I’m listening to a Hunger Games ringtone sound off in this coffee shop and catching myself laughing as all the white girls look up in unison like they’re about to volunteer as tributes then join the revolution against the Capitol. Don’t mistake me, I’m a huge fan of the books and the movies. But this attraction to Katniss’ character is ridiculous.
Katniss is not the hero. Katniss is, by all accounts, the weakest character in the series. Yes, she bravely sacrificed herself for her sister (something we all claim we’d be willing to do for our siblings if put into a life or death situation). And, yes, she did manage to survive a cleverly vicious new year in the Hunger Games history. But at what cost? Katniss is a master manipulator (as if we womenfolk needed help encouraging that claim to our gender). Katniss is, ultimately, incredibly selfish. She can’t see beyond her own family for the good of people everywhere. And, when she becomes a victim of her circumstance (because she is, legitimately, forced into being the figurehead of the revolution), she does nothing to take advantage of her situation. She maintains the “victim mentality”. She is pathetic and mopey and whiny and becomes a drug addict for a short time. How weak! She had so much power at her fingertips but refused to use any of it! You can’t even logically argue that Katniss thought for herself when she chose to end President Coin’s life because she was manipulated (pretty easily, I might add) by a dying Snow. Boo, Katniss. Boo.
You want a heroine? Look no further than Prim! She gets a second chance at life and becomes a nurse. A nurse on the front lines! The girl marches into the battle zone to save lives. What better way to spend the extra time on Earth she was given?
You want a hero? Look at Peeta! He is, far and away, my favorite character in the series. Not only does he have his head on straight (he knew exactly what the Games were designed for and was hell-bent on not being a pawn) but he was also the character who showed the most respect for people (Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, for example). You’re human? Then you matter to Peeta. Even if you’ve tried to kill him. And, sure, his love for Katniss was a little unwarranted. Sure, he’s not as survival-savvy as other characters. But there is a boy willing to love another with every fiber of his being. Willing to be tortured for her. Willingly walking into Hell and patiently waiting for the opportunity to see his beloved in Heaven, even if it means he doesn’t get to be with her. A glorious example of self-sacrificial love. Dynamic and riveting. Team Peeta forever.
If you want realistic, believable and idol-worthy characters, then the Hunger Games series is pretty accurate. The Everdeen mother is broken and pathetic after the loss of her husband (that’s a real thing), but does manage to pull herself together with the blunt encouragement of her daughters.
Haymitch is an alcoholic after being forced to kill or outlive dozens of his peers in a fight to the death that was publicized to every person in the world (not exactly a real thing but alcoholism following trauma totally is) and yet he is kind and generous in fighting for Katniss and Peeta.
Even Gale makes sense: he’s young and stubborn and wants to fight the Bad Guy without really knowing how to do it (an idealism associated with lots of young, pure-hearted politicians or cops or firefighters before they inevitably move up in rank and are forced to deal with the politics of their positions).
You want a reason to read the Hunger Games (or watch the movies)? Well, it’s a great series. You want a hero? Don’t choose the main character.
My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we give a three finger salute to every character but Katniss.
P.S. Let the record show that I am a huge fan of Jennifer Lawrence and believe that she is a wonderful role model for girls everywhere. Even if the character she plays is not.
P.S.S. I love you, Cinna!