'Hunger Games' Doesn’t Do Gender Clichés & It’s Awesome

You could argue that The Hunger Games and Twilight are two entirely different movies and shouldn't be compared, and you'd be right.

Well: partially right. After all, both films are adapted from insanely popular YA books and involve a teenage female protagonist along with two male romantic leads. Also, assuming Hunger Games lives up to even half of its box office hype, both are record-breaking blockbusters that launched a trio of young Hollywood actors into the celebrity stratosphere.

The similarities pretty much end there, though. Twilight's a romance, Hunger Games is about war and survival. Bella's passive and lovestruck and in need of constant rescuing, Katniss is badass and focused and able to fend for herself. Bella spends an ENTIRE BOOK moping because she got dumped, meanwhile, Katniss is courageously stepping into the lion's den to save her sister.

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Personally, I hope Hunger Games is the start of an awesome new trend in entertainment. You know: one where the characters are actually inspiring … and aren't afraid to step outside of gender stereotypes.

Not only is Katniss a progressive character for a teenage girl—she's strong, responsible, too busy kicking ass to moon over boys, and grows from an inventive survivor to a freedom fighter—but the story also involves some other interesting nontraditional characters. Peeta the tender-hearted bread boy, for instance, is an intriguing spin on the typical macho love interest (while Jacob eternally rips off his shirt in order to square off with teeth-baring Edward). Cinna is a creative gender-bending swirl of talented fashion designer and brilliant Games strategist.

In Hunger Games, some of the long-accepted ideas of masculinity and femininity are blurred, but it's not like you focus on those aspects because it's a show about alternative lifestyles or whatever. These things are just part of the overall story, one that includes a broad spectrum of characters. In a way, the unrestricted nature of Hunger Games reminds me of Game of Thrones, where young girls can be warriors and men can love other men and women can still be strong and beautiful even when they're over 40.

Everyone loves some fluffy escapism, and there's plenty of room for more movies with handsome vampires and devoted teenage girls. I'm glad there's also room for things like The Hunger Games, though, and I hope we see more of the same—more empowering females, more non-stereotypical characters, more studios willing to gamble on the success of a story that isn't rooted in romance.

Do you think The Hunger Games is unusually progressive for a teen blockbuster?

Images via Summit, Lionsgate

 

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