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Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:33 PM


I See White People: Hunger Games and a Brief History of Cultural Whitewashing

Attention, everyone: Racism is BACK! [Electric guitar riff.] As you may have heard (because it's both bonkers and everywhere), our national brain trust of semi-literate racist teenagers is not pleased with some casting choices in the newly released Hunger Games movie. And lo, they took to Twitter with a fury.

"Kk call me racist but when I found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad," wrote one. (Okay, you're racist. And you left out a "k." "HOW IN THE WORLD ARE THEY GOING TO MAKE RUE A FREAKIN BLACK BITCH IN THE MOVIE ?!?!?!??!" wondered another. One didn't mince words (or use them correctly in any way): "Sense when has Rue been a nigger." (Sidenote: Pretty much all of these teens have since locked or deleted their Twitter accountsóbecause it's totally cool to be racist in front of your friends, but the rest of America can be a real drag, bro.)

First of all, I can't even figure out what race means in the context of a futuristic dystopian vision set in an alternate-reality America where children fight to the death for the amusement of Katy Perry's wig collection. Like, how do our present stereotypes even apply? Do these kids think Cinna only got into fashion school because of a post-apocalyptic affirmative action program? Do they conceive of 12-year-old Rue as some sort of tiny welfare queen from space? It makes no sense.

Second of all, and more importantly, this is obviously horrifying. But is it really that surprising? Those tweets raise knotty questions about what we see when we readóhow our brains conceptualize things that aren't explicitly dictated, the ways our subconscious is conditioned to fill in the blanks. The characters that these racist garbage-teens are so upset about are either explicitly described as having dark skin (to the point where, while reading, I felt a little weird about the demographics of Panemódid they seriously just make District 11 the black-people district?), or not specified at all. But, of course, if it's not specified, it must be white.



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Reply I See White People: Hunger Games and a Brief History of Cultural Whitewashing (Original post)
villager Mar 2012 OP
MADem Mar 2012 #1

Response to villager (Original post)

Wed Mar 28, 2012, 12:55 PM

1. I don't know much about this kid's-book-turned-hit-movie, but I do know something about cultural

whitewashing. My favorite example of it is that foot-stomping tune frequently sung by racists 'con brio'--The Yellow Rose of Texas! How many of those old boys belting out that tune (the lyrics of which have been rewritten over the years to lighten and brighten the characters contained therein) realize that that yellow rose was multi-racial?

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