After the film the Hunger Games racked up massive numbers at the box office, a few people took to the tweets to express their dismay that a few of the main characters were black. Despite the book describing the characters in question as having dark skin and eyes, many were shocked (and offended) that the Hunger Games included black characters. As if!
Some of the offensive tweets collected by the Hunger Games Tweets tumblr went so far as to call Rue, one of the film’s central characters, a “n**ger,” while others proclaimed they weren’t sad that she–a black girl–died in the film.
Things got ugly. But have those folks who fired off those offensive messages seen the error of their ways? L.V. Anderson of Slate tried to track them down to find out.
Although the majority of the people whose racist tweets went viral didn’t respond to Anderson’s request to chat, two brave souls did speak out. Predictably, these two folks had some of the least offensive (and probably not really offensive on their own) tweets.
First up, Preston:
The tweet that earned Preston inclusion in Hunger Games Tweets?
Preston is a fan of the books but hasn’t seen the movie yet; he’s waiting for a break from school so he can see it with his friends from home. But he caught a glimpse of Amandla Stenberg, the actress who plays Rue, in the trailer, and says he was surprised. “I just was picturing someone else,” he told me in an email. “It did not change my excitement to watch the movie nor did it change my view towards it.”
Preston felt his tweet was misunderstood because his words “didn’t have an once of racism,” but it hasn’t changed his mind about wanting to see the film or his views on race.
Next up, Zoee whose “Why Is Rue Black” tweet was included in the bunch.
Zoee says she was “majorly pissed off” when she found out the creator of Hunger Games Tweets had published her tweet, which she described as tantamount to “slandering me.” (Zoee’s tweet appeared alongside the comment, “Why so sad? Is it really such a bummer that her casting stayed somewhat true to the book?” How this amounts to slander is unclear.) Zoee received a number of responses from strangers on Twitter, who “said stuffs [sic] like I was ruining humanity, I was fcking [sic] ugly and that I couldn’t read.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, being told that she’s f*cking ugly and ruining humanity didn’t make Zoee reconsider the content of her tweet. “Maybe I could have phrased my surprise of Rue not looking like Prim in a less offensive way even if I had no intention of being racist AT ALL,” she wrote.
While its no surprise those who had the most offensive tweets chose not to speak out, Anderson questions whether or not shaming people via the internet really causes them to rethink their actions.
“If the highly visible mockery of teenagers leads to a serious examination of the practices and institutions that perpetuate racism, perhaps it will be worth it. But I have my doubts. This kind of drive-by scapegoating does not seem conducive to genuine reflection (and it definitely doesn’t encourage reflection in the individuals it scapegoats).”
How about you? Should we be publicly blasting folks for the views they share, well, publicly? Speak on it!