Dan Poole, Detroit Political Buzz | In the last few days, controversy has erupted over a series of so-called “racist” tweets by fans of The Hunger Games. One of these tweets said, “call me racist, but when I found out Rue was black her death wasn’t as sad.” Another said, “awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture.”
Not surprisingly, Yahoo! Movies condemned these tweets as “a curious twist of reading comprehension failure and racism.” You can read through the thousands of comments in that article and find that everybody is calling the fans who wrote those tweets “stupid.”
But are those fans a bunch of stupid racists who hate black people? Answer: No.
Let’s first establish some basic psychological facts:
Importantly, the implicit brain includes mechanisms related to ethnocentrism. There are several different evolved mechanisms that make us prefer people like ourselves and be wary of people in outgroups.
Phil Rushton’s Genetic Similarity Theory [PDF] is a good example. Birds of a feather do indeed flock together. People tend to make friends and marry people who are like themselves on a wide range of traits, from IQ and personality, to ethnic group and even wrist size.
Is it any wonder, then, that white people who read The Hunger Games automatically assumed that Rue and Cinna were white? Just look at some of the Facebook comments that the anti-white hate site Racialious had a conniption fit over last November. Here are some of the better ones:
- 29 likes: I definitely didn’t picture Rue like this.
- 6 likes: I thought she would be white, blonde hair, not that old & skinnier.
- 0 likes: She is so cute! But this Rue doesn’t look like Prim the way Katniss describes in her book.
- 32 likes: I thought Cinna was pale, with colored hair, and glasses? WTF?
- 7 likes: Cinna is my favorite character and it’s the only casting choice I really don’t like. It’s not only because he doesn’t look like Cinna, it’s because I don’t think he will be able to re-enact Cinna’s calm temper and quiet personality. I really hope I’m wrong about this, he just can’t ruin it for me.
- 0 likes: What? Cinna is white, sweet, and loving as a man going through the book! This guy is not cute at all!
Another comment that simply said “Not Cinna” got 59 likes. The consensus is clear: white readers of The Hunger Games automatically concluded that Rue and Cinna were white.
It doesn’t matter that Suzanne Collins described Rue as having dark brown skin. She would have had to explicitly say Rue and Cinna were black – or that annoying politically correct term, African American – in order for white readers of the book to picture them as black.
Instead, Collins suggested that Rue looked like Prim, and Prim is white. Ergo, white readers innocently assumed Rue was white. Seeing as Collins intended for Rue to be black but everybody thought Rue was white, Collins failed to get her point across.
And that’s not Collins only descriptive failure. She said that she hopes readers “question how elements of the books might be relevant to their own lives. About global warming, about our mistreatment of the environment.”
Somebody obviously forgot to consult with James Cameron about that global warming thing. It is nuclear war, not global warming, that ravaged the world of The Hunger Games. Collins appears to be a version of Upton Sinclair: she aimed for one thing, but she hit another thing.
Meanwhile, even Racialious admitted that “Cinna could be absolutely any race.” Once again, white readers filled in the gap by assuming Cinna was white. The fact that he “could” have been black is irrelevant.
So here’s the point: the whites who made these comments aren’t stupid. They couldn’t have read the book if they were stupid or lacked reading skills. Their belief that Rue and Cinna were white is a natural, normal, healthy manifestation of their white ethnocentrism.
And make no mistake: we are all ethnocentric. We prefer and seek out the company of those who look like us, talk like us, and think like us. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that so many white readers thought Rue and Cinna were white.
It should also come as no surprise that white fans said what they said in those “racist” tweets. Allow me to give a personal example.
I ordered tickets through Fandango in order to see the movie in IMAX last Friday. I got a follow up email which asked the following poll question (and I paraphrase): How many times did you cry during the movie? One of the four options was, “I didn’t cry. I’m a robot.” 35 percent of respondents chose that one, including yours truly.
Well, the other 65 percent must not want to think of themselves as robots. When I saw it in IMAX on Friday, the audience was almost exclusively white, and I didn’t hear anybody crying at any point. Contrast this with The Passion of the Christ, where most people in the theatre were audibly sobbing and holding back tears.
I also saw The Hunger Games at a local theatre on Saturday night. This time, literally everybody there was white, and the theatre was much more tightly packed than the spacious seating of IMAX theatres. Once again, I heard no sobbing and no crying.
Look, The Hunger Games was a terrific movie all around, and indeed, Amandla Stenberg and Lenny Kravitz both did excellent jobs playing Rue and Cinna respectively.
But from the perspective of a white person, that one tweet has a strong point: If Rue was played by a white, blond haired, blue eyed teenage actress, than her death would have been much more emotionally powerful.
Racialious and the hordes of anti-white bigots can kick and scream about this all they want, but they might as well scream against the existence of gravity. The whites who wrote those tweets and Facebook comments are normal human beings, not stupid inbred racists who can’t read.
But alas, this is the crap whites have to deal with these days. So inculcated is American society with white guilt that even a wonderful trilogy like Lord of the Rings was smeared as white supremacist propaganda.
Meanwhile, a white liberal female was “very displeased with the filmakers’ decision to limit the casting call to white actresses” even though by her own admission, “the odds weigh heavily on Katniss being of Caucasian origin.”
It’s ok to question Katniss being white, but it’s racist to question Rue and Cinna being black? The anti-white double standard is sickening!
So to all the haters out there who are smearing the innocent people who wrote those tweets: Get over it!
Dan Poole, Detroit Political Buzz Examiner
Dan Poole is a Political Science major and History minor who is currently an undergraduate Senior at Oakland University. A former intern for the Milford Times with dozens of published articles, Dan has a passion for politics and ideology that he loves to express in writing.