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taygete

adventures, by accident

Month

March 2012

May Contain Spoilers

Last week, I treated myself to an evening out with a good friend, and we went to go see The Hunger Games movie on opening night. On the whole, I enjoyed the movie – I thought the acting was very good, and the suspense felt very real, and that’s coming from somebody who’s read the book more times than I care to admit. There were some missteps, like the scene where Katniss is hallucinating under the influence of the tracker jacker venom, and a few bits and bobs left out, like the incorporation of dead tribute’s eyes into the muttations featured in the finale. But there were some good additions, like the increased role of Seneca Crane and the visual image the viewers are allowed of the riots in District 11 after Katniss acknowledges Rue’s death to the cameras. I do love these books, but I tried to judge the movie on its own merits, and as I said, enjoyed it. It didn’t knock my socks off, but I teared up when Rue died, if that puts it into perspective.

However. However. A full week on from the movie, there are two things that were left out that are driving me crazy, one of which is personal but still important, and one of which seems like a major plot point ignored, and I’m really curious how these issues will be addressed in the second film, Catching Fire.

First, the plot point – Peeta’s leg. Towards the end of their time in the arena, Katniss finds Peeta essentially dying of a stab wound to the leg. This injury drives her actions for several chapters of the book – tending him, distracting him, essentially focusing on his well-being in a semi-private cave space that allows their relationship to develop almost normally.* In these interactions, we see Katniss’ tender devotion to her sister in the story about her sister’s goat, her steely determination to protect Peeta by getting him better, and her inability to see people she cares about in pain. All these character traits are important, but what’s especially important is that Peeta’s leg doesn’t get fully better in the books, while it’s miraculously healed in the film. In the book, the madcap rush for the Cornucopia in the end leaves Peeta bleeding and weakened, and Katniss’ blind panic when they’re separated, and her later devastation to learn he’s lost the leg, illustrate her changing and conflicted feelings for him in a way the movie fails to do. Also, her relative lack of injury makes it difficult to understand how they’re going to set up the force field issue in book 2, but that’s another story. I thought leaving this out saved some storytelling time, but at the cost of a deeper understanding of their relationship and a potentially suspenseful plot point.

Secondly, the issue of food. The books, and the competition, are called the Hunger Games for a reason, and the reason was completely ignored in the films. Where was the discussion of the  District 12 Tributes of the 73rd Hunger Games, who Effie Trinkett declares had terrible table manners, and who Katniss counters had never, “not a day in their lives,” had enough to eat? The loving description of the lamb stew, over which Katniss and Peeta will later bond? Rue’s wistful comment that she’s never had a groosling leg to herself? One of Katniss’ major strengths in the arena is that she can hunt, a skill borne of deep necessity, and her ability to find adequate food not only saved her family, but will save her and Peeta in the arena. Katniss’ life revolves around finding enough food (and water) to keep herself alive, especially once she’s in the arena, and this single-minded focus helps the reader understand much about what drives her as a character. Katniss is dragged of Gale in a state of panic, begging him to promise he won’t let her family starve if she dies in the arena, and it should be a desperate and touching moment that highlights both her worst fears and her implicit trust of Gale. In the absence of a real understanding on the part of the audience of the role hunger and the fear of hunger play in the universe, much of Katniss’ drive and anxiety rings somewhat hollow.

I had a lot of quibbles with the interpretation and adaptation of the story in the book  into the plot of the film – we never see the worst of Haymitch’s drunkenness, for example – but was generally able to understand many of the changes that were made. These two points have really stuck with me, and made me wonder how the second book will be rendered on the silver screen.

*Obviously, nothing about the situation is normal. But Katniss is able to open to Peeta in this environment in a way she is unlikely to have done in their “real” existences, in a way that might feel normal in a less-dystopian young adult novel featuring two protagonists falling in love.

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Blast

March has ground on, slowly sapping my energy and drive. I’m headed to a showing of The Hunger Games tonight with a friend, and I’m really looking forward to it, though I’m sure I’ll regret it when I have to get up for work tomorrow. Iheld off on my initial desire to go to a midnight showing, largely because I couldn’t talk anybody else into it.

I’ve been spending a lot of time on Pinterest lately, and am especially proud of my Food ‘n Bev board. I like Pinterest better than Delicious, as I’ve said, for food and image-related bookmarking, and in trawling through my Delicious account to post recipe links and pictures to Pinterest, I’ve discovered that I have bookmarked a number of recipes multiple times, yet never made them. And these aren’t even normal, common recipes, either – it seems every time I stumble across a recipe for Welsh rarebit or a gin-based cocktail, I can’t help but want to try it. Maybe April should be a month for trying recipes like this – I suppose I could have/should have done this in February during my recipe diet, but live and learn.

There are a few nice things about spring in Maryland, before humidity has taken a real hold. For one, I can go on walks around campus after work and avoid the steamy, sometimes smelly gym. For another, flowers!

Two daffodils in a glassI saved these from the front yard. We’ve got a strip of daffodils and other plans growing across the front of the yard, along the sidewalk, and an apparently grouchy neighbor or post office employee trounced on a few plants, from which I saved the flowers. They won’t last as long as my lovely paper flowers, but they’re nice while they last.

Paper daffodils in a vase

 

National Craft Month

You guys, I am kind of failing at National Craft Month! I didn’t even realize that was a thing, and that it was a currently-happening thing, until after the month had started, and now I’m encountering all kinds of roadblocks! I’ve spent more time on Pinterest, pinning crafts I’d like to try, than I have actually crafting. Part of this is because I got sick last week and lost a few days, and part of this is that I recently had to have my credit card replaced because of fraudulent activity and am holding off on buying some supplies until I’m confident that’s been cleared up.

There is one project I’ve been working on and enjoying, though I don’t have pictures yet. T got me flowers for our two year anniversary last Tuesday, but instead of getting me regular ol’ flowers, he got me a paper flower kit from one of my favorite crafty stores, Paper Source. The Daffodil Flower Kit is lovely, and now I will always have the flowers. I’ve also learned that floral tape is super-tacky, and if you touch things with grubby fingers, you leave a CSI-esque trail of prints behind you.

Maryland Equality

Went to a great dinner party last night to celebrate the recent passage of the same-sex marriage bill in Maryland. It was both a lively and a somber atmosphere – the issue is almost definitely going to the ballot in November, and for all the celebration last night, I don’t think anybody was fooled that there isn’t quite a battle ahead of us. Maryland demographics are interesting – it’s a pretty Democratic state, on the whole, but there are many powerful and influential political groups who have historically opposed gay marriage despite otherwise trending Democratic (such as Maryland’s large African-American and Catholic communities).

As was discussed last night, and in the great essay in the Baltimore City Paper It’s Not Over, I think there are really two key considerations in making Maryland the first state where gay marriage survives on the ballot: families, and straight people. I know, peripherally, some of the gay parents and children of gay parents who were testifying before the Maryland Senate and House in recent weeks and months, and they’ve also been involved in various test cases floated before the Maryland courts. In the many articles I’ve read about gay marriage in Maryland, it seems that families like theirs were crucial in swaying votes, both as illustration that families with same-sex parents are basically the same as other families, and as examples of how marriage is still an important support system within a greater societal structure. Now I’m not the world’s biggest marriage cheerleader, so if you don’t want to get married, for any reason (or just because), good on you. But to say that people who want to get married can’t, strikes me as anti-social, anti-family, and ultimately self-defeating. If you spend all your time defining and categorizing and limiting the boundaries of what “counts” as a “real” marriage, frankly, people aren’t going to be so keen to jump on that bandwagon. And since, my personal feelings about marriage aside, it still does convey some very real financial, legal, and social protections to families, I think you end up undermining your whole purpose. I think politicians who are really, truly interested in promoting greater social good are more likely to vote and act in favor of marriage equality if they’re put in a position to realize what they’re denying families by voting/acting against marriage equality.

On top of which, as T pointed out last night, there’s something unfair about taking these sorts of civil rights issues to a vote, in that the LGBT population is a minority population. And this is why creating partnerships with non-gay allies is a really critical part of this fight. I think there are a lot of straight folks who are for marriage equality (or don’t care, because they realize it doesn’t affect them whatsoever), but who maybe aren’t motivated to do anything about it. But if they knew that their cousin/coworker/neighbor/friend is a member of the LGBT community, and that this issue matters to that person, they might step up. I think this is a time to be out, if you’re in Maryland and in a position where it’s safe to do so. Even if you are not looking to get married yourself, there are a lot of other people who are, and I think they’d appreciate the community support.

To be clear, I’m not really advocating for marriage, which I find a pretty problematic institution on many levels. But I am advocating for equal rights and equal treatment under the law. Whether or not I choose to get married is my business, and I deserve to be able to make that choice for myself, based on what’s best for me. (Well, there are probably other interested parties in this discussion, but we’ll leave my parents and boyfriend out of it for the moment.) And while I do think that marriage equality is a gay rights issue, it’s not the sum total of gay rights. Gay marriage in Maryland doesn’t suddenly mean gay people are going to be treated the same as other people. There are still issues of discrimination in employment and housing and many other areas, hate crimes and bullying, high rates of homelessness and depression among queer youth, homophobic attitudes and beliefs, etc. etc. etc. Gay marriage is just one step down a long path to equality, but it’s an important step, and I think it creates an important precedent that the LGBT community deserves equal treatment under the law.

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