The Hunger Games Revisited
By: Holly Vanderhaar
This is going to be a brief update, because Gracie’s having surgery in a few days to remove a questionable cyst from her wrist, and with all the tests and doctor appointments —and Isabelle being sick from a nasty respiratory infection— I don’t know which way is up. For what it’s worth, the doctors don’t think the cyst is anything to worry about, necessarily; it’s just that they can’t tell exactly WHAT it is, and they had the choice of putting her under for a deep MRI, or performing an excisional biopsy. And since they would be putting her under either way, they advised the latter option. And because I just want it to be over already, I agreed. And I’m trying not to think about my (probably irrational) fear of general anesthesia. And trying to figure out how to get Isabelle to school when I have to be at the hospital with Gracie at 5:30 in the morning.
Since my last post about taking them to see The Hunger Games, it has become All Katniss All the Time in our house. We went to see it a second time. They’re spending their allowance on trading cards. And Isabelle told me that it was her favorite movie. Now, this surprised me, because they’re passionate about a lot of movies, including Cars and Bolt and all of the Harry Potter films. So I asked her why? Why The Hunger Games, when it’s scary and violent and sometimes —for a nine-year-old—confusing? And she said, “Because it’s about a girl.”
From time to time, in literary circles, there’s a dust-up after some (usually male) author makes some disparaging statement about female authors. There’s some back and forth about institutionalized sexism and “chick lit” and income disparities. And often, people who argue that women are all a bunch of whiny babies will point to J. K. Rowling as a success story. Hers is a great rags-to-riches tale, to be sure. But if we’re past the need for feminism, and everyone is judged on his or her own merits rather than on gender, then why did her publisher insist that she use her initials, rather than her first name, saying that boys wouldn’t read a book that was written by a woman?
My point is that if anyone tells you that it doesn’t matter, that the important thing is a “good story” and a “compelling protagonist,” that it’s only left-wing academic types who notice or care about the notion of a gender disparity—among protagonists or among authors—and they’re just creating a problem where none really exists…I’m here to tell you that (in our family, at least) it does matter. Kids do notice. Girls are hungry for heroines. And, if box office numbers are any indication, boys will go and see a movie about a girl, and they’ll even read a book by an author who uses her real first name.