Here’s a roundup of stories on Hunger Games fandom that might be of interest to fans:
- The launch of the Hunger Games film has prompted fan activity to hit the news. A piece in The New York Times focused on the fandom’s partnership with Oxfam to fight hunger and suggested that fandom can be a pathway for social activism, mentioning the upcoming issue of Transformative Works and Cultures that explores fan activities on this front. However, while it mentions the need for outside organizations to work with fan-originated groups, the article fails to discuss the fact that fan efforts are supported only if they go through official channels to do so. The Hollywood Reporter posted about the film’s distributor, Lionsgate, sending a cease and desist letter to the Harry Potter Alliance’s Imagine Better Project–the group featured in the Times‘ article. Lionsgate cites the Project’s website and marketing as “causing damage” to its own efforts, and because Lionsgate had already paired with the United Nations’ World Food Programme and Feeding America to pursue similar goals, the company wants fans to work through those two organizations. Though a source close to the studio said that Lionsgate would not pursue legal action, they did threaten a take-down of the fan site. Twilight fans can probably sympathize, as the films’ distributor, Summit Entertainment, has been so aggressive in searching out related merchandise that it attempted to remove an artist’s work for using the film’s release date in her otherwise completely unrelated work.
- Unfortunately, some fans have been effective in squashing the squee of other parts of the Hunger Games fandom, as a post in The Guardian made clear. Says the article’s author, “I am a woman of colour with a deep–almost unhealthy–love of popular culture. It is a love that is sorely tested in the face of such prejudice when I am told, loudly and with few qualms, that the stories of people who look like me just aren’t viable in a specific universe. It is often explicitly stated by my co-fans that I am not–-ever-–what they picture when they read these books or hear about these movies. The language may be coded: ‘She’s not how I imagined’ or, in the case of interracial couple Sam and Mercedes on TV’s Glee, slightly more explicit: ‘They don’t look right together, like, they don’t . . . fit.’ But the message is clear. We get to be supporting characters-–the redshirts–or the villains. But heroes? Um, no. That would make things too . . . ethnic.”
- A Connecticut high school produced its own version the story: “Teacher Janet Kenny dressed up as Effie Trinket to conduct the reaping and selected the names of one boy and one girl tribute from ‘districts’–grades nine through 12. The students, or ‘tributes,’ then scrambled to collect items from the ‘cornucopia’ in the middle of the gym. Two months into the games, the tributes competed in games related trivia, fashion, cake decorating, and archery. The lucky winner [received] a pair of tickets to see the film opening weekend.”
- A piece in Salon suggests that recent film successes have demonstrated “the awesome cultural power of young readers, especially young girls.” Arguing that the film’s marketing team can’t take credit for fan enthusiasm, writer Laura Miller states “[A] good movie and a canny promotional campaign aren’t enough to make hundreds of people camp out in a tent city to await a movie’s premiere. That kind of enthusiasm only comes from a fandom, an organized, well-networked, convivial mass of people who really, really love something and want to talk about it—a lot.” While prior to the film’s opening, some coverage suggested that fanboys rather than families would be the core of the film’s success, Miller counters this. Referring to a New York Times article that attributed Hunger Games‘ box office defeat of Breaking Dawn: Part 1 to its larger percentage of male viewers, she writes, “Like the Times, you could look at these figures as an indication of how much better a movie franchise can do when it appeals to young men as well as young women — or you could just acknowledge the fact that a movie can now be a big hit without appealing to young men at all.”
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