skinned” I’m assuming “she’s black”.
    And I’m sorry, being angry because the girl you cried over happens to be black? I managed to make it this far without cursing, but, take a big helping of fuck you.

  3. Posted March 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Not gonna lie, my mouth literally fell open when I read that one, “Kk call me racist but…” #$%# Holy cow, yes, not only is that racist, generally just a horrible, horrible thing to say. Sometimes I am shocked at the open hatred towards groups of people displayed on the web. Such comments are quite often prefaced with “Call me misogynist, but…” etc. Yikes.

  4. Posted March 28, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    This may be off-topic, but today I also came upon this news story from the UK Press Association wire service “Student who mocked Fabrice Muamba on Twitter may be jailed. Muamba is a Black British soccer player, and the student violated UK hate speech laws by repeatedly posting on twitter racist views towards Muamba. Because hate speech is a crime in the UK and other European nations, people were able to complain to law enforcement.

    Hate speech is undoubtedly repulsive, but I’d prefer a society where racist speech is legal (the US) but an embarrassment to the speaker rather than a crime (the UK). In any case it is PATHETIC that in the 21st century we STILL have this “white is good, black is bad” mentality even among our young people.

  5. Posted March 28, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    (sorry I bungled the HTML code in my previous comment) This may be off-topic, but today I also came upon this news story from the UK Press Association wire service “Student who mocked Fabrice Muamba on Twitter may be jailed. Muamba is a Black British soccer player, and the student violated UK hate speech laws by repeatedly posting on twitter racist views towards Muamba. Because hate speech is a crime in the UK and other European nations, people were able to complain to law enforcement.

    Hate speech is undoubtedly repulsive, but I’d prefer a society where racist speech is legal (the US) but an embarrassment to the speaker rather than a crime (the UK). In any case it is PATHETIC that in the 21st century we STILL have this “white is good, black is bad” mentality even among our young people.

  6. Posted March 28, 2012 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    Despite being extremely saddened by the response of some of the characters’ race in the film, I think this is another example of the extreme levels of cultural white-washing that has been indoctrinated into so many, that these tweets were made without a single regard of the tremendous (intentional or not) hate and apathy towards African Americans. The fact that thousands of people were enraged at the fact their idea of purity and innocence was destroyed due to blackness is just an indicator of how little we have progressed as a society. As much as I cannot stand this phrase, I truly believe that this as well as the recent Trayvon incident can be a “teaching moment” for millions in this country. It is important to open up the dialogue for us to move forward.

  7. Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    Of all people ‘Jaspher’s’ tweet has shocked me the most! Not only to be racist, but to bring racism to a whole another level :O I just wonder, if THIS is the amount of racism initiated by a character in a film, what is going on in the real world! And people like these, are somewhere around us. It’s not even sad, it’s embarrassing to look at them and then yourself, and realize you’re from the same specie.

  8. Posted March 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    I was disappointed with the casting when it came to Katniss, Peeta, and Gayle. When I saw the girl who was going to play Rue, however, I thought they finally got it right. She’s beautiful, adorable, and looks very sweet and innocent. And, yeah, both Rue and Thresh are CLEARLY described as having “dark brown skin.” Those racist morons must have blocked that part out.

  9. Posted April 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    Thinking about the huge fanfare given to all the actors in Harry Potter movies and Twilight movies. Really, really angry/sad/disappointed that Amandla Stenberg’s achievement has to be overshadowed by ignorant people spouting, typing, & tweeting racist hate-filled words.

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