Initially I was not going to write a response to an article I read on NPR, but then I ran into it for a second time and have decided I need to get it off my chest. The article, What if Katniss Didn’t Have to Choose Between Peeta and Gale, is actually in response to another article that was on NPR What Really Makes Katniss Stand Out? Peeta, Her Movie Girlfriend.
Now the first article is not terrible, but I do think it over-simplifies the characters of Katniss, Peeta, and Gale to make its point. Not to mention the fact that by focusing on the idea of a love triangle (which I do not agree with it as a love triangle in the first place), they are missing the point of the complexity of the situation and the characters. They do make a good point in the fact that the gender roles are played with a lot, especially with Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. At the same time saying that choosing between Gale and Peeta is Katniss choosing between playing the “Movie Girlfriend” and “Movie Boyfriend” I think almost plays into the stereotypes that they are saying to break.
The next article builds off of this premise and takes the ideas even further. So it is already starting on somewhat shaky ground and then begins to feel like they are using this more to further their own point than any actual analysis. I know that these are fictional characters, but reducing Katniss down to just her relationship with these two guys really bothers me. This is just one of a few problems I have with the article. The article itself is talking about the positives of polyamorous relationships and using the Katniss, Gale, Peeta relationship to say that Katniss can be with both Gale and Peeta. Now I am not going to discuss the good or bad of polyamorous relationships, but instead I have a problem with the basis of their argument.
Don’t Know the Source Material
The first thing to point out is that the secondary article did not actually know the source material. They might have seen the movies and they read the first article, but I feel like for the claims they are making they really should understands the characters they are referencing at least a little bit better. It is like they took the – what I view as oversimplified – characterizations from the first article and decided that they could build their article from that. They cannot take into their arguments the nuances of the characters from the book or the movies, if they just takes other people’s word for it.
The other part of not knowing the source material is that it shows a lack of respect for the fans. I feel like you could have talked about polyamorous relationships without having to use a popular icon at the time. Or if you were going to talk about it with these popular characters at least understand what you are talking about and understand how they would actually make a polyamorous relationship work or why it would not necessarily work. Even if you are referencing that due to societal norms it would not work.
Giving Up a Piece of Yourself
The not-reading-the-source-material is important, but the basis of the argument is extremely problematic, in my opinion. The groundwork for their argument is that by Katniss only choosing one -either Gale or Peeta – that she is having to give up one side of herself. Apparently with Gale she would have to become more feminine and let him take care of her. Then with Peeta she would be the male and take care of him. Just writing those statements down bugs the hell out of me because when the hell did Katniss ever give up anything?
Katniss is such a strong female character, and to say that she would even consider being with someone if she had to give up a part of who she is, is so ridiculous. Relationships are all about compromise and give-and-take, but if you are having to give up who you are then there might be a problem. David and I have been married for five years this month and I am not someone who would have lasted if I felt that I could not be me. Maybe I am weird or just lucky, but when I feel like I am in a relationship with someone and that I cannot be myself I get out of that relationship. I have worked too long to become who I am to suppress who I am for them. Maybe it is because I want to relate to Katniss that I think she would feel the same way. She is not someone who gives in or changes easily, even when coached she has trouble changing.
If we take away the basis of the argument then the rest of the theory kind of falls a part. Again, I am not saying that some people might say that polyamorous works for them, but the way they shaped their argument around Katniss, Peeta, and Gale is problematic and makes assumptions about the characters and relationships in general that I disagree with. My other issue is that it makes it like the relationship between Katniss, Peet, and Gale is the most important part of the story. I mean do we spend this much time talking about a love triangle if it is two women and one guy? No, and yet we could have the same dynamics. In some ways by spending so much time discussing these issues we are taking away from what is fantastic about Katniss and The Hunger Games trilogy in general.
Instead of focusing on the relationships why don’t we focus on how great it is to see real characters being displayed? They all have masculine and feminine traits as well as fully realized characters, flaws, strengths, and all. I could go on, but it would just be repeating the same things. I think these articles took characters I loved and used them for their purpose instead of appreciating them for who they are.