7 Major Ways Movie Katniss Was Watered Down, Part 2

7 Major Ways Movie Katniss Was Watered Down, Part 2

Why the slight stupidity and helplessness of on-screen Katniss marred the movie for me.

Katniss saving Peeta. Make no mistake; this is what she does. Peeta doesn’t have some simple cut that can be cured with a CREAM like the movie portrays; he is dying. He is cut to the bone, with a skin infection that requires a heavy antibiotic. He relies heavily on her to nurse him back to life—to take off his clothes and wash them, to clean out the wound, to feed him, give him medicine for fever, put a washcloth on his head, drug him, and get his medicine. It’s not some simple task like it was in the film—and afterward, when he’s a bit better, he still limps, he still clomps in the woods, and still has to be told what to do by Katniss. He is both sick and lovesick, saying he’s not scared because he has her to protect him—but in the film, it’s him saying what they should do (joking that he’ll take the bow, even) and what their next moves are! This. Is. Infuriating. I can just see the film folks mulling it over, “Well, we don’t want her to give orders and be a bitch, so we’ll have Peeta do it.” They took her power and made him more masculine—Hutcherson even admitted so in an interview—all for the sake of entertainment, and perhaps traditional gender roles…

Katniss saving Peeta again. If the previous paragraph weren’t enough, Peeta again saves Katniss upon the cornucopian when Cato tries to toss her off—after he helps her climb it, by the way—which is not how it happens at all. Katniss climbs it on her own—DUH. She climbs trees every day!—and then pulls Peeta up. When Cato tries to knock Peeta off, SHE saves HIM, not the other way around! He gets bitten in the leg and is bleeding to death, by the way (again), and she makes a tourniquet. She saves his life again and again, yet he is shown as a hero here. Come on, this is a baker’s son who is afraid of the woods! He is not a fighter; he is a lover. She is the one used to fighting and sacrificing and being strong; it only makes sense to have her fulfill this role and not a stereotypical Hollywood one.

Had I not read the book, I would have thought that this film was led by a really strong female for sure—one who had lots of help and a strong male by her side. But knowing how much stronger she was in the book—and how much Peeta depended on her—I can’t help but feel a bit hollow (though, yes, I still ambivalently love the film, too). This is what we do to powerful women in movies.

It’s really too bad that they chose to present one of history’s greatest fictional heroines in such a subdued light, giving supporting cast members part of her glow instead. I’m all about Rainbow Fish and sharing scales, but could you really see them doing this to a male lead? Nope. In fact, they do all they can to beef up male leads (such as having Jason Bourne’s wife murdered in the second film when they have children together throughout the books, for Peeta’s sake!). Perhaps one day we won’t fear female power so badly and we will present heroines as heroically as they are written.

 

*Update: I forgot several, but especially these two: Peeta giving Katniss the bread (we saw that but not her fight to feed her family before that by selling clothes and digging in trash bins before she started hunting, leaving viewers to think she was simply dependent on the handout from the get-go--and not giving us context for how she started saving her family afterward) and Katniss trading in the Hob (something that's risky and that mostly only grown-ups do, but that looked rather safe in the film).