identity

Impact on our own life stories

The audience is very much positioned by the narrative, as all audiences, by all narratives. The Hunger Games gives little room to question the system in place that perpetuates the fear and the compliance and the yearly sanctioned murders of innocent children. We question the media and the control of the technology and the blurred lines between what is real and what is not.

There are certain things lost with the visual representation of the film that depicts the text narrative. In the film, the other tributes, especially the careers lose the identity as victims of this diseased culture. They are, instead ‘others’, so it is acceptable to our sensibilities that these children have lost their lives. They are exaggerated, evil, mean-spirited, cruel – all characterizations of the worst and we are caught rooting for their end.

The story of the Avox girl and the realization that Katniss has of her place within society, the other tools that are in place to demand complacency is not explored in the visual as it is in the text. This is a story that humanizes Katniss, makes her feel for someone who has been punished by the Capitol. These are elements that are removed from the film. It goes to question whether the spirit of the message claimed by Collins is sacrificed for the ability to perpetuate entertainment value instead.

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With the abilities we have today, to share ourselves, to strive for the authentic self, to present our identities, our digital selves through internet platforms, our own bodies, our preferences we can broadcast on our profiles, our walls, our lifestyles, it is interesting to muse about what these items we take from The Hunger Games narrative illustrate of our culture, of our ideologies, of ourselves.

artwork or digital wallpaper or timeline post

artwork or digital wallpaper or timeline post

Easy to post on your wall, on your timeline, in your profile. The public relations statement used to remind a poor and starving District that they are sending two children to a duel to the death and although there is a possibility, and the odds may tilt to their District, there will be loss, there will be only one returning, if at all.
Or perhaps it’s a sign that things are possible, even when the odds are stacked against you, if you know the game, if you choose right, if greater things are meant to come – if Katniss could create her own way out, than favour is possible for you as well, for you have the sign and you know what it means and now, it is a part of the fabric that keeps you warm and nourished always.

wearing her arrow helps make it real

wearing her arrow helps make it real

The bow and arrow sets Katniss apart, gains her attention and saves her life as well as the lives of her family members. It is a connection to her father. And now, it is her connection to you, as you proudly wear her strength, her ferociousness, her ability to survive. And that all comes from a moulded piece of metal, right?Available in many colours, so not only is Katniss represented, but your personality can be as well….the consumerism drives on.

phone case, carry it always

phone case, carry it always

Districts are stripped of technology, besides the images that the Capitol label as ‘must watch’. Our Smartphones connect us to everything. They allow us to be categorized, tracked, sorted, profiled and commodified. All things that the narrative warns against. And we decorate this technology with the most memorable statement from the text and the movie.

oh, Effie. artwork or timeline post

oh, Effie.
artwork or timeline post

Effie Trinket, the mouthpiece from the Capitol, sent to choose and usher the children from District 12 to their most certain death. She is suffered by her meagre pool to take from, as District 12 so seldom wins. But, she remains poised and upbeat, troubled by those without manners. The above statement could be seen as a commentary on the understanding that although you are taking children to the place where their lives will end, as you have so many times before, your excitement is raised because a piece of wood is damaged. I fear that the reality of this statement is lost because of the humour it carries in Elizabeth Banks’ delivery. It is curious to  dig into the story one would wish to tell, the connection that is meant to be made by hanging this on the wall or posting it to your timeline and what message it is intended to send to the others who see it. I would hope it’s more than just the humour and the horror is remembered as well.

greeting card

greeting card

Katniss volunteers out of obligation to her sister, a desire to protect her life, save some of her innocence. She feels it is her responsible to rescue her sister from the inevitable loss of Prim’s life and sacrifice herself in place of her sister. Your own devotion, willingness to sacrifice and unconditional love can now be sent through the mail, consumed and understood by the masses in four simple words.

artwork

artwork

This artwork allows the displayer to forever visualize one of the most poignant and meaningful scenes in the narrative. Katniss is no longer a pawn in a game, no longer a mere form of entertainment. She gains humanity, along with Rue. She has meaning, she has value. She deserves mercy and thanks and most certainly consideration. She reminds those watching that she has value, that Rue has value, that these children are sacrificed for the sake of entertainment. What else is being sacrificed? What else has been lost?

It is also big business to be on the soundtrack of a blockbuster, especially as a title track of a franchise film. Just as Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years will always bring to mind Twilight, Taylor Swift’s Safe and Sound will forever touch on the loss of Rue, the importance of childhood, the safety that came in death and the problem with it all. Playing this song will always serve to create an emotional and visceral connection to the film, the story and the characters.

cookies as sponsorship

cookies as sponsorship

Sponsorship means survival. It means a parachute with a tiny piece of hope for survival. It is the ability of sponsors to feel like they are part of the excitement, like they can somehow influence the outcome. And now, we can make our own parachute cookies.

clothing

clothing

PhysEd class will never be that of life and death. It is a far stretch to link the exertion needed to compete and conquer in the area as anything like that which is needed to pass P.E. Another way to capitalize on the franchise, another method to connect members of the culture and consumers of the narrative. Again, considering the fact that the text comments on the tyrannical power of those in charge against those who are not, the ability to control the media, to surveil the lives of whomever they chose and the yearly ceremonial assassination of twenty three children, all in the name of fear, all in the name of entertainment – it’s a scary parallel. To think about the inequality that exists for real, the tongue-in-cheek message that this shirt is looking to communicate is real in some places in the world. There are regions in the world we live in where the less fortunate die, the powerless face fear tactics to keep them in line. Children are sacrificed and are mutilated and we can mark our identity with a shirt like this. It’s just something to consider and wonder whether the message of caution is more important than the motion of capitalism or vice versa.

 

greeting card

greeting card

Much like the previous greeting card, a message that resonates within popular culture can be communicated in four words, no further explanation needed.

 

It is important as we create these selves that we display for others to consume, as we reflect that which we consume we understand and actually identify with the images, the music and the items we use to represent ourselves. Otherwise, there is nothing real to connect to, nothing real to build from, nothing real between us and little reason to buy in to the new shapes and meanings of the identity we are presenting as self.

 

SOURCES USED IN THIS POST:

Gutierrez, Peter. Death by Media: The Hunger Games and Teen Authenticity (Part 2). March 22, 2012. Link.

They are who they represent

 

- Greek Aphorism think ancient Greece....Gladiators...Tributes...Hunger Games

– Greek Aphorism
think ancient Greece….Gladiators…Tributes…Hunger Games

It is youthful actors who are the visual and characteristic embodiments of the characters that Suzanne Collins brights to life in the pages of her Hunger Games Trilogy. These actors make the decision to bring the characteristics to the screen, to immortalize the story by way of film, to give a piece of themselves, moments of their lives and take on the lasting effects forever. It is the problem that comes from an inability of those watching, those who have a stake in the narrative, who derive meaning from Collins’ words, who live and breathe and embrace those characters. The relationships that are formed are not real. The people who portray the characters are real, and they give up themselves to become that which is not true, and for some, the results last throughout their entire, lives, some their entire careers.

the-hunger-games-character-poster-katniss1

Jennifer Lawrence / Katniss Everdeen. As an actor with critical acclaim for Winter’s Bone before being cast in The Hunger Games was entitled to public recognition before filming began. Now, she is Katniss. Even though she has won awards for other roles, in the age group that often rules the box office, she is the girl on fire. Did she realize what would happen before she became her character? She could have watched the same thing happen to Kristen Stewart as she became Bella Swan. Walking down the street, instead of being recognized as who she really is, she can be called by a name of a fictional character. We blur the lines between what is real and what is not. Katniss Everdeen is not a real person. Jennifer Lawrence is. There is hope, in time that she will be seen as the person she is, not the person she played in one of the largest grossing franchise films and novels in history.

1266_6164_1Sht_Peeta_ab01_gryJosh Hutcherson / Peeta Mellark. Although a successful child actor, it wasn’t until landing this role that mass public recognition occurred. And from now, until most likely years following the release and judgement of the final Hunger Games movie, he will hear the name “Peeta” shouted or whispered in his presence. Will he mind embodying the character that plays a part in saving Katniss from others, saves Katniss from herself, keeps her safe for us and for himself? Perhaps not. The role has opened more doors and provided more roles and caused more notice.

hunger-games-poster-rue

Amandla Stenberg / Rue. Besides one other small part in a smaller movie, Stenberg’s first major appearance on film is as Rue, the doomed female tribute who aids Katniss and is sacrificed in song and flowers in the area. Not only does this child appear for mass consumption in this film, she was at the centre of racial backlash because of what she looks like and the decisions of casting directors. She will forever be Rue, at least in this piece. But she is not Rue at all. For Rue is not real, but Stenberg will carry the character and all the weight that comes with her forever.

The depiction of her likeness is also interesting to note. In comparison with the other characters whose likenesses are shown on the movie posters, Rue is thoughtful, her gaze downcast. Others are looking forward, standing ready. Rue is gaining our sympathy before we watch her perish. She is connecting to our sentimentality before the movie begins. She is beautiful and thoughtful and wise – and this is an actor who was hired to characterize her, to portray her, to be our visual representation. And for that, Amandla and Rue will forever be one. But who will we see as more real?

 

This blurring of identities comes at a higher price for the youth of the blockbusters. Woody Harrelson (Haymitch), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket) and Donald Sutherland (President Snow) are less likely to be called by the names of those who they represent on the screen. They are not the characters who the audience is meant to build lasting connections with. They have bodies of work that demonstrate their range. We have seen them before in different roles at different times. This is not their first time at or in the show. There are reasons that big franchises will make the choice to cast unknowns into the roles that will change the trajectory of their careers and forever imprint on their identity. We embrace them as the characters we have imagined and connected with and wish to connect with further. We value them not exactly for who they are, but for who they are to us. Consider the choice of Lenny Kravitz. An rockstar bad-ass. Do we not want to see Cinna as a little bit of that as well? The purveyor of design and fashion and the one task with getting the audience’s attention. Kravitz’s persona lends credit to the fiction he is meant to portray and connects the audience with Cinna without anything more than an mention.