Helen, great post. Your comments about Missrepresentation in Hunger Games: Catching Fire reminded me a lot of the Valerie Walkerdine article Popular Culture and the Eroticization of Little Girls that we read, specifically the section on “Eroticized Femininity and the Working-Class Girl.”
In the Hunger Games reaping, the poor are at a disadvantage, because they often put their name in more to get more rations. Additionally, all of the districts are poor in comparison to the Capitol. Katniss, like other tributes, goes to the Capitol after the reaping; she is not supposed to act pissed off or angry; rather, she is supposed to appeal to the Capitol, act feminine, non-threatening, charming, in the hopes of getting sponsorship from wealthy citizens in the Capitol.
She is not supposed to change the status quo, but maintain the ideological structure. She is supposed to seduce the Capitol: gain sponsors, putting her at an advantage in the games, and then win the games, putting her at an advantage in life—with celebrity and money. This reminded me so much of Walkerdine’s discussion of Shirley Temple and the orphan Annie figure, whose “role was to soften hearts of the wealthy so that they would identify her as one of the poor, not dirty and radical, but lovable, to become the object of charity through donations” (327).
Walkerdine describes Annie as “figure of immense transformative power, who can make the rich love, thereby solving huge social and political problems . . . improve her own life in the process” (327). As the face of the poor class, she shows the only way out is “embourgeoisement” (327) therefore becoming “the epitome of the feminized, and therefore emasculated, less threatening, proletariat” (327). This is what Katniss is supposed to be in the first games when she puts on her charm for the Capitol audience to get sponsorship. Unlike orphan Annie, Katniss does not become what Plutarch claims: “one of us,” although Snow tries to make her this way, “the Capitol darling” as he has made the other victors.
Katniss’ attitude toward her newfound wealth, her forced participation in the Hunger Games Victory Tour, which reproduces the corrupt ideology of the Capitol, is not like orphan Annie at all—orphan Annie is grateful to Daddy Warbucks’ generosity and her entry into the upper-class. If Katniss were orphan Annie, she’d probably say, “Screw you, Daddy Warbucks,” and if orphan Annie were Katniss, she’d probably love President Snow and feel indebted to him, even though his system is what put her down in the first place.
Mockingjay SPOILER BELOW
It’s worth mentioning that Walkerdine also notes: “the sexual coquettishness of Shirley Temple.” And in the Hunger Games, many of the Victors, who have done well in the Capitol are seen as sex-symbols—including Finnick; although his sex-god persona and participation in the Capitol culture seem willing, we later find out that in actuality, Snow made him a sex-slave to the Capitol elite. Finnick was fourteen when he won his game and with Quarter Quell exception all of the victors are children between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. Katniss, however, does not want to be sexualized, does not want to be a “Capitol darling” which makes her a threat. Snow tries to transform her, take away her power, “feminize” and “emasculate” her like orphan Annie transforms to make herself and her class “less threatening” and when he realizes he can’t, he must eliminate her.I know we talked a little about this in class, but I would love to hear more comments!