'The Hunger Games' Inspiring More Racism
A few weeks back there was quite a kerfuffle over the casting of The Hunger Games movie. Though the character of Rue was described as black in the books, and subsequently played by a black actress, some fans voiced very scary, very hateful reactions. In their minds, the character should have been played by a white actress.
Now racism is becoming an issue yet again for the popular YA series.
A fan of Grey's Anatomy actor Jesse Williams created a blog to make the case that Williams should play Finnick Odair in the sequels. The only problem is, Finnick is described as having tan skin and blonde hair, whereas Williams is black. Cue the outrage.
A lot of the more racist comments have gotten deleted from boards like this, but the fact remains, people are having some very troubling reactions--especially for a book in which many of the characters are described as dark-skinned or of mixed race.
I remember when Daredevil came out (unfortunately) and there was a shitstorm over Michael Clarke Duncan getting cast as the Kingpin, a character who, in comic book world, is white. Or when Donald Glover was proffered for the role of Spider-man (a daring, fantastic idea), and comic book fans across America had a collective aneurysm. (Oddly, there didn't seem to be a ton of complaints about Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, but maybe I missed it. Then again, he did serve as the basis for The Ultimates universe version of Fury so... whatever.)
I also remember last year when Zone One by Colson Whitehead came out, and a bunch of the reviewers made a big deal about how Whitehead didn't reveal that the main character was black until the end of the book--and it wasn't a twist, it just came up in the context of explaining a joke. Some people just seemed really surprised that the character was black the whole time.
Which raises some interesting questions, about the nature of race in fiction.
When adapting for the screen, how much does race actually matter? Does the casting of a black actor "ruin" a movie, as some fans of The Hunger Games have suggested?
And when you're reading a work of fiction, how important is it for the writer to designate race? If the writer doesn't, do you just automatically align the characters with your own race?
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