Author: The Girl With The Pearl

Remember When? Let’s Reminisce About Katniss Casting!

Believe it or not, casting for The Hunger Games was announced 3 1/2 years ago in March 2011. Recently, we got to remember the speculative casting madness that came before it, including rumors, hopeful press interviews, “Katniss” selfies, studio meetings, and more. It was cray cray, but it’s fun to look back.

It all started because of a remix of The Hanging Tree. No, not THE awful radio remix. A different one by Tyler Ward and Alyson Stoner that’s more of a really interesting original song that randomly uses The Hanging Tree as a chorus:

While discussing it with other fansite friends, Theresa from Down With The Capitol mentioned that she almost didn’t recognize the former Disney star who auditioned for Katniss under all that makeup.

Huh? She auditioned for Katniss???

Yep. Alyson Stoner was a huge book fan and how campaigned for the role HARD on social media, complete with some Katniss selfies:

Alyson-Stoner

And she was pretty (playfully) competitive too:
Alyson Stoner tweets battle

So what thought about it. Yes, there’s was Woodley and Breslin and Moretz and other big names considered. But who else are we forgetting?!

Here are some other Katniss hopefuls you may have forgotten!

Jodelle Ferland

Joelle Ferland Katniss

Jodelle’s been acting in lots of small parts since she was a young’un, but Katniss was a role she really, really rallied for. She too resorted to Katniss selfies. This was NOT the way to win over the casting director, though!

We remember thinking so had the look if Katniss was going to be on the young side, but we still haven’t seen enough of her acting to confirm her chops. She continues to take on the indie movie scene.

Emily Browning

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After famously turning down the role of Bella Swan in Twilight when Stephenie Meyer practically tried to hand her the role on a silver platter (Thank this one for Kristen Stewart’s career [/sarcasm]), Browning smartened up and didn’t miss the opportunity for the next big franchise for which she received the script. Aaaaaaaaand it didn’t work!

She got the chance to make it up to Stephenie Meyer by making a cameo in her other movie, The Host, and most recently got half-naked with Kit Harington in Pompeii, among other projects. Not too bad!

Kaya Scodelario

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She’s since gotten her comeuppance as the female lead in The Maze Runner, but Kaya Scodelario was best known for her role on the British TV show Skins. Our skepticism was pretty high, but Kaya was sent the script and met with Gary Ross, so she was clearly a viable candidate. Still, the odds were not in her favor.

S’alright, Kaya! You’ve got yourself a shiny new franchise to enjoy for about another year until fans begin to hate on your character’s questionable choices and love another female character instead. In all fairness, I’ve always had Teresa’s back!

Lyndsy Fonseca

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Call her “bedroom eyes Katniss”.

The star of Nikita had some pretty outspoken supporters when she hinted at her Hunger Games audition. In fact, her supporters were SO invested that she kinda had to douse their fiery rage when the role went to Jen instead. Lyndsy was a little too old for the role from the get-go (she’s now a few weeks shy of 28), so we were never really feeling her in the role.

Lyndsy hasn’t suffered from the loss, though. She’s been in a few movies and is now playing Peggy Carter’s best friend on Marvel’s Agent Carter, which begins airing in January.

All this brings us back to our first rule of getting cast in The Hunger Games franchise: Don’t TALK about wanting to get cast in The Hunger Games franchise!

Man, We’re Glad Casting Madness Is Over!
The Girl With The Pearl

Mockingjay Meta Fiction Friction

Earlier this week, JJ made an excellent post about the best and worst moments in Mockingjay. It did a great job covering the bases, but I’ve still got a bit of a quibble that’s become pretty controversial among fans.

THE END OF THAT DAMN PROPO

The screening of the first propo was pretty brilliant, at first. We saw Katniss’ fierceness through the lenses of Castor and Pollux’s cameras, how District 13 cut and played upon her words for the ultimate effect. Then things got reallllllly familiar: A burning Mockingjay pin with outstretched wings, title treatment font, and Rue’s whistle, musically engineered to sound exactly like every Hunger Games movie promo in existence and the slew of popular ringtones.

THIS... Except with different words. Yep.

THIS… Except with different words. Yep.

Urghhhh.

We’ve talked to friends and fans alike about the decision and the results are pretty mixed. In fact, some people think it’s brilliant, that putting the movie advertising images in almost their exact form straight into the movie was a great nod to the audience and adverts alike. They consider it a tie-in of sorts. And truly, we’re glad they liked it.

Some others, including myself, found it to be so utterly displeasing. Besides taking you out of the scene by reminding you of the commercials, practically screaming “THIS IS A MOVIE! HOPE YOU WEREN’T TOO WRAPPED UP IN IT!” just after a powerful scene, it seems like an awkward pat on the back. Multiple people decided that their advertising style was so witty and perfect that they’d just add it into the movie itself, assuming District 13 would do the same thing a bunch of modern day PR folks did. We realize that big wigs we love, like Francis Lawrence and Nina Jacobson, were probably in on the decision too, so we’ll try not to judge so harshly. Perhaps it was supposed to be coming full circle, but instead some of us hit the fourth wall HARD and broke right through that sucker.

Mind you. we’re not saying that those elements aren’t good for a commercial or a propo. Both are meant to rile up a crowd, but for very different reasons. Could we have two equally smart but not quite so identical ways of riling up people on their couch considering a movie vs. people in a war torn dystopia considering revolution?

Did this ruin the movie for us? OF COURSE NOT! The movie was still incredible overall, but we all have our hangups and quibbles. it won’t haunt us forever, but my face will likely twitch in some fashion every time I watch that part. And then like two minutes later I’ll be fine because Effie is wittily insulting President Coin’s hair. So is the way of the world.

So what do you think? Was the moment a little TOO meta for you? Or was it just right?

We Approve Of Recycling… Just Not In Our Films,
The Girl With The Pearl

The Ladies Of Mockingjay Get Badass

Interviews with actors are always great, but it never feels all that authentic. Reporters all have the same questions to which the actors have the same answers. There’s always a thin level of discomfort, even when things are very silly and fun.

That is why we are currently LOVING Elizabeth Banks’ ASK A BADASS segments.

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See, Elizabeth Banks is actually really friends with the other Hunger Games actors. So she knows their story, their lives, the funny things they wanna talk about. There doesn’t seem to be any intimidation or fear that something uncomfortable was going to be asked. And you know what? The actors she interviews really open up to her fun, cheery chat.

First, we got a much heralded spot with Jennifer Lawrence.

Jennifer Lawrence is always light in interviews, but she had a lot of genuine fun here. She even opened up about her own meekness, something fans generally don’t see. And the reference to Aqua’s “I’m A Barbie Girl”? Well, let’s say I once owned that CD (and I was like 9).

We also learned that Elizabeth Banks handles her career like a total no-holds-barred boss, as told by JLaw. Color us impressed!

But even better than Jen’s segment, in our opinions, is Julianne Moore’s.

Julianne is usually very calm and professional during interviews. She’s got some great insights and we’re happy to hear them, but it’s really refreshing to see her get silly talking about old guys’ somewhat creepy love of Boogie Nights and her massive collection of Birkenstocks.

Mostly, we love these segments because they remind us that the whole cast is wonderfully close. It’s not just us gushing about them. They gush about each other! It’s fun to hear little fun details shared between friends and we’re seriously hoping there’s more with the rest of the cast.

Because EVERYONE In That Cast Is A Badass,
The Girl With The Pearl

Victor’s Village Hunger Games Holiday Gift Guide 2014

It’s that time of year again!

We’re back with the official Victor’s Village guide to a happy Hunger Games holiday! We’ve searched the Internet for some great Hunger Games finds that we love. Maybe you’ll find them handy when shopping for the Hunger Games lovers in your life or even something you want to nab for yourself!

Here’s hoping we make The Hunger Games fun in your holiday of choice a little easier!

THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1 DVD OR BLU-RAY PRE-ORDER

mockingjay part one blu-ray

Yep. You can do that already.

This is the UK DVD cover, as an official US cover has not been released yet. Still, you can pre-order the film on Blu-ray or DVD right now. Of course, that’s essentially handing someone an IOU as the movie is still in theaters, which maaaaay not put the odds in your favor. Hint heavily for approval before buying!

THE HUNGER GAMES FOIL EDITION BOX SET

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If you or someone you know wants to collect all the editions, check out this shiny new foil edition box set now available! These babies just came out on September 30th. It’s a bit of relief to see bright, colorful US collector’s editions, as we think the previous US collector’s editions weren’t nearly as nice as the ones you’ll find in other countries.

THEMED PAJAMAS

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We will probably not wear a Mockingjay shirt or sweater out and about. We definitely will not feature an actor’s face on our boobs. However, we will abso-freaking-lutely rock Hunger Games pajamas. They’re lots of fangirl fun for those of us who often have to keep our obsessions under wraps outside the comfort of our own home!

MOCKINGJAY WALL POCKET

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Because we’re all looking for more storage, right? Soooo let’s casually turn a Mockingjay book into a small, adorable storage unit! The Mockingjay wall pocket is a small decoration, but one that subtly displays your love of the fandom

There’s a warning here, though: Make sure your recipient is okay with what some fans refer to as “book murder”, aka the destruction of books for artistic purposes.

BOOK PAGE SWITCH PLATE

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Apparently, we are okay with book murder, because we love the idea of this book page switch plate. Know the fan in your life has a favorite passage? It can be created into a memory for them, set on the wall as a reminder. Sure, they won’t be able to read it the whole way through, but the feels will still be there!

WATERCOLOR WALL ART

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There’s lots of Hunger Games wall art out there. Designs, quotes, portraits.. LOTS OF IT. But nothing caught our eye quite like that amazing watercolor wall art print. If you’re going to put something on your wall, you want something that The funky, flashy design might be better suited for a teenage fan, but we think anyone could appreciate it!

DANDELION NECKLACE

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We may have posted this before but we’re doing it again!

The “dandelion in the spring” quote from Mockingjay is already a big deal and will get EVEN MORE attention once the final movie hits theaters next year. This beautiful dandelion necklace perfectly captures that mood without being too obvious. Quote aside, it’s just really freaking pretty!

RUE’S WHISTLE MUG

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And a little something for the musical types! Rue’s whistle mapped out on a mug! Clearly, our gifts aren’t so much about throwing The Hunger Games directly in your face so much as fun pieces that let people know you’re in on the fandom with them. Plus, this is a fun little conversation starter!

Happy Holidays!

Mockingjay Emoji Magic

Sometimes, it’s the little things that count.

See, there’s lots of big things to talk about in the wake of Mockingjay Part 1’s release: Themes and box offices and reactions and…

OMG FACEBOOK JUST RELEASED A MOCKINGJAY STICKER SET!

A small sampling thanks to HungerGamesDWTC.Net

A small sampling thanks to HungerGamesDWTC.Net

Yes, we’re that easily amused. No, we’re not even a little bit sorry.

For all the marketing campaigns and contests and fancy schmancy apps created to promote the film, we’ve had about ten thousand times more fun sneak attacking everyone we know with these silly little stickers on messages and comments. Because as much as fans want to analyze the series and its deep meaning, sometimes you just gotta have fun with it!

The sticker artist was clearly taking the caricature approach, but we totally dig it. From ridiculous faces and giant jaws, it isn’t actually about actor worship. Instead it’s about the characters. Who woulda thunk it?!

And there’s a Mockingjay based emoticon for everything, people!
Too much spiked eggnog? Boozy Haymitch!
Can’t answer a simple question due to too much spiked eggnog? Cross-eyed, shrugging Peeta!
Getting overconfident with someone attractive? Lovestruck Finnick!
Pissed about their rejection of your overconfident flirtations? Katniss about to shoot someone with an arrow!
And for just about anything else? Caesar throwing his head back and basking in glory!

BOOM! THAT JUST HAPPENED!

So let’s take a moment to celebrate the little moments in fandom that make us happy… then let’s harass our Facebook friends with them!

Just Call It Sticker Shock! GET IT?!
The Girl With The Pearl

MockingHate: Negativity, Click Bait, and Media Strategy

District 13 isn’t the only one coming up with a plan when it comes to Mockingjay Part 1.

If you’re on the Internet on a regular basis, you’ve probably heard the term “click bait”. It’s when a headline or even an entire article is designed to be somewhat controversial in order to draw people in to either agree with or defend the topic at hand. It’s mainly useless pieces on popular subjects without much in terms of real depth, even if provided in essay form.

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Fishing For Hits!

And Mockingjay Part 1, dear friends, has been a serious victim of click bait.

The media has been saying just about anything they can to get our attention and let’s face it, most of it is negative. Why? The fandom is massive and enthusiastic and not afraid to run to the film’s defense, but there’s also plenty of “Academy Award winners only, please” types who will gladly agree with them on anything that demerits the franchise. Therefore, they get ALL THE CLICKS.

Though this happen with lots of series and has happened to The Hunger Games in the past, the horrendous articles meant to induce click bait have really hit new heights. So let’s go through these atrocious claims and set some things straight.

1) MOCKINGJAY PART 1 IS A FAILURE!
Mockingjay Part 1 is estimated to finish at $123 million for the weekend, making it the highest opening weekend of the otherwise lackluster year. It will almost definitely be the highest grossing movie of 2014, seeing as the current highest (Guardians of the Galaxy) reached $331 million over the course of its entire run. Mockingjay earned a third of the #1 movie’s entire run total in one damn weekend. Yes, $123 million is less than Catching Fire’s opening weekend and short of estimates, but as Variety points out excellently– it’s actually quite common for opening weekend and overall totals to fluctuate for a franchise and box office estimates are a hugely inaccurate system. Also, that’s only in the US. Mockingjay Part 1 is actually doing better than Catching Fire overseas. So this “Oh noes! The movie made less so the franchise is a sinking ship now!” approach the media is taking is ridiculousness to the nth power.

YEP.

YEP.

2) NO CRITIC LIKES IT, EITHER.
If you read enough negative reviews of MJ 1 (for which the reviews are still largely positive), you’ll realize that very few people seem to be reviewing the actual movie. They’re reviewing the fact that it’s Part 1 of a two-part finale, a trend that critics just don’t like. JJ already responded to that beautifully. Entertainment Weekly went so far as to claim that Mockingjay Part 1 may not actually be a movie, saying it didn’t have a concise beginning, middle, or end, leaving us to wonder if they watched the same movie we did. If so, what the hell were they smoking? That must be some good shit! Or maybe they’re just high off that movie critic ego. The movie is not all action, as we’ve mentioned before, but to say it essentially has no point or value other than to set up the end is a pathetic attempt at pretending you know best. We can name plenty of films that we about a thousand times slower or less meaningful than this one. Really, this just feels like media outlets jumping on the Hipster Express as the uber critical types begin to label the popular franchise as “overrated”, which they’d do no matter what the subject.

3) OH AND FANS AGREE WITH US!
These are our favorite. Articles in which fans’ negative social media statuses or random tweets are displayed as the end-all-be-all of the franchise and the guarantee that we’re all in on the lambasting too. So what constitutes a “fan”? Anyone who has seen the movie, apparently. I saw Dude, Where’s My Car? when I was like 12. Does that make me a fan? Also, there’s a widespread assumption that these fans expressing disappointment in certain parts of the film means they hated all of it all day every day. THR even wrote an obvious click bait article about common “fandom gripes” throughout the history of the films, portraying us all as racists who hated that Rue was black and sexists who hate Peeta for not being masculine enough. “Offensive to fans” doesn’t even begin to cover it, but they’re getting lots of views from stirring up old, nasty comments from a few outliers that in no way represent the fandom as a whole, as if we all feel this way.

Most definitely started out at a click bait media outlet.. except not really

Most definitely started out at a click bait media outlet.. except not really

4) NO WAIT– EVERYTHING IS AWESOME ALWAYS AND FOREVER!
This is the type of click bait we tend to be more agreeable to because it works in our favor, but we need to acknowledge this too. Because it happens. Like basically everything on BuzzFeed. We can’t say for sure that some of these sites are getting paid to advertise via positive articles, but we know that method absolutely exists. You’re more likely to want something when someone writes an article saying “This Is My Favorite!” than if you just saw a graphic on a sidebar. Again, we know so much nothing that Jon Snow would be proud, but we know it happens in advertising in general. But it could also just be these sites playing off how enthusiastic fans are, knowing they’ll click because the articles validate the things they love.

In between the cracks you can find articles that at least try to find a balance. But overall– and maybe it’s just us– but isn’t it just better to ignore the media and like what you like? We’ve all probably enjoyed some movies that the media had some gripes with or largely ignored or even HATED, but then you remember that you really don’t give a fuck what they think, because you liked it for your own personal reasons.

As for all that really obvious click bait?

Well… DON’T CLICK IT.
The Girl With The Pearl

REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

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** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

Gale or Not Gale? Mockingjay Part 1 and RAAAAAAAGE

When we saw the first promo spot that featured Gale talking smack about Peeta, there was a sense of foreboding. We actually asked “If there were a richter scale for asshole behavior, how far are we pushing Gale here?”

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y'ALL!

Gale is angry at ALL OF Y’ALL!

The answer? Pretty damn far, it seems.

First, let’s establish something. On the whole, Gale was never incredibly nice in Mockingjay. His thoughts on warfare were full-on destructive and awful like…

“If I could hit a button and kill every living soul working for the Capitol, I would do it. Without Hesitation.”

Or this gem regarding his plan to implode The Nut, block off the only exit, and let the people inside, including many innocents, slowly suffocate:

“Is that everyone’s problem? That our enemies might have a few hour to reflect on the fact that they’re dying, instead of just blowing them to bits?”

Or ya know… developing a double-exploding bomb identical to the one that killed Prim meant to target rescue workers, though those bombs that fell on THE DAY may or may not have been his.

Gale has some rage. He’s a fiery one, as Suzanne Collins pointed out on a number of occasions in the novels. BUT Book!Gale usually has a halting point: Katniss, namely in discussing her relationship with Peeta.

As long as he doesn't turn into this, plzkthx

As long as he doesn’t turn into this, plzkthx

In the beginning of Mockingjay, Gale is surprisingly patient with Katniss. He wants her to be the Mockingjay as much as everyone else, but he knows the method isn’t peer pressure and constantly prodding her. It may be manipulative underneath at all, but he does come off like he’s trying to be supportive. After the Peeta videos, he has his infamous “He’s still trying to protect you” line and generally seems sympathetic to Peeta’s plight.

Movie!Gale’s hate, thusfar, seems mainly directed toward Peeta. All that stuff about how he’d rather Peeta die than do what he did? Those veiled accusations of betrayal? IT’S NOT COOL. After everything he’s been through, Gale does have the right to be angry about a lot of things. The idea that he’d project that anger toward Peeta’s forced attempts to “support” The Capitol isn’t even all that implausible, if it was one outburst. We’ve only seen a couple instances, but when that’s all your see of Gale, it comes off like he’s just one uber-jealous mofo.

My least favorite book of 2014 (lest I should read something worst in the next six weeks or so) was one that solved a half-baked love triangle by having one character suddenly become a crazed verbally-abusive control freak in order to make the other more favorable. The sudden change was totally out of character and left me angry, hating the book and all its lazy, convenient writing. We just never ever ever want to feel that way about Mockingjay. We don’t want Gale to become some ANGRY RAAAAAAGE MONSTER that the audience is quick to hate.

What we want– No, NEEEEEEED– in this movie is to see that Gale is angry, but his anger is mostly at The Capitol and sometimes misdirected elsewhere. We need to see that underneath it all, he doesn’t hate or blame Peeta for doing what he did and Katniss for feeling what she does.

Thankfully, the full clip Liam Hemsworth has been taking around the late night TV circuit shows that Gale is seriously scarred by everything that went down in District 12 on the day of the firebombing. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that teasers just don’t give you the full picture. Gale could be remorseful or admit to anger issues, we’re just not seeing it in the spots. He can be angry, but it has to be balanced.

So on a scale of 1 to asshole, let’s give Gale another few days before we assign any numbers for sure, okay?

He’s Normally A 6. Way Higher In District 2. But About Peeta? Naaaaaaw!
The Girl With The Pearl

Beware of Hunger Games Premieritis!

Traveling to several countries around the world is everyone’s dream, but most of us don’t intend to do it over the course of ten days or so. You’ve got to hand it to The Hunger Games cast, they take it in stride, especially considering… THE DISEASE!

Maybe it’s that November chill, as it’s only seemed to take hold during Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 premiere and press seasons took place, but oh, does it hit the cast hard!

Hunger Games Premieritis!

At least that’s what we’re calling it! It’s a combination of various illnesses including colds, the flu, strep throat, stomach viruses, etc. and sheer exhaustion. And simply, we’re in awe of the cast for powering through it like absolute champs!

What's a little strep throat between co-workers?!

What’s a little strep throat among friends?!

Jen and Josh are the main sufferers this year so far, but last year it seemed to have swept through the majority of the cast in its many forms. At last year’s LA fan camp, we were lucky to have Josh, Sam, Jena, and Jeffrey all come out to sign for the fans. However, LA stands as the final leg of the CF and MJ1 press tours and it was clear to see that the cast was ready to crash. They were super friendly and gracious, but they looked utterly exhausted and Josh was bundled up in a big leather jacket and a knit cap on a day where the weather was a bit over 70F. And because we’re all sympathetic human beings, there’s a part of us that says “I feel so freaking bad for them.”

But that right there is why we all need to give this cast a million gold star stickers and lollipops to make them feel better. Surely they don’t enjoy being rushed around the world with various stages of premieritis cramping their style, but you know what? They do it. For us! Because we lap up all of this press and stand in line for days at the premiere venues, they push through it even when they probably just want to cuddle under the covers all day. They go on the red carpets and the tv shows where the occasional pundit will try to shame them for “not looking good” as they try not to cough a lung up, because the fans are also in the same vicinity hoping to see them. And that is fucking dedication!

Might we even call them badasses? We say yes, as Elizabeth Banks hosts a YouTube segment called “Ask A Badass” that an unknown female from the cast recorded with her in the midst of all the insanity. GIF PREVIEW TIME!

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Hopefully those cast members who have been mostly immune to premieritis so far (We’re looking at you, Sam Claflin and Elizabeth Banks!) will remain so and the rest of Mockingjay Part 1 promotion can go on relatively painlessly for the cast. In the meantime, let’s recognize this condition and give the cast a big thumbs up for all they do!

Because We’d End Up Fainting On That Red Carpet, Bro.
The Girl With The Pearl

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Bread and Circuses in The Hunger Games and the Roman Empire

SURPRISE! We have one more entry in the Victor’s Village student series! This last one is a thought-provoking, meaty article from HGBC’s “assistant fangirl” (aka teaching assistant), peetasgirl!

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In the Roman Empire:

The phrase, “bread and circuses,” was coined during the time of the ancient Roman Empire by Juvenal, a satirical writer. In its original Latin form, the phrase would have been “panem et circenses,” or “bread and games.” This statement has become a common phrase, even in modern political satire. It describes a self-serving government (or emperor) who has done nothing to serve the people, yet is able to maintain popularity by offering state-sponsored “gifts” of food and entertainment. Essentially a bribe, which is unknowingly taken, but which still has the desired effect. It is an underhanded tactic to maintain power and control over a people.

“Panem et circenses” was an actual political strategy, used by the Roman Emperors and Senators to maintain their powerful positions of authority over an ever-increasing span of Empire. These leaders correctly realized that if the general populace – vast in number – were to become dissatisfied with their government, it would be easily overthrown. Later in the Roman Empire, these entitlements had become so popular, that sponsoring the “games” became the peoples’ expectation. Rulers were often judged, not by their effectiveness as public servants, but by the quality of the games/gifts sponsored.

When “panem et circenses” was first penned by Juvenal, he was attempting to awaken the common people to their pathetic attitude of complacency. It was a wake-up call. Juvenal saw himself as a voice to the people, and decried the selfishness and ignorance that he witnessed in the general populace. Roman citizens, who had once proudly participated in their government, had willingly laid aside their civic responsibilities. Instead, they had become satisfied with temporary appeasements from a self-serving government. The citizens had sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup, satisfying the immediate appetites, but at a terrible cost – the loss of their rights in government.

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In The Hunger Games:

The post-apocalyptic nation of Panem draws its name from the first part of Juvenal’s phrase. At first, it seems quite ironic to name a nation “bread,” when its people have so little food. As I think about this, I think it was a brilliant move on the part of the author – it sets up the entire dystopia.

imagesThings are not as they ought to be in Panem. The nation’s name is Panem (bread), which is the one thing that everyone needs in order to survive (food). Naming a nation “bread” implies a land of plenty and promise – provision for all. This is implied in the name. It is a very hopeful name. The government wants to capitalize upon this hope, and BECOME the hope of the people. For this reason, any other source of hope (Katniss) can be dangerous.

The government of Panem made some very calculated moves, in order to be viewed as the sole provider of both bread and hope. There is plenty of bread, but not for everyone. The government (the provider) decides who gets the bread. They use the people’s hope and need as a means of both physical and psychological control. They keep the people hungry, keep them hoping for more, giving grain to the Districts monthly (but never too much), in order to maintain their image as “the provider.” What Panem’s leaders have created is a state of total dependence. By so doing, they ensure that the citizens in the Districts would never rebel against the hand that literally feeds them. The Districts cannot rebel against the Capitol – it is their only hope of survival.

The Capitol itself is another matter. If the citizens in the Capitol were to rebel against the government, there would be upheaval in all of Panem. The Capitol’s citizens live in such close proximity to President Snow and the government agencies, they could easily stage an effective coup. So, it is in the Capitol that we see the Roman Empire’s strategy of “panem et circenses” employed to its fullest extent.

Capitol citizens receive much more than bread – they may have all the food they wish. It is a society where excess has become the status quo. Their entertainment – the “circenses” – is sponsored by the state via The Hunger Games. Tributes fight to the death for the amusement of the Capitol’s citizens, giving them an exciting diversion, and distracting them from the reality of Panem’s national condition.

Crafted by one of HGBC's students

Crafted by one of HGBC’s students

We read about them in the books, living lives of extravagance, and we want to shake them and shout, “Wake up! Can’t you see how all the other Districts in your country are suffering, while you live so luxuriously? It’s not fair!” This is what Juvenal thought about the Romans, and why he made his famous “bread and circuses” statement long ago. Like the citizens of Rome, the citizens of the Capitol are completely ignorant of others’ hardships; they are asleep. The government prefers this, and carefully controls the media to portray the Districts as they see fit.

Capitol citizens are content to never think beyond their own self-centered lives, because they have been appeased by the government, and pacified by the media. They, too, are prisoners of the state of Panem, dependent upon the government as the sole provider of their “bread and circuses.” Unlike the citizens of the Districts, however, the Capitol’s people are completely unaware. They fail to realize their true position.

In Mockingjay, it becomes an especially harsh reality for the Capitol citizens to face, having the thin veneer of “bread and circuses” ripped away. For the first time, they witness what the government – and, unknowingly, themselves – had been carefully orchestrating for 75 years: A volatile nation, filled with governmental corruption and lies, where the wealth of the few weighs heavily upon the shoulders of the poor and starving.

Is it any wonder why Snow works to hard to keep everyone in the dark? To be the only hope?
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