Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I Heart YA Carnival #9: Model Behavior
The I Heart YA Carnival is hosted by Suze Reese, author of the ExtraNormal series. Each Tuesday, a blog prompt will be posted about a topic related to the YA genre. Click the button to learn how to join in!
This week's prompt is: For the past week, this article has been showing up in my local news feed. And I have to say I find it a little annoying. I suppose the commentator has a point, I'm just not sure I really buy it. In a nutshell he's saying that Katniss isn't a good role model because she spends her days moping and playing dress up. ... Is there a character you think makes a great role model? Do have something to say about role models in general? Speak your mind!
Wow. I hadn't read that article before, but my goodness. The author of that article and myself have COMPLETELY different interpretations of Katniss and The Hunger Games. Katniss is one of my favorite YA heroines to date. She's strong. She's focused. She takes her responsibilities to her family and her friends very seriously. She has a keen sense of right and wrong and does what she has to to make things right. She takes a stand against the Capital, for goodness sake.
Also, I viewed The Hunger Games as more of a commentary on our (being society as a whole's) infatuation with reality TV, with watching bizarre and sometimes terrible things happen to strangers with a rather blase' attitude about it all. Granted, we don't have a TV show where children kill each other (thankfully), but we do have some odd shows out there. And if the ratings are accurate, people like to watch other people fight and cheat and steal and get injured and eat disgusting things, all to win a competition. (And I'm not trying to cast blame here. I myself am a long-time fan of The Amazing Race and Survivor. I'm part of that society-wide infatuation too!)
So in light of that, I viewed Katniss's going along with the primping and preening as a means to an end. Yes, she had to "play dress-up." Yes, she had to make everyone like her. If she didn't she would never survive in the game. She needed sponsors to have a chance; that was made very clear in the book and the movie. And to get sponsors, she had to cater to them and play by their rules... which means dressing up and smiling for the cameras. This, to me, was by no means a show of Katniss as stereotypical or a poor role model. This was Katniss doing what she had to do in order to live.
Regarding this, the article states: "So far, this sounds a lot like the common and heavily criticized stereotype of femininity and the worship of female youth and beauty."
Yes, yes it does. Do you think maybe the author was perhaps challenging that very stereotype, by showing all the ridiculous, superficial things Katniss had to go through to appease society, in order to merely stand a chance at survival in the game to come?
Then comes this in the article: "Moreover, the Hunger Games seems to be sending a particular kind of message: It's possible to change the world, to make things better, but only if you have a cute, fashion-centric and cleverly constructed media campaign. What changes the world? Looking good for the masses. Winning their hearts with an unrequited love story, a few quips and propaganda pieces, and a cool looking uniform."
Really? Because to me, the Hunger Games is saying, Open your eyes. Question things. What changes the world? Taking a stand, even if you're the only one. Are society's standards and norms sometimes bizarre? Yes. Will you sometimes have to do things you don't want to do to get where you want to be? Yes. Can you change the world?--you, seemingly insignificant you, with the odds stacked against you? Yes.
I'm getting a little worked up here, so I'll let things go. But in conclusion, I found the Hunger Games to be a powerful series, and I found Katniss to be a wonderful role model.
Now, Twilight and Bella... unfortunately I did not feel the same. Bella came across to me as needy, dependent, moody, and impulsive. There were times when I was making my way through the series that I wanted to run out and buy up all the copies in the world so that young girls couldn't read them and be influenced by Bella's propensity for unhealthy relationships. But that's just me, and I know a lot of people really did enjoy the series and thought it was a beautiful love story.
To each their own. :)