The Best Selling Novel: the Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games is one of the best selling novel which subsequently developed into one of the most viewed novel based movies. So what is the hunger games series? what makes the series so exceptional that it had the third highest grossing opening weekend in U.S history (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014) ? The film revolves around an annual event in which one male and one female each are selected from 12 districts surrounding the capitol via lottery. Whoever gets selected takes part in a mandatory televised game to death. Each participant is under 24-hour surveillance, calls to mind reality tv which was know as RTV (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). The film hunger games is a work of fiction that revolves around the lives of people participating in the games. The whole story of hunger games revolves around one female character Katniss Everdeen, A female protagonist in the film with a performing not performing whiteness and femininity qualities. Katniss is positioned as the hero of the film. She is one of the most radicle female characters to appear in American movies (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014).

After reading the article The hunger games: performing not performing to authenticate femininity and whiteness, It can be concluded that there is a greater depth to the story if analyzed by a critical lens. I came to an understanding that the film hunger games is so much more informative, especially after reading the article by Dubrofsky and Emily ryalls' ''The Hunger games: Performance not-performing to authenticate femininity and whiteness''. The article critiques and compares the film with other films and how the protagonist of the film is female with a number of conventionally ''masculine'' qualities. In my essay, I will be including a variety of examples from the movie and the article about authenticity, ''centering whiteness, post-racism, exceptional whiteness and femininity (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). It will explain and provide clarity and answers about the deepest ideas included in the book and how the world would be a different place if stereotypes and gender roles did not exist in our society. My interest in Katniss began to develop when I noticed in the beginning of the film , Katniss a white female who instantly gets attention when her 12-year-old sister prim gets selected for hunger games and instead Katniss decides to volunteer to participle and becomes an instant hero in the film hunger games (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). After all the members from the district get selected, Katniss is seen travelling to her destination with her mentor. A white female later is seen with her mentor who is also a white citizen of capitol. Which is to be believed as being coincidental. Not only this but prior to the games, When Katniss gets there for her training, she meets the career tributes from the different districts who are also all white characters. So the question that arises here is whether the hunger games only focused on displaying whiteness in their film. According to the Dubrofsky and Ryalls article, RTV authenticates how heroism is linked with whiteness and played a big factor in Katniss performing not performing. RTV sets the standards in relations to the presence of whiteness in the hunger games (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). It is a white person who is seen the most on RTV and, every other color participant has to behave authentically under surveillance(Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014, p 50) .Katniss's appearance is seen to be setting the standards for exceptional whiteness in the story.

She was one of the exceptional white character with blemish free skin, naturally red lips, high cheekbones, shiny hair, and white and straight teeth. She never displayed any nervousness on her physical appearance and surprisingly while coming from a poor background she still does not display any signs of malnourishment in her. As we know Katniss is seen without her make-up for most of the story but still embraces natural white beauty, mostly through lighting(Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014, p 51). According to Dyer (1997), Katniss was a naturally beautiful white women whose credit he gives to the characteristic glow of white women. (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014, p 51). There were a number of scenes in which Katniss's skin was glowing majorly because of the lighting and the frames used on her. The standard of whiteness set by the characteristics of Katniss not only contrast to black people but to the other white members in the film as well. The exceptional whiteness of Katniss could be compared with another while characters in the film. Effie for instance is another white female in the film who is not portrayed as heroic as Katniss. She on the other hand is displayed as a female with rough facial features. Effie's bumpy skin and ghostly white foundation on her face are highly noticeable throughout the hunger games. Sadly white exceptionalism is not the only problem seen in the film, the Author talks about the naturalizing of whiteness through the casting of the film. Notably, the physical characteristics of Katniss are very different in the novel as compared to the film. In the novel, Katniss is described as an olive colored female with grey eyes and black hair, leaving her racially open to many races, but the film portrays Katniss as white female (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014).Centering whiteness without paying attention to the fact is not a mistake rather is something that Projansky and Ono call strategic whiteness (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). Dubrofsky and Ryalls challenge the myth of post-racism as they point out Katniss's whiteness highlighting the main story.

While black people were present for a significant amount of time in the film, They were still seen as secondary members in the hunger games. Cinna and rue for instance, two black members who are usually seen in typical fashion in the film, Their typical fashion is presented in a way which promotes the centering of white hero: Katniss. Surprisingly, these secondary members were usually seen in the fashion which is not different than something white people would wear. None of them were portrayed as a hero, but instead, through the film they sacrifice to make Katniss win the game. In the post-racial context, Rue, a secondary black character plays the most significant role as sacrificing himself, which enables Katniss to win the hunger games. Although, Post-racism can be seen in the scene where Katniss was centered for her caring action towards Rue as she stays with her while she dies. It is very rare occurrence, to see a person of color being highlighted in the film and unsurprisingly, the one single time a person of color gets highlighted in the film is when ''Thresh, a black masculine male who is physically strong and does not speak much, saves Katniss's life in the honor of Rue. (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014).This was the only time when a black characters takes the center stage. Thresh was being focused by RTV in the honor of rue. Naturally, A moment focused on a colored person on saving the heroic Katniss really questions post-racism in hunger games. However, after reading the hunger games article the portrayal of racial diversity in the film is both post-racial and racist in the sense that there is a significant number of colored people in the hunger games, but still not portrayed as the white people.

Although, It is confirmed that whiteness holds the standards of heroic racial identity in the film, Katniss also effortlessly sets the standard for heterosexual femininity displayed in the film. In the film, hunger games, Katniss's traits are not clear, there are many aspects of her appearance and performance that may display post-feminism and questions gender roles at the same time in the film. The character of Katniss displays the mixture of both masculine and feminine characteristics. Masculine because she is the protagonist in the film, she is someone who is not aware of her own beauty, she is a physically strong women who's brave, she is seen performing most of the action scenes in the film, and she does not express her emotions to connect with anyone else. These are the some of the examples that display Katniss's masculinity .Meanwhile, her overwhelming feminine characters like her role of caregiver in some situations, and family oriented personality, can be clearly observed in the film. In the whole film Katniss performing not performing manages to become attractive without making any efforts on her appearance , while on the other hand, ''Effie's appearance is marked by her efforts and the outfits that she wears. (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). Authors talks about Katniss's characteristics as not those of a typical heroine who shows interest in the opposite sex, moreover, she shows the quality of being the perfect mother or wife.

The one example that I noticed is, despite having no interest in Peeta, a white male character, Katniss recalls her mother nurturing her sick parent and saves his life in the final hours of the game(Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). Lastly, Dubrofsky and Ryalls claim that Katniss appears in the American culture as a postfeminist, post racial role model but that, ideologically, The Hunger Games recreates familiar systems of oppression by portraying female goodness as deriving from maternal instincts and whiteness and, ultimately, affirms systems of sexism and racism (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). however, after reading the analysis on the hunger games, I believe that there were efforts made by the film to portray Katniss as maternal . Maternal in the sense when Katniss ''lovingly pins a broach on prim, telling her the pin will protect her (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014, p 56). Thus, maternal nature does not contradict her heroic reputation because she only desires to win so she can go back and take care of her sister prim. In the light of this, I would like to conclude that Dubrofsky and Rayalls did a great job explaining the Hunger games: performing not performing to authenticate femininity and whiteness. It allowed me to gain insight into something that was not known to me. This essay has allowed me to analyze the hunger games through a critical lens. (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014).

The film hunger games breaks some serious stereotypes linked with females in the movie. The film portrays Katniss as a feminist not because she can fight other men but because she is capable of opening herself to the power which eventually helped her in winning the game. Typically a female is seen relying on a male hero and is presented as weak in the films however, In hunger games, Katniss is presented as an empowered female hero, who plays a key role in the authentication of whiteness and feminism. The whole story revolves around this white female with both masculine and feminine characteristics. She is the protagonist and seen performing most of the action scenes. Meanwhile, her caregiving nature is a clear sign of feminism. (Dubrofsky, and Ryalls, 2014). Her overlapping characteristics are what make the movie interesting. Katniss embodies post-feminism in the sense that she holds a powerful position with extraordinary athleticism, skills, and strength compared to heroines in other films.


  1. Dubrofsky, Rachel E., and Emily D. Ryalls. The Hunger Games: Performing Not-Performing to Authenticate Femininity and Whiteness. Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 31, no. 5, 2014, pp. 395–409., doi:10.1080/15295036.2013.874038.
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The best selling novel: The Hunger Games. (2019, Aug 14). Retrieved September 25, 2023 , from

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