Re-reading “The Hunger Games”, Finale: Scripted

Chapters 17 – End

Since I’m going to watch The Hunger Games tonight, I figured I should post the last of my re-read thoughts.

Scripted Reality

The Hunger Games is as real as a reality show can get. Contestants are reaped at random, there are no set challenges, and the rules are simple. The Gamemakers occasionally get to ratchet up the action when things slow down, but the Tributes are pretty much left to their own devices. Mentors exert another level of control, but even that is actually part of the game.

And you know it’s real when things don’t go the way the Capitol and the Gamemakers want, and they have to do some serious troubleshooting: to threaten and to script what happens after the Games.

Of course, the Games are part of the Capitol’s more expansive reality show, in which they attempt to assert complete control over the other 12 districts.

In our world, no matter what they claim, most reality shows are still scripted. Producers get to choose contestants, and they choose the ones who are most likely to generate a lot of drama and excitement on-screen. Producers get to pick the challenges, and they set rigid parameters, even in a show like Survivor. There is still the matter of making sure that certain scenes are fit to broadcast, after all.

In both worlds–Panem and ours–reality is filtered through literal and figurative lenses. Reality is scripted. Even if these shows are supposedly just for entertainment purposes, this shows just how real the power of broadcasters really is.

Sometimes I’m tempted to play Real or Not Real when I watch TV, but [channels Klaus]that’s just so tedious[/channels Klaus]. I fear for my poor sanity.

Scripted Emotions

I’ve ranted before that Katniss’ indecision when it comes to her feelings for Peeta and Gale seriously annoys me.

After finishing the book at a slightly slower pace than I read it before, I realized I can’t entirely blame her because her interaction with Peeta happens during a life and death situation. Before that, there was just that one time with the bread. On the other hand, Gale has always been there.

And then there’s Haymitch, who’s ever so cryptic when he’s in front of Katniss.

And there’s Haymitch’s Star-Crossed Lovers Master Plan and his not-so-cryptic Parachute Messages.

And then there’s Peeta, who’s ever so cryptic when he talks about Haymitch’s plans, and sometimes, even his own feelings. To his credit, he’s never cryptic when it comes to his actions.

At this point, Katniss is just playing the Real Or Not Real game inside her head, so…no, I can’t blame her.

And also, I just realized that part of my annoyance stems from my own feelings for Peeta, who, as I’ve said before, is my pet character in this book. It’s very selfish of me, really. I don’t want to see him unhappy, so I blamed Katniss.

Literary gods, please don’t judge me too harshly.

♕ ♕ ♕

 
There’s this site called HungerNames.com, where you can get a THG-inspired name, and here’s what I got:

The “You were killed by jealousy” part amuses me to no end.

T minus 3 hours to the movie! Josh Hutcherson, please don’t disappoint me.

Re-reading “The Hunger Games” #04: Disturbing Behavior

Chapters 10-16

Katniss is still suspicious about Peeta, huh? I can’t blame her entirely, though, since a District 12 Tribute teaming up with Careers is indeed suspicious behavior. But then again, is it so hard to believe that Peeta will at least try to do what he can to survive? Sure, he made a big deal about it in his nobility speech on the rooftop the night before the Games, but does teaming up with a Career mean he let the Games change him? I don’t believe so. Peeta’s circumstances are more fortunate than many in District 12, but he’s nevertheless a survivor like most people there. Peeta may believe that other Tributes are more likely to survive the Games compared to him, but that doesn’t mean he’s just going to give up.

Of course, Katniss doesn’t know it, but Peeta has another agenda: to keep Katniss alive no matter what it takes…even if he has to team up with the Careers to do it. He’s always looked out for her from the time he gave her that bread, and he always will.

Yeah yeah, anyone who’s read The Hunger Games already knows this. But I had to write it out for myself because when I read the book for the first time a few years ago, I too was suspicious of Peeta’s motives at this point in the story.

And reading about her shooting Rue down about Peeta’s Lover Boy Act not being entirely an act is amusing. Denial, dudes!

Oh hey, I did say that when Katniss owns up to being a Tribute, she’s a killer, right? Our girl is now thinking of strategies and forming alliances and dropping tracker-jacker nests on people’s heads!

And Rue. Oh. I’m almost back to that awful place in the story. I think I’d better stop reading this until I’m all alone, and no one will care if I cry my eyes out because of a gorram book.

♛ ♛ ♛

 

p.s. While I continue to be able to un-imagine Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth and pretty much all the other cast members while I’m reading, I can’t help it when it comes to Cato. Alexander Ludwig doesn’t want to stay out of my head. o_O

To be continued…

Re-reading “The Hunger Games” #03: The girl who…smoulders.

Chapters 5-9

Cinna – I can see now why they cast Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, though he still wouldn’t be my first choice. In my head, Cinna is a cross between Christian Siriano and a younger Kyan Douglas, maybe. Oh, I’m not stereotyping the stylists, but I was thinking more about Christian’s aesthetic and Kyan’s calm demeanor.

I think we all could use a Cinna in our lives!

Also, I’m excited to see Katniss and Peeta’s flaming costume on-screen! I’m not too thrilled about the glimpses we already got of Katniss’ interview dress. Somehow, it’s not as wow-look-sparkling-jeweled-gown as it is in the book. It looks too normal for Capitol Couture…unless of course there’s something more to it than just a floor-length red asymmetrical gown.

Haymitch – Haymitch, Haymitch, Haymitch. There are times he amuses me because his comments are so Meta. Suzanne Collins knows Katniss is going to exasperate some people. She acknowledges it through Haymitch, and I kinda like that. I like that Katniss is not a perfect heroine because she feels more real that way.

Haymitch is right–Katniss can be hostile and surly and petulant. From the start, she never really liked Effie or Haymitch, and she did not believe in what they can do for her. She always reverts to hostility whenever she feels that Peeta is getting under skin. It’s a defense mechanism, of course, but it is off-putting when it’s what you always see.

But to her credit, when Katniss owns up to being a Tribute, she can be a real killer. She can give a Ms. Universe contestant a run for her money with all that waving to the crowd during the Parade. 😛 Heck, even her petulance pays off when she gets an 11 for her training score. And that kiss after the Parade? *shakes head* Peeta’s right–she has no idea of her effect on people. And she isn’t even really on fire yet; she’s just…smouldering.

The panda who was on fire.

The man who smoulders.

One thing that disturbed me about Haymitch, though, is this:

You are a fool! Do you think he hurt you? That boy just gave you something you could never achieve on your own.

He made you look desirable! And let’s face it, you could use all the help you can get in that department. You were about as romantic as dirt until he said he wanted you. Now they all do.

I can’t deny that he’s right about the outcome of Peeta’s little plan, but I’m wary about the message that sends across to younger girls. Katniss later proves that she doesn’t need this kind of leverage (although much later, she uses it); I just hope that Haymitch’s speech won’t be the part that will truly resonate with audiences.

That doesn’t stop me from *squeeing* over Peeta’s interview, though, strategy or no strategy. Real or not real. 😛

I’m coming back into focus when Caesar asks him if he has a girlfriend back home. Peeta hesitates, then gives an unconvincing shake of his head.

“Handsome lad like you. There must be some special girl. Come on, what’s her name?” says Caesar.

Peeta sighs. “Well, there is this one girl. I’ve had a crush on her ever since I can remember. But I’m pretty sure she didn’t know I was alive until the reaping.”

Sounds of sympathy from the crowd. Unrequited love they can relate to.

“She have another fellow?” asks Caesar.

“I don’t know, but a lot of boys like her,” says Peeta.

“So, here’s what you do. You win, you go home. She can’t turn you down then, eh?” says Caesar encouragingly.

“I don’t think it’s going to work out. Winning…won’t help in my case,” says Peeta.

“Why ever not?” says Caesar, mystified.

Peeta blushes beet red and stammers out. “Because…because…she came here with me.”

Oh, and another crying moment: “I’m not allowed to bet, but if I could, my money would be on you.” Gorram it, Cinna.

♛ ♛ ♛

To be continued…

Re-reading “The Hunger Games” #02: Denial

There was one point I forgot to comment on from Chapter 1.

His (Gale) rages seem pointless to me, although I never say so. It’s not that I don’t agree with him. I do. But what good is yelling about the Capitol in the middle of the woods? It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t make things fair. It doesn’t fill our stomachs. In fact, it scares off the nearby game.

This resonates with me because, as I pointed out in an article I wrote recently, this is something I hear people say often. Humans value self-preservation by nature. If our survival is at stake, we don’t care about anything else. People who rarely experience being in that border between luxury and poverty, life and death, will label Katniss’ thinking as “uninvolved” or “selfish”.

We can’t really know how difficult the kind of life Katniss lives is until we experience it ourselves, but it’s also noteworthy that after she really saw what was going on in the Capitol, Katniss began to take a stand. Maybe in the real world, altruism is for those who can afford it, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Maybe, as in Katniss’ case, empowerment is key.

Chapter 3

Okay, so THG also holds the distinction of making me cry 2 chapters in a row. Congratulations, Ms. Collins!

But it wasn’t the encounter between Katniss, Prim, and their mother that made me cry. I was somehow already prepared for that scene, and I was too busy giving Katniss an imaginary pat on the back for finally telling her mother what she always wanted to say.

I didn’t cry when Gale came in either, although I added yet another notch on the scoreboard in favor of “Katniss is in denial about Gale’s feelings.” Really, Katniss, he was going to say “And remember, Katniss, I LOVE YOU.” So there.

I cried when the Baker and Madge came in. Weird, I know, considering that they’re almost strangers to Katniss. They have no emotional attachment to her whatsoever, but that’s exactly what I reacted to. These people don’t know Katniss well enough, yet they came in to give her tokens and to wish her luck. I cried thinking how difficult it must have been for the Baker to face the girl who was virtually going to become his son’s murderer.

This early in the story, we can already glimpse the kind of impact Katniss will eventually have on District 12 and the entire nation, on people who barely know her but would come to care about her fate.

Chapter 4

A kind Peeta Mellark is far more dangerous to me than an unkind one. Kind people have a way of working their way inside me and rooting there. And I can’t let Peeta do this. Not where we’re going.

It’s too late for you, girl. If at that point in the Reaping you already felt numbed by the idea of killing Peeta, then this little strategy will not work now.

It’s interesting to see that despite knowing that the likelihood of being Reaped was high for both Katniss and Gale, they didn’t seem to have a planned strategy for how they will play the Game if they were reaped. Katniss seems surprised that Haymitch has a strategy in mind after he saw what Katniss and Peeta were capable of, and she was even more surprised that Peeta was already scheming on the train. Perhaps she is in denial about her odds of getting reaped, just as she is still in denial about what Gale feels for her.

♛ ♛ ♛

To be continued…

Re-reading “The Hunger Games” #01: Katniss’ Tell-tale Heart

I’ve decided to re-read The Hunger Games before the movie is released. I know that I’ll probably regret this once I’m seated inside the cinema, but I couldn’t resist.

For this re-read, I finally opened one of my Scholastic UK paperback editions. Yay! I chose the Katniss version because I didn’t want the Peeta one to get mangled. 😛

Reading the first sentence brought back memories of the first time I read this. I remember I stayed up until 4 a.m. because I just couldn’t put it down. I still remember all the sections that made me laugh or cry.

I wasn’t on Goodreads back then, and I was maintaining a different blog, so I didn’t get to document my favorite quotes or my thoughts while I was reading. Now is a good time to start compensating for that. 😛 Continue reading