We are trying something new! Instead of texting or skyping about our reactions to Catching Fire, Kate and I saved our thoughts for a lengthy gchat, which we have posted here for your, um, enjoyment (Seriously we didn’t talk about it AT ALL before this conversation. We must like all of you). It was an interesting exercise, because we knew we were writing for the blog, so it’s a LOT more sensical than our usual conversations, and with way less profanity and capslocks. We did a little editing for content, and for the fact that I type like a drunk raccoon. Let us know if you like this format and we can do it (or NOT do it) again in the future. We talk a little about the whole series, but nothing super spoiler-y outside of Catching Fire.
Here it goes…
Charlotte: BABY! SO! CATCHING FIRE.
K: I liked it! I think Maddo may have a point about the movies being better than the books. I liked Catching Fire better as a movie, anyway.
C: It’s a lot more concise, for sure. Some of the stuff that is drawn out in the book is dealt with in a single frame and line of dialogue in the movie.
K: Which works, because Jennifer Lawrence is AMAZING. But that might be because I already knew what happens, so I wasn’t disappointed that they went back into the arena. Which I thought was a real cop-out in the books.
C: Oh, I never saw it as a cop-out in the books. But I also had no idea what the 2nd book was going to be about, I couldn’t even fathom it. How is Jennifer Lawrence even so expressive?
K: Cop-out might be the wrong word. I was disappointed. I wanted to see her deal with real people, not manufactured terrors where “kill it” is a justifiable option.
C: Oh. That makes sense.
K: I think the scenes that are the most interesting are the ones where Katniss can’t rely on her strengths – fighting, self-reliance – to win through.
C: I think that happens a bit in the end of Catching Fire, when the other victors band up to save Katniss in the arena.
K: Yeah, it does! And I liked that. I like her facing problems that she doesn’t have a ready solution (i.e. arrow) for.
C: Well, and it’s super interesting that Katniss can’t fathom what is happening at the end of the movie.
She doesn’t trust ANYONE.
K: YEAH. “You against the capitol with a syringe, this is why you don’t get to be in on planning.”
C: Other than Peeta, but it took a whole book for her to get there. I like that she can’t decide whether to trust Finnick, or put an arrow in him.
K: And even Peeta she trusts only so far.
K: She doesn’t trust him to take good enough care of himself, for one thing.
C: Also, sidebar I’m pretty sure they got Finnick just right.
K: YEAH! That sugar eating scene. Gah. LOVE.
C: And I may have accidentally taught autocorrect in my phone that his name is FINNICK.
C: And the drinking water out of the tree??!!?
K: I loved the scenes with him and Mags.
C: Why is that so sexy? The tree, not Finnick and Mags.
C: Katniss’s reaction to Mags is great.
K: I did not find the tree-drinking as sexy as you, but then I have only seen it once.
C: Katniss trusts Mags because Mags saved Annie!
K: “I WANT ALL THE UGLY DUCKLINGS” says Katniss.
C: Maybe second time’s the charm, or I’m weird about mouths and didn’t know it.
K: You may just be weird about mouths. It kinda makes sense, though, biologically.
After seeing this again, Kate is willing to concede that Charlotte has a good point.
C: haaaah. This article has a pretty great description of why it’s sexy.
C: SHE DOES (want all the ugly ducklings)
K: Peeta says “uhhhhhhh… ok……”
C: She will protect the shit out of any child or weak adult.
K: I knoooooow, I love her. I think it’s part of why she is so conflicted about Peeta. Clearly, he can take care of himself, but only so far. And Katniss does not do well in gray area situations.
C: But she thinks she is a bad person! And that Peeta is too good. Although the movie kind of made it seem like she really does love Gale, and just knows she can’t be with him.
K: Katniss say: “YOU EITHER NEED ME TO TAKE CARE OF YOU OR NOT”
K: I think she does love Gale, but maybe she isn’t sure in what way.
C: And she’s also not super sure why Peeta would love her.
K: Exactly! Whereas Gale makes sense: she is a helper, they are equals.
C: She can wrap her head around that. They have a shared history. But on the other hand, at the beginning of the Hunger Games, Peeta is in love with the IDEA of Katniss and he’s kind of lucky (and a good judge of character) that she turns out to be basically the person he thinks she is.
K: Because that could have gone a lot differently. Though to be fair, Katniss isn’t good at hiding what she thinks/who she is.
C: Well, every teenager has that crush where you find out you’ve fabricated a person in your head.
K: So just because she wasn’t super aware of him, doesn’t mean that he didn’t know what she was up to and who she really was.
C: Well, and there is a Maslow’s hierarchy of needs thing happening there in District 12. You have to know that you have a shelter over your head, and know where your food is coming from, to be able to worry about things like friends, and cute boys.
Katniss has to fight for every meal, and Peeta’s family, while still poor, has a steady income.
C: And I bet Katniss wouldn’t have let Gale get close initially if it wasn’t for how he could help her hunt. So something that struck me as heartbreaking in the movie, was that moment where Johanna taunted President Snow in the arena, and then said that she could because she has nothing to lose, everyone she loves is dead. Poor, intense, fierce Johanna.
K: Movie Johanna! I liked her better.
C: Yeah, what is going on there do you think? Less abrasive than in the book? Good actress goes a very long way?
K: Good actress going a long way. The playfulness in the nudity scene came across better on camera, I think, and she maintained that playfulness throughout the movie.
C: Also Jennifer Lawrence made the best faces ever during Johanna’s strip tease.
K: Whereas when you are entirely in Katniss’ head, the bitchiness came through more.
C: Well, because Katniss reads it more as mean than button pushing.
K: It was easier for me watching the movie to separate Johanna from what Katniss thinks about Johanna. So Johanna trying to save them made more sense in the movie, whereas in the book it seemed out of character to me.
C: Right, yeah, that is one of the things about getting out of Katniss’s head – things are less out of left field. I think seeing the other victors interact made their part in the rebellion easier to anticipate/take. It’s pretty clear in the film why Finnick is protecting Katniss and Peeta.
K: Yeah! Finnick was great.
C: Especially since Katniss doesn’t understand a lot of what is going on around he. She isn’t great at reading people, OR trusting people.
K: Yeah! She is smart, but just doesn’t have people reading skills, it was not something that she had to develop to survive.
K: And clearly she has no reason to trust anyone. In her experience, opening yourself up is the same thing as showing someone where your weaknesses are. Which affects why she isn’t willing to let herself love Peeta (in the movie, at least). She doesn’t want Snow, etc., all to have the knowledge that hurting Peeta hurts her. She can protect him by not loving him.
C: I mean, prior to Book One I’m pretty sure she only trusts Gale (well, and Prim, but she is so young).
K: Yeah! She trusted her mom once, and they all nearly died because of it.
C: I think the movie does a great job of exploring how all the victors basically have PTSD. That opening scene where Katniss shoots her arrow, and sees the animal turn into one of the tributes she killed (is that Marvel? one of the careers) – that is super powerful. And remembering that she and Peeta are both super damaged puts in perspective all of that back and forth about how they want to die for each other.
K: For sure. I liked how much they showed the damage: Annie freaking out, Mags’ muteness, the morphlings, was one of the guys missing an arm?
C: Yeah, the arm thing was great.
K: Everyone was individually hurting.
C: BUT Peeta still has his whole leg! What do you think that is about?
K: Yeah! I forgot that he lost his leg in the book!
C: Streamlining the storytelling? It seems a little able-ist to me though…
K: I think so. Plus, this is a big budget movie that is ALREADY taking a lot of risks. Still totally able-ist, but that is what big studios do – if there is a thing that they think will turn people off, they cut it. Peeta and Katniss both have to be 100% attractive.
C: Well and the actor who plays Peeta is already SHORTER than Jennifer Lawrence.
K: God forbid a short amputee be portrayed as hot.
C: Have you seen the 3 of them lined up in publicity pics? Josh Hutcherson seems to be a foot shorter than Liam Hemsworth.
K: Because THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN GUYS.
K: Yeah, I like it! I like that he is short. Which may be personal bias. By which I mean it is TOTALLY personal bias. I like when shorties are successful.
C: Haha short people unite! Although they shoot it misleadingly in the movies.
K: True fact! They are almost never shot side by side in a shot where you can see feet.
C: That is such a strange societal bias.
K: I think it’s pretty pervasive, though.
C: Dude must be taller than his lady.
K: Lots and lots of cultures value tall men and short women in terms of attractiveness. And by short, I mean “shorter than whoever she is with”.
C: Tall is manly.
C: Bulllllllshit, but not a problem this movie created.
K: True. Though I think we are allowed to subtract points for going along with a BS trope. Like Josh Hutcherson wouldn’t be super hot if we all knew he was short.
C: Well, I mean, they still cast him…
C: So points for that.
K: Yeah, but less points if you have him stand on a box all the time. He owns it, why can’t they?
C: It will be interesting to see how they film the last movie, when Gale and Peeta actually interact…Oh, did you read that NPR thing about Peeta as the “Typical Movie Girlfriend?” I do think there are some interesting non-conformist gender roles things going on in the books. But maybe the interesting gender role stuff happens almost entirely with Katniss and Peeta!
K: I did read it, but before seeing the movie. I dunno, I think there is some interesting gender stuff elsewhere. But not a ton. What did you think of the article?
C: I actually can’t tell if the author of that article is being deliberately inflammatory, or if she is missing the point?tniss and Peeta!
K: How do you think she is missing the point?
C: Is she harpooning the idea of Peeta being in the girlfriend role, or honestly suggesting it?
K: Oh! I thought she was honestly suggesting it. I think she is harpooning the idea of a “movie girlfriend” by suggesting honestly that Peeta fits the role.
C: Ok, gotcha. The comments sections of that post are CRAZY. But I do think it’s kind of troublesome to evaluate a heroine by the men in her life, whether or not you are serious about it. Because it feeds into the whole thing of women only having value in terms of how they related to/ are sexually interested or available to men. That is probably a whole different post though.
K: Oh, for sure it’s troublesome. I did not get the impression that the author of the article was unaware of the difficulties inherent in measuring a character by her sexual choices. Maybe I need to re-read it, but I got the impression that her awareness of the trouble involved were WHY she rated him as “movie girlfriend.” To me, she seemed to be saying, “Look guys, we live in a society and time when having ONE blockbuster movie with even slightly bent gender roles is considered to break the mold. Isn’t that ridiculous?!”
C: And I do appreciate that.
K: She phrased it really harshly, but basically she said what everyone in feminist communities has been excited about: Katniss is strong, and motivated, and emotionally unavailable. Peeta is giving, and strong emotionally, and willing to do whatever it takes to make Katniss happy, even if it requires that he back off. It’s awesome! Because those things happen in real life.
C: She says that, too.
K: And it’s only in the movies that you rarely see such a man, or such a woman.
C: Which is a good point.
K: I think the “movie girlfriend” thing was intentionally pushing buttons.
C: And I reacted, because I read it as tone deaf. Oh, so she goes into the fact that Gale is a more traditional love interest but I actually think it’s Finnick who shows up in this film and basically Han Solos all over the place.
K: haha Han Solo is a great verb!
C: Finnick is a pretty typical hero.
K: Gale in the movies is kinda boring.
C: BUT HANDSOME.
K: He’s so good-looking it turns me off.
C: Oh, he is so good-looking I forgive him for being boring.
K: I feel like, “Yep, there is an absurdly handsome man, good job being handsome.”
C: “Just let me look at your face.”
K: Haha! I like looking at him, but honestly I have no idea if his performance is good.
C: Again, hard to know if it’s the acting or writing! He is given so little to do.
K: Maybe this is what it is like to be a man? “I dunno if she was good, I was looking and forgot to listen!” Which is super sexist of me to say. But I am mostly kidding.
K: Yeah, he really doesn’t get a lot. It’s like, hey Gale, “be angsty,” “be whipped.”
C: That might be a better point that you want it to be.
K: “Now lie on table being injured.” “Pressure Katniss to do what you want, without considering if she wants too.”
C: And the whipping is framed so you don’t see his face when they are all defending him. If you rotated the camera a bit, you could see his reactions…
K: Haaaaaah! Brain just caught what you said! Hee hee, “whipped!” Gale in the movie really is a weird balance between being whipped (though I hate that phrase) and doing the whipping, so to speak.
C: Right. I hated the WAY he turned down her request to run away.
K: YEAH. So belittling. There’s that back and forth in the books too, but since he gets so little screen time it’s more noticeable in the movie.
C: Because it makes Katniss look kind of weak, he wants to be a revolutionary, she wants to live. But when it comes down to it, he hasn’t been tested like she has. He hasn’t seen what she’s seen, and he still thinks he knows better?
K: And when they were talking and she says something like “I need to do this to survive” about faking a Peeta romance and he just kisses her and says “I needed to do that.” Very different priorities on what is necessary.
C: Maybe it’s not knowing better, but just the hill he needs to die on.
K: Makes me want to hit him in his pretty, pretty face.
K: I feel like: STOP THINKING YOU KNOW EVERYTHING, DOUCHEBAG YOU DON’T. Katniss may be blind to a lot of things, but she’s no fool, and it drives me nuts when what he is doing seems like blatant manipulation.
C: Yeah, she is not an idiot.
C: Well, and that is part of the reason that Gale is not the right fit for her in the end.
K: She’s trying to save herself and everyone she loves, you need to respect that and back the fuck off.
C: Well, but at the same time she does do a lot of “say one thing, do another” in regards to romance with both boys. Not that I think she is fickle, but that she is so messed up she doesn’t know which way is up.
C: And SHE TELLS THEM THAT. And they still push. That’s always annoyed me.
K: ME TOO! Guys, just listen when she talks and everything she does will make sense! Which to be fair, Peeta does listen, and he basically never holds it against her, and when he does, it’s when he’s really upset, and he regrets it later. Oh! Had an interesting conversation about Gale vs. Peeta last night.
K: Peter pointed out that the whole “love triangle” trope is something that (in movies) only happens to women.
C: I think that is really true.
K: Or almost exclusively.
C: Well, can you imagine if she was male? We would NEVER be irritated that she wouldn’t pick a boy.
K: Well, we would, but only if she said she loved one or the other, or both. It’s this weird thing, where movie men are allowed to be promiscuous as long as they have no emotional attachment to the woman (i.e. James Bond), but movie women are allowed to dangle two guys that they care deeply about in love triangles.
C: That is a super strange thing, when you lay it out like that.
K: If a guy was in Katniss’ role, and girls for Gale and Peeta, he would be seen as being a BAD GUY, whereas if Katniss was sleeping with five guys for the fun of it, she would be a BAD WOMAN. But when it is a promiscuous man and/or an emotionally damaged woman, that sort of indecision is fine.
C: I mean, I already think she gets judged for sleeping in bed with Peeta on the train when it means something different to him than it does to her.
K: Yeah, but not like she would be if she were a man. And in the movie, at least, it didn’t feel like they really had different expectations about what sleeping in a bed together meant.
C: And does that sweet moment from the book where Peeta tells her that having her in bed with him helps because all his nightmares are about her dying get lost in the shuffle? I think he says it with a glance instead of verbally. But nothing more than that.
K: I felt like she was being set up as “I love him, I just haven’t realized it yet.”
C: GOOD ACTING.
K: That whole scene was great. They just both needed comfort, and they got it.
C: Well, I think you see “I love him” click in her eyes right before they make out on the beach, when she tells him “I need you.”
K: YEAH. LOVED THAT.
C: Yeah, again, the PTSD thing.
K: And I think movie Peeta gets that and wants the same. Oh! This may be a later part of the discussion, but I think there is some weirdness (for me, at least) written in about sex. Like, here is this strong, awesome female and she is still a virgin throughout the series. Why do we need to conform to that?! Grr. I wish she would just have sex with one, the other, or both. And I realize that it’s a YA series, but still. It seems pretty Joan of Arc-ish. If I were 16 and gonna die almost certainly, I would totally sleep with one or both.
C: HAHA! You know, that has bothered me in other series more than it does here. Because Katniss is not super in tune with her sexy side. In the book, I think she gets super in to the kissing on the beach, but then they are being broadcast all over Panem…
K: Yeeeeah, that would be a turn off – unless you are Johanna “Fuck y’all, I do what I want!” Mason.
C: I’m assuming since the games are usually kids that kind of thing is usually unlikely…
K: 12-17, right?
K: That is “puberty and up.” Lots of kids have sexual encounters (up to and including sex) as early as 12-14.
C: Oh yikes, Hunger Sex Games.
K: Seriously, I think it’s pretty unrealistic that sex isn’t a factor in either the books or the movies. Are we seriously supposed believe that the sculpted, pampered, trained careers would scruple to use an obvious advantage?
C: I think it was kind of implied that something was going on between two of the careers in the first movie, when they are sleeping all snuggled up together.
K: Yeah, but it’s fairly loosely implied. Pretty sure the Johanna Masons would just run around naked, as a distraction.
C: Oh, I’m sure she did, and Finnick too, although he was younger.
K: Sleeping with people is Finnick’s M.O. I imagine he would have made and betrayed allies with sex during the games.
C: But I think its implied that it’s a coping mechanism, that he was whored out as a victor.
K: But it’s just a non-entity within the games.
C: We don’t have a sense of who Finnick was at 14, or how he won really.
K: But it has always bothered me that there is zero sex in the arena.
C: Yeah, it’s a pretty chaste series.
K: Which is annoying. Why is graphic violence ok, but sex not?
C: Ok, our next piece will be that one about sex in YA we’ve been talking about.
K: YES. YES YES YES. It just really irritates me that sex gets left out of YA so much. As though pretending it’s not there makes it so that kids won’t think about it. “No, this is a ROMANCE. They won’t want to have sex! They just want to be in love and kiss passionately for extended periods, clothes fully on.”
C: Well, I think it’s hard to honest conversations with teens about sex if we pretend it doesn’t happen.
K: Exactly. That is why I am currently so high up on my soapbox that I may need a ladder to get down.
K: And have completely derailed the conversation! Sorry.
C: Whatever. We’ve done what we set out to do, I think. Shall we call this good for now? There will be many more Hunger Games related things following on the blog in coming weeks. We have THOUGHTS.
K: Agreed. If we made these “initial thoughts” any longer, we would have to publish a cliff notes version.
Charlotte tried her best to keep this piece readable as she has been told in the past that Gchatting with her is usually so riddled with errors that it is like “attempting low level cryptography.”
Kate promises to work on sticking to one subject at a time and writing in complete, grammatical thoughts – but not right now, because there is this other thing she was thinking about doing…