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Hunger Games Visual Essay

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Emily Vetter

on 5 May 2013

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Transcript of Hunger Games Visual Essay

Katniss Everdeen In one instance she is dressed identical to Peeta, showing no difference in gender. This act promotes the idea of equality, and presents Peeta and Katniss as a team instead of Peeta as the strong male and Katniss as the sexually attractive female, a presentation that many other districts used to present their tributes. The role of women as well as the way in which women are viewed has been controversial throughout time. Within the Western world today, women are splashed across the covers of magazines, photographed on the runway, and analyzed for their beauty. According to Cirksena and Cuklanz, (1992), “Western culture is saturated with unattainable ideals of feminine beauty”(p.34). From the latest issue of Sports Illustrated to the emaciated actresses at the Oscar’s, it is clear that unrealistic standards for women are present within society. However, if one looks closely it is possible to detect examples of media that present women in a completely different light. One example is the movie The Hunger Games in which sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen is the star. Katniss possesses characteristics such as intelligence and strength which become her assets. Her level of attractiveness and her sex appeal are not what set her apart. Instead it is the way she presents herself and her clever mind that become enviable traits. “In traditional Western philosophy the faculties of the mind were valued above the physical body” (Cirksena & Cuklanz, 1992, p. 33). As a character, Katniss’ mind is portrayed to be more valuable than her body, contrary to today’s society. In addition, “women were thought to be less mentally capable than men” (Cirksena & Cuklanz, 1992, p. 33). Since women were more closely associated with the physical world, men portrayed women in terms of their sexuality (Cirksena & Cuklanz, 1992, p. 34). Though ideas about women have evolved with time, the sexuality of women is a main focus within today’s media. Through advertising, film, and television, an image of the ideal woman has been created (Cirksena & Cuklanz, 1992, p. 34). This concept of the ideal woman is now a standard which other women compare themselves to (Cirksena & Cuklanz, 1992, p. 34). Katniss is a character who presents an alternative standard for women There are three main components of Katniss’ character that display her unconventional characteristics. Unlike the typical feminine character, Katniss is not timid or submissive. Instead she is aggressive, a trait that she is praised for. The first sign of this trait is visible from the first scene where she awakes, crosses the boundary, and heads into the woods to go hunting. Later, Peeta, Effie, Haymitch and Katniss are in the dining room and Katniss is urging Haymitch to reveal what he had told Peeta as she entered the room. When Haymitch refuses to cooperate, Katniss shows that she is serious by stabbing a knife into the table. By doing so she demonstrates that she is fierce and strong, characteristics that make her desirable for qualities other than her appearance. Katniss’ ability to be aggressive is praised by Peeta and Haymitch, reinforcing the idea that this trait is favorable. In contrast, Katniss’ physical appearance goes unnoticed. Peeta brags about her ability to hunt before the training begins. Haymitch congratulates her during the training, after she demonstrates her talents to the gamemakers, saying “well done sweetheart” (Ross, 2012). On another occasion Katniss uses force to pin Peeta to the wall after he reveals his crush on her. She says “he made me look weak” (Ross, 2012) which shows that she is intent on presenting herself as strong and does not want to be thought of emotional. With regard to her emotions, Katniss refuses to show them. She wants to appear tough and capable, a fact that she knows will lead to gifts from sponsors. She did not cry when saying good-bye to her family or to Gale. Instead she commanded Gale to ensure her family wouldn’t starve, Prim to be brave and her mother to stay on task and in touch with reality. Throughout the games Katniss shows emotion only when in private such as when Rue dies or when she knows it will be beneficial such as when she kisses Peeta to obtain gifts to make him well. She refuses to allow emotion to get the best of her, a fact that deviates from the stereotypical conception of a female. Katniss only allows emotion to show after she has thought about a situation and the context, a fact that demonstrates her cleverness. Besides emotion, Katniss defies the typical female role in other ways such as using her body to scale trees and shoot arrows instead of trying to emphasis her sexuality. Every time she dresses for an event she is dressed modestly. She wins the crowd over with her humor as opposed to other contestants like Glimmer who wear short skirts and try to win the crowd with beauty. Laurie Penny sums up the significance of the Hunger Games for women by stating that “95 percent of the rest of the output of the film and fiction industries don’t particularly concern themselves with the female gaze” (Maya, 2012). Penny claims that the Hunger games does the opposite by portraying a woman who has “desires, passions and problems” (Maya, 2012) while presenting men as the “objects of desire” (Maya, 2012).
Within the film her perspective is favored as opposed to that of the male characters, portraying her in a progressive light. Contrary to the majority of female heroines characterized by their beauty, Katniss is not valued for her physical appearance; rather she is valued for her physical strength and intellectual abilities. Though this portrayal is unusual in the media, it is possible that future films will follow in the footsteps of The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games Mind vs. Body The New Symbol of Feminism? References

Cirksena, K., & Cuklanz, L. (1992). Male is to Female. In L. Rakow, Women

Making Meaning (pp. 18-40). London: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc.


Maya. (2012, March 23). Feminsting. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from The Hunger

Games: A story for women and girls that everyone can love:

http://feministing.com/2012/03/23/the-hunger- games-a-story-for-

women-and-girls-that-everyone-can-love/

Ross, Gary. March 23, 2012. The Hunger Games (Film). United States, Lionsgate
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