Saturday, March 31, 2012

Turning The Hunger Games into "The Gender Games"

Anxiously awaiting when I could finally see The Hunger Games movie for myself, I came across a really interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about how the movie was marketed. According to the article, the movie required a different games of its own: “The Gender Games.”

The book adheres to many famous ideals, focusing on a female heroine, Katniss, in a fight to the death among 23 other contestants of both genders. The fight encompasses both genders, showing that female kids have the ability to fight equally against kids of male gender. Additionally, by making the main character a female in the fight, this book takes an even bigger stride for feminists. Not only is there a female protagonist, but she also does not show any weakness where bravery is needed most and comes out victorious in the end.

Although there is a love story integrated into the plot, this love triangle is merely for entertainment in the novel and does not play a huge part in the story. Most importantly, the love story does not conflict with Katniss’s character. She remains a strong female heroine, not being swayed or forced into a stereotypical gender role at the end of the story by falling in love.

However, although the love story should not be the main focus of the novel, this very component of the book caused a “Gender Games” when trying to publicize the movie. It’s presence in the book and the characters cast for Gale and Peeta left many young girls across the country swooning. This “female cult fandom” may have deterred males from seeing the movie, as they become annoyed by the fanatic focus on the love story instead of on Katniss’s strong character in the brutal situation that she fights to get out of. In fact, the article states that 73% of young women had definite interest in seeing the movie, while only 48% of young men said they were definitely interested.

In order to reverse this thinking, marketing this movie required some playing of “The Gender Games” in attempts to bring male interest back up to the substantial male interest the books themselves had without losing the huge female following the movie already gained. An online videogame was made and the movie was screened in IMAX, both of which target male audiences.

However, in order to bring the movie back to what males found intriguing in the book in the first place (it’s fast pace, strong characters and violent sport), these specific traits were highlighted in the trailers. Bruzzese, president of Ipsos MediaCT's Motion Picture Group, mentions, “They've taken away the love story and focused on the hero, who, by virtue of her altruism and fire, is going to stand up against this situation.” 

Watching the trailer for myself, I found this to definitely be true. Her bravery and determination are unquestionable, and the focus on the action of the movie could leave anyone, whether male or female, yearning to see more. With these trailers and overall product of the movie, The Hunger Games was definitely triumphant in “The Gender Games”.


  1. I agree with your post. The Hunger Games definitely highlights the strength of females. Katniss is independent, powerful, and courageous. It is interesting that The Hunger Games is being called "The Gender Games." The movie definitely blew up the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale to be much more important than it really was in the storyline, making the movie popular for girls. Boys, on the other hand, turned away from the movie as a result. Making a video game and playing it in IMAX were good attempts to attract more boys, but I think that the effect of the love triangle can't really be reversed. More girls are interested in the movie. This obsession with Katniss's love interest takes away from the movie's message of gender equality.

  2. That article was very interesting. I see how they manipulated the marketing in hopes of gaining the male attention and building their audience. I think they were hoping that males would want to see the movie on their own accord, instead of being dragged to see it by their girlfriends, I myself went to see the movie with a male friend and we took along his little brothers, all three of them enjoyed the film, but they all thought there would be much more action from the trailer, but said they mainly highlighted the main points in the trailer and there wasn't as much action as they had hoped to see. It is easy to see how such a simple manipulation can set up a movie for either much success or possibly high expectations that were not fully met.

  3. I think an interesting point that was brought up in this article was the role of the love triangle. Since the love triangle was portrayed in a way that created interest from girls without making it the central theme of the story, I think that it was successful in attracting both genders. This is very different from other stories like Twilight, where the story revolved around a love triangle. Any violence or fighting was overshadowed and this was likely one of the main reasons for its primarily female audience. As a result, The Hunger Games had the ability to attract both genders and highlight other themes in the trailers, unlike stories without any other parts to them.

  4. I was actually wondering about this earlier when the movie first came out in theaters. Was this going to turn into another Twilight Saga? or would it be more gender neutral like Harry Potter? I think the fact that they focused on action and violence in the trailer cut down on the "swooning girls" and made boys feel comfortable watching it as well.

    However, I must admit that one of the turn offs for me to see this movie was in fact the whole "Peeta-Katniss-Gale" triangle. I was not looking forward to seeing a bunch of drama over something that was so unimportant in the book. Hollywood tends to just go with whatever they think will sell; but, after seeing the movie I was very impressed with how much they toned down the triangle. I enjoyed the movie. And think that the "gender games" was not as prevalent as they could have been.


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