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The Daily Life of a Compulsive Writer

Thoughts on The Hunger Games March 26, 2012

Filed under: Books — katblogger @ 8:10 PM
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Last night I finally got to see “The Hunger Games”.

Yes, I just said finally. About the movie that’s been out for four days. But when everyone on your Facebook page is gushing about something, it feels like it’s been out forever and you’re the only one left out. This has now been rectified.

Where do I start? First of all, the scenery was gorgeous. The genuine Appalachian setting of District 12, the ritzy opulent Capitol, the famous arena… it was all beautifully done.

The camerawork? Not so much. It tended to be a bit choppy. The studio couldn’t risk an R rating that would lose half the audience, so the film relied on quick or wobbly cuts to preserve the PG-13 rating in fight scenes. As I watched, I started to wonder if the camera man, editor, somebody was ADD. During the whole movie, I saw a handful of long takes. Apart from those, the scenes constantly jumped forward and around. It’s hard to build suspense when Katniss is fumbling with ropes… no, on the ground… no, running… no – I give up.

I was iffy at first about Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. She’s much older than the character, and I’ve already mentioned the racebending controversy. However, she was excellent. Haymitch – another casting ‘eh’ I had – delivered some original and hilarious lines. “Know in your hearts that there’s nothing I can do to help you” indeed.

Naturally they had to cut some things, but overall, I thought the movie hit all of the important points. A few subplots weren’t mentioned in enough detail. The movie makers clearly assumed that viewers had read the books, because some things – Katniss’ relationship with Rue, the ruse she played with Peeta, and the whole bread scene (all we see is Peeta chucking a loaf of bread in Katniss’ direction) – aren’t fully explained. However, cuts to commentators or Seneca Crane did their best to keep viewers up to speed.

What was my favorite part? Strangely enough, it’s a scene that didn’t even happen in the book. If you recall, after Rue dies, Katniss is sent a loaf of bread from a grateful District 11. In the movie, instead, angry district members revolt against the Peacekeepers, filling the screen with the first of many riots. Although the rebellion doesn’t start until book 2, I thought this added another layer of emotion to the scene, as well as foreshadowing Katniss’ future role as starter of a rebellion.

Overall, this was one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve seen, and I’d definitely recommend seeing it. Still, read the book first.

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Race Lifts: What Do They Say About Our Culture? February 20, 2012

Filed under: Whatever — katblogger @ 1:03 PM
Tags: , ,

A race lift is a term you  might be familiar with if you lurk on TVtropes.org all the time like I do. If you don’t, I’ll give you a brief description.

Race lifts occur when someone’s race is changed. The word is usually used in reference to the entertainment industry, specifically casting and occasionally book covers. Although it can happen that a minority changes to another minority, or a Caucasian character changes into a minority, the most common form of race lifting is changing a minority character to a Caucasian.

From the book publishing world, let’s look at Justine Larbalestier’s book Liar. The book’s main character is a biracial (half white and half black) girl. The US cover released showed a white girl with long, light colored hair. Understandably, Larbalestier was not pleased. Various people in the publishing industry told her that books with black people on the cover don’t sell. Eventually, after a lot of public outcry, the cover was changed. Here’s a before and after photo from racebending.com.

Now that I brought up racebending, that segues into my next example quite nicely. Perhaps you heard about the film Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was released a few years back. It was a colossal flop for many reasons, not just the casting, but they definitely started out on the wrong foot.

I’ll be honest. I’ve never watched either the film or the cartoon it was based on. However, I had friend who did, and I knew what the characters looked like and that the story was set in a fantasy Asian world.

And then the casting comes out looking like this (also from racebending.com):

What’s interesting is that while the heroes are white, the villains (not just the one shown here, who’s technically more of an anti-hero) are mostly dark skinned. What message does that send out?

The final example I have – though there are millions out there – is The Hunger Games. In the book, Katniss clearly describes herself as olive-skinned with black hair. Maybe she’s simply white with a tan (although she says all the coal miners of the Seam, who don’t get much sun, also have dark skin). However, it’s equally likely that she’s not. The producers called for Caucasian girls only when casting Katniss. The actress chosen is not only white, but very white – not olive skinned at all.

In Hollywood and on library shelves, it’s rare to find leads that aren’t white. In this day and age, that’s ridiculous. Reasoning that whites won’t buy books/watch movies with non-Caucasian leads is insulting. How racist do they think we are? Minorities can be heroes too. And if a writer or animator makes it very clear that their character is a minority, you’d better stick with that. Otherwise, why don’t you just make a completely different movie with a full set of nice, non-controversial white characters?

 

Twilight… Not For Kids Anymore July 16, 2010

Filed under: Books,In the News — katblogger @ 8:04 PM
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I did a double take when I saw this article linked to the news page.

‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn’ to have sex scenes? Melissa Rosenberg says it’s possible

Melissa Rosenberg, who turned the Twilight novels into the blockbuster Twilight Saga films, is setting out to please many Twi-hards with the Saga’s final Breaking Dawn films.

I don’t think we’re planning to shy away from anything,” she told OnTheRedCarpet.com. “I think the birth should be as horrifying as it is in the novel. The sex scenes should be as scintillating as they are in the novel, as erotic as they are in the novel. All of it, I think we should see all of it.”

Excerpt from http://www.ontheredcarpet.com/2010/07/twilight-breaking-dawn-to-have-sex-scenes-melissa-rosenberg-says-its-possible.html

Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that 12 year old fangirls will not be allowed in. Heck, if it’s R anyone under 17 needs parental accompaniment. That slices a huge chunk out of the target audience. I can see the girls at my school sobbing now.

I’ve never had much respect for Twilight movies. I’ve seen the first one, and I didn’t recognize a single scene from the book. Obviously they took significant liberties. However, it pulled in the fans and made loads of money, so they were doing something right.

However, now it appears that the directors are keeping scenes from the book instead of adjusting the movie to get more viewers. How does that work? We’ll see, when the movie/s come out and legions of upset middle schoolers are turned away from the theater doors.

(And for the record, Breaking Dawn’s sort-of-there-sort-of-not sex scenes are not scintillating. Or erotic. Nuff said.)

www.swotti.com/books/breaking-dawn_24581_char…