RE: Katniss, You Ignorant Slut

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/

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

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2 thoughts on “RE: Katniss, You Ignorant Slut

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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