Books

Josh and Franco

While we’ve been toiling away wishing for more Mockingjay Part 2 news, the principle cast of our favorite franchise have all gone off and got them selves some fancy new gigs. Now this is where I’d usually wax on and on about Jen working with David O. Russell again, but not today! Today it’s all about James Franco. Yes, you read me right– JAMES FRANCO, shout-y letters and all. Our beloved Peeta is currently filming a film with James Franco, the man who collects advanced degrees, and makes memes out of himself on Instagram, has about 80 different jobs at once, is starring and directing. Awkward runs on sentences aside, this is pretty interesting news! Why? ‘Cause the film is an adaptation of one of John Steinbeck’s lesser known novels, In Dubious Battle. Steinbeck of course is the American fiction writer best known for novels like East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men, Cannery Row, and a collection of short stories including The Red Pony.

This is the second Steinbeck adaptation I have heard anything about in the last twenty years. The last was oddly enough Gary Ross’s announcement that he’d like to try his hand at a two part adaptation of East of Eden, starring Jennifer Lawrence no less. However, instead of our dear Jen stepping into a role created by Mr. Steinbeck– it’s Josh. I gotta say I like this development.

Now everyone stare at Josh in Great Depression Era clothes, and not think “District 12 is calling for its clothing back!”

Check out that pageboy cap!

Check out that pageboy cap!

Yes, that's Selena Gomez.

Yes, that’s Selena Gomez.

All right, that’s enough! Now everyone go read In Dubious Battle!

Them There Eyes

Why We Come Back to The Hunger Games

Mockingjay Part 1 DVDs should all be in our hot little hands now, and our DVD or Blu-ray players should be whirling away as we watch every last tidbit. Or, um– maybe you’re like me and work too much, and instead of being the good Hunger Games fan, you fall into bed every night, and in place of having a re-watch of your favorite scenes, you pick up a book that has nothing to do with the Hunger Games, perhaps the book even takes place on another planet, continent, in an other century, and in the end are able to only read a handful of pages at a time– because you’re just that tired.

Hi, I’m a Hunger Games fan who hasn’t done much Hunger Games fan-ing in a while. Some of us live our fandom lives like there’s no tomorrow, they have Tumblr’s, and Etsy shops, they host fandom meet ups, and make manips, and write fan fiction, others only delve into them when the timing is right. Drinking Games, re-watches with enthusiastic, but fandom-ignorant family members, excitement over the beginning of promotional materials for the last and final installment of the film series be damned– fandom is an ephemeral thing that for many can only be sustainable for short bursts

OMG it's 19th century Peeta! No... it's Oliver Twist.

OMG it’s 19th century Peeta! No… it’s Oliver Twist.

of time over a smattering of years, because seriously– if we stayed at the excitement level we’re at when Peeta goes Hijacked!Peeta on us– we might all be dead.

I burn for the days when every last scrap of Hunger Games gossip, and minimal legitimate material was enough to keep us going for weeks, hell– months on end. Philosophical blithering aside, I question almost constantly why we keep coming back for more?

Are we gluttons, are we masochist? Or is fandom something else entirely?

Stepping Out On The Hunger Games

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I have a confession to make. I’ve been stepping out on The Hunger Games, meaning I’ve been cheating on it. So loudly, and proudly I’d like to declare it here and now that I’ve cheated on The Hunger Games trilogy with Diana Gabaldon’s epic Outlander series, or as she calls it sometimes “the big books”. Don’t be mad, or be mad, it’s your prerogative– but as my need for new and exciting, and unknown outcomes, and characterization up the wazoo, I fell into the swirling, faceted story that is Claire Randal’s amazing Technicolor world.

I love The Hunger Games, I’m a crazy ass THG fan, that’s why I’ve written for this fantastic blog for over two years now. Although I must acknowledge that I’ve been absent for several months due to familial obligations that have made writing twice a week, or anything beyond text messages– next to impossible. It’s a long story, a boring one actually, let’s just leave it at this– broken bones, not mine. The Hunger Games though is like a little baby that I found on the side of the road, and now it’s all grown up, and is making billions of dollars in the foreign markets, and I’m left at home knitting, saying “I remember when!” in a haggard, world-weary voice. The Hunger Games has become nostalgic for me, kind of like The X-Files (my oldest, truest, and longest fan obsession). I like to visit it, pick up my copies off my book shelf, thumb through the pages, find passages again, and relish in the memories, the feelings. But I’m a big fat cheater now, because I do almost the same thing with the Outlander books, as well as the television series.

Before I get comments flung at me saying things like “Outlander is a romance novel series! Ew!” I’m going to preemptively defend the stance that it’s not. It’s a science fiction fantasy, and historical drama, that also has an intense, complicated, heated love story weaving through its probably more than a million pages. If I was going to compare Outlander to anything though, I’d say that it reminds me of Battlestar Galactica in its scope, its drama, its humor, its world building, and its characterization. And coincidentally the executive producer of the Starz adaptation of the book series is the executive producer of Battlestar Galactica. Go figure!

Things that Outlander and The Hunger Games have in common: The lead character is a strong, capable, willful, opinionated female. That said character, just like Katniss is thrust into an impossible situation and has to make due with her wits, and the skills she possesses. Sensitive, brave, and charming male counterparts, that are equal in characterization to the female lead. Bad things happen, really bad things, like death, and limbs being lost, also sea sickness. Epic story that spans years, locations, and there’s surprisingly a lot of fashion talk. A love triangle, a really really complicated love triangle. Livestock.

I’m a cheater, and I admit it– but Jamie Fraser made me do it, and it was so worth it. Sorry Peeta.

James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser... er Sam Heughan

James Alexander Malcolm McKenzie Fraser… er Sam Heughan

Homeless Peeta

Mockingjay Part 1 had some significant changes from the book. The biggest is Effie in District Thirteen, and I think we all love that.  There was another change that’s insignificant in Part 1 but raises some questions for the ending of Part 2.

The Capitol destroyed Peeta’s house!

Movie Catching Fire already changed where Peeta’s house was a little – making him live directly across from Katniss instead of “three houses away.” The closer proximity made for a more cinematic snow kiss reunion scene, so that makes sense.

It’s clear from the short scene in Mockingjay Part 1 when Katniss returns to District 12 that the houses across the way from Katniss’s home are destroyed. This is another change from the book, where “the grass has been scorched and the gray snow fell here as well, but the twelve fine houses of Victor’s Village are unscathed.”

Sorry, Peeta. In the movie you not only lose your mind and your family, but you lose your house too (on the bright side, you got to keep your leg!)

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As mentioned, this change has no bearing on Mockingjay Part 1, but it does raise questions about the ending of Part 2 when Peeta returns to District 12. Does he live with Haymitch first? I can’t really imagine him planting the Primroses and then saying to Katniss, “I planted them for her. Can we shack up now?” Nah, that’s got to take a little more time.

The nearly total destruction of the Victor’s Village could indicate that they’re going to make the ending stray even more from the books, but I don’t really want to wrap my mind around that possibility yet. For now, I’m just going to assume that Peeta stays with Haymitch for a while, continuing to recover, as Katniss and Peeta “grow back together” and then shack up, maybe even in a new house eventually. Because in the end, I can’t imagine Katniss and Peeta choosing to live in a house given to them by “winning” the Hunger Games if they could live anywhere else. I think they would want to start fresh in a different home as soon as they were able to get out of there.

I hope Haymitch’s oven is still working. Boy’s gotta bake.

JJ

Unnerving Characters of The Hunger Games

Cross-fandom inspiration time!

On Day 11 of the 12 days of Pottermore, JK Rowling talked about Draco Malfoy. Particularly, she mentioned how “unnerved” she was by the massive amounts of Draco fangirls who assumed that under all the bullying, bigotry, and general cowardice, the character actually has a heart of gold. The author said she’d had to drop some truth about the character plenty of times in the past: As much as people will romanticize him, he’s still a pretty awful person who never really shook off all that bigotry.

Now, Draco Malfoy is the victim of fans romanticizing him under the “Bad Boy With A Heart Of Gold” stereotype. We loathe this trope beyond all others. Draco is not this trope, nor are Hunger Games characters that fanon (fan canon, that is) wants to trope up, like Finnick and Gale.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other characters for which the immense fan love might be considered a bit “unnerving” in the eyes of Suzanne Collins, even if they don’t necessarily romanticize the character. Perhaps they love him for the sheer fun and easy entertainment, the swagger and the smile.

You know who we’re talking about…

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No, seriously!

Caesar Flickerman has pizazz FOR DAYS. He makes us laugh. His style is unmatched. So we all love him, right?!

What we often overlook is that underneath it all, Caesar Flickerman is a pretty fucking awful human being.

We might think he’s just the standard vain, mindless Hollywood entertainer type, but not really. Caesar maintained his fame because he was the best spokesperson for the annual systematic sacrifice for children. He reassures and perpetuates lies in order to give a dictatorship the upper hand. When he interviews Peeta in Mockingjay, he absolutely knows that Peeta is being tortured and repeating carefully rehearsed falsities.

Book!Caesar is pretty much President Snow’s right-hand man. In the films, we’re provided with Antonius and Egeria, who kind of serve as intermediate Ministers of Propaganda. In the books, they don’t exist, so it’s easy to imagine Caesar is involved in plotting media relations that oppress and mislead the people. Especially since Snow sits off to the side and monitors all his segments. Even if he’s not so much involved in the planning in the films, he’s still the mainstay responsible for the execution of said plans.

So he manipulates, oppresses, and coerces. But he does it in a glitter tux with purple hair and a day-glo grin, so we forgive em!

We’re all quite susceptible to Caesar’s charms. And really, it’s not our fault– It’s Stanley Tucci’s!

But now that you think about it… isn’t that character adoration kinda unnerving?

Stick That In Your Holiday Pipe And Smoke It!
The Girl With The Pearl

Victor’s Village Holiday Giveaway 2014!

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiime of the year!

Well, kinda. We mean, Mockingjay Part 1 hype is mostly over and there’s roughly 8,000 things to do and everyone’s finances are pretty bleak… BUT we’re going to put a little pep in your step this holiday season with a chance to win some incredible Hunger Games themed prizes!

There’s no major tasks or hoops to jump through this year, mainly because we totally procrastinated on this sucker. You’re welcome!

So let’s look at the stellar prizes, shall we?

Custom Hanging Tree Lyrics Mug by CuppaCharisma

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As if winning this gorgeous mug with some poignant Hunger Games lyrics on it wasn’t enough, CuppaCharisma is going to customize the back of the mug with a bare tree and the winner’s first name!

Mockingjay Shot Glass Set by CosplayKreations

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A set of 3 of these etched 1.5oz beauties could also be yours! Glassware is a great way to show off fandom without getting too flashy and… what can we say? We like shots!

Catching Fire Best Buy Steelbook Edition
The Hunger Games/Catching Fire Wal-Mart DVD Combo Pack

THG-Catching-fire-Steelbook-3DScreen-Shot-2014-01-27-at-10.11.59-AM

Looking to collect ALL the Catching Fire DVD editions or know someone who is? You’re in luck! Two runners up will receive either a Catching Fire Best Buy Steelbook edition or The Hunger Games/Catching Fire Wal-Mart DVD Combo Pack!

ENTER THE HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY HERE!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Our holiday contest is open internationally. Contest ends on December 27th. Winners will be contacted on December 28th.

No matter what you celebrate, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Hunger Games Anniversaries

We’re getting a little nostalgic at Victor’s Village lately. The third movie is out, and there’s only one more to go. And four years ago, talk of the impending first movie going into production was swirling about. Personally, this time of year makes me remember that fateful day four years ago when I was really bored and thought “what the hell?” and downloaded the book to my Kindle. AND MY WORLD CHANGED FOREVER.

Yes Katniss, I was an idiot. I deserve it.

Yes Katniss, I was an idiot. I deserve it.

Not, the best or sweetest anecdote, but the odds were not in The Hunger Games‘s favor that I would read it. In December 2010 I was an MBA student, which meant I spent so much time reading business cases and articles that I really didn’t read for pleasure anymore. I’d heard plenty about the books and knew they were bestsellers but I didn’t read anything so silly as YOUNG ADULT books. Because young adult books to me were Twilight, a movie that I watched once when I was drunk. And The Hunger Games sounded really violent and I told myself I didn’t like stories with too much violence.

Ok, feel free to despise 2010 me for being the judgmental, close-minded kind of person that I complain about now. But at least fate intervened, and I learned my lesson. Which is why I tend to harass people who are doubters to read the book because I swear to them that IT WILL SURPRISE YOU in so many wonderful ways. And that they will still be so engaged in the story that four years later they will happily write things about it twice a week. Oh, wait that’s me.

It’s funny the little things in life that point you in new directions. Because my decision making process to read the book was so mundane. I was bored since my finals were done and my flight home wasn’t for a few days. While lazing on my couch, I read this little blurb in Entertainment Weekly about Gary Ross being selected to direct the movie and figured I’d finally give the book a chance. I guess I owe a lot to Entertainment Weekly for giving me that final nudge? Wow, it feels uncomfortable saying that.

Within a few pages I knew I had made the right decision. I knew because I loved Katniss. I felt like I understood her and understood how she viewed the world, which is incredibly bizarre to say since I’d experienced 0.01% of the trauma in my life that Katniss had at even the beginning of the book. Yet I still felt a kinship with her from those first few pages that only grew as it went along.  I was so surprised how Suzanne Collins skewered all the things that worried me about our culture, how RELEVANT it all was. I was not expecting that. I was not expecting that at all from a book about “kids killing kids.” I got so into it that I yelled out a lot, I punched my couch a lot, I had to get up and jump around to release all my nervous energy because the book gets so intense. And I got so attached to Peeta midway (before the announcement of the 2 winner possibility) that I had to go to Wikipedia and spoil myself a little bit to know that he did not die at the end of the book (I figured Katniss would win, I knew there were 2 more books and didn’t figure Suzanne Collins quite for the George RR Martin type). I couldn’t bear to keep going if he died. Suzanne Collins made me love him just too much. Overall she made me feel too much. So by about 8pm that night I was done and buzzing with excitement. I couldn’t believe what an incredible book I’d just read.

Maybe it’s the surprise of falling in love with a story out of the blue, of realizing you were so utterly wrong about something, but December 17, 2010 is an important day for me. Reading THG made me realize, like so many others, that the “Young Adult” stigma was keeping me from a lot of great stories. While I have yet to find a “YA” book that I love as much as THG, I’ve learned that no matter what age group they are primarily marketed to, good books are good books. So tomorrow I’ll probably mark the day by picking up the book and reliving it again.

 What made you decide to pick up The Hunger Games?

JJ

My One Mockingjay Part 1 Gripe

It’s hard to believe it but after three films in The Hunger Games franchise, and after so many gripes about Gary Ross’s treatment, and then my barely there gripes about Francis Lawrence’s treatment of Catching Fire– I only have one, count it ONEMockingjay-gale-poster gripe about Mockingjay Part 1. And that gripe is this, Gale Hawthorne is effectively an orphan.

I know, I know there’s something wrong with me, ’cause my gripe is for all intents and purposes the stripping away Gale of pretty much everything that made him sympathetic in the first place. The fact that he had a family to take care of, not just Katniss, and Katniss’s family, but one all of his own. There was Posy, and Vic, and Rory, and his mother Hazelle. But like Madge Undersee, or Greasy Sae, or Delly Cartwright, Gale’s family was cut down to a brief mention of his “brothers” in The Hunger Games, and then a feigned responsibility to them in Catching Fire by taking up work in the mines, and then finally in Mockingjay Part 1, they’re just no where.

So what happened to Gale’s family? Were they seen as extraneous, or an unneeded distraction from the main points of the story? In my head I’d like to imagine that Gale’s family was on the story boards for a while, they may have even had thoughts of casting them. But then it got away from the creators of the franchise, that they figured Gale alone, stately, tall, and handsome would be enough, and that expanding his home life would not have made him more easy to love, and more of a rival for the affections Katniss has for Peeta. But from where I’m sitting, even though Gale is all of those things, stately, strong, handsome, and solo– he’s not an island, and knowing more about him as a person rather than just a hunter, and a soldier, and a friend– may have been a boon to the story, and perhaps to Liam Hemsworth as an actor. That being said, I loved Mockingjay Part 1 as a film, and if Gale’s family was the sacrifice they made to make it as good as I believe it is, I’ll take it.

So, that’s my one gripe– Gale Hawthorne’s is a storyboard orphan.

Them There Eyes

Preparing For Mockingjay: Girlie Style

No I have not seen Mockingjay: Part 1 yet! So while I’m doing my best to avoid Twitter, most of my friends Facebook updates, Instagram, and basically every single internet platform not yet hacked by some miscreant cyber gang from Russia– I’m boiling over with unfettered anticipation, and I’m doing what any semi sane Hunger Games fan would be doing– I’m planning out my movie going outfit, of course!

Is it sad that I plan out movie going outfits? Specifically outfits that I’ll be wearing to see Hunger Games movies? I’ve already mapped it all out though, and yes I am wholly aware of how ridiculously girlie this behavior is. I can’t begrudge myself that though, ’cause last time I checked I am a girl! Anyway, if you must know, because I’m likely not going to take a massa_560x0 amount of selfies on the occasion, I’ll be in black, and I’ll be sporting red lipstick, because it’s become sort of a tradition. Every year since The Hunger Games world premiere in Los Angeles, I have warn red lipstick to see the movies for the first time. I guess I’ve always done this because I like idea of old Hollywood glamor, and in my world glamor equates to mildly uncomfortable makeup, and impossibly high heels. This year I’m foregoing the heels though. But what about the rest of me though? But of course since I’ve got one I gotta take it out for what’s probably going to be its only adventure outside ever, a replica headscarf of Effie’s District 13 kerchief. Why? ‘Cause I really want to annoy the people around me with the little ears it’ll put on top of my head. Also, because it’s honestly the only wearable piece of Hunger Games merchandise that I own. Nope, I don’t even own a Mockingjay pin.

So, while I’m probably going to smear lipstick all over my chin during the course of the film, and my mascara is going to run when it gets to any scene involving Peeta– I’m hoping beyond any modicum vanity that I have that Mockingjay: Part 1 lives up to the expectations that I’ve had for it since I read the novel in 2010, four years ago. I think out of all the books Mockingjay is the one that I read and said “this needs to be on a screen!” It might be the scope of war, or the propos, or the emotional rise and fall of the story– but this is the one, the one I need to be better than the last two. Because while The Hunger Games was good, and Catching Fire was as well, Mockingjay can’t rest on its laurels. That’s just my point of view though, not anyone else.

I’ll be seeing Part 1 tomorrow in a 21 and over theatre, so I may take a tipple to help the Peeta feels, cheers Tributes! See you on the other side.

Them There Eyes

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?
Peetasgirl