It’s here! Squee! The official trailer for the second movie in the Hunger Games trilogy, called Catching Fire.
Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of the Hunger Games, and of Katniss Everdeen in particular. I’ll give you a quick summary of just what I think is so awesome about Katniss.
First and foremost, she is motivated by the desire to protect her family. She ends up in the games when she volunteers to replace her little sister, the only person whom she is absolutely certain she loves. Katniss and her family live in a coal mining district, and they are the very poorest amongst a whole community of poor. On the brink of starvation, the baker’s son tosses her some bread and saves her life and teaches her that survival is possible: that she CAN live.
The baker’s son ends up in the games with her, and the turning point in the games comes when Katniss decides that Peeta is her family, too. She would rather die than lose him.
Everything that Katniss does is motivated by her desire to protect her family: her children (in the form of her sister Primrose and a 12 year old contestant in the games called Rue), and her husband. Even though they are not married (they’re only 16!), the moment Katniss decides that Peeta is her family and under her protection, she becomes his wife.
The idea that a young woman’s life should center on her husband and her children is a story gone sadly missing from popular culture and from young adult culture in particular. Katniss has some pretty amazing skills, but she acquired those skills in service to her family: she hunts to feed her sister. She climbs trees to steal eggs from birds to feed her sister. She sets snares to catch rabbits to feed her sister.
Those skills save her life. And what does she do with her life? She uses it to find Peeta and save him. And then he saves her.
Back at home in District 12, Katniss has a relationship with Gale, who has helped her learn to hunt. He is positioned as an alternate romantic possibility for Katniss, but he represents more the pressure on young women to discard husband and family than anything else. There really is no possibility that Katniss will choose Gale.
In the Hunger Games, Peeta says “I wish I could think of some way to show them they don’t own me. That I’m not just another piece in their games. If I’m going to die, I want to still be me.”
Together, Katniss and Peeta figure out just how to do that. When the rules permitting two victors are rescinded at the last moment, Katniss defies the Capitol and she and Peeta agree to commit suicide. They would rather die together than live apart.
The Capitol bends to their will, and allows both to be crowned victors, and in forcing the Capitol to bend, Katniss and Peeta have created a revolution. The exploited, downtrodden districts, always on the brink of starvation, rebel against the Capitol. The whole society is in revolt.
And that is where Catching Fire begins.
In a previous post, a commenter wondered how it is that a nice pleasant middle-class white lady like myself could possibly love the anger and defiance of hip-hop music.
Judgy Bitch says she “loves” the “anger” and “defiance” of hip hop.
My question is – why is she so angry and what is she defying?
I was raised in the same general culture as she and I rejected it because I saw that many of the people were in fact angry and defiant for no reason. I believe this is what is also making American and British kids so depressed. They grow up surrounded by anger and defiance.
I’d like to know why Judgy Bitch holds anger and defiance in such high esteem.
I’m glad you asked, Yogi.
First of all, you seem to be confusing anger and defiance with cruelty and violence. Here is one of the most angry, defiant people the world has ever seen:
He changed the course of a nation’s history because he was angry at how that society was treating his people, and he defied the forces of power and created a lasting change. He did so using non-violent techniques, but even Ghandi did not eschew necessary violence.
It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
The short answer to your question, Yogi, is that anger gets shit done. Defiance forces change. Human history is one giant story about anger and defiance forcing through changes that needed to come. Changes that benefit us all. Changes that address injustice and turn wrongs into right.
And not coincidentally, anger and defiance expressed very publicly tends to be the domain of men. There are women throughout history, of course, who have climbed on top of soap boxes and challenged the world to change, but they tend to be outliers.
Sojourner Truth comes to mind. Ain’t I a woman?
I want to say a few words about this matter. I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man. I have plowed and reaped and husked and chopped and mowed, and can any man do more than that? I have heard much about the sexes being equal. I can carry as much as any man, and can eat as much too, if I can get it. I am as strong as any man that is now. As for intellect, all I can say is, if a woman have a pint, and a man a quart – why can’t she have her little pint full? You need not be afraid to give us our rights for fear we will take too much, – for we can’t take more than our pint’ll hold. The poor men seems to be all in confusion, and don’t know what to do. Why children, if you have woman’s rights, give it to her and you will feel better. You will have your own rights, and they won’t be so much trouble. I can’t read, but I can hear. I have heard the bible and have learned that Eve caused man to sin. Well, if woman upset the world, do give her a chance to set it right side up again. The Lady has spoken about Jesus, how he never spurned woman from him, and she was right. When Lazarus died, Mary and Martha came to him with faith and love and besought him to raise their brother. And Jesus wept and Lazarus came forth. And how came Jesus into the world? Through God who created him and the woman who bore him. Man, where was your part? But the women are coming up blessed be God and a few of the men are coming up with them. But man is in a tight place, the poor slave is on him, woman is coming on him, he is surely between a hawk and a buzzard.
Remember when women’s rights actually meant something?
Sometimes the role of anger and defiance is thrust upon women, which does not change the fact that anger and defiance is what brought forth change.
Rosa Parks got on a bus one day and decided she had just about enough of this black folks to the back of the bus shit, and she refused to move.
She changed the world.
Katniss Everdeen is halfway between Sojourner and Rosa. She didn’t create the games, but she volunteered to go. She was prepared to die, but defied the gamemakers until the last moment and she won! Now she has sparked a rebellion that could change her whole world.
And she wants that change. But not at the expense of Peeta or Prim. Not at the expense of her family.
And that is how you understand what kinds of anger and defiance are productive. When anger and defiance is in service to something greater than yourself, when it does not serve just your own ends, then you are looking at anger and defiance that can change the world.
The idea that we all should all just have a group hug and try to get along and take some Prozac to deal with the unpleasant side effects of injustice is part and parcel of feminist doctrine. It’s part of a concerted effort to portray the feminine as always and axiomatically superior to the masculine. Men get angry and defy authority?
The stupid, angry brutes.
The only acceptable challenge to feminist supremacy is to talk softly and address the leadership deferentially and couch your argument in terms that the ladies find acceptable. And don’t make any dick jokes, you pigs.
At first blush, it seems pretty lovely. Why of course, we should always try to have reasonable, civil disagreements where we both listen to one another and respectfully and politely come to some sort of compromise.
That’s fine when we’re disagreeing about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher.
It’s a lot less effective when we are discussing some massive social injustice in which one group is benefitting from the mass exploitation of the other. Here is Ruth Mason-Paull explicitly stating that a debate between feminists and men’s rights activists was going to be cancelled because the MRA folks just weren’t playing along with her rules of debate.
On Mason-Paull’s Facebook page, she said “I come from a middle class belief that people can discuss things and work it out through logic and reasoning. I understand that this is at best delusional when applied to certain members of our society.”
“Certain members of our society”. Rather like saying “those people”.
“Work through logic and reasoning” is a code word for saying “neuter masculine debate”.
Men will be permitted to speak only if they agree to abide by the rules set by women, which assumes the feminine to be superior to the masculine. That’s pretty fucking rich, when the entire debate is supposed to address the inequities faced by men in a culture that privileges women.
I’m sorry, men. We can’t talk about how the culture privileges women because you won’t agree to our privilege to define the term of the debate thereby proving that WOMEN HAVE AT LEAST ONE PRIVILEGE.
Can we discuss the others?
At some point, polite debate is no longer possible. At some point, your only option is anger and defiance. That doesn’t necessarily mean that violence is required. But any reasonable person should be prepared for it.
I’m not going to ruin Catching Fire for those not familiar with the story, but the point of polite debate has long passed by the time Katniss and Peeta set out on their Victory Tour. Everything Katniss does is to protect her family. She tries every strategy she can think of to protect them. But at the end of the day, she picks up a bow and allows an ocean of anger and defiance to consume her.
Katniss is angry. She is defiant. She counts on Peeta to protect her while she carries out her mission to spark a revolution.
Sometimes the only way forward is through anger. Sometimes the only defense is defiance. As long as you are working in service to something greater than yourself, those qualities are virtues. Typically masculine virtues, which is what makes it so easy to sneer at them, and wonder why on earth anyone would embrace them, let alone a woman.
It’s not that hard to figure out, Yogi. You don’t have to be a man to care about universal human rights. You just have to be human.
You don’t have to be a man to embrace masculine virtues, or see that they ARE masculine, or understand that those virtues are forces that can be used for tremendous good, as well as for evil.
And you don’t have to like or embrace violence to understand that sometimes violence is the only choice you have left.
President Snow says he is sending us a message? Well, I have one for him. You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground. Fire is catching. And if we burn, you burn with us!
Catching Fire and the whole Hunger Games series is all about sparking a revolution. Making a change that has to come. Addressing cruel injustice. Righting wrongs.
Katniss Everdeen is the girl who lights the spark.
She does so in service to her family.
And in doing so, she finds herself.
There’s the long answer, Yogi. I esteem anger and defiance because I understand how those things work to make the world a better place for everyone. I defy the broader culture that would deny me the right to raise my own children. I defy the story that my worth can only be measured in terms of economic production. I defy the endless caveats that dependence on a man is dangerous and foolish. I defy the relentless demands to privilege everything feminine over everything masculine.
It makes me angry that those stories even exist. Angry for my son, my brothers, my husband, my father, my friends, for every man who suffers under a regime that defines them as less than women.
That anger makes me speak.
And it makes me feel like myself.
And it really, really makes me want to take up archery.
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.
Lots of love,