(Written for a competition to write for MTV Sticky, which I won.)
You may have heard that The Hunger Games has done extremely well since its release last month, making over $350M worldwide and clinging on to the top of the box office for four whole weeks, but did you hear about those who only had negative things to say about the film?
Adapted from a series of novels written by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy of films that follows heroin Katniss Everdeen, played on-screen by Jennifer Lawrence, as a resident of a dystopian society named Panem where, each year, twenty-four tributes are forced to compete in a fight-to-the-death televised game.
Earlier this month, a huge controversy arose when a number of tweeters began to question the colour of one of the actors cast as a tribute – little innocent Rue from district eleven who was portrayed on-screen by half-African-American half-Danish thirteen-year-old Amandla Stenberg.
Whilst Suzanne Collins detailed that Rue “has bright, dark eyes and satiny brown skin”, tweeters were upset that they had pictured a white, blonde girl in her role, and that because she was played by a black actress on-screen that her death wasn’t as sad.
I, for one, didn’t know this kind of prejudice still occurred. I’m not ignorant, of course I know that racism is still a big issue, but does the casting of a black actress instead of a white, blonde one really desensitize the death of a character?
The problem here is that so-called fans of The Hunger Games clearly didn’t spend enough time reading the book properly. But despite Collins stating that Rue was dark-skinned, should it really have even mattered if she hadn’t written it ink?
I have only read of this type of prejudice in film once before, and that was when African-American actor Idris Elba was cast as a Norse God in 2011’s Marvel superhero film Thor. The criticism here was that a black actor couldn’t play this certain mythological character (emphasis on mythological!).
So why does this type of prejudice still occur? Does the colour of an actor really matter?