Shady Business, As Usual: Jennifer Lawrence Steps Out As The Hunger Games Heroine

By Arturo R. García

Yesterday, Moviefone’s Gabrielle Dunn wrote that this image of Jennifer Lawrence in character as Katniss Everdeen from the planned Hunger Games movie adaptation “calmed” any concerns about her casting. We beg to differ.

To be fair, Ms. Dunn was referring more to questions about the 20-year-old Lawrence playing a 16-year-old character. But the concerns regarding a white, blonde actress being hired to play a character many fans considered to be multi-racial won’t go away soon, as Racebending’s Michael Le illustrated on Twitter:

Meanwhile, movie blogger Ms. Go identified Lawrence’s unspoken “co-star”:

This isn’t to diminish Lawrence’s talents, but it’s not hard to figure that she required some cosmetic help to play Katniss, because even accounting for camera discrepancies, her skin tone on that Entertainment Weekly cover does not match the one seen in this picture she took for Elle:

Both the film’s director, Gary Ross, and Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins have gone out of their way to assure both fans of the book series and potential audiences that Lawrence is the only person who could play Katniss. But the truth is, while Katniss’ ethnicity was undefined in the books, the casting call for the movie called for Caucasian actresses from the get-go. That would seem to contradict Ross’ statement to EW that there was no “doctrine” regarding the character’s race.

The truth is, the doctrine has always been there in Hollywood, and – again, through no fault of Lawrence’s – it’s designed to give people like her a pass. And those concerns should not be ignored by anyone anymore.

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  • AJ

    I think there are two issues here.

     

    The problem I have with the film/casting: The character is
    described as having ‘olive’ skin. Apparently, she looks like her father. In
    contrast to her mother and sister, who are blonds and have lighter skin. Katniss
    also says that Gale looks very much like her. (I think she said they could be
    related). This means that both Gale and Katniss have olive skin in the book.

     

    In the casting
    process, only white actors were considered for both roles. Male and female actors
    of colour were completely shut out.

     

    The other problem I have is with the writer of the trilogy.
    At no point does she make it clear that Katniss is bi-racial. (She only
    described as olive skinned). Her father’s race is not explicitly mentioned. In
    contrast, Thresh and Rue are explicitly stated as black. So, it’s not like she
    left anybody else’s race ambiguous. The author is white, and unfortunately for white
    writers, the default race is also white. If Katniss was ever meant to be
    bi-racial, in my opinion, she would be explicitly stated as that (through
    perhaps a detail description of her father.)

     

    So, it’s not surprising that she has kept silent about
    the casting.

  • ch555x

    LMAO…I leave H-wood in its downward trajectory from my memory hole and check up to see the above pic.  Not shocking…:/

  • Figarophillips

    Haha but Snooki is actually Chilean!

  • Anonymous

    Haha. For real. Why not give Katniss orange skin? XD  

  • Anonymous

    Haha. For real. Why not give Katniss orange skin? XD  

  • SciFiFanatica

    I guess I’m not too worked up over the color of the actress’ skin because the author of the books really couldn’t give a flip. She’s said as much in interviews, that racial politics weren’t real high on her list of priorities and it was more of a passing thought. So, she’s not willing to go to bat and combat Hollywood for something she truly, deeply believes in. It was just kind of a minor detail in her stories and that was that, in her own words.

    Contrast that with author Ursula K. Le Guin, who very decidedly pitched a loud fit when her EarthSea book was totally whitewashed for TV. She was vocal and passionate about how wrong that was. Her intention was, right from the start, protagonists of color, and she wasn’t shy about expressing how unhappy she was that Hollywood screwed it up.

    So I guess my question is, why is some of our POC community so adamantly trying to make the author of “Hunger Games” care about the skin color of the protagonist when she so obviously doesn’t, not really, and why aren’t we celebrating and rallying behind authors who do instead, like Le Guin?

    • Anonymous

      I did not know that about Ursula Le Guin. Now I love her more. Thank you. 

    • http://twitter.com/MsGo MsGo

       Haha, one can do both.  I have.

       As for her intent? That wasn’t my issue.

      Strictly speaking for myself, it was the fact that a protagonist  who is described as olive-skinned with black hair was not even given the opportunity, -the slimmest possibility of being played by a non-white actor, who fits this description.

      My beef was the fact that no actors of color were even given the chance to audition for role they could also presumably play. This issue is exclusion from even being given a chance.

      So basically, all we know (as usual) is that the best white actor got the role.

    • Xeginy

       I’d be curious to know whether she actually doesn’t care, or if she is being “persuaded” not to care by being told that the more she complains, the less chance she will have ANY say in how the movie is made.

      • http://vegansagainstpeta.blogspot.com Xerophyte

        “I’d be curious to know whether she actually doesn’t care, or if she is
        being “persuaded” not to care by being told that the more she complains,
        the less chance she will have ANY say in how the movie is made.”

        Or that the movie won’t be made at all….