Where to begin!? Oh, right– I LOVE BEING WRONG! No really, I love it, but only in this particular case, because well– I really, truly, and honestly did not want (erm, gonna be mean), a wannabe Victoria Secret model embodying Johanna Mason. Alright, if you’ve been camping, living under a rock, or generally without Internet access for the last 27 hours +, we got confirmation yesterday, the third of July, that Jena Malone has been offered the role of Johanna Mason. Gotta be confession-y now, I cried when I read The Hollywood Reporter headline. No, wait, first I shot up in my seat, shouted “oh my god!” wrapped my hand over the bottom portion of my face (mouth), and proceeded to sob, and then cry. I’m so glad no one else was home, people would have thought someone had died. No worries, they were tears of joy, and the elation lasted for about 40 minutes. Yep, only 40, because then the deluge of hate starting souring my high.
I’m just gonna say it, but what is with this fandom, and off shoots of it, and its outright
pooh flinging in the name of race, and racial equality, or just completely misplaced hate, or justice, or whatever. I don’t know how, or why, or when The Hunger Games became the poster child franchise of “whitewashing”, but last time I checked, i.e. last time I read the bloody books, all the characters who were clearly described to be not white, or white, were later cast properly, and well with actors and actresses of stellar talent, and also with genuinely good people. Note: “Not white” means people who did not receive a description of their skin color, i.e, Cinna, or Johanna, this means their casting is and/or was open to interpretation, that is why we got Lenny Kravitz, and probably why we also may have got Jena Malone.
Let’s get this out-of-the-way, shall we? Johanna Mason’s description was NEVER “Johanna Mason, the only surviving female District 7 victor, a young woman who was proud of her Latin origins, who stood 5’9′ at the round age of 20, her tan colored skin shone with a healthy luster, and her pitch black hair was glossy in the sunlight, her strong sturdy legs were imposing, and she had a physique of a person who spent the majority of their time doing hard physical labor, her arms cut with lines and grooves of muscle, her posture confident and prideful…” Yeah, I didn’t read that description anywhere, did you? Pretty sure no one did, unless they got boot-leg copies of the books, and they were frankly edited to within an inch of their paper-y lives. Let’s count it off, all the things we know about Johanna Mason.
- She’s the only surviving female victor hailing from lovely, wooded, District 7!
- She “won a few years back by pretending she was a weakling.” (p. 190 American Hardcover edition)
- “Wicked ability to murder.” (p. 214)
- Spiky hair, and wide-set brown eyes. (p. 214)
- Exhibitionist, i.e. totally flaunts her bits in front of everyone.
- Attitude problem.
- Dislikes Katniss.
- Likes Finnick.
- Handy with an ax.
- Lost everyone she cares about at the hands of the Capitol.
That is all we know about her, we don’t know her cultural heritage, because frankly all cultural heritage has pretty much lost its hold on people thanks to the Capitol’s hold, except in their names, and in minute traces in foods, music, and marriage
customs. Speaking of names, Johanna’s name is a strongly European name, in fact my great, great, great grandmother who was born and raised in Germany in the 19th century, her name was Johanna. And the name Mason is Anglo-Saxon, meaning it’s from the Island of Britain, take those snip-its, and run with ’em– m’kay. But no one can truly pin-point if the origins of the Districts customs are IRISH, LATIN, GERMAN, SCANDINAVIAN, IRANIAN, ENGLISH, PUNJABI, EGYPTIAN, NIGERIAN, or any number of other nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. We don’t even get the color of Johanna’s skin described to us, let alone the color of her hair. I know everyone claims that she’s a brunette, but I just spent a good amount of time scouring my copy of Catching Fire, and literally the only description of Johanna’s hair is “spiky”, and “spiky” last time I checked isn’t a color, or a cultural marker. Also, face it, guys– skin color, and hair color are not markers of one’s heritage, because you could have mocha colored skin, and red hair and your family just happens to have never left the subcontinent of India. So, folks who are currently fuming because Jena Malone isn’t a Latina goddess with shiny black hair, with muscular arms, and tan skin, get off your unicorns, ’cause they don’t exist. I’ve seen some disturbing stuff out there on the Internets claiming that Hollywood isn’t trying hard enough to diversify the casts of their films, however to me– and in the case of this franchise, I know they filled out the cast with a wide variety of people. Hell, I even remember a friend of mine claiming that they didn’t like that Liam Hemsworth was Gale, because he looked too Native American, so there! Also, if the multiple rumors are even remotely true, Lionsgate wanted a Latina actress in the role of Johanna, but perhaps that actress wasn’t interested, and then there’s the rumor that they want Cicely Tyson, a black actress, in the role of Mags. So, they are still supposedly trying to fill out the cast with a spectrum of people, so please for the love of Peeta’s damaged soul, calm your tits!
They’ve chosen a reputable, seasoned, and talented actress to potentially portray a woman of substance, not a teen idol, or a fledgling actress who just graduated high school, or an actress who just graduated fictional high school at that. I think this is a win win situation, and if you don’t, you probably will when you see Malone in action next November. Yes, I think she’ll take the gig, she’d be insane not to.
Them There Eyes