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Katniss, You Ignorant Slut

So, I realize this post is a bit late considering “Catching Fire” came out a gazillion weeks ago but I recently got into this argument with a couple friends and feel the need to pontificate a little further.

katniss_everdeen_hunger gamesThe subject is Katniss as a character and whether she’s more strong heroine, or annoying teenager. I vote for the latter. I find her a passive, reactionary character that lacks any real depth. This is true for both book and movie versions; I find myself this wanting to slap her and shout, “Snap out of it!”

To the movie’s credit, she’s far more annoying in the books because, as a reader, you’re trapped inside her head the entire time. The movie lets audiences travel to other characters and gets a little insight into their motivations. And my dislike is not Jennifer Lawrence’s fault (who I absolutely adore). Katniss Everdeen is a poorly written character and I’d probably be ever more frustrated with her if she was being portrayed by less talented actress.

In the debate with my friends they kept defending Katniss by saying she’s better than Bella. Okay, I’ll give you that, but not by much. I say being able to fire a bow does not make you a strong character. I think the main character needs to be in control of their own story and have some say in the direction it goes, not just a pawn in the secondary characters game.

Bella_swan_twilight_kristen stweartYes, “Twilight’s” Bella Swan has her flaws (LOTS of them), but that entire series is poorly written. The “Hunger Games” trilogy has some interesting characters and an incredibly developed world which makes Katniss seem that much worse. Pick out any part of “Twilight” (book or movie) and it’s cringe worthy and eyeroll inducing. But I only ever feel that way during “Hunger Games” when Katniss is the focus. I find myself wanting to scream, “just let Haymitch talk more,” or “what is President Snow up to”?

“But Bella is all about the love triangle and Edward and Jacob and boys, boys, boys.” Yes, she is. “Twilight” is supposed to be a love story. (A creepy, stalker one, but still.) Of course it’s going to be all about the relationships and (I use this term loosely) romance. And from the beginning Bella was always all about Edward. The only triangle there was in Jacob’s mind.

You want to talk love triangles, let’s dissect “Hunger Games” a bit more. Katniss has feelings for both Gale and Peeta throughout the series. She loves both guys and goes back and forth constantly. “Gale’s my huntin’ buddy and I love him and I’m pretty sure he likes me too, but oh look, there’s Peeta and he loves me and I have feelings for him too I guess and I’m gonna marry Peeta cause President Snow says to and I really do love him but what about Gale, I love him too and where’s Peeta, is he ok, and what happened to Gale, and blah blah blah. Back and forth, it’s never-ending … until the end.

Bella made choices. She knew what she wanted and where she wanted her life to go. She does go comatose for a few months when her boyfriend moves away, but again, she’s not perfect. I’m not trying to defend her characters actions, cause they’re ridiculous, but they are HER actions. She’s the catalyst that drives the story. (As bad as that story is.)

Katniss is a victim of her surroundings. She never fully grasps the significance of anything she does. She is surrounded by people who keep her alive and position her correctly. She becomes a symbol of rebellion, not by her choice, but because the people around her create her to be.

Everything she does is a reaction to someone else moving the plot along. HER plot, it’s supposed to be HER story. Instead she’s just used by all the other characters.

The_Hunger_Games_Catching_Fire_wedding dressOne of the best examples of this is during the wedding dress scene in “Catching Fire.” President Snow makes her do the interview it what would have been her wedding dress in her sham wedding to Peeta so the citizens will know he’s in control. During the interview she does a twirl, like Cinna told her to, and the dress transforms into a mocking jay costume. Cinna wanted to give the world hope and tell them a revolution was coming. (He’s later killed for his actions.)

Katniss never owns the role she’s thrust into. She doesn’t seem to grasp the significance of what’s going on around her. Her naivety to the situation is as annoying as watching a blonde play dumb, only I don’t think Katniss is playing. I think she’s written as that dumb. THERE IS A REASON NO ONE TELLS YOU THE PLAN KATNISS, THEY KNOW YOU’LL JUST GET IN THE WAY AND FUCK IT UP! Just go here, say this, do as you’re told.

hermione granger harry potterIf you want a strong heroine in modern fiction, let’s take a look at Hermione Granger. It’s a little unfair to compare because she’s not supposed to be the main character, but she’s still more developed and written better than Katniss and Bella combined x1000. She’s smart, capable, self-reliant, in control of her own destiny, doesn’t go weak in the knees around the opposite sex, and does it all while being a sidekick without stealing Harry’s thunder.

There is a hope that, because Katniss is still a teenager, someday she’ll wake up and become … I don’t know … better. But that’s not on the page, or screen, so I’m not sure it counts. There’s definitely potential there. (fingers crossed)

I’m not trying to declare one character better than the other. (Except Hermione. She rules!) But as far as Katniss and Bella are concerned, I’m trying to say they are both equally terrible. Bella is a weak character in a weak story. Katniss is a weak character in a potentially awesome story. She’s wasted by the author whereas Bella never stood a chance.

I still enjoy the “Hunger Games” movies as a filmgoer. But it’s in spite of Katniss.They’re well done, excellent casting, and do an incredible job of translating the rich world of Panem from book to screen. Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, everyone is a terrific actor. Really it’s just the main character I can’t stand. I’m not sure I made that clear.

I get that she’s not supposed to be your typical hero and supposed to be flawed. That’s fine. I can handle characters whose purpose is to be a pawn and only be a passive character in their own story, but they can have a likable personality too. Can’t they?!

Anyway, rant over. I’m glad I finally got that off my chest. I feel better. Thanks for listening.

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Discussion

15 thoughts on “Katniss, You Ignorant Slut

  1. Ashley, thank you for writing this. I better understand where you’re coming from and we agree more than I realized. But, we still don’t see eye-to-eye on some things.

    I would argue that Bella made a similar amount of her own choices as Katniss did. For one, Edward constantly tried to control Bella, which influenced how Bella dealt with her friends, her parents, or Jacob. When Bella defied Edward (one instance is when she is about to jump off a cliff and Edward tells her not to) she jumps anyway in order to see Edward’s face. She chooses to put herself in danger for a boy. In cases like this, Bella is influenced by her surroundings (Edward) and makes choices highly influenced by tyranny and hormones, just as much as Katniss did.

    I agree that Katniss is a pawn. She lives in an oppressed district, which establishes her dependence on the Capitol. She is consistently used by good and evil characters throughout the first and second book (I won’t speak for the third since I have yet to read it). You are right to say she is a weak character because she often never owns up to anything, and that she is always the tool behind someone else’s hand.

    But, there are at least three major choices Katniss makes in the first book that make me root for the overall message (not just for Katniss). First, Katniss volunteers as tribute for her kid sister. This is the first time in District 12’s history that someone has done this. Second, in order to survive the Hunger Games, you cannot act humanely. This is a rule the Capitol has forced upon everyone they oppress. Katniss chooses to act humanly in an animalistic world by burying a fallen comrade. And third, Katniss chooses to take control of her fate (eating poisonous berries) in order to break free of her oppression.

    Katniss, as an individual character, is pretty weak aside from these three choices. This can be annoying to readers who want a strong female leading character. Hermione is a great example of a strong female character!

    However, the Hunger Games isn’t about strong leading characters doing heroic deeds and single-handedly saving the world. Katniss was never taught to be a hero and isn’t meant to be a hero. It is no surprise that she cannot often, if not at all — aside from those three choices — be the leader of her own life.

    The Hunger Games are about how one ordinary person, through just a few heroic choices, changes the world because of the effect of those choices.

    Also, I imagine it’s difficult for people of oppression to believe they can amount to the great and grand accomplishments of a heroic character. The people in the districts feel worthless, but when another worthless and weak character makes a heroic choice – even if just one or three — they might just believe they can also make heroic choices. And they do.

    Posted by Jennifer M. Hartsock | December 31, 2013, 2:46 pm
    • Thank you for the reblog and the comments.

      I can see your perspective, but would still argue a few points. She doesn’t volunteer as a proactive measure to ensure her sister’s safety, it’s a reaction after Primm is put in danger. Burying Rue is a big middle finger to the government, I’ll give you that one, though I don’t think she means it as quite as big a gesture as it snowballs in to. And I don’t see eating the berries as the act of rebellion it gets spun as. To me, it’s about her not being able to kill the boy she likes so suicide is the only viable option.

      I really like the movies and enjoyed reading the books. I want to like Katniss but can’t which is why I get so frustrated with her. She’s whiny and annoying. She never seems to grasp the bigger picture of what’s going on around her. Bella is useless, it’s not about Edward trying to control her so much as her being so dependent on him that someone has to take action. The people around Katniss don’t trust her enough to make her own decisions because she’s a dumbass.

      Is she better than Bella? Meh, maybe? But that’s an extremely low bar to start with. I get tired of readers/viewers holding her up as this strong female heroine when there are so many better ones out there.

      Posted by Ashley_Christie | December 31, 2013, 7:51 pm
      • People, including myself before your post, hold Katniss to a high standard because we are misguided. I still claim that, although she may be annoying or dumb or naive to her surroundings, her character isn’t supposed to be anything bigger than that. The story is about the regular Joe, not about a hero. Everyone in the books except Katniss has a Grand Plan: Peeta, Gale, President Snow, Cina, you name it. Katniss is the only character whose only goal in life is to stay alive and protect her family.

        With all this being said, I understand why Katniss can be annoying and shouldn’t be classified as a strong female heroine. I think readers find a good message in the Hunger Games as a whole and wrongly attribute it to Katniss because it’s told from her perspective. And, I would say that even though Katniss isn’t a hero, it works better for the story that she isn’t one.

        Posted by Jennifer M. Hartsock | January 1, 2014, 1:55 pm
  2. Reblogged this on Jennifer M. Hartsock and commented:
    My good friend and movie reviewer wrote a great post about the similarities between Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swan. Sure, Katniss may be a pawn to her surroundings just as much as Bella, but when considering the overall theme of the Hunger Games, we see that Katniss isn’t meant to be a heroic character. Instead, her weakness provides just what the world of Panem needs to be heroic.

    My Response:

    Ashley, thank you for writing this. I better understand where you’re coming from and we agree more than I realized. But, we still don’t see eye-to-eye on some things.

    I would argue that Bella made a similar amount of her own choices as Katniss did. For one, Edward constantly tried to control Bella, which influenced how Bella dealt with her friends, her parents, or Jacob. When Bella defied Edward (one instance is when she is about to jump off a cliff and Edward tells her not to) she jumps anyway in order to see Edward’s face. She chooses to put herself in danger for a boy. In cases like this, Bella is influenced by her surroundings (Edward) and makes choices highly influenced by tyranny and hormones, just as much as Katniss did.

    I agree that Katniss is a pawn. She lives in an oppressed district, which establishes her dependence on the Capitol. She is consistently used by good and evil characters throughout the first and second book (I won’t speak for the third since I have yet to read it). You are right to say she is a weak character because she often never owns up to anything, and that she is always the tool behind someone else’s hand.

    But, there are at least three major choices Katniss makes in the first book that make me root for the overall message (not just for Katniss). First, Katniss volunteers as tribute for her kid sister. This is the first time in District 12’s history that someone has done this. Second, in order to survive the Hunger Games, you cannot act humanely. This is a rule the Capitol has forced upon everyone they oppress. Katniss chooses to act humanly in an animalistic world by burying a fallen comrade. And third, Katniss chooses to take control of her fate (eating poisonous berries) in order to break free of her oppression.

    Katniss, as an individual character, is pretty weak aside from these three choices. This can be annoying to readers who want a strong female leading character. Hermione is a great example of a strong female character!

    However, the Hunger Games isn’t about strong leading characters doing heroic deeds and single-handedly saving the world. Katniss was never taught to be a hero and isn’t meant to be a hero. It is no surprise that she cannot often, if not at all — aside from those three choices — be the leader of her own life.

    The Hunger Games are about how one ordinary person, through just a few heroic choices, changes the world because of the effect of those choices.

    Also, I imagine it’s difficult for people of oppression to believe they can amount to the great and grand accomplishments of a heroic character. The people in the districts feel worthless, but when another worthless and weak character makes a heroic choice – even if just one or three — they might just believe they can also make heroic choices. And they do.

    Original Post: http://imamovienerd.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/katniss-you-ignorant-slut/#comment-1264

    My Comment: http://imamovienerd.wordpress.com/2013/12/31/katniss-you-ignorant-slut/#comment-1264

    Posted by Jennifer M. Hartsock | December 31, 2013, 2:52 pm
  3. Wow, you are going to get oh so much shit if this gets on google search haha xD

    Brave thoughts :D

    Posted by Tim The Film Guy | January 1, 2014, 7:50 am
  4. English’s not my native tongue but I’ll do my best to express my not-so-popular point of view.
    I know everyone thinks Hermione Granger is a strong female character (it’s almost blasphemy to say otherwise, is what everybody will scream at me). I agree most of the time but to tell the truth, I think her empowerment comes from her being a Mary Sue. She’s way too perfect and because of that I do not find her very relatable.
    Moreover, her feminist side is severely toned down by her relationship with Ron. She bursts into tears and storms off when he humiliates her, hits back with snide remarks or acts childishly so she can retaliate. Given her universal status as a literary feminist icon, I sort of expected her to act more mature in those situations.

    Posted by Evie | August 26, 2014, 6:46 am
    • You make a good argument but I think it’s her relationship with Ron and Harry that make her relatable. I knew a half dozen girls just like Hermione in high school. You call her childish, but she is still a child. She’s a teenager with hormones and sometimes they get the better of her. She isn’t perfect, she’s human and she doesn’t try to hide that. That’s what makes her a fully dimensional character.

      Posted by Ashley_Christie | August 26, 2014, 5:47 pm
  5. WHO THE FUCKS THE ASSHOLE WHO WROTE/MADE THIS SHIT??? KATNISS/JENNIFER ISNT AN IGNORANT SLUT.. once I find out who wrote this I’m gonna fuckin’ do something to you I SWEAR you’ll have haters all across the fucking world and Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson AND Liam Hemsworth WILL see what you’re doing to them.. they’re all good people and you’re just basically doing this all because YOU hate them.. oh and.. the person who made this is an ignorant bastard.. have some RESPECT!!!

    Posted by Kenzie (@lilkfromdapack) | September 10, 2014, 4:54 pm
    • I’m assuming this is Ashley’s sister playing a joke…

      Posted by Jennifer M. Hartsock | September 10, 2014, 9:22 pm
      • Afraid it’s no joke. But everyone is entitiled to their opinion. If people don’t want to read past the headline, get that it’s a reference to an old “Saturday Night Live” sketch, or even seperate a book/movie character from the actor that portrays them there isn’t much I can do.

        Posted by Ashley_Christie | September 11, 2014, 8:00 am
    • Since this is, in fact, not a joke, I’m unimpressed by your rudeness. In fact, now I’m uninterested in furthering this discussion with you. There will be many times when you are angry or resentful toward another person’s opinion, but when has anger or viciousness ever opened the floor for constructive conversation? When has it ever improved the situation? It doesn’t. All it does is make you look like an asshole and the argument look weak.

      I encourage you to write out reasons for your counterargument and approach this blog with tact. Starting with an analysis of the fictional characters — not a naive opinion of the actors who play them — is a good start.

      Posted by Jennifer M. Hartsock | September 11, 2014, 11:29 am

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Katniss, You Ignorant Slut | Jennifer M. Hartsock - December 31, 2013

  2. Pingback: RE: Katniss, You Ignorant Slut | Jennifer M. Hartsock - December 31, 2013

  3. Pingback: Movie: Catching Fire | Review Kicks - February 4, 2014

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