Pop by Twitter or Facebook over the past week and you’d be excused if you thought both Internet social networks had been bought up by some multinational conglomerate called “Team Peeta.”
Yes, social media has been taken over by The Hunger Games Horde, legions of fans gushing about the movie online. Fair enough, anything to get teen girls to stop talking about sparkly vampires for 5 seconds is proof God exists. However, a dishearteningly large and growing number of commenters have been complaining about the casting of one particular character: Rue. In the film, Rue is played by actress Amandla Stenberg, who happens to be half-black (her father is Danish).
I won’t single out any Twitter or Facebook user, but the all complaints take the tenor of, “Why did they have to make Rue black? I don’t understand why they had to make Rue black.” Okay, I’ll print ONE of the more disgusting comments, name withheld:
“Sense(sic) when has Rue been a nigger.”
Cue banjo music.
Let’s explore 2 Points:
1. Rue is black in the book. According to Katniss, Rue has ”dark brown skin and eyes.” Thresh is also black. It’s implied Rue’s entire District 11 is predominantly black (and in the deep south). So, you know, there’s that. Congratulations, commenters, you can’t read.
2. What if Rue wasn’t black in the book–would it matter? Is there any possible way Suzanne Collins could have written the character to ensure only a white person could effectively play her? “Sorry Katniss, I’d help you win these ‘Hunger Games’ here, but my northern European ancestry increases my likelihood of hemophilia compared to other, non-European races. So…”
Rue is a little girl who plays a key part in the story. Her most defining physical feature is she’s a little girl. If she were played by Rob Schneider, that would be a problem. Let’s say The author just describes Rue as a little girl, no race implied. You know, just like how Suzanne Collins doesn’t feel the need to tell us Katniss is of Irish-extraction or President Snow is part albino. What’s wrong a black girl playing Rue, if the character had been written race-undetermined or slightly implied as white? Nothing, there is nothing wrong with it. More to the point, the character could be written white and played by an Amer-Asian actress. No problem. I’m sorry, Dear Readers, but if your suspension of disbelief in escapist dystopian fantasies crumbles when someone tosses some crazy non-whites into the mix, you need to grow up and stay off the computer. Also, don’t leave your parents basement; have mom do your Slurpee and Slim Jim runs for you.
Okay, one more nasty comment found on Twitter:
“call me racist but when i (sic) found out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad #ihatemyself.”
I hate you too.
(Note: People have also criticized the film for casting Lenny “I’m a Black Guy” Kravitz in the role of “Cinna,” a character whose race the author never defined. On this one, the racists are right–not because Lenny Kravitz is black, but because he sucks in the movie. If only Stanley Tucci could have played two roles…)
UPDATE: Most of the tweeters swingled out for their racist comments have either set their accounts to private or shut them down altogether. And so back into the closet these racists go.