The Hunger Games: The Katniss Dilemma

hunger-games-movie-wp_trio01 I've been thinking a lot about the changing landscape of female representation in the media. For better or worse, I find my daughters looking to the things they see in the movies as examples of what they can and should be in real life. Of course, I work to counteract that with less screen time, more books, more interaction with women who inspire, more time spent on discovering who they want to be instead of who they feel they should be. And yet, at the end of the day, the characters they meet in the movie theater really matter.

When the Hunger Games franchise first debuted I was so excited. I mean, a girl lead! Kicking butt! Righting wrongs! Asking complicated questions about personal responsibility! And then I saw the movies. Listen. Jennifer Lawrence is great in them. The world building is totally convincing.  I even kind have a thing for cute little Peeta. Don't you want to pinch his cheeks? Both sets? (Ugh. Weird Meg. You're a grown woman. Pull it together.) Gale ain't so bad either. Neither of them really seems to move the heroine, there aren't grand sparks of connection just flickers of circumstance. Despite her relative indifference, Katniss can't stop thinking about her average men. And yet, you can almost forgive Katniss' distraction over which boy to love. I mean despite the dystopian circumstances, she is only 17 and kids that age often have their priorities a little skewed. Heck, it can be argued that the lukewarm love triangle made SOME sense when most of the moving action centered around Katniss' personal circumstances.

But in this latest installment, the war has begun. People are being firebombed. Whole towns extinguished. And the plot's pre-occupation with whether Katniss kinda likes this guy or kinda likes that one seems pretty superficial. The deep connection that would make such preoccupation valid was never established. I haven't read the books, but I'm told by my cute babysitter that the story line there is equally obsessed with young love. Which brings up a question we should all be asking of ourselves,

Are we only interested in revolutionary female leads when their story is moved along by romance - even when it is of the tepid variety?

I know, I know. Hey, Meg! It's a movie. Get over it. And I totally will. Sometime. But until then, I hope to impress upon my daughters that when engaged in the work of revolution - whether its the kind that moves governments or moves their own hearts - they are strong enough to do it without the distraction of that one boy that she kinda likes almost enough to not like that other guy. It's not much of a lesson...but its more than they'll be getting from the theaters this weekend.

Hey, watch this parody from Studio C that makes my point in a far wittier (and catchier!) manner.