I’m almost done reading The Hunger Games trilogy of books on my trusty Kindle and I’m seeing the movie in a few hours (as it unleashes a Quarter Quell on the box-office in its opening weekend), so until I can offer an analysis of the screenplay or movie, I thought I’d share one of my first impressions of the story when I read the book.
In most stories of an unlikely young protagonist having the mantle of a warrior thrust upon them, the hero must undergo some sort of training by a skilled mentor. Think Pai Mei in Kill Bill, Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, Morpheus in The Matrix, etc. It’s all about learning the ways of the warrior — becoming a deadly force with the use of weapons, martial arts and cunning.
But those movies were written by men, primarily for men. The Hunger Games is written by Suzanne Collins, who’s, you know, a woman. And here’s the cool thing that really jumped out at me…
In The Hunger Games, our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, doesn’t have a trainer… she has a stylist.
His name is Cinna, and his makeover of Katniss plays a pivotal role in her training and potential survival in the brutal gladiator match known as the Hunger Games (Cinna is played by Lenny Kravitz in the film, as seen above). The use of Cinna’s character is a brilliant device created by author Suzanne Collins, and makes the book stand out from other popular stories with similar elements.
For example, The Running Man is also a Sci-Fi action story of a televised death match. It even has a host who interviews the contestants before the fight, as played by Richard Dawson…
…similar to Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games, who interviews Katniss before the games.
Arnie in a body suit and Jennifer Lawrence in a gown — quite different images for quite different character constructions.
Ultimately, Collins’ perspective gives us a unique protagonist in Katniss Everdeen — rather than a weakling trained to be a deadly fighter, she already has the fighting skills (she’s an expert archer) and she must learn to be more feminine to have a chance in the games. That’s a really cool concept that blew me away when I read the book.
I know it’s sexist, or reverse sexism, perhaps, to suggest that this refreshing take on the hero’s journey could not have been written by a man, but… it’s definitely worth some discussion.
What do you think?
Good Luck and Happy Writing,