So there was a minor uproar, recently, when post-racial America flipped the fuck out over the fact that Rue and Cinna were OMG BLACK. I am positively fascinated that this was an issue. Well. I’m negatively fascinated. Oh, and horrified.
As most of the literate world has figured out, if you read The Hunger Games, Rue and Thresh were described as having dark skin and hair, and Cinna wasn’t described at all, apart from his makeup.
And yet, somehow, the fact that Rue, one of my favorite characters, was oh-so-suddenly Black, ruined the movie for people. Despite the fact that Amandla Stenberg is a stunning little actor, who took what little of her character the filmmakers thought to include in the film and still managed to make me adore her. Despite the fact that watching a child die, brutally murdered by another kid so that the evil wealthy folk might keep their fancy, frivolous boots on the necks of the twelve districts should be heartbreaking regardless of her race. I cried when I watched Rue die. And it had nothing to do with her race, and everything to do with the fact that she was wonderful, lovable, and fucking tragic. Even Katniss, for all that she has the social aptitude and compassion of your average turnip, figured that out.
To be perfectly honest, my primary concern was not that Rue is Black. It’s that both Black tributes come from the same district, which hints at segregation (I know, the film showed District 11 and there were White people there, but it wasn’t that clear in the book, and I really wonder how much of a conscious choice that was). But that’s neither here nor there for this particular discussion.
As for Cinna, he could have been any race at all, so the choice of Lenny Kravitz for such a wonderfully sympathetic and essential character must have been positively devastating for the bigots who defaulted to White in their limited imaginations.
America, what the fuck. This is just gross.
Look, I don’t have scales over my eyes about the racism that is rampant in this country. I am not surprised by this. But that doesn’t stop me from being disappointed. It doesn’t stop me from being disgusted. And while I am not saying anything new or deep in this post, I still have to say it. In the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin, in the wake of the attempts to free Zimmerman of blame, in the wake of tweets complaining that a character in a movie was Black (and that one tweet from the individual who was less affected by Rue’s death because of the color of her skin), in the wake of those godawful “Don’t Re-Nig“ bumper stickers, being speechlessly horrified feels a lot like silence.
And silence, in the wake of these things, won’t do.
I was walking from my friend’s apartment to the BART station today, when I saw a couple who looked alike and had matched outfits. My first thought was, “Oh, look. It’s the Bobbsey Twins.” It was a sarcastic, unfriendly thought, but what immediately followed was a moment of confusion.
Okay, I thought to myself. I’m 33 years old. I’m mature enough to admit that I have no fucking idea who the Bobbsey Twins are.
Normally I can let this sort of thing go. But the whole train ride was spent mulling over the fact that I had been hearing about the Bobbsey Twins my entire life and I had no idea what it was actually referencing. (I suppose these days, people reference the Olsen twins instead. With any luck someday people will have no idea who the hell the Olsen twins were, too.)
Well, it turns out the Bobbsey Twins are characters in a 72-volume series of books begun in 1904. They are two perfect sets of twin children named Nan and Bert & Flossie and Freddie, with pets named Snap and Snoop. Together, they fight crimesolve mysteries even when there are no mysteries to be solved. Brilliant. At least Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys had actual crimes to handle.
(Flossie, btw, is a delightfully dental Victorian nickname for Florence.)
72 volumes of this? Are you fucking kidding me? 72 volumes of some master-race-modeled twins solving non-crime mysteries and hanging out with Snap and Snoop? I’m so glad that when I was a child a friend of my mom’s skipped this shit and just handed me Skeleton Crew. Sure, reading Stephen King at age 7 might have ensured that I will never go out on a lake in a raft ever ever ever. But ultimately, I prefer that to Merry Days Indoors and Out.
Before you ask—not that you were going to—no, my life is not enriched for knowing this. Neither is yours. Moreover, you know that fact you really needed to remember for that thing that you need to do? That’s been replaced. Surprise!