Category Archives: Books

Katniss Everdeen and Girls Who Obviously Do Things #LikeAGirl

Dear ladies,

In case you didn’t already know it, we’re gross. So much so that the whole advertising world is busy telling us how gross we are in an effort to help us conceal our unholy level of disgusting, because we should totally be ashamed!

These companies sell us (and in part help create) our insecurities. But don’t worry! Then they empower us! How, you ask? By making us feel insecure about having said insecurities, of course!

Thankfully, The Hunger Games isn’t like that. They may sell clothes, makeup, and nail polish that represent the selfish, ignorant elitists of the tale that should in no way be glorified. They may try to sell us elongated sandwiches full of irony to promote a film about the struggles of the starving and underprivileged. They may soften the collective fan experience by only letting people who possess certain technologies or live near certain stores get exclusive early access. But they would never exploit Katniss’ gender as a means to pander to a false empowerment campa— OH WAIT.

*blink blink* WHAT?

First off, as many fans have discussed several times over on every Hunger Games related form on the Internet– Katniss Everdeen does things LIKE A GUY. One of the most interesting thing about her is that she transcends gender stereotypes by taking on traditionally masculine roles. If anything, Peeta is the one who does things #LikeAGirl.

Don’t get us wrong– we still think Katniss has a hefty dose of femininity and is a great role model. But she can be a great role model for ANYONE, not just girls. If Katniss and Peeta’s genders were reversed, the main character would still be a great role model. To say that her accomplishments matter BECAUSE she is a woman and that she should inspire girls any more than boys is just ludicrous.

Does she get super secret strength just from having her monthly period? Is that what makes her such a great hunter, strategist, and leader? DID WE MISS THAT PART OF THE NOVELS?!

Also, this totally fails to empower us. It has the opposite effect:

  • Katniss Everdeen is made of pure awesome. She fights for justice, leads a nation, and creates a new way of life for the entire populace of a struggling society.. and hey, she’s a woman!
  • Well, I’m a woman and I do none of those things. Therefore, I SUCK. And don’t dare try to tell me I could sway the nation and lead a bloody human rights revolution right now, because then you’re just lying.

Then Always jumps in to really drive that point home:

Yikes.

We really, really hope this isn’t a long-term, ongoing partnership with this brand. It’s straight up patronizing: “Oh look, she’s a strong, heroic leader AND a woman! Let’s all stop and treat that like an anomaly!”

A major facet in Katniss’ likability factor is that she hates misleading campaigns that paint her as a false hero for the people. In a strange way, that’s what makes her a real hero.

It’s painful to equate that Katniss’ success and power to the fact that she, just like all the other women out there, survives that time of the month. In fact, it gives us cramps. Katniss never seems to get cramps. Dammit, we can’t ever measure up to this chick!

All in all, we think our friend Joan said it best when it comes to the premise of this whole campaign:

And There Goes The One Topic We Never Thought We’d Come Across Here,
The Girl With The Pearl

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Applicability, Schapplicability: More Mockingjay Musings

We’ve got BONUS guest posts for you this week! Check out another Mockingjay musing from Satsuma, who sees plenty of opportunity of historical parallels in the final two films!

________________________________________________

Here I am, trying to make more predictions about the MJ movies. My last post dealt with their possible approach to romance. This one focuses more on the politics. Specifically, whether the movies will continue to make references to historical political events that have parallels to what happens in Panem.

Sometimes we forget that people actually LIVED here

Sometimes we forget that people actually LIVED here

I say “continue to”, because both THG and CF seemed to make a directed effort to make viewers consider the parallels, in many subtle ways. Maybe it’s just me, but the “Capitol = Rome” set-up SC created seems to have actually taken a back seat, with more modern examples of tyranny and oppression being focused on more. We have the Capitol set design from THG, inspired by “brutalist” architecture used by the Nazi’s, as well as Tianamen Square; and the use of Henry River Mill village, a real life “company town” (though for a different industry than coal) for the Seam.

And while this isn’t expressly political, I was also quite struck by the Capitol equivalent of a sports book that was showcased in that movie, especially as we see gambling in all forms becoming more and more socially acceptable these days in the US, and states trying to get a cut of the action; not just the state lotteries, but, for example, how Governor Christie of New Jersey recently attempted to legalize sports gambling in his state). And while FYI I admit I never “got” the whole allure of gambling, certainly one can argue that it’s yet another way that the “powers that be” can distract citizens from more serious issues.

In CF, the D11 design actually tweaked aspects of canon, such as showing workers picking cotton instead of fruit as they did in the book, to drive the “D11 = Deep South”, not just geographically but culturally as well, to the extent of giving the Peacekeepers attack dogs that I bet Bull Connor would have loved to own. (Brief history lesson: Connor was a notorious segregationist “Commissioner of Public Safety” in Birmingham, AL, who cracked down harshly on civil rights protestors in the 1960s. I’ve even wondered if Connor’s deceptively benign job title, helped inspire the “Peacekeeper” moniker.)

And not only did CF harken back to the 1960’s, it also showed “rebellion” footage that seemed straight out of the Arab Spring. I’m sure that was no co-incidence.

Bull Connor

Bull Connor

Especially knowing that Danny Strong wrote the first scripts, I’m sure that MJ will continue to showcase these historical and political parallels. (Note that, as has been mentioned on this blog before, “Game Change” actually has a lot of similarities to MJ even though Sarah Palin is VERY different from Katniss in many ways, both feature a female character “campaigning” for a cause and frequently “going rogue” and disregarding the scripts their handlers want them to follow.)

Note that the MJ marketing again touched on the idea of “Panem field hands = African Americans”, considering the race of the woman chosen to represent the Grain district (even though she likely hailed from the Midwest, not as strongly associated with the African American civil rights struggle as the Deep South, though certainly the North had/has its own issues with racism as well.)

Unfortunately, it’s likely too late for the MJ movies to draw the obvious parallels between the MJ rebellion and what’s happening at the Ukraine-Russia border these days, right down to innocent civilians being caught in the cross-fire, with each side pointing the finger at the other as the culprit for a wartime atrocity. Much as in MJ, I wonder if we’ll ever find out the REAL story about who shot down that airliner. (On the other hand, there’s still almost two years worth of marketing to go…)

But we know that the Iraq war helped to inspire SC to write this story, as did her father’s experiences as a soldier in Vietnam. I can certainly see, for example, a shot of rebels dragging down a statue of Snow, much as Saddam Hussein’s statue bit the dust. Or perhaps we’ll see a shot of Snow being dragged out of a bunker somewhere. And while Julianne Moore’s description of D13 seems more consistent with “Jericho” and other post-apocalyptic societies than the historical Soviet Union, I wouldn’t be surprised if there is some reference to the idea of “Capitol = US, D13 = USSR”; perhaps a nod to classic Cold War era movies such as “Dr. Strangelove” (which itself based the not-so-good Doctor partly on Werner von Brown, who managed to jump from serving the Nazis in WWII to directing NASA in the 1960s; hmm, that sounds almost like what Plutarch did, actually).

Finally, the reason I titled this post “Applicability”, is that the current events in Crimea really did impress me with how applicable this series is to the Ukraine/Russia conflict, even though SC wrote the books years before this conflict flared up. In both, we have rebels who want to break away from one problematic regime, yet are backed by another regime that has many problematic aspects as well. This is one reason I think this series may remain relevant for a while, even after the last MJ movie.

Satsuma

Product This

Awhile back, like a couple of years ago– I wrote about the prospect of The Hunger Games utilizing the tried and truth money-making method of product placement. However, now that a few major companies have made brief, and lasting partnerships with the franchise (Cover Girl, Subway) I’m struck with the thought again of “what if?” In the case of the most recent news of Lionsgate having sold the trailer debut of the first Mockingjay film to Samsung, I’m struck even harder with “what if?” But now it’s pulsing, and loud, and um… annoying.

What if Samsung are the makers of all those futuristic projection televisions we’ve seen in the last two Hunger Games films. Or worse, what if in Mockingjay: Part Two the Holo that Boggs carries around in the field is made by Samsung as well? What if for some ridiculous reason Lionsgate decides that in the last installments of the series to throw integrity aside, and forget that the companies of our world no longer exist, and have no place in the world of Panem. But alas they start

I totes want an Audi now

I totes want an Audi now

throwing in familiar, contemporary logos and symbols left and right, like a Spielberg or Robert Zemeckis film. Granted those directors were more tasteful than gratuitous with their usage of product placement, dare I say it– they perfected it, but things could change. They could do close ups on Snow’s white, blue veined hand reaching out and clicking a button on his projection television, and the Samsung logo is clear and prominent, like Audi in iRobot, or Omega in Casino Royale, or Ducati in Tron: Legacy– or the worst offender of them all, almost every frame in Talledega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Speculation you will be the death of us!? Damn… I want a Coke.

Them There Eyes

The Real Big “R” Question for Mockingjay – Not Ratings, but Romance

Today we have a great guest post by Satsuma on a topic that brings out a lot of passion in the fandom.


Okay, first things first.  I confess that it wasn’t just the (rather scanty) Mockingjay news so far that brought this question to my mind.

No, I must credit the inspiration for this topic, of how much romance is appropriate for a sci-fi, action-packed “young adult” tale to, of all things, LEGOs — the LEGO ninjas who star in the Cartoon Network show, “Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu”. Think LEGO Star Wars mixed with kung-fu.  For a series of 22-minute LEGO commercials, the show can be surprisingly deep; there is one Big Bad Palpatine/Sauron-like villain, but other antagonists are quite humanized, including Darth -er, Lord Garmadon, or the snake-like Serpentine clans, who actually have legitimate reasons to be angry at mankind.

The show is targeted mostly at young boys, and the 4 ninjas (Kai, Jay, Zane, and Cole)  are all male, as is the Chosen One, Lloyd. But there is one significant female character; Nya, Kai’s sister. Nya is a mecha wiz who dresses up in a robo-Samurai-suit to fight evil, and often bests the boys at their game.

Seasons 1 and 2 of the show had a touch of innocent romance between Nya and Jay, but this was far from the focus.  But suddenly, in season 3, Nya wound up in a love triangle between Jay and fellow ninja Cole.  A love interest appeared for Zane as well, and it even turned out that Lord Garmadon and his brother, Sensei Wu, had both wooed Padm – er, Misako in the past.

Well, the fan reaction to all this romance, was, essentially, “ewwww”!  Not just from the young boys, but the tween girls who were the likely target of it. Many female fans of the show were annoyed that Nya was turned into yet another Bella-like ingenue torn between two suitors, as opposed to a heroine in her own right who just happened to be dating another ensemble character.

And so this brings me to Mockingjay, and the debates over how much romance will, and should, be in the films.  It seems the fan consensus for THG was that one of the film’s major flaws was how the K/P ship was not only downplayed, but done so in a way that shorted Peeta as a character.  For the CF movie, I was mostly satisfied both with the “balance” between K/P and K/G and the overall amount of romance , but I certainly recall some Everlarkers griping “no plant book scene”, “no rooftop scene”, or “that beach kiss was NOT passionate enough” (I actually agree with the last one; it was cute, but not one that made me think Katniss was having sexy feelings down below, the way the book scene certainly did.)

How much of this will we see in Mockingjay Part 2? (Source: tigriss92.tumblr.com)

How much of this will we see in Mockingjay Part 2? (Source: tigriss92.tumblr.com)

What will we see in the MJ films, though?  Certainly, two films give the film-makers extra time for romance, but that doesn’t mean all the book scenes will make it in. Some of the extra time will be given to added scenes, such as battles, or exposition scenes between Snow and his new adviser, Antonius, and we’ll likely get a peek at Coin’s machinations as well.  So in keeping with the general trends, I forecast some romantic scenes being edited, cut down, or merged with others.

Again, the “balance” between K/P and K/G will be crucial, especially given Peeta’s absence in most of Part 1, and the difficulty even SC herself had with sinking K/G not only as a romance, but as a friendship as well (I refer, again, to the many “post-MJ” fanfics that feature a K/G reconciliation at least as friends.)

What I think fans also should keep in mind, is that the MJ book itself was a much less “romantic” a book than certainly CF, or even THG. To me, even before Peeta reappeared, MJ made it obvious that the only potential K/G had, even without the clashes in values, was a “lifeboat camaraderie” type friendship with some  “hurt/comfort” thrown in.  (And to be fair, K/P has these aspects as well, but goes beyond it in a way K/G didn’t.)  Note that SC herself had to be nudged by her editor into writing “more of the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle”.  (Source)

Now, this little tidbit makes me highly suspect that the very Twilight-ish “who will she choose” scene between Peeta and Gale in Tigris’s shop was added on by SC in response to her editor’s suggestions.  Considering how the films so far have tended to cut out the “cheesier” romantic scenes and lines, I think that if we do see the scene, it will be quite cut down, though Gale’s “she’ll choose who she can’t survive without” comment may be left in.   And it certainly may, as Katniss’s later musings about “what I need to survive” show much about the characters of all Love Triangle Trio members. Also, in the books, Katniss only reflects on this comment internally.  Certainly, book!Katniss actually verbalizing her complicated feelings to Peeta (or to Gale) would have been quite OOC.  But movie!Katniss is not quite as introverted (a change I certainly prefer to cheesy voice-overs), and it will be interesting to see how the movie converts her thoughts to actual dialogue.  In this way, I can see the MJ movies having a more “romantic” component than the books.

My own take on the series is that, romance is certainly a large component of it; certainly more than the Y-7 rated Ninjago.  Not only do we have the central love triangle, we also have Mr. M, Mrs. E and Mr. E, Annie and Finnick, and so on.  I certainly don’t agree with the extreme anti-romance “Katniss was incapable of loving anyone but Prim, she just chose Peeta because she was stuck with him and did what she could to survive” theory.  But in the end, it is NOT a romance in terms of the genre.  So I’m not personally going to wait with baited breath for each book kiss to appear on the scene.

I think SC meant for the romance to take a back seat in MJ, and only be established towards the end, in the context of not only two hot bodies going at it, but a long-lasting relationship that produces children, to provide a ray of hope at the end.   I also hope the films convey the idea that the “choice” between Peeta and Gale wasn’t just a choice between two men (unlike Nya’s choice, as her suitors are both “good guys” who pretty much look the same except for wig and costume) but one between two different ways of life.  Can movie!Katniss become one of the few pop culture heroines who isn’t JUST a “romantic” or “action” heroine, but transcends both?

One can only hope.

-Satsuma

Wedded Bliss

Sometimes reality takes a hold of us here at Victor’s Village in both good and bad ways. Jobs take us away, holidays to locations where Internet access is shoddy at best, or maybe perhaps there’s a wedding to celebrate? I didn’t ask if it was alright to bring this up before hand, but if you haven’t noticed lately that The Girl With The Pearl has not been posting articles penned by her self lately, you all should tumblr_lr9sagvJTd1qztwteknow by now that that’s because she’s been body snatched by a white gown wearing lady person. Der, she’s getting married! Or better yet, she got married– today actually. So if you’re not ready to throw virtual confetti at her (’cause rice kills birds fools), you’re sad and need to go regroup post-haste!

Ahhhhhh!! Congratulations The Girl With The Pearl!!

All the wedding planning was probably both a challenge as well as a bit of a thrill. But I can’t help but think of parallels between our dear founder’s wedding planning, and subsequent wedding bliss (I saw pictures, looked pretty blissful to me), with the only wedding fully realized in the beloved series that brought us all together here at Victor’s Village. I’m speaking of course of the wedding of Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta in Mockingjay. Annie and Finnick’s wedding wasn’t that different from most people’s I think, there was cake, there were vows, there were tears, and there was dancing, and music. Only difference I can think of between a normal North American wedding like our dear Girl With The Pearl’s, and Finnick and Annie’s was a lack of planning. I know that The Girl With The Pearl’s wedding and reception took months on end to plan out, Annie and Finnick’s was somewhat spontaneous, and more of a reprieve from the chaos, and upheaval of the war situation their world was surrounded with, as well as by. The Girl With The

No idea if it looked like this, but yum anyway

No idea if it looked like this, but yum anyway

Pearl and her now husband do not live in a war state, and planning of their wedding was an absolute necessity considering logistics of family, as well as most other contemporary expectations, and I’d also like to think of their wedding and reception as the reprieve from planning all of it! Annie and Finnick seemed to just kind of show up, Annie wore a borrowed dress from Katniss’ vast Capitol wardrobe, not out of choice, but out of necessity as she literally owned nothing wedding worthy after being rescued from the clutches of the Capitol. The Girl With The Pearl on the other hand found her dress months ago, and went to multiple fittings so it would fit perfectly. Annie, well– Annie dawned Katniss’ dress and hoped for the best on the day of her wedding. Who had the right idea though? That’s a question that can never be answered I’m afraid. Why? Because one’s a fictional wedding between two fictional people, and The Girl With The Pearl and her husband are very real people.

On that note, let’s all wish them a happy Honeymoon, and all collectively hold our breath for those few minutes in Mockingjay: Part Two when we finally get to see Finnick and Annie’s wedding on a flickering screen and not playing out in our heads.

Congratulations Kait, erm… I mean The Girl With The Pearl!

Them There Eyes

 

Unity: President Snow’s Second Address

The second Mockingjay: Part 1 teaser trailer rolled out today, or more like this morning around 9am PST. We were better prepared this time I’d like to think, what with the rumors, and then the um, well this thing.

Unity

I like surprises as much as the next person, and face it surprises are few and far between on this wonderful thing called the Interwebz (yes… with a Z). Where it comes to promotional material however, especially promotional material for gigantic film franchises that have grossed a bazillion dollars world-wide– the element of surprise is as rare as a polar bear on a tropical island. In the case of this mega-huge franchise, surprise is really more of a game of cat and mouse between some movie theatre employees with loose morals, and perhaps under paid Lionsgate employees and/or contractors. Loose morals seem to mostly be what the Interwebz is based on though, so it really shouldn’t be so disappointing that snippets, or entire swaths of secreted promotional material keeps leaking out before it’s planned release date. Like I said, it’s a game of cat and mouse, but this time around I think Lionsgate won the round, and I’m not exactly sure who was the cat or the mouse anyway.

Who cares about all that though, jeeze! Let’s talk about the damn teaser trailer!

I hate saying this, who am I kidding– no I don’t! But, Peeta’s pats are very distracting, perhaps I was sleep watching the first teaser, or perhaps I was too busy being simultaneously creeped-out, and amazed at Josh’s turning his face to the camera, and looking down the lens like a soulless Child of the Corn. But, yeah– damn Peeta’s pants are on the screaming side of tight. Not painted on tight, more– “oh hey, I’m noticing things I don’t always want to notice on a person who’s supposed to be playing a character who is significantly younger than my self.” I digress though, ’cause even if my previous words sound a little Judge-y McJudgerson, I’m not complaining about the tightness of Peeta’s pants, I’m just noticing it like the heterosexual female that I am, and forever dubbing Josh the new carrier of the name Captain Tightpants.

Pants aside, the subtlety of these first two teasers is something I’ve been personally yearning for as a Hunger Games fan. The fact that the teasers themselves are based on content from Mockingjay the novel, or information from Mockingjay the novel, tickles my little booknerd heart. Because as much as Lionsgate has tried to play the audience as the Capitol and nothing else seemingly, what with its partnership with cosmetics companies, and fast food restaurants, I think they’ve finally realized that the series’ content its self was material enough for some killer concepts behind promotional material, and also that the audience is not solely the Capitol, we’re also the Districts. That’s why the teasers are augmented and/or altered versions of the propo addresses Snow conducted in the novel.

I brought up subtlety a bit ago, and I’m attesting that to the background players. Hats, shoes, socks off to Josh Hutcherson for either his choice, or Francis Lawrence’s direction to very slightly shake his head at certain points in President Snow’s address. Like when Snow says “never have we been more unified…” Peeta shakes his head. Or when Snow says “Panem is speaking with one voice.” Now, the head shaking can be interpreted several ways, one of which could be that he’s shaking his head to try to clear his foggy hijacked brain thing. Or two, that he’s disagreeing with what Snow is saying. Either way, the choice looks and feels like a good one from this particular fans point of view. There is a third possibility of what those head shakes mean however, they could mean nothing at all. As a fan of the series though, I’m hoping with every fiber of my being that they do mean more than head tremors, and that Josh can’t stand still to save his life!

Oh yeah, and then Beetee broke through the transmission, said his line, and the crowd went wild!

Is it November yet?

Them There Eyes

Books For Tributes: A Literacy Revolution

Books For Tributes Image NEW--USE THIS ONE

Three years ago, I started a blog to talk about this amazing book I read. You might have heard of it- it was called The Hunger Games. It wasn’t anything extraordinary, just me talking about my thoughts on things like video games and Finnick and Annie… until I wrote a post about the personal impact reading the series had on me, not only as a reader, but as a citizen of the world:

“It would be an understatement to say that I was a wreck. I like happy endings. I can deal with loss, and death, and sadness, as long as at the end good triumphs over evil. To me, no one won at the end of Mockingjay.

It felt so sad, so hopeless in those hours after I finished the book. I couldn’t let it end like that. I needed to give myself a happy ending.

The Hunger Games series is a book about many things, but for me the realistic depiction of how poverty and oppression go hand in hand was at the heart of the books. The districts were easily manipulated by the Capitol not only by a deprivation of resources, but also (and more importantly) by a deprivation of information. It is not until the Districts gain the ability to learn and communicate with one another that the Rebellion is born.

Education powers revolutions.”

I put my words into action and went to donorschoose.org. There I found a project from a teacher in New York City:

“My Students: My Latino and African-American students attend a high poverty school in New York City.

They are 13 going on 14, have a nose for injustice, and love to argue. I need The Hunger Games to give their voices a focus. After I discussed the book on the first day of school, they were hooked. They would love a chance to investigate a current social issue and try to solve it. As we will read this novel later in the year, they will also have a chance to apply their Social Studies lessons.

My Project: The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel full of social issues that the students will identify and define. For each issue, they will need to explain how external events shaped it, how it shapes a character’s choices and relationships with others, and how it inspires characters to act and change their social environments. At the end, they will choose a social issue we face (problem) and think of ways to change it (solution). The unit not only allows them to examine how literature reflects society, it helps them see the complexities of real social issues. By discussing the issues and thinking of creative solutions, they are laying the groundwork for a better future.

Unfortunately, my school does not have the money to purchase 35 books. Reading is fundamental to a good education. Please help me provide my students with the resources necessary to foster my students’ minds!”

I donated and then spammed my family and friends through social media until the project was fully funded. The teacher was thrilled, the students had access to books they were genuinely excited about reading, and I had that warm fuzzy feeling that only comes with helping someone else out… and I wanted more.

Through the support and help from Savanna and Adam of the Fireside Chat and DownWithTheCapitol, we started a small movement to fund more teachers looking to use the series in their classrooms. This was back in the early days of the fandom- the Fireside Chat was about a month old and DWTC less than a year with only a handful of other sites out there; but our small band of rebels was still able to help two classrooms get the books they needed.

Fast forward to now: the Hunger Games is a global phenomenon: there are dozens (if not hundreds of fan sites); the Fireside Chat logged 130 episodes, and there are almost 20,000,000 fans on The Hunger Games’ official Facebook page. I’d say it’s time to try this literacy revolution over again.

Let’s get Books For Tributes.

My goal is to fund teachers across the country looking to put The Hunger Games in their classrooms and libraries using donorschoose.org.

As of today, I have 45 projects queued up on this donorschoose campaign page, and every. single. one. of them is looking to place our favorite book series into the hands of kids across the US.

So, let’s do it.

Let’s stand with the Mockingjay and start a Literacy Revolution. Our goal is simple. As Hunger Games fans who believe in equity and empowerment, we will work to fund as many as possible of the requests for Hunger Games books posted on donorschoose.org.

We’ll take it one class at a time—just as Katniss and the Rebels worked District by District to overthrow the Capitol. Give as much or as little as you like, as often as you wish. When we fully fund a project, I’ll let you know on the Books For Tributes twitter and Facebook pages.

When you donate please place the following somewhere in your personal message:

“I gave to this project because I’m with the Mockingjay, and support a literacy revolution in American classrooms. #books4tributes”

When you tweet about donating please use #books4tributes

Let’s set a goal to fund these 45 projects before Mockingjay hits theaters this fall, so that when we see Katniss on screen, fighting the Capitol, we can know that we’ve done our part to fuel our own revolution in Panem.

Fire is catching, and we are the spark. And if we put our hearts and minds behind this effort, the Capitol doesn’t stand a chance.

*three finger salute*
Shylah

The Hunger Games Franchise: No Foodie In Sight

I like food, no I love food, and one joy I have in being a self-proclaimed Foodie is this– Foodie Movies. The Hunger Games franchise are not foodie movies however, and to say that I’m disappointed by this would be a mild understatement. The Hunger Games books were Foodie books though, what with Suzanne Collins’ pros about delicious dishes like lamb stew with dried plums, and back story that Katniss was named for the wild Katniss tuber (potato like plant). Safe to say it, but the book entire series is chock-a-block full of heavenly Foodie enticing material, right down to even the squirrels, and the unfortunate exposition that the people of District 12 sometimes had to prepare mice as food for themselves.

There are Foodie movies out there though, a lot actually. And thankfully you have me here to tell you about a select few, well– if you’re into that kind of thing. And face it, if you’re a Hunger Games fan you just might be if you think about it. Let’s start with the classics, no not Arsenic and Old Lace, ’cause believe it or not there are a lot of food references in that one– I do highly recommend that one however. Let’s go with the award-winning 1980s classic Babette’s Feast though, winner of the 1988 Oscar for best foreign language film, and there are several reasons why it won. One of them is most definitely the amazing food that’s cooked and displayed, one other is the comedy of culture, and cultural biased. Watch the movie, you’ll get what I mean, and also have a mad craving for French food afterwards. Oh, and the story was originally a novel, hmmm.

Like Water for Chocolate is a film that probably gets taught in a lot of film studies courses, because it’s a perfect example of surrealist film making. Think Pan’s Labyrinth only less scary, and a lot more funny. Like Water for Chocolate is a love story, a love story about people who can’t be together, and the food that’s made to quell the need to be together. It’s a sexy piece, but it’s a moving piece, so if you’re squeamish about nudity, oh and hate reading subtitles, steer clear. However, if you like to watch Mexican food being made expertly, watch it now, now, now. Or read the book! ‘Cause guess what?! The film was originally a novel and a cookbook in one!

Chocolat, like the last two films mentioned was also originally a novel, a delicious novel full of chocolate and the stories of an emotionally repressed town in France in the 1950s. The film version was released in the year 2000, it starred Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, and my favorite cameo performance was from none other than Leslie Caron (An American in Paris). Stellar cast, right? Hell yeah. But the real star is you guessed it… the chocolate. The center focus of the entire story in the shocking opening of a chocolatier (chocolate shop), in this small very catholic town during seemingly the entire towns observance of lent. The shop owner however is not catholic and sees no problem with her opening her shop during a time of self deniance. Her food, her sweets become a subject of great contention amongst the townspeople, and it’s seriously great fodder for character development, and examinations on culture, as well as human nature. Also, did I mention there’s chocolate?

Lastly we have a recent film, one that may or may not be still playing in your own respective towns. It’s the Jon Favreau passion project called Chef. Chef is as clCHEF_OSose to a family film as you’re going to get in the Foodie movie category, it’s a gooey heartwarming story focused around the redevelopment of a stagnated relationship between a semi absentee father, and his prepubescent son. Favreau is a celebrity chef in the piece, and one that has reached a point in his career where he’s sort of backed into a corner creatively by obligations to the people who pay the bills. He shucks their yoke however, buys a food truck, and spends probably the best summer of his life driving from Miami to Los Angeles with his best friend, and sous chef John Leguizamo, and Favreau’s character’s son. They cook great food all across the south, and southwest of the United States, cultivating relationships together, and a great appreciation, and education in each other and of course food. It’s a sweet, modern film that utilizes some of today’s favorite social media tools, Twitter, Vine, and Instagram. Oh, also it’s got so many cameos from famous-y people, blink and you might miss ‘em! But that’s okay, ’cause you learn about Cuban sandwiches, and see the most delicious grilled cheese ever being made. I made noises watching this grilled cheese, lots of noises.

About The Hunger Games franchise though, it’s no great surprise that the food aspect of the series was seemingly omitted from the plot. The film makers took thematic stance, and they did choose wisely. Food is awesome, but we all know that it’s a niche audience they’d be pleasing if they’d focused on the stew, the focus they chose was right on many levels– oppression, war, social injustice.

I’m content with the message, but damn I did want to see Katniss going gaga over the food more.

Them There Eyes

A Real Life District 12?

It’s time for the first entry in our latest series of guest posts! Kait is in full-on wedding mode so you’ll be hearing from special guest writer over the course of the next few weeks. Remember, you can submit a guest post to thevictorsvillage@gmail.com anytime!

Our first entry comes from Justin, who thinks District 12 seems awfully familiar. Enjoy!

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Hello! I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the curious parallels between the place where I am from and District 12. As the books state, Katniss hails from the region today known as Appalachia in the Eastern United States. I, however, am from the Forest of Dean District. It makes up the western portion of the county of Gloucestershire in south-west England. (Everdeen/evergreen/Dean? Get it?) Up until the mid 20th Century the area’s main local industries were coal and iron ore mining.

Forest of Dean: Harry Potter wuz here too!

Forest of Dean: Harry Potter wuz here too!

One of the two main towns of the district is called Cinderford (pop: 8,116) which is right on the edge of the forest itself. You can walk straight out of it into the woods just as Katniss does when she goes hunting. And, of course, District 12 gets reduced to cinders. The other town is called Coleford, but ‘cole’ is derived from the Latin for ‘cabbage’, apparently. I guess The Capitol didn’t care enough about the Districts to recognize proper names for their individual settlements.

I have saved the best for last. For hundreds of years in the Forest of Dean there has been a tradition known as Freemining whereby private individuals can claim a parcel of land to mine for themselves. These personal plots are known as ‘gales‘. No, really.

This is an extract from the Dean Forest (Mines) Act 1838:

“All male persons born or hereafter to be born and abiding within the said Hundred of St Briavels, of the age of twenty one years and upwards, who shall have worked a year and a day in a coal or iron mine within the said Hundred of St Briavels, shall be deemed and taken to be Free Miners.”

(There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on whether it is ‘Freeminers’ or ‘Free Miners’.)

Gale approved!

Gale approved!

I think there are some more links between the HG character of Gale and the FoD Freeminers:

“Amongst other places, Free Miners were frequently requested to fight in France and fought throughout the Hundred Years War, most famously at the famous battles at Crecy (1346) and Agincourt (1415). Miners became used to being an essential part of the King’s armoury, Dean miners were sometimes called ‘The King’s Miners’ and ‘King’s Pyoneers’, known generally as ‘Sappers’ they undermined fortifications, created earthworks, trenches, building timber structures, installing stakes etc. As well as their renowned mining skills, the miners were also excellent archers and ferocious in hand to hand combat; they were hard men, used to operating in harsh conditions. By law from 1363 all English males from 7 – 60 years old were required to practise archery for at least two hours on Sundays and festival days…” Source.

In Mockingjay, Gale Hawthorne, the miner who wanted to be free, has a big hand in undermining the fortification known as the Nut. (Although, the Free Miners were, themselves, very much part of the establishment.)

So, if any of you out there gets an opportunity to talk with Suzanne Collins, do please ask her if there actually are any connections between The Hunger Games and the Forest of Dean.

Justin

Show Me the Chair

This week we finally got the teaser trailer, and while everyone and their imaginary friend was having kittens over how creepy President Snow is, or how creepy Peeta’s turn of the head was, I was having a gay ol’ time deciphering the thing the President was sitting his creepy ass down in. Yep, I was doing my usual thing, analyzing the scenery, ’cause um– it’s fun! Also, nine times out of ten it tells us something insightful that otherwise we’d all just be ignorant of, which is fine if you’re into that whole ignorance being blissful thing.

chair.jpg

I like to call myself an amateur antique furniture expert, ’cause my stack of reference books only allow me to say amateur. Anyway, since a vast majority of the furniture President Snow surrounds himself with are antiques, or amalgamations of antique styles and designs– there’s a lot to explore! Fun stuff, huh? You’re damn right it is! Where would we be without history?! Oh yeah, Ikea. Sorry, if you’re into Swedish style furniture, it’s okay, I don’t judge! However, if the only tools you own are the tiny Allen wrenches that come with Ikea kits, then I have a problem– actually, you do.

The chair though, oh my– the chair! I saw a picture of it first of course, and quickly had a time taking out my books, and trying to find a match, or something that closely resembles the pristine, white chair. Second off, it’s not an exact replica of anything that’s still in existence from the past, it’s like I said above, an amalgamation of styles and designs. And the styles it is it this, William and Mary, with a dash of Charles II, the eras are at the tail end of the Baroque period, 1680s-90s in time frame– only you’d never ever find a white washed arm-chair like Snow’s gracing anyone’s rooms. And that my dear friends is what makes it so very Capitol. But what does it mean?! Why a William and Mary style arm-chair with sky-high -1finials?! Um,’cause they can. The thing about the Capitol is they like to take the commonplace, the fur shrug for example and give it a jab of crazy, and whammo– fashion personified times a million-zillion! In the case of their furniture however, the white washed armchair is another example of the Capitol taking what was once common, and turning it into something kind of sort of scary. And I don’t think for a second the choice of the thick white washing is an accident. Purity is one of the basic meanings behind the color, but I’m going to take it a few other steps down the line of meanings, “the Capitol are the good guys.” Why? ‘Cause the good guys where the white hats, and the bad guys where the black hats, this is what so many myths, folktales, and fairy tales have told us over the last millenia or more! Reverse psychology is such a good propaganda tool! And to top off my hypotheses, Snow is the King of Panem, only he’s titled himself “President”, he looks, at least to me, like a chess piece on the white end of the chessboard. And then there’s Peeta, well what else could he be but “a piece in their game”.

Peeta’s a Pawn, dressed in white, and standing at the ready to serve his King.

“Unlike other pieces, the pawn does not capture in the same direction as it otherwise moves. A pawn captures diagonally, one square forward and to the left or right. In the diagram to the left, the white pawn may capture either the black rook or the black knight.” – W

Them There Eyes

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