The days are flowing away and it’s coming: the movie event that has everyone from pre-teens to former Harry Potter addicts looking up and taking notice. The YA community is rising to the theaters — along with everyone else — in support of the upcoming Hunger Games movie, making it one of the most anticipated films of the year. That’s not to say that it hasn’t had many controversies — such as how much resemblance the Suzanne Collins book has to a certain book/film called Battle Royale — but the film is still set to be a visual adaptation delight.
Still, one question has lingered in the air in our post-Twilight Hollywood: in our little Hunger Games love triangle, what team are you on, Team Peeta or Team Gale? Get ready, Hunger Games fans, because I’m going to demonstrate that neither is the right answer.
That’s right, because no matter how Twihard you might be, I am going to postulate that Katniss Everdeen isn’t Bella Swann and this isn’t your typical ’which one will she love’ YA story. In the case of the Hunger Games, the true question for fans who ask if you’re Team Peeta or Team Gale is... why aren’t you Team Katniss?
Katniss Everdeen is a YA female protagonist who has a chance to evolve the teenage female discourse above a simple love story dynamic. The story of The Hunger Games is not about a battle between the love Katniss has for a certain baker boy or a fellow poacher, but a story of survival in the face of adversity in a crushing dystopian future. It is also a story of bravery, sacrifice and self-empowerment in a harsh and repressive world that has no place for such nobility. Katniss embodies a complicated female protagonist who relies heavily on herself to solve her own problems, utilizing her talents and her mind to independently decide her fate. She certainly does not base her future upon the decision of what man to end up with — she’s simply too busy trying to survive through one life threatening situation after another.
Then how can the hype leading up to this film break down for so many into a simple story of Team Peeta or Team Gale, the choice between one boy or another? How is it that fans can miss out on cheering for the female protagonist by declaring themselves solidly on Team Katniss in favor of focusing this female protagonist’s story around the men in her life? For that, we must look at the Twilight phenomenon.
The entire hype of the Twilight stories focused on a female protagonist whose entire choices relied upon the men in her life, with no other relevant decisions to be made. Yet where Bella Swann’s story began and ended with a vampire and a werewolf, Katniss Everdeen transcends the trope of the damsel in distress to become so much more than the heart of a love triangle. She is a powerful, thoughtful, complicated character all her own that deserves consideration as such.
Consider this instead for comparison: in Harry Potter, did we get people running around in Team Cho and Team Ginny shirts (or even Team Hermione)? Perhaps a few, but there was nowhere near the same kind of hype that we’re dealing with in Hunger Games. The fact is, The Boy Who Lived was considered his own character without the need for breaking down his rich story into a simple love story. I submit that a character like Katniss deserves the same consideration by Hunger Games fans. I submit that a hero is a hero despite his or her gender and deserves a Team all her own, romance plot aside. Katniss Everdeen needs no qualifying by the men in her story, and trying to do so takes a lot away from a powerful female character whose time has come.
So when heading to the cinema, consider rooting for Katniss herself without her love plot consideration. The girl’s on fire, folks, she doesn’t need a man to light this match.
Shoshana Kessock is a comics fan, photographer, game developer, LARPer and all around geek girl. She’s the creator of Phoenix Outlaw Productions and ReImaginedReality.com