How Can You Hate Rue? The Hunger Games and Racism
You guys? I messed up BIGTIME. In the middle of all the squee-ing about seeing Katniss and Peeta in 10-foot high technicolor, I totes made a mistake and forgot to be racist. My bad—won't happen again.
Just kidding; I'm only racist against racists.
Anyway, if you missed the bigoted stupidity, I'll recap. Basically, a bunch of people read The Hunger Games books, saw the movie, discovered that Rue and Thresh were played by African-American actors, and freaked the fandango out. Never mind that Suzanne Collins, the author, confirmed that the District 11 tributes were written to be African-American. (Or African-Panemanian.) These small-minded cinephiles were pissed with a capital PISSED. Why? Because, in their tiny, racist brains, Rue and Thresh were supposed to be white! Who cares that the book described dark skin and hair and eyes? WHITE, ya heard?
It wasn't enough to keep this anger and frustration to themselves. Instead, the haters took to Twitter to Tweet their Twisgust. The world needed to know about the agony of their disappointment. To quote:
EWW rue is black?? I'm not watching.
Why does rue have to be black not gonna lie ruined the movie.
Why did the producer make all the good characters black?
And lots more like that, but worse.
Who knows why these racist Rue-haters (Ruecists?) envisioned white people. Maybe, for them, only white people are worth caring about. Or maybe their brains haven't upgraded to full-spectrum color versions yet. Or maybe they have huge reading comprehension problems, and the SATs are a wash for them anyway partly because it's printed in black ink, which not gonna lie ruins the test.
Sadly but truly, discrimination didn't up and die in the 1960s. It's alive and kicking and still a huge issue, and while Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi (the actors who play Rue and Thresh, respectively) have taken the high road (and have come out looking like champs), the bigger problem is this: they should never have had to deal with racial feedback and slurs it in the first place.
Now, maybe the Hunger Tweets are blessings in disguise. It's never a bad thing for jerks and bigots to out themselves—that way, we know who to ignore/discredit/undermine as necessary. Even better, it takes away some of their power when they realize that they're in the minority (IRONY ALERT) and not everyone thinks racial intolerance is totally normal. And even best, it dispels the myth that bigotry is a thing of the Olden Times (TM), and aren't we lucky it's gone?
All of this hate talk is an amazing reminder that, every day, we can choose to give racism a swift kick in the teeth. We can erase the bad wiring from our brains ("different = bad") and replace it with good ideas ("everyone = the same level of respect, at least until I know whether or not they like kittens, because I can NOT endorse kitten-haters"). As the situation demands, we can tune out hate speech, or stand up against it, or view it from a distance and say, "Wow. That's dumb. Let's go get chili fries." We can accept that no one else in the world will ever be exactly like us, and remember that as individuals, we're all minorities, but as people who unite in supporting fairness and equality, we become a massive population of Those Who Do Good Stuff Together.
And most importantly? We can enjoy a kick-ass movie because the actors are great regardless of their color. That would be good.
What do you think of the uproar over Rue's race?
Related post: For All You Hunger Game Addicts: Rue's Lullaby