In “The Hunger Games,” Katniss Everdeen must survive a televised death match against 23 other young people and the only defense she has is her bow and arrows and her instincts.
This brave character faces an even greater challenge: Proving to pop culture that women, who are not cast as sex symbols, can take the lead in any film and bring in huge box office numbers from both male and female audiences.
And Katniss’s character does this.
The opening-weekend brought in 155 million dollars, which makes the screening of “The Hunger Games” the third greatest opening in history.
Hey, Hollywood, female action heroes can attract large audiences without over sexualizing and feminizing them. Imagine that.
Katniss is a tough, intelligent, and compassionate young heroine, which is not common to find in popular culture. She even supports her family by hunting for food and takes care of her sister after her father dies.
Unfortunately, for nearly 60 years, gender inequality on screen has persevered. Hollywood’s impression is that boys and men will not see a film with a female lead because they seemingly cannot relate to the character; but I think this myth is finally debunked.
Nearly 40 percent of theatergoers who saw “The Hunger Games” during the opening weekend were male, according to the New York Times.
However, the National Organization for Women states that male characters outnumber females three or even four to one in the film industry. Females are also four times more likely than males to adorn sexy attire and have unrealistic body figures.
Plus, only eight percent of directors, 14 percent of writers, and 19 percent of producers are female.
What I love most about the film is how it avoids the restrictive gender lens. The author, Suzanne Collins, does not place gender stereotypes and constraints on Katniss. Instead, the film portrays a complex, humanized individual who happens to be female.
Junior Corinne Blake, who saw the film and read the books, hopes this movie will encourage other strong female characters to take the lead in the film industry.
“What I loved about the story is how a male character does not save the day,” Blake said. “Instead, it is the other way around. Katniss saves the male character and herself from danger.”
Blake also said she has male friends who have read the series and loved the story. To them, it does not matter what gender the lead character embodies as long as the storyline sparks their interest.
“J.K. Rowling initialed her first name for the Harry Potter series because she was afraid her books would not attract male readers, since they were composed by a female,” Blake said. “I hope this idea is changing so that women will be able to write books for any audience and not have to worry if their gender will turn readers away.”
Senior Courtney Wills said she appreciates how realistic and normal Katniss is and she knows both men and women can relate to her adventurous, independent spirit.
“I think Katniss is important to literature,” she said. “We need more modern female leads who are innovative and strong, because women don’t have many literary role models.”
Even the box office agrees: “There’s always been a lack of strong female leads,” according to Boxoffice.com, “but Hollywood is waking up to that.”
So thank you, Katniss (and Suzanne Collins) for showing audiences everywhere that no gender is superior and that women can take the lead.