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Reaction Post: Mockingjay Part 1 Trailer

It’s that time again, that time where the bloggers of Victor’s Village sit down at our respective computers, and chew the fat about the trailers, and in this case it’s the final trailer for Mockingjay Part 1! Yep, the one we’ve been waiting for for about four months!

 

WHERE SOUND OF MUSIC REFERENCES ARE MADE WITHOUT SHAME OR IRONY
The Girl With The Pearl
: Okay, let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to staaaaaart!)

Them There Eyes: Sew… a needle pulling Katniss around like a marionette!

JJ: Katniss’s line is fantastic.

TGWTP: Katniss is talking, and there’s these nice shots of her and Prim and Gale… and then you realize she’s pretty much face-timing with President Snow?

JJ: A big new addition to the screenplay! Snow looks so fiendish there. It’s so unnerving.

TTE: Also Jennifer Lawrence has a Sexy Lauren Bacall voice, which is über important to note.

TGWTP: I’m not sure if I like them chatting. Doubt it will ruin the movie, but it felt weeeeeird. Though the Lauren Bacall voice IS lovely. Read the rest of this entry

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The Capitol’s Way

It’s guest post time! We received a wonderful submission from Luly, who’s discussing why it’s okay to be critical about The Hunger Games and its promotion in the media.

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“This is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear.” – The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

I have been a fan of The Hunger Games for years now, like many of you. And, also like many of you, it was not the first book fandom I have been involved in. Nevertheless, my first years in the Hunger Games fandom, before we had the certainty of a movie adaptation, showed me some of the most creative and critical groups I had ever been in; which is not surprising, given that the message in this book series is clear, breathtaking and gives you so much to think about and to question from your own surroundings.

However, I feel like the spark is fading. For the past couple of years, after the huge success of the first movie, I have seen more and more examples of marketing campaigns that underestimate the audience and the books. What worries me the most, though, is the lack of critical views on these things that I see in the same fandom I previously felt so critical. I see individual discomfort on tumblr at times, I see some comments on twitter once in a while, but the severe critical perception I feel the fandom had before the first movie was released (the “they better do this right because we know this series to heart” stance) has been numbed by the sub-par yet initially appealing and distracting material that Lionsgate throws our way.

Panem et circenses.

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I am by no means trying to say that this is because “the movies made the books popular” or “the fandom grew”, absolutely not. I am talking about the same fandom that, for some reason, does not sound as critical as it used to be. But I know that there are people who are. Individual fans with individual instances of opinion whose voices used to be heard but who now, for different reasons, don’t feel as much a part of the fandom as they used to. And I asked some of them what they thought, how they felt with Lionsgate’s ways to promote and handle these movies (and books) and what their worries were on that regard. These are some of their ideas.

One of the most interesting posts I saw on tumblr about Lionsgate’s missed opportunities came from stevedrogers’s blog. The post is very interesting and has many great ideas of what Lionsgate could be doing and are not. But one of my main focuses was on this “My suggestion would be a website where you are required to log in (maybe without home address and telephone number, perhaps). At the initial log in screen, you would be requested to select your district. Then, material on the website would be tailored to that district. Articles would be tailored to hide information from you. Announcements would be district specific. This would create discourse, especially on social networking sites, just like this one (I told you I believe in this sort of thing. I really do). It’d encourage screenshots and discussions about the differences and would be an interactive experience. You can’t share your experience on their current website, because it’s all the same.”

I want to stop there for a bit because when I read this great post for the first time (and I recommend you to check it out as well), that paragraph gave me memories of one of my favorite experiences that happened in this fandom: PanemOctober. I don’t think that is a coincidence but it’s the result of fans’ critical thinking asking for what these books deserve for a fan experience. The post goes further than PanemOctober did because from 2011 to today a lot has happened in the world of transmedia storytelling to add to the possibilities, but let’s remember what happened with PO: “We received a letter from Lionsgate legal department in June, two to three months after we initially contacted them, asking us to take down our websites because of a few reasons” said Gamemaster Rowan back when it happened. But soon enough, Capitol PN appeared and it was not only nothing like PO but it was also determined by a very different thing: while PO (and the more modern idea I linked from tumblr) were based on fans propelling the ideas forward and connecting with each other to complement the experience, the way Capitol PN had of selecting representatives was basically a popularity contest. I don’t want to devalue those who were Mayors of their respective Districts because they are great fans who know a lot about the books, I know more than one and I can assure that, but having a campaign of tweeting a hashtag or liking a user isn’t the same as using the creative talent fans have to help the story forward. Competition and conversation are two very different approaches.

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Now, another point of view on Lionsgate’s problems on their promotion comes from elphabians “Probably the thing that’s been noted a lot is that our own media focusing so much on the love triangle is completely identical to the way the Capitol, in-verse, focuses on the love triangle. Not focusing on the idea of romantic love as opposed to sibling love, but focusing on a tragic love story that people can sympathize with, instead of acknowledging that all of this is happening, not because some teenagers fell in love, but because those teenagers are stuck in a corrupt, dystopian society that hangs them out for bait once a year and slowly bleeds everyone around them dry” and adds “The Hunger Games is a series that should punch you in the gut. It should be loud and jarring, and difficult to look at, even as the structure and the story forms itself beautifully. Because it is a beautiful story, and a good one too, but its brutal, and we collectively ignore that in favor of shouting about Team Gale or Team Peeta. Because that’s all we’re ever asked about. That’s all they give us”.

This also reminded me to a very interesting discussion we had more than once on the Fireside Chat, where the conversation on “Peeta or Gale” wasn’t really focused on “who is the best for Katniss” but in the fact that they both represent two sides of a political and social situation and how to respond to that. But that is not, as the quote clearly states, what Lionsgate and the movies choose to put forward. Another quote from this I’d like to share is the following “I dislike how it’s handled, and I dislike that we have more posters and cut-outs with Katniss/Peeta/Gale than we have of Katniss and Prim. Because Prim is more important – will always be more important. Hell, Rue is more important than both Peeta and Gale (Rue is more important than every single character in those books, except for maybe Katniss and Prim). The fandom does not focus on this, because the media, the franchise does not focus on this”. This discussion that used to be so important while talking about the books is completely dismissed now and the movies focusing on some aspects more than others doesn’t help create an instance of critical thinking. I completely agree, the way Lionsgate and the movies focus on this is similar to way the Capitol does. And that should make us extremely uncomfortable. Does it, though?

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But this is not the only similarity we can point out between how the movies are being promoted and how the Capitol would, and a couple of the opinions I received talk about this. camii23 said “When The Hunger Games came out, I remember that lots of people were horrified with the premise of ‘children killing each other’, but after a while it seemed normal to talk about (…). All in all, the commercialization of the fandom or the Hunger Games universe isn’t so surprising to me, I think it’s the natural course of everything popular and that sells; what worries me is the focus. It could be used to give another message, to give more awareness on the violence of social classes and female empowerment but no, they take the shortcut and use what is more visually attractive, which is the Capitol”.

On that note, poorlifedecisionsemily said “As a fan, it’s fun to have merchandise from your fandom. Much like the fact that I have a Harry Potter wand, I can also have Hunger Games nail polish. The difference, I think, is that Harry Potter is not entirely based on the premise of society trivializing and commercializing death and inequality. (…) While this seems distasteful given the themes of the books, it is really no different than the numerous distasteful and manipulative situations in any other industry. The idealist in me sometimes wishes that they weren’t playing into exactly the type of behavior that the books critique. However, I also think that, in a way, it also brings these themes to the forefront and allows for conversations to begin about this very issue, not only in The Hunger Games franchise, but in our society in general”.

The make-up, the nail polish, the Subway campaign and the use of Capitol Couture as a form of marketing rather than any other perspective possible, makes the approach closer to what the Capitol would do and there’s no “rebellion” campaign they can come up with now (like an app or the poster of Katniss’s back) that can change these past years of using the Capitol as bait and talking more about Effie’s clothing and Katniss’s wedding dress than the underlying message of these books. These campaigns alienate the story, make it more marketable and distant, rather than close to home. Instead of relating the story with our social and political realities (and when I say that I’m talking about the entire world, since I’m not American and neither are many of the people I quoted here), it makes it look farther from us, a distant future, and that’s exactly what it shouldn’t do. What the movies (and the books) are trying to put forward and ignite, the campaigns are extinguishing.

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Another element that plays into this is the clear underestimation of the fans who will receive these campaigns and their critical capacity. girasoldelluvia said on the matter “Not only the merchandising and their focus are completely opposite to the message that the books propose, but also their attitude towards the fans doesn’t make me happy. They constantly underestimate fans with a superior attitude and it seems that they want us to be grateful for every breadcrumb of promotion they give as and receive it with open arms. (…) The movies are, for lots of fans, an excuse to keep making edits, creating, relating with other fans from all over the world, share things, opinions, meta, information, and even other books and movies. But Lionsgate underestimates the power that it has and forgets that the movies were made because there are fans that read the books and wanted more”.

Thinking about fans coming together, as that quote stated, I get instantly reminded to the Victory Tour 2013. The project was conceived back in 2012 and was described as “a Hunger Games convention taking place in North Carolina in the summer of 2013, created by fans for fans. This convention will unite fans of all ages, though focusing on those 12 years and older, and will give them something to call their own”. Soon after, though, in November 2012, it was revealed that “we have been dealing with some legal issues involving the convention” and it was changed to include other books but finally, it turned into an online convention. The thing is that, if you google Victory Tour 2013, you’re probably not going to find this exclusively, because Lionsgate came out with its own “Victory Tour 2013″, which was nothing like this convention for fans but the cast (or part of it) appearing in some locations in USA, much like the actual Victory Tour the Capitol did in the books. I couldn’t find the exact quote on what the “legal issues” were, but at the time it reminded me of what happened with PanemOctober: Fans coming up with amazing integrative activities for other fans and Lionsgate turning their back to them to do their own thing. If you ask me, it sounds like yet another missed opportunity.

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When it comes to past questions that are not discussed anymore, one that I was reminded of by asking fans their problems with the franchise came from gilbertbythe: “While I liked the THG movies, I admit I had problems with the casting that prevented me from fully enjoying the films” and adds “I interpreted the battle between the districts and the Capitol as a somewhat symbolic act of an uprising between the marginalized groups against the oppressors in our current society. But maybe that’s just me. I just think it’s such a wasted opportunity. Lionsgate could’ve had a POC female lead to give the story much more meaning but then I remember that white washing is prevalent in Hollywood and casting a POC might ‘ruin’ a franchise that has the potential to rival other popular franchises. Of course, profit is much more important than POC representation to them anyway”.

This is an argument that I did hear more than once yet I also recall many people dismissing these arguments as “fans being against Jennifer Lawrence personally”, or “complaining too much” rather than presenting a valid critic to the casting choices that were and still are problematic. It isn’t really about complaining or about Jennifer Lawrence’s acting abilities, it’s about why we forget the things that used to worry us and settle with what is given to us, like a comment I already quoted said, “with open arms”.

Now, what I want for this article to do is to make you, the reader, ask yourself questions. Or, more importantly, remember the questions you once asked yourself while reading these books and that you may have forgotten. I don’t want you to take this and adopt it unquestioningly, I don’t even want you to agree with me or with the people giving their opinion here; I want you to ask, to think and to actively criticize what is being offered to you right now. Not just that there hasn’t been yet a trailer of Mockingjay Part 1, or that it will be less than 2 minutes long, or that the App is not what you expected, but dig deeper. Remember what these books brought to you and apply that; ask yourself, is this the kind of fandom we deserve? Is this the kind of franchise these books should be? All I want is to re-ignite that spark that used to be there back when the first movie was announced: the spark of questions, of criticism, of activity. This is just a glimpse of some of the views that are out there and I wanted to give them a place to be heard. What about you? What do you think?

Luly

1 Minute, 45 Seconds

We all really got our hopes up that there was FINALLY a trailer yesterday, but instead we got a countdown to a trailer. Better than nothing, right? The trailer is still coming and while we’ll admit that our enthusiastic nature has waned during the waiting game, we know we’ll be psyched once we actually see it.

We got one good still from three seconds of footage, at least!

We got one good still from three seconds of footage, at least!

However, the news about the trailer that came out that day was pretty bummerific too.

First, the news that the trailer was only going to be 1 minute 45 seconds long.

Yes, NATO guidelines state trailers can’t be longer than 2 minutes after October 1 and this trailer will play in theaters after that time. So we looked up a ton of other movies coming out in November– because all of them already have trailers at this point, some for months. While many of them have a trailer that’s less than two minutes, almost all of them also have a trailer that is MORE than two minutes. Because most movies introduce at least two trailers, one of which is “international” and doesn’t have to strictly adhere to NATO guidelines as long as it makes theaters in the rest of the world happy (which is apparently easier.)

Which brings us to point two: An international distributor let it spill yesterday that this would be the FINAL trailer, then backtracked a bit and said it was the only “full” trailer. What does that mean? Ohhh.. THIS IS THE LONGEST TRAILER WE ARE GOING TO GET. And probably the only one, because non-full trailers will likely = that 1 minute teaser we already got and 30 second TV spots.

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DO YOU THINK I LIKE POSTING FRUSTRATION GIFS, EVEN IF THEY’RE DISNEY?!

I DON’T!

*briefly meditates* Okay… okay… I think I can talk about it some more.

It’s really hard not to get bummed. We love Lionsgate for bringing The Hunger Games to the screen. But when you have a campaign THIS BIG and it gets delayed and whittled down to as little as possible, it isn’t fun anymore for the fans. Just like Merida up there, it gets us frustrated because we’re being sold short.

Yes, we’re going to see that movie no matter what the advertising, essentially. WE’LL GIVE YOU OUR MONEY. In return, can you give us more promotional footage than say, Dumb and Dumber To? We think we deserve that much for all the amazing records, attention, and profit we’ve given your company over the past couple years. Just sayin’.

“Shut Up And Take My Money” Is a Meme, Not A Suggestion,

The Girl With The Pearl

Behind The Mockingjay (Literally)

*blinks* Did we… did we just get Punk’d?

Starting late yesterday evening, international distributors started hinting that something would be happening today. It was something, all right, but not something that was saw coming by any means!

Namely, it was this:

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KATNISS!

Sort of. We can’t confirm that it’s Jennifer Lawrence and not a body double, but we’d like to believe it’s our leading lady.

Still, we don’t know how we feel about this.

If this poster was released three months ago, it would have been OUR JAM! Katniss’ Mockingjay suit is GOR-GE-OUS and fierce and breaks our hearts into a thousand little Cinna shaped pieces. Are feather shoulder pads going to be a new fashion statement? We hope so! The poster continues with the wonderful theme of Katniss going against the grain– She looks right when everyone looks left in The Hunger Games posters, then stands when everyone else sits in Catching Fire posters. Facing away from the camera is also a nice metaphor for her reclusive nature and even more extreme struggles with PTSD in Part 1.

But it’s not June. It’s September. At this point in the game, we at least want to see Katniss’ anxiety and haunting memories and reluctant strength on her face. Build-up and anticipation is great in the right doses, but we’re overdosing on that anticipation over here!

There’s a reason Apple products advertise a program called Face Time and not Back-of-the-Skull Time (besides the fact that it would be really uncomfortable to keep twisting your arm behind your head to get a proper shot): All humans speak the language of facial expressions, the eyes are the window to the soul, aaaaaand so on! Katniss’ soul is being denied its window, dammit! FREE KATNISS!

But with the poster reveal also came the notification to expect something on September 10th! THERE’S MOOOOOAR! We’re hoping we can finally get more than yet another tease at that time, but we have no clue. As long as it’s not a “Katniss turns around” poster six days later because we would legitimately just start weeping in frustration at the point.

“I’m So Tired, Katniss”
The Girl With The Pearl

The Mockingjay: There’s An App For That

So remember when Victor’s Village and a bunch of other sites got a load of mysterious photos with the Mockingjay symbol all over them? We found out what that’s all about! And it’s… an app!

Yes, yes, yes.. it’s a little underwhelming, all things considered. As a fandom, we wan every hint out there to be leading to either a trailer or something that lets us interact with the cast. Mostly a trailer. But NOT EVERYTHING CAN BE A TRAILER. And maybe someday, we’ll kinda sorta learn that.

We briefly perused the “Our Leader The Mockingjay” app and learned a few things!

First, Our Leader The Mockingjay wants bright, even surfaces on which to stick her mark. It can’t just go anywhere. The rebels have STANDARDS, dammit! So in order to get that rebellious Mockingjay out in the open, we stuck it on the first surface that the scanner accepted in a small, poorly lit home.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present… The MockingToilet!

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We would have gone around marking the Mockingjay on all our random shizz, but– as those of you who have already used the app may have noticed– we took a screenshot instead of saving this baby.

There’s a reason for that: When you save and share your OLTM image, it also allows people nearby to see your location. You can see theirs as well, but they don’t even have to create an image in order for them to see yours first. That’s right… If you’re taking and sharing photos in a private space, you are giving other people permission to stalk you. Take your pics in a public, common, perhaps even touristy place that will NOT lead them to your home or very close to it. Stranger danger!

Alternatively, you can do what this fan did… besides make us feel second-hand embarrassment and laugh so hard we almost peed ourselves a little.

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This method is always an option, but probably not very useful to someone who feels like tracking you down anyway.

You got your warnings, so now GO GET THE APP.

Overall, we’re glad that the rebellion side of things is starting to pick up as we get closer and closer to release day (THREE MONTHS, GUYS!) We would have preferred a propo, but maybe that will happen the next time we get teased about something big? Maybe? Maybe? Pleeeeeease?

Too Bad You Missed Out On The MockingSink, The MockingToes, and The MockingDog,
The Girl With The Pearl

Castles in Our Midst

As we all know the cast of our beloved Hunger Games series have other projects under their belts, and in their futures. I thought I’d take a little time out this weekend to point out that yet again several of our cast have promising things for us all to look forward to, some even in the near future.

Jeffrey Wright our resident Beetee, has a lot to look forward to. I’m not even waxing philosophic when I say that, because just this past week it was announced that he’ll be part of the recurring cast of a brand new HBO series. Actually, he’s only been cast in a pilot, but the project has high hopes– and a monster good cast behind it– including people like Rodrigo Santoro, whom many might remember from Love Actually, and Lost. But that’s the end of things for Jeffrey, hell no– he’s still on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire whose fifth and final season premieres next month. See, even if we’ve got months to wait to see him as Beetee, we’ve only weeks to see him portraying other characters.

Come November we’ve got nothing to complain about where it comes to Josh Hutcherson– ’cause we’ve got two projects to ogle him in. Yes, I said ogle. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 as we all have marked on our calendars, but then a few days later on November 26, Paradise Lost the thriller Josh filmed before he joined the rest of the Mockingjay cast and crew, is slated to be released in the US. Spain and France, you lucky dogs you– you’re getting it in October, and on November 5th. Watch the teaser trailer below!

And now for the castle dweller– ’cause Jennifer Lawrence is our resident Disney princess in disguise. For the last two years the buzz about The Glass Castle being made into a film starring Jen, has been circling the entertainment media news. And finally more solid info on that project has come to the surface, well as solid feeling as the word “negotiations” can muster. But we all know that Jen’s no slouch where it comes to projects outside of The Hunger Games, it could be easily argued that she does her best work when she’s not playing Katniss– but that’s an article for another day.

I still want to see Mockingjay anything before I see Jen in anything else– well unless it’s the film Serena.

Them There Eyes

We’ve Got Character Posters

There’s good news, and there’s bad news to report. Let’s start with the good news shall we? Okay. WE’VE FINALLY GOT MOCKINGJAY PART 1 CHARACTER POSTERS! And yes, that sentence deserves to be written in all capital letters, thank you very much. We sure do like our characters posters in this franchise, also this genre, I can remember all the way back to the revealing of The Hunger Games character posters, and the collective sighs of relief that sounded across the Internets. I think that sigh was echoed today, and b21cc9aa25d9683d52cf39fa70eb23b6a0cbb880perhaps some of those sounds felt a little bitter-sweet for some. I know that when I personally thought on the idea of a character poster being revealed of Plutarch Heavensbee this time around, I felt some trepidation. I think you all know why. And then there’s the reveal of Finnick in his drab District 13 garb, and then remembering what will happen to Finnick in Part Two. But then there’s the simple excitement of seeing Julianne Moore in all her Coin glory, and not just in a clip from the teaser trailer.

The highlight however may be the unveiling of Elizabeth Banks’ poster of Effie Trinket. If you’re unaware at this point, book canon has gone the wayside, and Effie has for all intents and purposes, taken the place of Fulvia Cardew. At least that’s the educated guess more than half the fandom has made about her presence in District 13. Oh also, I believe Suzanne Collins mentioned something about it. Book canon as we all know is more often than not something that goes out the proverbial window when it comes to book to film adaptations. In this instance knowing that the author of the series condoned the “tweak”, I think makes the poster reveal a little vindicating. Also, leave it to Effie Trinket to pull off a stylish ensemble by refashioning a District 13 issued button down as a mini dress, might I add as well that her re purposed head scarf is very on trend right now. And I’m even on board with this trend! Seriously, it’s perfect for bad hair days, which I’m guessing happen a lot in District 13.

I said there was bad news however. And the bad news is two things. One being that the poster reveal today only happened because they were leaked on line before their slated released date of tomorrow. To some fandom members this is good news, because hey– we got the posters early, and that’s all we should really care about! Right? No. Bottom line those images were stolen, and you all should know by now how I feel about stealing. So, while it’s great to see the posters finally, I wish it hadn’t been in such a discombobulated, and frankly– clunky manner. What can I say? I like my social media campaigns to run smoothly? Yep, that’s what I’m going with. The other bit of bad news though is this– ’cause of course I didn’t forget that it’s two things. No Katniss poster.

Seriously, cough up the rock– we want our Mockingjay already!

Them There Eyes

Fandom– Recognize

credit to - turntherightcorner.com

credit to – turntherightcorner.com

San Diego Comic Con 2014 is in full swing, and the Internet is a buzz with all things Benedict Cumberbatch, Marvel, Hobbit-y, Game of Thrones-y and oh yeah– Lionsgate-y. I’m one of the sad few who is not attending the convention, and frankly will probably never attend, because crowds of that magnitude give me the heebie-jeebies, and trust me when I say this– you don’t want to be around me when I have the heebie-jeebies. Anywho, Comic-Con is a place of fandom-wide fun and excitement, and just all out nerd-gasmic heaven.

Y’all like cupcakes, right? I betcha do! Why not, they’re delicious, and fluffy, and if they’re made right they are moist (not in the naughty way), and light, and put a smile on your face with their fondant, and they’re butter cream goodness. Lionsgate apparently likes cupcakes too, or baked goods if we’re speaking in broad terms. I know this because this weekend at San Diego Comic-Con, part of the fun and festivities are baked goods, including cupcakes. That’s right folks, they have a sleek-looking, Capitol-esque bakery set up on display for the burgeoning public to ooh and ah over. This is awesome for all intents and purposes, ’cause everyone and their glutton tolerant aunt likes some free baked goods every now and again. The only fly in the ointment of this sweet, little gesture is the slightly glaring fact that who ever, or whatever marketing firm chose the designs for some of these goods, well– stole them.

That’s right folks, I just used the S word, and it’s not the shit kind. Nope, I call foul on who ever, or whatever person, or group of people who decided stealing other people’s ideas is an acceptable business practice!

Crystal Watanabe has been a staple in this fandom for years, she’s involved more than a random fan as well– and on top of that she’s got more than a life outside of her endeavors involving The Hunger Games. Crystal used to pretty much run Mockingjay.net, now she’s the founder, and head at Jabberjays.net. Crystal is a master at bento, as well as artisan baking. Which brings me to the previously used S word. Crystal’s designs for two Effie Trinket themed cupcakes are being used without her permission right now at one of the biggest entertainment themed conventions in the world, and all of this is going down without what’s probably most important– credit where credit is due.

I’m just going to say it, but this is not cool! I know that the big guys on top of the money-making machines that supposedly dictate our lives, wholly believe that taking a “little persons” ideas and shilling them as their own, is acceptable. But damn it all to hell– it’s not! I know they’re just cupcakes, but even cupcake designs are things that deserve to be credited to the originator, the designer– who in this case is Crystal Watanabe.

So Hunger Games fandom, if you think it’s cool to steal other people’s ideas– by all means eat up. But if you don’t– say something, that’s what the Internet is for– other than porn of course. This credit issue could be easily remedied with a simple piece of card stock going up on display in that bakery set up. Simple, concise and easy, because this is potential revenue lost to an artist.

Effie Trinket cupcakes designed by Crystal Watanabe of Fictionalfood.net.

Them There Eyes

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

The Fan-Made Phenomena

It’s no big secret or anything, but The Hunger Games fandom is kind of into take our favorite trilogy by the proverbial, throat or balls, and making it our own. We love making manips in our fancy, or not so fancy computer software, we like making memes, and daaaamn do we like our fan-made film adaptations, and our original content based shorts and full length films (yes, they do exist!).

Suzanne Collins’ work was published in a sort of golden age of Audience Participation, ’cause come a decade or more ago the trilogy would have had to suffice with fan-fiction, and maybe some wearable fan-art sold at Comic-Cons, or on Cafepress, that’s if Cafepress existed a decade or more ago– and I’m making an educated guess here, ’cause I don’t think that it did. Did it? Tell me if it did Internet-y people!

In our little corner of the Interwebz though, I think the fan-made phenomena that’s the most intriguing, and also sometimes the most disappointing are the many, many, MANY fan-made films. It’s hit or miss with the multitude of Youtube, and Vimeo postings of such fare, I’ll be the bold one though, and call it like I see it, a crap-shoot. Because, as much effort goes into all these projects, only a small collection of them are up to snuff. And when I say “up to snuff”, I mean if they had had a little bit more of a budget for things like scoring with quality, and original music, or better fight choreography, they’d be hard to pick out of a line up of What’s Fan-Made and What’s a Major Studio Project.

I did my research, yerp– I watched a whole lot of Youtube Hunger Games themed videos. From projects made by a group of bored sounding, and looking Australian teens, to a painful depiction of Finnick Odair doing his “I drag myself out of nightmares each morning and find there’s no relief in waking.” Speech, where it was delivered with such amateur earnestness that I dare anyone to not look away, because it’s just that bad, car-crash bad. But then there’s the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel full of blood thirsty Undead! John Lyde’s videos are of course counted on the list of quality Hunger Games fan-vids, and then there’s the 2011 The Hunger Games- Johanna Mason short by Wellwood Productions, which I

Yay fan-art!

Yay fan-art!

can say without qualms has one of the most heartbreaking Johanna performances put to film. Honest– watch it, watch it til the end (it’s only 9 minutes long), there’s a moment that turns on a dime– and if you don’t feel all the feelings, something may be wrong with you. I don’t know how it slipped my notice for so long, but it did, because I can’t spend my life swaddled in sweats, watching Hunger Games fan-videos– but there’s this fan-fiction, feature length film called Cirrus Quell — A Hunger Games Story, that’s been up on Youtube since November, 2012. This film is quality stuff, the performances are believable, the fight choreography is good, the writing is good, and the camera work is more than good, yes with the right amount of shaky-cam that Gary Ross was unable to attain even with that huge budget footed by that major motion picture studio.

I’ve noticed something about these top-tier, fan-made Hunger Games videos over the years, blood– they really like the stuff. It’s a repeated complaint I’ve had with the big-studio made Hunger Games films, a sheer lack of that red sticky stuff that keeps all of us alive. We don’t see a lot of it in either Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games, or Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and I’ll bet you a big basket of kittens that both Mockingjay: Part 1, and Part 2 will be lacking in the stuff as well, which is odd considering that the entire series is focused on life and death, and also features a whole lot of the latter– some of them bloody as hell too. Like for instance Cato’s in The Hunger Games; in the novel, as we we all should remember, he was ripped apart by Capitol engineered Wolf Muttations as Katniss watched, and then she listened for hours as he groaned, and cried as he slowly, and painfully bled out, that is until she killed him by shooting him with an arrow. in the film however, Katniss watched for seconds as a pack of Dog Muttations swarmed him, and then she quickly took pity on him, shooting him through the skull– a swift mercy kill. It’s all to get around the MPAA, who seem hell bent on showing the world every actresses breasts, but never an actors penis– because, I don’t know– they’re scared of them?

It’s true that there’s not a lot of Mockingjay anything news like coming out right now, you’d have to be seriously out of the loop if you’re not aware of that fact by now as well. So, when there’s the news that a fan-made Mockingjay themed film being made with its eye towards quality, and the other thing that all top-tier Hunger Games fan-made films has in spades– it’s this wonderful thing called grit. I say “hell yeah, bring it on!” Only one problem, to adhere to this particular group of filmmakers desire, and frankly their need to put out quality work– they need our help, the fandom that is, not solely Victor’s Village. You guessed it by now hopefully, ’cause they’re doing the crowd-sourcing thing. They’re shooting for the stars on this one people, and hoping to rent a top of the line motion picture camera, the same model used by Peter Jackson’s crew on The Hobbit films. I’m no stranger to crowd-sourcing films, I’m a Veronica Mars fan– and I put in my hard earned twenty bucks to help the Veronica Mars film get made. And then I shelled out another to see it in theatres, and another to get the digital download. And also, because I’m a forever Veronica Mars fan, I support that cast of the series’ other projects, so I put in twenty to help Chris Lowell’s (Piz) film make it to theatres all over the US and probably Canada. I like supporting projects that I’m confident won’t disappoint me, like Veronica Mars, and Beside Still Waters. And I’m going to be bold again, I don’t think the Hunger Games fandom has ever been witness to the prospect, or the beginnings of a fan-made film project of the magnitude of quality this project is aiming for.

The objective, and feeling of the film is kind of right up almost every Hunger Games fans alley. I’ve had a little time to chat to the woman set to portray Katniss in this film-short, she’s also one of the brain-trusts behind the project– (über fan status is her’s in spades, someone should get her a crown or something), and she’s said some intriguing things that I’m very much on board with. Things like her and the director’s desire to focus on the affects of war on an individual and a society, and the want to depict that in a realistic, and thoughtful way– a way that hasn’t shown its self in the studio films as of yet, or at least not in the full on way that many fans have been hankering for. They don’t have the MPAA to deal with, just Youtube viewers tattling on them for using swear words, which they probably won’t use anyway, but I wish they would. There’s a reason the saying is “swearing like a sailor” sailors go to war!

So, take a chance, if you think about it donating to this project out of most others is less than the price of a premium cup of coffee at Starbucks. Also, anything Mockingjay related is a welcome reprieve from the lull of all lulls we’ve been under for the last several months.

Them There Eyes

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