it's like katniss is the symbol and she started all of this

katlady13  asked:

Hi! My birthday is April 24th and I'd love to read everlark where Peeta thinks he's lost Katniss somehow, like a misunderstanding or even some kind of accident, but everything works out in the end. Love the drama/angst, and I'm down for any rating (but let's be real, the smuttier the better bc it's my birthday lol). No infidelity please! Tytyty! You are awesome!

Originally posted by heybuckaroohowareyou

Happy Birthday! There is definitely some angst in this one. Thanks for having a birthday so we can all enjoy this great story! And thank you to @katnissdoesnotfollowback for writing and submitting it. She’s been a MAJOR contributor to this blog, as have many others, and we can’t thank her enough. Links to part one & part two if you haven’t read them yet. Enjoy! I know we did. 

Happy Birthday! Hope you enjoy this somewhat angsty story. Hugs and lots of love to you on your special day!

All’s Fair - Part 3

WARNINGS: RATED E for language, PTSD, and smut. Mostly the rating is for the smut. SMUT I SAY!

A/N: HR in this instance stands for Human Remains. There’s no gore or graphic violence in this, but there is a healthy dose of angst. Thank you @peetabreadgirl for pre-reading.


My boots scrape the pavement as I stop to stare up and down the parking lot aisles. I find at least four Jeep-shaped vehicles under black covers and sigh, drop my bag on the pavement, and search through the pockets for my keys. Not even my car keys, either. Customs fucked up my packing job and I’m pretty sure they wound up back in my footlocker. I find the keys I need underneath a half empty bottle of Gatorade and unlock my trunk, rummaging around until my fingers find the canvas ribbon on my at home keychain. Yanking them out, I listen to the jingle of home with the distant growl of a C-130 spooling up its engines. The humid North Carolina air presses down on my lungs and I blink in the fading light.

It’s late. I’m exhausted and hungry. And the red REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT tag on my keys is a one-two punch to the face. I don’t even know where he is right now. He was supposed to be home sometime last week, although I don’t know the exact date, but the fact that he wasn’t here to meet me means he was delayed somewhere. Or something far worse that I am not prepared to contemplate on four hours of shitty sleep on a cramped rotator flight and an empty stomach.

Pocketing my car keys, I slam my footlocker shut and lock it back up, hefting my bag back on my shoulder and hauling the trunk onto its wheels to continue my solitary trek. I hit the lock button on the key fob twice and hope my battery didn’t die while I’ve been gone. I’ve got jumpers, but no one I feel comfortable inconveniencing. Most of the others have already gone home. Prim couldn’t be here this time, unable to get away from med school. Mom’s too sick to travel. Gale’s still somewhere in Fallujah, I think. At least, that’s the last place I ran into him.

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Katniss isn’t the mockingjay… but her children are

I don’t mean to insinuate that Katniss isn’t the central character of The Hunger Games series or that she isn’t the catalyst for a revolution or the symbol of rebellion to her people. She is all of those things and more. She is cast by the rebellion as the Mockingjay, and she comes to identify as that role, albeit reluctantly. I would argue, though, that she just isn’t the mockingjay. There’s a qualitative difference between the two. One capital letter can make a world of difference. So let’s talk more about that little “m.”

The Hunger Games is, among other things, a treatise on how we, as a society, care (or don’t) for our children. It’s a pacifist call to stop using our children in the theater of war. This is corroborated when Katniss thinks, “[S]omething is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children to settle its differences.” She even comes to embrace what Peeta cautioned against in his first Capitol interview, that humans as she knows them ought to die off so that “some decent species [can] take over.” (MJ 377)

This new species of human is the mockingjay.

Suzanne Collins goes through great pains to relay a few basic truths to the reader from the outset of The Hunger Games:

  • Katniss is a “mini me” version of her deceased father. Whereas her mother and sister are delicate and fair like the merchant class, Katniss is Seam Strong: she’s not only darkly complected like her father, but she shares his rebellious and free spirit. There is nothing merchant class about Katniss. She is, to her core, Seam.
  • Katniss can’t bear the thought of having children in the world she knows. If it strikes you as odd that Suzanne Collins would have a 16-year-old girl talking about having (or not having) children within the first several pages of the series, then you’re onto something. This is an overarching theme and preoccupation, and it’s perhaps the most important one to Katniss as a character. Having, or not having children, is representative of Katniss’ future. By not wanting to have children, she is resisting the system in the only way she can as a disenfranchised person. It’s her way of opting out of the future altogether.
  • There is a specific mythology behind the mockingjay as a species, and Suzanne Collins wants us to get it exactly right. (we’ll talk about that more in a sec).     

Why do these three points matter?

Let’s start with the mythology behind the mockingjay. Here’s what Collins tells us:

“They’re… something of a slap in the face to the Capitol. During the rebellion, the Capitol bred a series of genetically altered animals as weapons. The common term for them was muttations, or sometimes mutts for short. One was a special bird called a jabberjay that had the ability to memorize and repeat whole human conversations. They were homing birds, exclusively male, that were released into regions where the Capitol’s enemies were known to be hiding. After the birds gathered words, they’d fly back to centers to be recorded. It took people awhile to realize what was going on…Then, of course, the rebels fed the Capitol endless lies, and the joke was on it. So the centers were shut down and the birds were abandoned to die off in the wild.

Only they didn’t die off. Instead, the jabberjays mated with female mockingbirds, creating a whole new species that could replicate both bird whistles and human melodies.” (THG 42-43)

Apologies for the extended quote! But this is some heavy stuff… it’s the heart and soul of the series. The Capitol creates a weapon against its people, the male jabberjay, a bird excellent with words. Ultimately the jabberjay proves useless to the Capitol- worse than useless, even. Destructive. The rebels use it for their own cause. And then the jabberjay mates with the female mockingbird and creates a new species that should never have existed. Suzanne Collins might as well have put a “spoiler alert” before this paragraph. This foreshadows exactly what happens in the series. And she just told us on page 42. That saucy minx.

Katniss is the mockingbird. She isn’t a mutt of anything; she is purely her father, a product of the Seam. She is so “Seam” she is practically a monolith. As a child, she overhears her father singing and spouting anti-Capitol political rhetoric, and she replicates his call, getting scolded by her mother. (THG 6, MJ 123) When her father would sing, all the birds would stop to listen to him. And lo and behold!, the same is true of Katniss. (THG 301). Throughout the series, Katniss only ever sings the songs her father taught her, those she heard as a child. She doesn’t have a song of her own. The mockingbird, in literature, symbolizes innocence and purity. And, despite the countless horrible things Katniss thinks about herself, she is an innocent. She isn’t privy to the political machinations of the adults around her. She doesn’t even know the content of her own heart. She’s pure (but for Peeta she’s perfect).  

….Which brings us to Peeta. He is the jabberjay. He is described by Katniss as being good with words more times than it’s useful to recount. One of my favorite examples is when Katniss thinks, “Peeta doesn’t need a brush to paint images… He works just as well in words” (MJ 22) In fact, following his first interview with Caesar Flickerman, she adds, “I don’t care [that he is a traitor]. Not what he says or who he says it for, only that he is still capable of speech.” (MJ 27) He is the voice of reason in her world, the leader she envisions in a just society. Just as Peeta hears her call and is “a goner,” so too is Katniss for him. They are two songbirds impossibly, irrevocably attracted to each other.

Peeta isn’t just a songbird, though. He is, specifically, the jabberjay.  He is tortured by the Capitol, turned into an “evil-mutt version” of himself, and is sent to destroy Katniss and, therefore, the rebellion (MJ 243). When he is rescued and brought to District 13, the Capitol’s scheme has apparently worked. He tries to kill her (let’s not talk about that), and his attraction to her is “gone” (her words, not mine). He uses the “L” word with Katniss for the first time- in past tense (ouch! it burns!!!). And he says to her, “You’re not very big, are you? Or particularly pretty?” (MJ 230) Let’s just say that hijacked!Peeta isn’t immediately a fan of the bird in front of him. But he’s a homing bird, and time after time, he finds his way back to her. In the beginning of Mockingjay, Katniss notes that “Peeta would have nothing to come home to anyway. Except me…” (9). And he does. Again and again, he finds his way back home to her.

If Katniss is the mockingbird and Peeta is the jabberjay, that makes their children the mockingjay. Katniss had been drawn to the mockingjay since she was a child, admitting that there was “something comforting about the little bird” (THG 43). Despite her insistence on not having children within a totalitarian regime, the mockingjay always served as a symbol of hope for her, even if she didn’t want to admit why. Katniss and Peeta’s children are that hope- and “only Peeta” could give her that. Peeta finally gets Katniss to buy into that future, to allow herself to feel the hope he has always represented to her. Falling in love and having children together is the way to show the world that they, as people, are more than just pieces in anyone’s Games.

So Mockingjay must end with the children, with a girl and a boy who possess traits of each of their parents and who are a new species of mutt that the Capitol never intended to exist. These children are the most important characters in the series. Katniss and Peeta’s children are the symbol of hope that we were promised, as readers, from the very beginning. They are the mockingjay. They don’t know that they dance on the ashes on the dead, and that’s okay. The fire and ashes are in the past, and the mockingjay is the symbol of a hopeful future, freewheeling in a sunshine-filled meadow. Suzanne gives us that token to carry with us, to take into whatever games we find ourselves forced to play.

(And a shout-out to everlarkedalways for inspiring me to write this)

Wanted (1/3)

Here is my story that I contributed to @mores2sl. Due to the length, I’ve decided to divide it into 3 chapters.

Rated: E for explicit sexual content and explicit language. Because I like some hotness with my sweetness. 

Possible trigger: Discussion of a minor character’s infidelity.

Thank you to @sponsormusings​ and @papofglencoe​ for being amazing betas. Your support and friendship mean the world to me. And thank you to the fantastic @loving-mellark​ for your skills in making this hot banner.

Summary: Modern AU: Young newlyweds Katniss and Peeta live a simple life in their hometown of Victors County; a life filled with family, friends and the love they have for each other. But an unexpected turn of events, and a brush with the law, puts their relationship – and their sex life – to the test. And afterwards, nothing will be the same.

“Oh, dammit!” Katniss shrieks, dropping her knife next to the half-chopped parsley and running over to the stove to pull the burning pot of stew off the gas burner. Placing it carefully on the sink, she grabs a wooden spoon, hoping the meal is still salvageable - but very quickly she realises the food smells like charcoal and the bottom of the pot is singed black. Tears of frustration threaten to fall at the corners of her eyes and she lets out a sigh of defeat. Swiftly, she scrapes the burnt remnants into the nearby trash can and throws the pot into the sink with some hot water and detergent. She determinedly scrubs away her failed mess and prepares herself to start all over again. You can do this, Katniss. You may not be a domestic goddess, but surely you can cook a meal for your husband.

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Catwoman 75 #6

I guess it’s my turn to get all mushy about my girl Selina Kyle.

When and how did I fall in love with Catwoman?

I know that I’ve always loved Catwoman and when I was in elementary school one of my friends got me a Catwoman address book (you remember address books right) and I told her that I liked Catwoman more than I liked Batman. Fast forward a few years later, I’m a little fuzzy on the details and timeline, but I remember it was during my watch-everything-Batman-related phase. It must have been a combination of seeing Catwoman in “Batman Returns” for the first time and binge watching the animated series. I went online to look up “best Batman and Catwoman” stories and everyone across the board said Batman: Hush so I ended up getting the trade as a gift. It was either around the same time or within the year “Heart of Hush” came out and Catwoman’s third series had just ended and that was it: I was all in. What a great time it was to be a batcat fan and up until that point I had been reading strictly Teen Titans.

Why do I or What is it about Catwoman that I love?

This is going to basically be the chapter to a book so get ready.

1. The History

I think one of the things that DC Comics has more than Marvel is iconic women. DC Comics have more female characters that can be recognized outside of the comic book medium. Of DC’s women I think that the three most iconic are Lois Lane, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman. Lois Lane, Catwoman, and Wonder Woman are the first ladies of DC Comics. Lois Lane (1938): DC’s first lady. Catwoman (1940): DC’s first bad girl. Wonder Woman (1942): DC’s first superheroine. They’ve all stood the test of time and after 75 or so are characters that have been included in film and tv franchises, appeared in every derivative form of media, and are known extensively by non-comic book readers of every generation. You know who they are, your parents know who they are, and your grandparents know who they are too.

Catwoman was created by the creators of Batman himself, Bob Kane and Bill Finger and appeared in the very first issue of Batman along with the Joker. She predates most of the rogue of gallery. Both a sinner and saint, she’s anything but static. Her shadowy past and a dark allure makes her enduring, while her unpredictable nature makes her infatuating.  Catwoman was one of the few female characters who didn’t fall victim to the Comic Book Code Authority’s draconian guidelines regarding the way women were allowed to be written. Rather than water her down into someone she wasn’t like Batgirl and Wonder Woman she was benched from appearing in comic books for over a decade. She plays on her own team and by her own rules, and is whoever she wants to be whenever she wants to be it. She is the quintessential bad girl, and I say that respectfully. As Elizabeth Valleau puts it:

… there is nothing more dangerous to the patriarchy as women that cannot be controlled. I think there’re few forces on earth more capable and unstoppable than a bad girl.

2. Independence

Unlike a lot of other female characters during Catwoman’s inception there was no male equivalent and even rarer there is a male equivalent to her (Catman 1963). Even though Catwoman exists inside of the Batman mythos, she has been well developed as a character not dependent on him to tell her story. During her first ongoing series Batman was intentionally excluded from making appearances for over two years to give her series time to develop on its own. Catwoman exists in her own right and never compromises who she is to please anyone else. Even at her most reformed she doesn’t follow Batman’s exact code of ethics. She still steals occasionally and at one point commits a murder. She won’t pay the price of submission to be a counterpart to a male superhero.

And her biggest fear is dependency.

I know that the New 52 will have you believing that it’s Poison Ivy but that’s just poppycock. What does that tell you? That Catwoman is the antithesis of the damsel in the distress; an autonomous woman who not only can take care of herself but wants to.

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Developing a Supernatural Edge: Foreshadowing

In one of my writing/editing tips, I mention the importance of foreshadowing in the supernatural genre. Foreshadowing warns about events soon to come, and it often builds tension. But finding a good balance can be difficult. You want to tease your readers, giving them a sneak preview without giving away too much of the information. So here are some tips for tackling foreshadowing to provide the optimal level of suspense without overdoing it.


In your initial draft, you might already have a few elements of good foreshadowing, particularly if you outlined your piece before you wrote it. But during the revision process, this is where you need to step up your game, because how well you weave in hints, backstory, and other elements can set your story apart from others in the genre, whether it be horror, crime, mystery, thriller, or even standard fiction. All genres use foreshadowing to some degree, but method I usually suggest for adding it in, especially for supernatural books, is layering.

Any of you who have viewed my bio on Twitter know that I’m an advocate of writing layers. And while it doesn’t work well for everyone, I’m one of those writers who likes to start with a solid skeleton then build from there. For me, it’s the easiest way to add multiple dimensions to the environment, characters, and even plot. I also use it when editing others’ work, because it’s a very effective way of separating each layer and enhancing them to strengthen the overall structure of the story.


Although foreshadowing elements are often at the beginning of a story or chapter, it’s beneficial to weave more in throughout. A great place to drop a few hints are during moments of casual activity, when readers might overlook the detail. This keeps the hints subtle while still being in plain view of the ongoing action. This works particularly well for supernatural stories, where you’ll likely keep the final outcome hidden from the reader until the very end. And if you want to give readers a stronger hint about an upcoming event, a good way to achieve that is to call attention to the element of foreshadowing either multiple times or in multiple ways, spread out over several pages or chapters. This makes its use intentional without being overt.

Balanced Details

One of the hardest things to achieve in foreshadowing is balancing the information given. Most of us can recall a few stories that we’ve been frustrated with, where it was easy to figure out the outcome way before it happened. And it’s even more irritating if the main character was slow on the uptake.

Knowing when and how much information to disclose is the trick to balancing elements of foreshadowing. You, as the writer, are going to know every detail of the background story and characters. However, the reader doesn’t need to. Especially for close third, first person, or other limited perspectives, the best approach is usually divulging small bits of information here and there as it relates to the ongoing action. This gives the reader an inside look without getting bogged down by huge info dumps.

The Hunger Games series has great examples of this. One instance that springs to mind is when Katniss is given the mockingjay pin. It is introduced as a reminder of her home, but it later symbolizes the districts’ revolution (and her leadership of it). It’s a prime example of an object being used to hint at future plot points.

Direct vs. Subtle

Foreshadowing elements can either be direct or subtle. Direct foreshadowing is usually placed at the beginning of a story, predicting flat-out what might happen. The story itself portrays the journey of the events leading up to that conclusion. Older literature in particular favors this method of foreshadowing, including many of the classics. Shakespeare is very well known for in fact, the most famous instance being the opening lines from Romeo and Juliet. Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol is another prime example of direct foreshadowing.

Modern books primarily use a subtler approach. In the Harry Potter series, for example, Rowling uses Harry’s scar as a precursor to the events that follow, making it and the events surrounding it a very prominent part of the overall plot. She then wove in other details, such as the tea leaves and Professor Trelawney’s prophecy, to further hint at the idea that he would one day die.

But there are many authors of the thriller and horror genres in particular who like to incorporate incredibly subtle foreshadowing, sometimes even reading leaders astray as a means of creating tension. (Think Jeffery Deaver and Stephen King.)

Red Herrings

When clues are planted to deter readers from the true plot, they are known as red herrings. Red herrings work well for any genre, but they are used most frequently in crime, mystery, horror, and supernatural books. As both a reader and a writer, I find red herrings to be the most enjoyable kind of foreshadowing. Twists and turns are enamoring for many readers, drawing them in and making the book an irresistible read. I adore books like that myself. But writing them is certainly a challenge.

When it comes to writing great red herrings, it all comes down to planning. You’ll often find them at the crux of subplots and even at the climax of the overall plot, giving you one last “Holy crap!” moment before everything is revealed. The best books incorporate them in a way that will convince readers that they are the undoubtedly the truth, usually driving them with circumstantial evidence until new proof comes into play.

No matter what your take is on foreshadowing, supernatural books thrive on the one thing that foreshadowing always creates: tension. Without it, you’re left with an incredibly boring mashup of ordinary events and ordinary characters. And good supernatural stories are anything but.

Mini fic: Fear

“I’m alive.” Katniss’ frown at hearing her own scratchy voice turned into an internal wince at Johanna’s reply.

“No kidding, brainless,” the other woman spat the words like a venom as she stared Katniss down.

She tried to move away, Katniss did, but her body felt like jelly and she couldn’t move an inch when Johanna sat unceremoniously on her bed, busily detaching and attaching the morphling drip from Katniss’ arm to her own - her eyes never leaving Katniss’.

The silent scrutiny made Katniss squirm - it was so unlike Johanna to not barrage her with words; if she remembered correctly from their previous, albeit limited, confrontations the other woman had never had any troubles expressing her thoughts - on the contrary, it seemed like Johanna had her brain in her mouth. Katniss opened her mouth, ready to be the first to break the silence, but she found that there were no words coming out so she closed her mouth again. That earned her an eyebrow raise from the woman sitting on her bed.

When she thought that Johanna wasn’t going to say anything at all, that all the District 7 girl wanted to do was intimidate her or whatever Johanna’s twisted mind decided to do with her, Katniss tried to look away.


The question was posed so softly that at first Katniss wasn’t sure if Johanna had said anything at all. She turned her head back at Johanna, meeting her gaze that was now filled with uncertainty. “Why what?”

“Why?” When Katniss shook her head questioningly, Johanna closed her eyes and mentally counted to five. There was something in Johanna’s eyes, something that Katniss didn’t recognise, when the woman opened them again. “You never came.”

All the frustration, all the hurt, all the loneliness that was laced in those three little words hit Katniss like a tidal wave and she felt her heart clench painfully, a different - and a lot more painful - sort of ache from what she was physically feeling then. Her throat constricted and Katniss choked on her own words as she forced herself to speak, affirming sadly, “I didn’t.”

Johanna regarded the injured woman for a second, waiting for an explanation. When it didn’t came, she nodded in resignation. The woman averted her gaze and began to detach the morphling drip from her arm. A clasp of bony fingers on her wrist brought her attention back to the girl who had become the symbol of their rebellion.

“Aren’t you going to ask me why?”

“I did,” Johanna replied brusquely, pulling her arm out of Katniss’ grasp.

“But I didn’t answer,” pointed Katniss sleepily as the morphling started to take effect on her.

Johanna shrugged. “No big,” she brushed the other woman off. “Go to sleep, brainless. They’d kill me if they knew I was harassing you.”

“Were you?”

“Huh?” Johanna’s expression was so confused that Katniss started to chuckle. “Fuck, you’re stoned!” The chuckle turned into a weird laugh on Katniss’ part, the morphling dulled her senses enough for her not to feel her pain from her injury. “And god you’re no less annoying when you’re high.”

Katniss watched as Johanna walked back to her bed and drew the curtain with enough force to rip it from its metal hinges. It took a while for Katniss to stop laughing, by then she could no longer hear a single noise from the other side of the curtain.


No answer.

“Johanna?” She tried again, thinking how foreign it was to say the name out loud. It sounded different from when she had said it in her head - different, but not unpleasant. She waited but still there was no answer. Johanna had to have fallen asleep or something.

“I went to see Peeta when you guys returned,” Katniss began softly, emboldened by the thought that Johanna couldn’t hear her, “He tried to kill me.” The memory made her shudder but she pushed the thought away. She yawned tiredly but struggled to stay awake. She needed to say it now when she had the chance; she needed to let it out when her inhibitions were next to zilch thanks to the morphling.She glanced at the curtain to see if there was any movements. There were none. Katniss took a deep breath. “I couldn’t…” her voice broke as she went on, “I couldn’t bring myself to see you - not with the possibility of seeing that same look he gave me in your eyes.”

“Knowing that Peeta wanted to kill me hurt me so badly,” she admitted, blinking rapidly as she was losing her fight against the drowsiness. She couldn’t even open her eyes when the last words escaped her lips, “But I’d die of a broken heart if they managed to hijack you too.”

On the other side of the curtain, Johanna Mason lay awake, too stunned by Katniss’ words to even move a muscle. Whatever she had expected to hear, it certainly wasn’t that. She swallowed hard and let out a shuddered breath. A tear fell from her eye as she closed them, but there was a smile on her thin lips as she mumbled, “Brainless.”

Johanna never thought that Katniss, too, wasn’t asleep until she heard a quiet whisper from that side of the curtain.


on the fantasy of teamwork in Catching Fire

There are a slew of graphics on this website that portray Katniss, Peeta, Haymitch and Effie as a team. They’re all having emotions together about the Quell! They have a team colour! For crying out loud, the initials of their surnames spell TEAM!

Well, let’s interrogate this a little.

We’ll start with Effie. Now, Elizabeth Banks does a fantastic job of portraying Effie in this film, and by virtue of being out of Katniss’ head, the films have more freedom to show her emotions leading up to the Quell. But just because Effie has feelings of sadness and confusion in the eleventh hour, does not mean that she is actually working with the ‘team’ towards the same end goal. Frankly, I find fandom’s unproblematized praise of Effie to be deeply troubling (thanks to Pamela for her lucid comments which I hope to expand on a touch here).  Effie’s job throughout Catching Fire is to groom and train Peeta and Katniss to affirm the values of the Capitol and calm the uprisings in the districts so the Capitol can reign on, undisturbed by the backlash to its systematic oppression. Effie loves her victors, not her tributes. Effie had no qualms about sending Peeta or Katniss, likely both, to die in the first arena. She even saw it as a kindness to pull tributes from impoverished districts to experience Capitol wealth, even though it’s “just for a little while.” Effie’s victors have given her respect and status, and she sees it as her job to help them experience the Capitol and their newfound wealth and status (see: the party at Snow’s mansion). Even with the Quell, when she begins to experience confusion and doubt, she does not question the values and systems that uphold the Capitol’s authority. When she says, “You both deserved so much better,” she isn’t talking about them deserving to live their lives in peace, deserving to never have been subjected to the games in the first place. By winning the Games (by killing people, as Katniss notes) they have earned the right to experience the wealth and status of the Capitol, and that is what the Quell is disrupting. In her eyes, Peeta and Katniss deserve to spend the rest of their lives rich, respected in the Capitol, on television, attending parties. A rebel, Effie Trinket is not. She does not question the values that uphold the system, she questions Snow’s own corrective disruption of the system, and that’s an important distinction.

Effie is working at cross-purposes with Haymitch, whose major goal is to keep Peeta and Katniss alive long enough to make Katniss into District 13’s Mockingjay. (This is actually pretty problematic, since it is done without their knowledge, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I also find fandom’s unproblematized praise of Haymitch deeply troubling, surprise, surprise.) Haymitch reminds Katniss to “remember who the real enemy is.” Effie has no conception of who the real enemy is. She may be upset with Snow for upsetting the status quo (victors live long, luxurious lives bathed in Capitol wealth and the adoration of the masses) but she does not see the system for the evil that it is. While both are aiming to keep Peeta and Katniss towing the party line during the Victory Tour, they are doing so for completely different purposes. Effie is serving the Capitol and the system by keeping everything on script. Haymitch is trying to keep the kids from causing trouble to keep them and their families alive, based on his own experience of having everything taken from him by the Capitol for his defiance during his own turn in the arena. Or possibly, because he’s already playing the long game and trying to keep Katniss and Peeta alive to go into the Quell. But once the Quell comes down, Haymitch is serving District 13’s revolution. (If he wasn’t already; we don’t get a timeline on when he’s brought in on it, but the unity and peculiar behaviour of the victors before the arena suggest that it was probably between the announcement of the Quell and their arrival in the Capitol, at the latest.) Now, with the backing of 13 and the near certainty of Peeta and Katniss’ deaths in the arena without 13’s intervention, Haymitch has no reason to suppress their expression of resistance on a national platform. In fact, his “remember who the real enemy is” statement encourages Katniss’ expression of resistance to the Capitol’s system. But unlike Katniss and Peeta’s determination to die for one another (and, at least in Katniss’ case, the revolution as well) in the arena, his advice to them is to “stay alive” - long enough to be rescued by 13’s hovercrafts.

This is where Haymitch becomes problematic for me. Despite their agreement after the chaos in District 11 that all of them needed to be fully informed of their circumstances (although it was framed as Katniss and Haymitch needing to bring Peeta in, it also worked on the assumption that Katniss and Haymitch were already being open with one another), Haymitch does not inform them of the rescue operation or District 13’s backing. Depending on how early we think Haymitch was brought in on the plans for the revolution, he spends a good portion of Catching Fire lying to Katniss about the existence of 13 and discouraging her from starting an uprising in 12. (It’s worth noting that this is what Katniss believes in the opening of Mockingjay, although we don’t get her rationale.) Because neither Peeta or Katniss are privy to the plan, they each form a plan of their own. Katniss plans to lay down his life for Peeta because she feels she owes him beyond measure; because she knows that she has no hope of making it out of the arena alive; because she knows that as the symbol she is worth more to the revolution dead than alive; and because Peeta’s side of the star-crossed lovers act is real, so he has a hope of making it out of the arena alive and channeling his pain into words that can fuel the revolution (and yes, because she loves him). Peeta plans to lay his life down for Katniss as an extension of his strategy in the first arena, to help her survive and prove he is “more than just a piece in their games,” because she has people who rely on her and he doesn’t, and definitely because he loves her. Haymitch explains why they weren’t brought in on the plan at the end of Catching Fire:

“I still don’t understand why Peeta and I weren’t let in on the plan,” I say.

“Because once the force field blew, you’d be the first ones they’d try to capture, and the less you knew, the better,” says Haymitch.

“The first ones? Why?” I say, trying to hang on to the train of thought.

“For the same reason the rest of us agreed to die to keep you alive,” says Finnick.


“We had to save you because you’re the mockingjay, Katniss,” says Plutarch. “While you live, the revolution lives.”

Whether Haymitch is right or wrong about this, it is still problematic. Haymitch has made this decision for both Katniss and Peeta without their knowledge or consent. (This is a pattern Haymitch falls into throughout the books, starting with Peeta’s confession during the interviews that put Katniss in the middle of the star-crossed lover strategy, and mirroring itself at the end of the first book when he keeps Katniss from Peeta so he won’t find out that Katniss was acting at the tail end of the Games). Rightly, both Katniss and Peeta feel betrayed by Haymitch for the first part of Mockingjay.

But at the very least, this runs counter to the idea of these four people being a team. Sure, they have overlapping priorities during the Victory Tour, but throughout Catching Fire, they have different, frequently contradictory end goals. They are not a team; they are a group of people manipulating each other for their own ends, and I’m sick to death of fandom pretending otherwise.

Things I liked about MJ2...

I watched MJ2 three times now and I must admit that every time I see it, it keeps getting better and better!

The movie is beautiful, it has everything and more. Sure it lacks some things but all in all it is nothing but satisfying.

Rather than reviewing it (other people already wrote awesome reviews and I wouldn’t  be able to make anything as good anyway…) I want to make a list of all the things I loved most about it.

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Katniss & hijacked Peeta

This post by posthungergamessyndrome got me to finally write about something I’ve been thinking about for a while now (btw, read that post, it’s great).

When I first read THG I had a problem with understanding Katniss’ actions in MJ too. Keep in mind I read MJ in a day (while going to work fulltime too), so it was a really fast read and it took me a while for everything to sink in. But I remember after reading the first time that I could understand everything, except Katniss’ anger towards hijacked Peeta. I understood that she couldn’t help him much, especially at the start, because he’d flip out if she was even mentioned. So. it’s not like she could go to him, just walk into the hospital and make him see that she’s not a mutt. I understood that she couldn’t get her hopes up, because if he never got better, she wouldn’t survive having her hope crushed yet again. But why the anger?

I understood that Katniss was angry at herself and Haymitch for not getting Peeta out of the arena. She took it out on Haymitch already in the hovercraft and she took it out on herself too. After seeing Peeta’s conversation with Delly, when he calls Katniss a mutt, Katniss requests to be sent to D2. That is to get away from the situation, but I think it’s also a self-destructive request- she’d be sent where it’s most dangerous right now. After that, she goes to the Capitol, right to the heart of fighting again. In between those 2 events, she trains like crazy:

“I throw myself into training with a vengeance. Eat, live, and breathe the workouts, drills, weapons practice, lectures on tactics.”

Again, I think it’s not just because she wants to keep her mind off the situation, or because she wants to kill Snow and her rage is guiding her. I think it’s also a self-destructive behavior. But again, that doesn’t explain why she’s angry at Peeta and takes it out on him.

I think it’s because Katniss feels abandoned by him. Yes, it wasn’t like it was his choice, but sometimes all the rational thoughts you have are not strong enough to stop the anger that comes from past wounds.

Katniss felt abandoned a few times in her life already. First, when her father died. He also had no choice, but Katniss was an 11 year old who was suddenly in charge of her family. Underneath her sadness, in her subconscious there was probably a part of her that thought:”Why did you have to leave me now? Why did you abandon me?” And I think it’s normal. Anger at a loved one when they die is a common thing, especially if you’re a child. And let alone in a situation like Katniss’.

Then there’s Katniss’ mom who Katniss felt abandoned her after her father’s death. Her mom also didn’t have a choice, but Katniss didn’t understand that at the time and she says at the beginning of THG that she never really forgave her mother for that.

She also probably felt abandoned by the entire D12. None of them had much food to share with Katniss’ family or some other means of helping them. But neither did a 11 year old boy and yet he found a way.

So now you have that kid that was a symbol of hope for Katniss and who becomes really important to her.

“No one has held me like this in such a long time. Since my father died and I stopped trusting my mother, no one else’s arms have made me feel this safe.”

She hasn’t felt that safe with anyone since her father’s death. She learned to trust him, to need him and he promised an always. And she believed it:

In the twilight of morphling, Peeta whispers the word and I go searching for him. It‘s a gauzy, violet-tinted world, with no hard edges, and many places to hide. I push through cloud banks, follow faint tracks, catch the scent of cinnamon, of dill. Once I feel his hand on my cheek and try to trap it, but it dissolves like mist through my fingers.
When I finally begin to surface into the sterile hospital room in 13, I remember. I was under the influence of sleep syrup. My heel had been injured after I‘d climbed out on a branch over the electric fence and dropped back into 12. Peeta had put me to bed and I had asked him to stay with me as I was drifting off. He had whispered something I couldn‘t quite catch. But some part of my brain had trapped his single word of reply and let it swim up through my dreams to taunt me now. “Always.”

“I cover my face with my arms because this isn‘t happening. It isn‘t possible. For someone to make Peeta forget he loves me… no one could do that.”

She did take Peeta’s love for granted and she regrets that when he’s hijacked, but I think it’s not just that. Even if it wasn’t a completely conscious decision, she began needing him and she expected that always to be true for them. Now she feels taunted by that promise.

When he “forgets he loves her” and her old wounds reopen. The only person that gave her hope after her father’s death, the only one that made her feel safe after that and the only person she openly admits to needing in the whole trilogy, suddenly doesn’t love her anymore. Just like it was before, it’s not a conscious thing, but in her subconscious she’s again asking herself:”Why did you abandon me just like everyone else? I trusted you, I relied on you, you promised and you abandoned me!”

That realization was the last piece of puzzle in understanding Katniss’ behavior towards hijacked Peeta for me. So I hope that this post will help someone else understand it more too. And maybe stop blaming her and sympathize with her more.

anonymous asked:

omg do hunger games

1. Favorite scene of the series.

Probably the scene where Katniss is looking at Peeta’s drawings and sees the one of herself in silver because like WOW, WOW, YOU TAKE THIS SHIV AND YOU PUT IT IN MY HEART AND IT HURTS SO MUCH BUT IM SMILING BUT IT HURTS and like, as much as Mockingjay is the hottest of hot messes, the Katniss/Peeta Hamlet/Ophelia realness is probably my favourite thing in the series idek their relationship/joint arc is so complex and flips so many ya relationship conventions and gender norms on its head and i love it and them so much soooo much

2. Favorite villain

Probably the Careers - if they can be counted as ‘villains’. MORE ON THIS LATER~

3. Least favorite “main character”

I don’t consider him a “main character” really but, like. Gale. More on this in #12

4. Favorite “sidekick”

Again, not really a sidekick series? As far as secondary characters go, I pretty much like them all - Finnick and Annie would probably be my favourites.

5. Character you love to hate.

CAREERS LET’S TALK ABOUT THE CAREERS. Child soldiers literally raised to fight and DIE in the games and told that it’s the only thing that matters, only to get into the arena and realise how precious their lives are and how they’ve been wasted by their parents and society just before they die ITS SO FUCKED UP IT IS LITERALLY THE MOST TRAGIC THING and i looooved the extra Careers stuff in the movies because like, THESE KIDS PROBABLY GREW UP TOGETHER AND TRAINED TOGETHER AND THEY BAND TOGETHER KNOWING FULL WELL THEY’RE ALL GONNA TRY AND KILL EACH OTHER IN THE END let’s talk about Clove/Cato let’s talk about how hopeful they must have been when the Capitol said a pair of tributes could live LETS TALK

6. Favorite friendship

HAYMTICH/KATNISS/PEETA MESSED UP VICTORS IS EVERYTHING TO ME TBH. I love their relationship so much and how theyre like, I CARE ABOUT U SO MUCH IM SO MAD ABOUT IT because there is that connection there of being the only people who understand what it’s like to survive the games and even though they resent that connection and the suffering it’s caused, they’re obviously really glad to have each other and to be able to support one another? And like that just goes double for Haymitch who has had to mentor these kids for years and years just to watch them die, and then suddenly get this pair that not only both survive but like START AN ENTIRE REVOLUTION and he’s been pretty much not caring about anyone for like, 20 years and then suddenly TWO REALLY DUMB DANGER PRONE KIDS HE CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE katniss and haymitch taking their pain over losing peeta out on each other is so much it is SO MUCH

7. Friendship that never felt real to you.

Look. You know that kid you’re best friends with when you’re little, and you run around together and you make mud pies and you hang out at each others houses, but then you get to high school and you make other friends and the old friend doesn’t and they get real fuckin whiny, and real fuckin angsty, and you end up not inviting them to your bowling alley birthday party and they get really upset and tell your mum, and then the two of you never talk again but because you live in the same town you still see each other sometimes and make awkward eye contact before looking away and pretending it never happened? That it Gale and Katniss.

8. Favorite wise-guy/jokester character


9. Least favorite villain

I really feel like in this series - and in most dystopias, tbh - the villains are really underdeveloped. Like, what the protagonist is fighting against is ~the regime~ and the villain is just kind of a face for/the embodiment of that regime and so we don’t really get to know them as a person? I feel like the humanisation of the enemy/bringing them down to the same level as the protagonist is an interesting and underused plot device in dystopias. Anyway, I guess I’d have to say Snow? Or Coin, idk we don’t really know either of them and can only judge on the shady shit they do. One of the things I really like about the Hunger Games movies is how they show us more of Snow and behind the scenes of the Capitol dictatorship, which I really think was missing from the books.

10. Least favorite book

MOCKINGJAY OH LORD JESUS SAVE ME FROM THIS HOT ASS YA MESS. I get what she was going for, I really do, but jfc this was just a badly structured book. Frustratingly small in scope, terrible to like half or even more than half the characters - just all over the place, seriously. So much of this series’ world and secondary characters are so poorly developed and just lacking in detail, idk I find it really takes away from my enjoyment of the series.

11. Talk about a character with a bad story or character arc.

WHERE TO START LITERALLY WHERE TO START. Shoutout to Johanna, Prim, Gale (yes. even Gale) and a trillion others but this one has to go to Finnick and by proxy Annie because like YOU DIDN’T FUCKING NEED TO TAKE THIS ONE SUZANNE AND YOU KNOW IT, I GET IT THE FUTILITY AND SENSELESSNESS OF WAR BUT LIKE YOU ALREADY TOOK ENOUGH FROM THEM like Finnick was prostituted out by the Capitol for YEARS and you implied that Annie was sexually tortured by the Capitol and they were both battling with mental illness and probably ptsd and a whole host of other traumatic shit and they actually carved out a place in the world together where they could be HAPPY but oh no, FInnick has to go get eat by a bunch of rabid ANIMALS like they were messed up enough for it not to be a happy ending which u are so clearly against!!! You suck on the real

12. Character that just pisses you off no matter how much you try to like them.

I am not about stock characters. I am not about Nice Guy assholes who give girls ultimatiums because they feel insecure in their relationships. I am not about personality-less, barely there for two thirds of the series, mainly seen through the memories of the protagonist 'love interests’ that are meant to bring drama and tension to an already complex and dynamic romantic relationship and thus I am not about Gale Hawthorne, ever, in this life or the next.

13. Plot device used too much


14. Favorite character death scene

I didn’t /enjoy/ it, but I think the most significant/best written death in the series is definitely Rue’s. It hits you right when it’s meant to and is just the most chilling and sobering proof of the brutality of the Games, and you can see how it changes Katniss and how it, in turn, changes the reader. Much more poignant and cleverly crafted than the endless stream of death in Mockingjay (I know, I know, the pointless savagery of war, deaths that serve no purpose, IT WAS STILL A HOT MESS OF A BOOK I WILL STAND BY THIS FOREVER).

15. An abandoned or unanswered plot line that will always bug you.


A Christmas House - Wreath

Thank you to @loveinpanem you guys have done an amazing job this year! Also, my heart goes out to @akai-echo for this and all banners. To my beta @dandelion-sunset who did a phenomenal job editing this chapter and to @everllarkingnewtina and @xerxia31 without your encouragement buzzesI don’t think this chapter would be as good.

Rated M …*Trigger Warnings*

Ch12 Wreath

-2016, Age 25, June-

The Johnson house, the house Katniss wanted so much was sold.

A week before the Fourth of July and Katniss was miserable. She grabbed tissues from her nightstand and blew her nose. Life after coming back to Merchantville was dull. She turned off the TV. She coughed and this made her nauseous. She ran to the bathroom.

Katniss felt like she couldn’t move. She’d been throwing up all morning. She was sure she had the flu, well that’s what Doc. Mags told her.

She got up and looked at her image in the mirror. She had dark circles under her eyelids. Her hair was lifeless. Katniss lost a lot of weight after she came back from the Snowy Pine Tree Lodge.

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My Top 20 Films of 2013 (Part 1/2)

(Because 10 is just such a limiting number and 30 just seems excessive)

Here’s part one of my top 20 films of 2013. Starting from #20…

20. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller)

I’m a sucker for LIFE magazine covers—the cover photos are either stunning, heart-wrenching, iconic, or all of the above. Add in the sweeping sounds Of Monsters and Men, along with some inspirational text (which, according to the film, turns out to be LIFE’s motto), and you’ve got yourself a winning trailer. Yep, this film was one of the most anticipated films of the year for me, yet, here it sits at #20. 

Yes, it was an entertaining film—and beautifully-shot. However, it required me to suspend my disbelief so much throughout much of the film’s duration, that even in the moments of vulnerability and realism, I found myself feeling little beyond mere entertainment. And for a story centered around a company whose motto includes as life’s purpose “[to] find each other and feel”, I found myself not feeling much beyond being entertained.

But hey, I took my family to watch it on Christmas Day (my second time watching it, my family’s first), so it must’ve been entertaining enough, right?

19. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar Wai)

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve seen this film (this applies to some other films on my list), but one scene that sticks out to me in this film is a fight sequence between Ip Man and Gong Er, soulmates from two different schools of martial arts in China. As they’re fighting mid-air, there’s a moment where their fingers graze each other. By the end of the movie, that scene nearly broke my heart. 

Not to generalize, but a lot of American films tend to make a moment (and then some) of two lovers and the emotional sparks that fly between them. In The Grandmaster, however, the romance between Ip Man and Gong Er is handled with such subtlety and suppression that it makes it matter all the more (and by the end, all the more heartbreaking). Mix that in with the sense that our battle with time is probably the greatest battle of them all—and one that even some of the strongest succumb to—and it makes for a hell of a beautifully heartbreaking film. 

Plus, Zhang Ziyi is a bad bitch in this film. #workbitch

18. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Francis Lawrence)

I’m a rabid fan of the books. To illustrate this point, Shanna Henderson introduced me to the books during The Glee Project and I read it tirelessly between our homework assignments, music video shoots, choreography and eliminations. Reading about a game where only one emerges victorious through a string of brutalities and murder DURING The Glee Project… I guess I’m a really intense person. Anyway, I digress. 

It’s rare that a movie franchise is anything more than entertaining, especially the sequels, but Catching Fire is one of the rare exceptions. Yes, it has the eye-roll-inducing moments (like when Peeta hands Katniss a pearl from an oyster he shucks moments before and smiles - refer to my issue with this in my Grandmaster post), but it’s also Katniss’ coming-of-age story where she begrudgingly accepts her role within the coming revolution as a symbol of hope for the people. It’s a satirical piece on society’s insane obsession with pop culture and its ridiculously distorted love affair with fame in all of its costs. It depicts the media’s ability to subvert the status quo in such a powerful way that people can rise in upheaval to something they had just cheered for moments before. In all of its imperfections, Catching Fire is ambitious, especially for a franchise whose target demographic is young teens. 

My favorite part of this film, however, has to be Jennifer Lawrence. Personally speaking, I think she’s overhyped to the point of frustration, but in Catching Fire, her spark burns bright. She carried the high stakes of this film throughout its entirety and brought me with her on her journey. And in the film’s last minute, as her eyes burned through the screen with everything from sadness to rage, I couldn’t help but eagerly await the vengeance that the Girl on Fire was about to lay on the Capitol (coming in November 2014). 

17. The Great Gatsby (Baz Luhrmann)

Besides the film being critically panned and some pretty blatant imperfections, I think this is a pretty faithful adaptation of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald—and yes, I’m aware that Beyonce and Andre 3000 were not alive in the 20’s, so, let’s just get that out of the way.

I watched The Great Gatsby in 3D and in all of its vulgarity and excess, I thought it was appropriate (hello—the roarin’ 20’s, anyone?). More than anything though, what I personally loved about the film was its portrayal of an impossible love that became possible, even if it was just for a fleeting moment, because of one man’s belief that he could be anything. You say you can’t repeat the past. He would beg to differ. He would not only repeat it, but change it, if the stakes were high enough.

We do this everyday. We tell ourselves it will get better; that we will make it one day; that we’ll prove the world wrong. We repeat what is a lie in the present until it becomes true in the future.

I could go on and on about what the aforementioned notion of delusion versus power or how the story of hopeless and unrequited love broke my heart. But for the sake of brevity, I’ll leave you with this: if “Young and Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey does not Best Original Song at the Oscars, I will be pissed.

16. Stoker (Chan-Wook Park)

Are people born evil or is the nature of evil birthed through a series of life-changing events that force us to leave our conscience at the door and pick up a weapon in its stead? And do I really find this eerily disturbing piano scene between uncle and niece sorta-kinda-hot? 

Those are just two of the many questions that ran through my head after the film. It’s beautifully shot by the acclaimed Korean director behind the original Old Boy and true to his style (I haven’t seen Old Boy, but I hear some… things about it), it’s dark and disturbing, but beautifully so. Some of the shots in Stoker are some of the most visually striking shots I’ve seen all year. 

But that’s all I’ll say about it. Not because I don’t have much to say about it, but because there is an underlying tension and sense of conflict throughout the entire film that can’t be described, but just has to be experienced. Plus, maybe then you won’t judge me for being mildly enticed by an incestuous scene that takes place at a piano (and no, no sex takes place in this scene).

Side note: Matthew Goode is so creepy in this film. His performance was definitely the standout performance for me.

15. The Place Beyond the Pines (Derek Cianfrance)

Another one of those films that I haven’t seen in a while, so bear with me. 

Even if the results beg to differ, I think that most of us mean well (most of us). However, as we’ve learned at one time or another in our lives, even some of our best laid plans—and the intentions that drive such plans—can lead to some pretty horrible outcomes that repeat themselves in an endless cycle that seems inevitable, no matter how hard you try to escape it. 

I remember being really impressed by the opening scene—a long tracking shot done in one take. It’s ambitious and it establishes the tone of the film: risky, ambitious, dangerous. And by the final scene, I remember feeling heartbroken because sometimes, even taking risks and being ambitious in making things right can sometimes not be enough. 

Side note: Ryan Gosling is the only person who can still look good with all of those tattoos and that ridiculous bleach-blonde hair. 

14. Mud (Jeff Nichols)

Part coming-of-age story, part love story, part thriller.

But the biggest thing I took from Mud (that is all-too-well portrayed through Matthew McConaughey in the GIF above) is, you gotta know what’s worth keepin’ and what’s worth lettin’ go. 

13. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)

What this film accomplished on a technical level is beyond remarkable. I watched Gravity in IMAX 3D not once, but twice, and I can say that I wasn’t just watching the film—I was experiencing it. In this case, it was a terrifying experience (for those of you who don’t know, I have a huge fear of anything “endless” - e.g. the open sea, OUTER SPACE, etc), so bravo to Alfonso Cuarón for helping me experience high levels of anxiety for over two hours. 

But upon watching Gravity for the second time, I lowered its position on my top 20 way lower than it was originally ranked. Why? Well, there are a few things: 1) the novelty sort of wears out after the first time, 2) I have an issue with Sandra Bullock’s near-great performance, and 3) the screenplay is not just simple, but weak at some points. I could go on, but I don’t want to take away from the film’s accomplishments, which are out of this world. Get it? Out of this world.

12. 12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen)

12 Years A Slave was, by far, the most difficult film to watch in 2013, but it is a film that, I believe, everyone must watch. It holds nothing back in depicting the racial cruelties of America’s history and after the film, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted by the innocent blood that’s been spilled on this land. 

Being in this industry as an Asian American, I’ve realized more and more  that racism isn’t dead; it just disguises itself in sheep’s clothing. 12 Years A Slave strips away all of the cotton and wool to reveal the injustice that was, and still is. All debates regarding the authenticity of the memoir aside, it reveals an element of truth—and the truth is something that we sometimes have a hard time facing. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to watch. 

Side note: Lupita Nyong'o is remarkable in this film.  

11. Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée)

Ron Woodroof, a Texan whose womanizing and drug-abusing ways lead him to being diagnosed as HIV-positive, starts a “buyers club” after discovering alternative methods of treatment in Mexico. It’s a story about one man’s refusal to just go sit in a corner and die, but instead, fight the pharmaceutical industry who just drags their heels in the face of an epidemic. 

Just because I don’t want to be the millionth echo raving on and on about McConaughey and Leto’s performances, I’ll just say that both of them were absolutely amazing in the portrayal of their characters. 

One thing I particularly liked about this film was how Ron Woodroof didn’t just become a saint after being given a 30-day death sentence. Yes, this film is about how common struggles can unite even the most different people, but Ron’s intentions behind his buyers club weren’t completely selfless, especially in the beginning. He wanted to make money. He was a raving homophobe and that wasn’t about to change overnight just because his new business partner was a transgender woman. The internal discord was evident even as he was slowly “changing” and I loved that because change, even in the face of death, is sometimes never easy, especially when there is a lifetime of experiences that have made you who you are in the present.

And that, ladies and gents, concludes Part I of my “Top 20 Films of 2013” list. Part II is coming tomorrow, but for now, what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Any additional thoughts?

The Importance of The Goat Man in Catching Fire Chapters 11 and 12

Chapters 11 and 12, which so many fans refer to as the “cheese bun” chapters, paint a homey picture of Katniss’ daily existance in Victor’s Village. While her life as a victor is truly not her own, still she, Prim, and her mother, along with Peeta and Haymitch have formed an unconventional family.

Much attention has been paid to her obvious growing relationship with Peeta in these chapters. And what’s not to love? I’d much rather have Peeta carry me around than use crutches, too!

I, however, would like to focus on another layer that Suzanne Collins added to these chapters. To do it though, I’ll have to take you back to chapter 20 of The Hunger Games.

While in the cave in THG, Peeta asks Katniss to tell him a story.

Tell me about the happiest day you can remember.

What day is that? Katniss picks the day she negotiated a deal with the Goat Man for a goat that was near death in order to give the creature to Prim for her birthday. Why would the author devote several pages to a side story that takes away from the main action of THG?

Speaking as a writer, I believe S. C. used this story as a way for Katniss to define herself. Yes, she’s a lawbreaker, but she’s also a loving sister, someone who is resourceful, and compassionate toward the weak. She’s also a team player. She’s only able to purchase the goat with the help of Gale and Rooba (the butcher). Katniss even goes so far as to credit Greasy Sae for introducing her to Rooba.

But keep in mind that the Goat Man is the villain in Katniss’ story. He is against her purchase of the goat initially, and then drives a hard bargain in the end.

Now jump ahead to Chapter 11 of Catching Fire. Katniss has outwitted the Peacekeepers by climbing a tree and jumping over the electrified fence. She needs to come up with a quick excuse to explain where she’s been all day.

She walks to her house thinking to tell her mother that she slid off the roof trying to mend a leak and injured her foot. Once inside, she is greeted by Peacekeepers. Before she can say anything, she notices Haymitch and Peeta, are there as well.

Were they here by chance or “invited” by the Peacekeepers? Either way I’m glad to see them.

Is their presence the reason she changes her excuse from “falling off the roof” to “searching for the Goat Man?” And of all the excuses she could use, why would she think to make up a story about the Goat Man?

For two reasons.

First, despite her difficulty in getting home from the woods, she’s had a remarkable day, a happy one even, much like that happy day she told Peeta about in the cave.

She left Victor’s Village in the morning overwhelmed and in search of a purpose for her life. Just pages earlier Haymitch laughed off her idea to start an uprising. A crate of wedding dresses has arrived.

I can’t make sense of it. I toss and turn in bed until I can’t stand it anymore. I have to get out of here. At least for a few hours.

She sets off impetuously for the lake.

Maybe to say good-by to the place, to my father and the happy times we spent there, because I know I’ll probably never return. Maybe just so I can draw a complete breath again. Part of me doesn’t really care if they catch me, if I can see it one more time.

But instead of finding some internal sense of peace through solitude in a natural setting, she comes across Twill and Bonnie, who are in straits as dire as Lady the goat was. Katniss gives them the food she has and instructs them in survival skills, demonstrating her resourcefulness and compassion to them and to herself.

In turn, Twill and Bonnie provide Katniss with proof – through the image on the cracker – that her life has meaning. Only pages earlier she wanted to start an uprising, now she learns that she is the symbol of the budding resistance. Suddenly her life has purpose again.

Second, for Katniss the Goat Man is symbolic of a villain. The immediate villain she faces is President Snow. But she’s also just learned about District 13 from Twill and hates them, as well, calling them no better than the Capitol.

“Why haven’t they helped us. If it’s true why do they leave us to live like this? With the hunger and the killings and the Games.”

Katniss’ story about the Goat Man is a kind of double-speak to Haymitch, and even Peeta about what she’s learned while she was out in the woods that day.

“So where have you been?” says Haymitch in a bored voice.

“Well I haven’t been talking to the Goat Man about getting Prim’s goat pregnant, because someone gave me completely inaccurate information…”

To translate: Katniss has been given false information by President Snow tying her relationship with Peeta to the uprisings in the districts. Snow told her to prove her love for him (marry him or to use an animal term, “mated”). It was on the walk back from meeting Twill and Bonnie that Katniss realized that Snow had played her for a fool.

In what appears to be cute banter, Katniss goes on to question the location where the Goat Man lives. Apparently it’s next to a mine entrance. Katniss says “west” entrance, Prim responds with “east”. Katniss further adds insult by saying it’s near a slag heap.

Is Katniss hinting at the existence of District 13 – the latest villain she’s encountered? S.C. isn’t big on geographic directions, but on page 17 of Mockingjay we learn that the Capitol had its own nuclear arsenal out west, which implies that District 13 lies in any other direction other than west of the Capitol. And the residents of 13 do live underground (in a kind of mine).

It isn’t until weeks later when Katniss is healed and able to get out of the house that she tells Haymitch about Twill and Bonnie. He discounts her thoughts about District 13 completely. I imagine it’s because he’s knee-deep in planning for the resistance. Katniss already knows enough to get them all in trouble if she’s not careful.

Thanks @tersyne for talking me through this analysis and giving me some good ideas to think about, and many thanks to @everlarkedalways for organizing this re-read.

On to chapters 13 and 14.

Mockingjay Part 1 review

Just saw Mockingjay Part 1 again and it was super good. Even better than the book I feel like. I was struck at once by the details and the overarching greatness. Here are some things I think the movie did better than the book:

1. The pearl- This was a great detail. The repeated, subtle presence of the pearl that Peeta gave her in the arena was a really good detail. I felt like Peeta was a lot of the through thread of plot that kept the movie together. And that he was so present and heartbreaking and emphasized throughout the movie, with the interviews, the pearl, her dream, made the ending seem super logical. Part 1 ends with the recovery of Peeta and the tragic consequences (ugh). And because Peeta’s presence was big (though subtle) and so heart-wrenching, it made the ending make a lot of sense. And because it was self contained along that plot line, the pacing actually felt better than it did in the book. What felt like filler in the book, felt really important in the movie. I did not feel like anything was unnecessary, the movie had me in its grip.

2. The cat and the light- I watched Katniss’s face during the scene with the cat and the light scene during the combing. And wow. You could totally see her pain. I remember in the book, that there was a piece of inner monologue there in which she connected the cat chasing the light to how president snow was using Peeta against her. But even though this was an easy thing to miss in the movie (it was subtler), I TOTALLY didn’t miss the inner-monologue. Because Jennifer Lawrence’s acting in this movie is amazing. Apparently people have been complaining about her being too mopey in this movie, but I thought it was perfect. Katniss is far, far from a one note character. And in this movie she is in a lot of pain. But Jennifer Lawrence does not play one level of mope and it is not a weak, passive mope. She gives us amazing subtlety and so many levels of pain and it’s heart-wrenching. Katniss has PTSD, and on top of that she is hurting so much at Peeta’s absense. And even though she is a strong character, we see her struggling under the weight of feelings and that is so important and so well done. And honestly, watching Jennifer Lawrence’s face is a lot better than reading inner monologue. I think it was easier to not get annoyed with Katniss’s moping in the movie because of that.

3. THE HANGING TREE- omigod this song. First of all, I just straight up love this song, I could listen to it forever. But also how the movie used it was MASTERFUL. The dam scene with the people singing and then just the song in the background. POWERFUL. And then the images of Katniss with the song intercut with Peeta’s interview just kept the movie rolling forward like a steamroller of cinematic and emotional power. And here’s what I LOVE that the movie did. We saw rebellion in the districts. And it was tied directly to Katniss’s propos through a line or a song. And not only did this add a lot of weight and stakes to the rebellion, because we got to see it happening, and evoke real movements happening in the world around us (which wow it did) but it also made the things Katniss were doing seem more important. I know I rolled my eyes a little bit in the books at how much the propos were played up. It was all “Katniss is the only one who can do this” and “I don’t want to keep being their puppet” and I was like “really? for movie things?” But they felt really important and well done in the movies. And this raised the importance of everything going on, took it from filler, to super important. It validated everything going on in district 13.The propos felt amazing and significant. Katniss as a figurehead felt really powerful and important. When they saw her in the hospital and saluted her, that was SO powerful. Katniss held power in the revolution in the movie that was harder to believe in the book. There was a super subtle moment about Katniss’s  influence and importance that I loved:

4. The braid- When snow is making his speech early on about the “radicals” and how people should keep working, when he says that associating with the mockingjay symbol is treason, there’s a brief shot of a girl, snow’s daughter I think who looks down at her hair (braided like Katniss’s), has a little “oh shit” moment and starts undoing it. I love that. Katniss is a BIG deal. Even in the capitol, even in Snow’s own house, little girls admire Katniss. And if that doesn’t raise the stakes for what Katniss is doing I don’t know what will.

5. Cressida- OMIGOD I LOVE HER. First of all, I love Natalie Dormer in any shape or form. But she made a character I cared 0 about in the book totally important and complex. Once again, she made the propos feel important and significant. Also the whole “we escaped from the capitol for you” thing felt really important to me. It added to a multi-dimensional view of capitol people, that they are not pure evil and rebel too. And just as a citizen of Panem, we saw the importance the rebellion holds to the average person and the sacrifices people are making. Also, I’m always happy to see more compelling female characters.

6. President Coin- Speaking of complex female characters (nice job, it passed the Beschdel test btw)! So this character was set up SO WELL. She is just the right balance of good and sinister, an ambiguity that will serve the story later on (OH GOD WHY). I love how strong her characterization was- no nonsense, firmly focused on the cause and super intelligent and a great leader. But we definitely saw her care more about image and strategy than about individuals at times. She was frequently at odds with Katniss, but also had some really tender moments (the scene with Katniss right after the bombing stands out). She is complex and it is great. Well written and acted. Also her eyes seemed almost inhuman what was up with that? Is that the actress or like contact lenses or what? It totally set me off, but I think it’s a good thing to be unsettled about that particular character.

7. Effie- (on a female character note). It was a small thing but I love how on point all her outfits were even with the jumpsuits she had to work with. Effie is perfect, and another example of humanizing the capitol. Effie was not in the 3rd book this much if I remember, but she was a strongly characterized familiar face (god, even in a gray jumpsuit, even in the very first scene she was just so effie, with her gestures, her ostentatious movement, god great acting I love Elizabeth Banks) who it felt great to have around. A good choice to throw her into the mix.

8. Plutarch- while we’re on great characters and great acting. oh god Philip Seymour Hoffman. :(. It was honestly disconcerting to see him in this. But what a FINE job he did. This character barely held my interest in the books, but he is so well done. His passion for Katniss early on, with little amused looks when she is getting angry, and his TERROR during the air raid, and just every little detail. I expect nothing less from such an amazing actor (dead too soon). Another example of how the movie humanizes the capitol wow.

9. The roses- All the white roses Katniss found had this super creepy sparkle to them, almost like they were mechanical. It was a SUPER subtle special effect but added to their eeriness. President Snow has a hugely bigger presence in the movies than in the books, and to great end I think. He is a truly formidable adversary, and once super creepy and human. We see President Snow bleed (literally!). We see the other side of the war, the plotting and posturing and I think it heightens the conflict a lot, it’s great. and that line (!)- it is the things we love the most that destroy us. Foreshadowing of the hijacking they’ve done to Peeta. (WHICH OMIGOD MY FEELINGS CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW HEART-BREAKING THAT IS OMIGOD). He is a total creepy asshole. And a really well done one.

10. Finnick fucking Odair- Slow clap for Finnick everyone. He is just my favorite. I loved his character in the books, so obviously I love him in the movie. But it is so well done. They do not AT ALL gloss over Finnick’s struggles. They do not gloss over that he was used as a sex slave. They do not gloss over his pain and PTSD. (ALERT EVERYONE, MEN CAN HAVE SERIOUS PAINFUL FEELINGS AND NOT BE WEAK AND UNMANLY) He was in pain totally parallel to Katniss (but in a very different way- where she was teary, and telling her whole story in her eyes, his face was contorted and he busied his hands with the rope oh god my heart) and I thought as well as being beautifully done that that’s a great thing for gender roles. We see two instances of really strong, badass characters fully experiencing pain and shitty emotions and PTSD in a super validated way without taking away from who they are as people. And one is a man and one is a woman. I have a lot of love in my heart for Finnick Odair also (oh god part 2 stay back stay back demon oh god it’s going to break my fucking heart shit shit not ready) and he was just so good in this. Can we talk for a second about the scene where the team moves in to rescue Peeta and Finnick talks about the shit president Snow made him do and what he learned. So. well. done. We don’t even see this mission happen in the book, but oh lord seeing it totally entrapped me and made my heart race (I played right into the hands of that action sequence). And at the same time we have Finnick’s speech which is SO IMPORTANT and held me heart so completely. Intercut in combination it gripped every part of me and left my heart racing and suffering and OH GOD THIS MOVIE TOTALLY WRECKED MY FEELINGS and it was a great climax.

So essentially this movie was great and no one should hate. It was action, amazing realism about rebellion, awesome gender stuff, and had a really strong emotional heart.

And you know what I’m just gonna say it- it was better than the book.