Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hunger Games to Inspire More Strong Female Characters?

I came across a great article written just this morning on E! online questioning the effects the success of The Hunger Games will have in Hollywood. It seems that the huge success of the movie (grossing "$152.5 million in its opening weekend") may lead to more strong female characters in movies and more "female-centric projects". This makes complete sense, because if something makes money, everyone is naturally going to jump on it.

However, if you step back and really consider this, it's very interesting. Feminists have been trying for so many years to emphasize the potential of females and the strength of the gender, yet when does everyone start to really pay attention and support this portrayal of women? When a strong female character makes big bucks in Hollywood. In this way, our society truly revolves around the media. So was the popularity of the Hunger Games partially caused by growing support for strong females in our society? Or is the Hunger Games just a good story that happens to have a female main character?

If you believe the latter, then what better way to get public support of an idea? If we introduce these topics that we want to garner support for in new, entertaining ways, the public almost subconsciously starts to see the topic in a new light. Simply telling people that women can break stereotypical gender roles is nowhere near as effective as showing them.

According to another article on the effect the media has on gender, children learn these gender stereotypes from a young age, and mostly through TV and movies. The article contains many interesting statistics, including the frequency of female characters in the media, as well as the way in which they are portrayed, and the effect it seems to have on children growing up watching these portrayals. 

In all, it seems that the best way to influence the public view on a topic is through portrayal in the media. So why isn't this used more often?? Why don't we see more of this subdued version of propaganda, used to manipulate our minds into thinking in whatever way the media intends? Or is it used so often that we don't even notice it anymore?


  1. I think you bring up a very interesting point in stating, whether the Hunger Games was a good book because it featured a strong female lead, or was it merely a good book that happened to have a female as the main character. I feel that this is a hard question to answer for the general public, but rather I can answer it for myself. I think the Hunger Games was a good book because it featured a strong female lead, as a young woman, it is always a plus to read a good book and have the narrator POV be a female and therefore making it easy to relate to. I cannot, however, see how the males would interpret this same question.

    I am a communications major enrolled in Visual Communications, and I can accurately say that the media has always been manipulating the viewer, that is their job, it is prevalent in any visual medium. So to answer your second question, I feel that it happens so obvious that it is no longer noticed, unless it is blatantly obviously trying to be noticed.

  2. I agree with Inez, that as a female, Katniss is much more relatable to me. I would also have to say that the novel is a good book because it featured a strong female. I'm not sure that the same reaction would have come from the POV of say Peeta, or another male tribute. Sure, it would still be believable and I can still imagine someone feeling brotherly to another male tribute just as Katniss feels responsible for Rue and Prim, but by having a female protagonist the novel adds even more depth. I feel it is more interesting that Katniss has to become the head of the household, whereas it makes much more sense and is more "normal" for a young boy to become the head of the house at a young age. I am glad that strong female leads are gaining popularity within the media, and it's about time. I'm excited for what will come next.

  3. I think your point that the Hunger Games may cause more movies to come out with female leads could be very true. The media at once tries to manipulate what we like and use formulas that have shown to be successful. In this case, the creation of more films with female leads could lead to feminist gains. This is a big step, considering that there are so few superheroine movies in comparison to superhero movies. A successful movie like the Hunger Games could be just what is needed to change the way that movie studios think about females in a heroic, and even violent, role.

  4. I think that the Hunger Games franchise will pave the way for more movies with strong female leads. It is an interesting point to question what exactly made the novel/ movie so successful, the continuous support from feminist groups or if it's just has a good plot. I think that because of finances, that the media portrayed that females are capable of breaking traditional gender roles better than feminist groups. This also ties into the post about gender manipulations in the Hunger Games trailer. The trailer, with its inspirational and then fast paced score and cinematographic edits, dramatizes and adds an element of urgency to the movie, manipulating the audiences to also believing the strong moral character of Katniss.

  5. I really hope that the success of this movie creates a good image for movies in the future to follow. Many times, when Hollywood creates a big hit with a female lead, many flops follow where they try to create a more sexualized female lead. Hopefully, this movie whose protagonist is a strong female hero, fighting equally among males, and without her appearance being characterized according to the “male gaze” will set the precedent for what a successful movie with a female lead should follow! Whether the movie was made so popular by its great plot or by feminist groups, I really hope that there will be more movies to take advantage of both of these great things to gain popularity and bring society another film that successfully empowers women!

  6. To answer your question about whether the Hunger Games was successful because of the strong female support or just the generally good plot line, I think it's a bit of both. Yes, the Hunger Games was a great book but for more reasons than just having a female main character. It still presents so many parallels to issues going on in our society today and blows them up to a large scale, showing just how distorted some systems in our society are. However, I feel like all the years of effort feminists put into gathering greater support for strong women made the book even better. Such a movie probably could not have been as successful a few decades ago simply because the main character was female.


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