The Hunger Games is a movie series based around the female lead character Katniss Everdeen. The movie introduces a very unique perspective on gender roles and gender stereotypes. The main plot of the movie involves people of the lower class districts, which represent the lower class, are placed in a battle royale death match. Katniss is entered into the event and can be viewed as a symbol of strength and independence by a woman as opposed to the usual portrayal of a damsel in distress in media and other films. She ends up being a part of The Hunger Games, a televised entertainment event which people must fight for their lives. Her ability to achieve victory without needing to be saved by someone is a positive representation for women who often are portrayed as weak, and not leaders. Her father dies in the film and Katniss immediately has to take the role of the leader pof her home. She must hunt and provide for them, leaving the area of the village she lives in for adventures in the woods. This is how she begins to build her character and independence.
The first example of Katniss’s characteristics in the film is when she volunteers in place of her young sister, Prim, who was selected as a participant in the upcoming Hunger Games. When her sister’s life was threatened, she stands out among the crowd as a brave woman who is willing to risk her life to save her sister, unlike the many others in the crowd who would have rather let the young girl go to battle than go themselves. Katniss is now placed in the hero role of the movie. She doesn’t plan on going to die either, as she knows her family depends on her. While an action like this is usually given to a male character to portray the stereotypical heroic and manly thing to do, Katniss is driven by her maternal instincts to protect her sister and to make it out alive for them. She will endure the the harsh conflict herself for her family. Katniss’s primary goal in The Hunger Games is survival and nothing more. At some point, she ends up in the midst of an elaborate plan with another character and participant of The Hunger Games, Peeta. Katniss’s plan is to pretend to fall in love with Peeta for the cameras to watch. The cameras that broadcast the event spectate the survivors during the game. In order to attract the attention of some sponsors, she needs to deceive the viewers into believing she has romantic interests.
The sponsors are her best bet to survive. They will provide Katniss with the help she needs to ensure that she survives the Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta also want to assure President Snow that their main interest is true love driven by their romantic passion, and not a rebellion against the upper class. After their success in The Hunger Games, they begin to prepare a wedding which is actually an elaborate trick. This emphasizes Katniss’s rejection of the traditional narrative of a feminine romance. Usually the woman will feel like she needs to seek a romantic interest at some point in their character development. Katniss does not want to marry Peeta and she doesn’t need the stereotypical happily ever after ending. She is not that kind of feminine character. She is her own person in the film. She consistently gives off a serious tone. She only has one goal and she doesn’t let anything distract her from it. She needs to return to her family, so she will save herself, not rely on being saved. The Hunger Games will occasionally put Katniss in female roles throughout the movie, but not to show a change of thought by Katniss. This is done in order to emphasize how nonsensical such female roles are, and she is visibly uncomfortable investing in those female roles. She wears multiple dresses in the film which completely changes Katniss’s appearance and makes her seem like a more desirable woman than usual. Katniss does have a strong bond with the designer Cinna, and because of this she admires the dresses despite how much she dislikes the idea of dressing up to look pretty. She wears the dresses because she has to, not because she wants to. The reason why she has to dress up is because she wanted to win the sponsors over from the Hunger Games battle. However, her plan after the Hunger Games is actually to inspire a resistance against the capital, the upper class people who are responsible for having created and organized The Hunger Games as a televised event.
The dresses she wears are all part of an act. They serve as a decoy for her grand scheme, rather than as an expression of her own personal identity or choices. Connecting to the main theme that this film implies, Katniss is not a stereotypical female character. She is a leader who develops her own ambitions and wants to influence a rebellion. Katniss ultimately takes on leadership and displays qualities that are often held by a man in films. Peeta, on the other hand, seems to swap the role commonly held by the female. Peeta is actually committed to the romantic act that he and Katniss put on. He really loves Katniss and constantly expresses it directly to her. He seems to fill that role of a damsel in distress that Katniss has avoided. Katniss and others save Peeta multiple times from danger and near death throughout The Hunger Games. This further supports that the stereotypical gender roles seem to be reversed in The Hunger Games. Katniss is seen as a hero who helps Peeta, the damsel in distress. However, some believe that throughout the movie there is too much of an emphasis on typical male qualities in the character of Katniss. Some believe that she should have embraced more feminine characteristics while maintaining the role as a leader. Katniss could be seen as the media still pushing the ideas of a dominant male lead because of Katniss’s masculine characteristics and rejection of feminine qualities.
This is the wrong approach to the ideas pushed by the film. The Hunger Games is telling the story of a woman who lost her father and learned how to provide for her family on her own. She developed traits of not only a father but of a mother as well. Her influence on others in the film was a result of her desires. She didn’t let outside factors distract her from her objective, and in the end, she ended up seeking more to accomplish than just stay at home to protect her family. She shows that women are capable of being successful when they have a goal, that women can be the leader of change. The Hunger Games series is based on the kill or be killed excitement of a battle royale to the death. It celebrates Katniss for her heroics, leadership, and ambitions. The stereotypical masculine characteristics do seem to be present in Katniss throughout her violent battles. However, Katniss should instead be viewed as a strong female who is driven by her maternal instincts to protect and to provide for her family. She has her own goals of leading a rebellion rather than indulging in a romance. She is the symbol of a focused and ambitious woman, a quality which is underappreciated and overlooked in the development of so many female characters in films.
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