The Effie Effect

Discount movie night is kind of a big deal when you’re broke. Round here it’s on Tuesday, and this Tuesday’s film of choice was Movie 43, an outrageous collection of hardcore comedy shorts that’s not for everyone. Among the 43 big name actors in the film was our Effie, Elizabeth Banks.

INSERT CARTOON CAT

And this is the relatively sane part!

Elizabeth’s short, Beezel, was both ridiculous and raunchy, bringing out her unflappably entertaining side as she mostly interacted with a despicable cartoon cat. Think of it what you will, but this short– much like her appearances in films like Zack and Miri Make A Porno and The 40 Year Old Virgin— prove that Elizabeth Banks can act her way through ANYTHING.

There’s been talk of bringing out more background personality traits for Haymitch, but we’re hoping that discussion has also happened for his reluctant companion, Effie Trinket. Yes, Effie was portrayed beautifully in the first film. She was blissfully unaware of her privilege and spotted each scene in which she was featured with comic relief.

There was only one problem: We didn’t sorta kinda hate her, which is a conflict of interest everyone we know suffered with in the books. The conflict with which you’re supposed to suffer. Effie may be a good person underneath it all, but she’s been so corrupted by a life of frivolous luxury that she doesn’t even question what she does, and for those reasons, readers don’t always love her unconditionally. In the movie, that comes out a lot less.

We don’t blame Elizabeth’s performance for this at all. Oddly enough, there’s not one person who you can look at specifically and blame for Movie!Effie not disgusting us with her Capitol citizen style greed as much as we had hoped. The character was bubbly and aloof, she looked so fantastical and had such snappy one-liners that it was hard to remember that behind all those smiles, she was proudly escorting children to their deaths on a year-to-year basis.

The Hunger Games is to Mean Girls as Effie Trinket is to Regina George

The Hunger Games is to Mean Girls as Effie Trinket is to Regina George

Catching Fire brings us more time with a much more conflicted Effie, so we want Elizabeth Banks to be given the chance to shine Effie through in all of her glory: the obnoxious Capitol groupie turned emotional escort starting to question everything she’s ever known. Again, Elizabeth can act out anything. Why not let her?! We certainly don’t mind the laughs, but we hope Effie can be bigger and bolder. Just look at those outfits! You’re telling me that the woman behind them doesn’t have an astronomical rollercoaster of a personality?

We’re not looking for a caricature, of course. A character like Effie could get very out of hand, very quickly and nobody wants that. Just a pinch of punch to remind us what Effie stands for in the series!

There’s A Lot of Thoughts Going On Under That Poofy Pink Hair,
The Girl With The Pearl

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3 comments

  1. I never really felt disgusted by Effie in any way in the books, though. Even from the first book, I considered Effie to be somewhat conflicted- after all, she knows what happens to most of the Tributes every year. But it seemed to me like she’s just adapted- she has her job, and she does it with this sort of over-the-top, almost forced cheerfulness. At worst, she’s *totally* disconnected from the idea that Tributes are actual kids who actually die painfully every year (though I’d doubt that she’s at that point, given that she interacts a good deal with them). At best, though, she’s accepted the way things are and is simply focused on doing her job well- keeping her Tributes on schedule, emphasizing good manners, trying to be enthusiastic about it all (possibly to try to keep her Tributes from dwelling too hard on what might happen once they’re out of her hands in the Arena).

    And I think that’s something that can be seen in the movie. She virtually never mentions anything about the Arena or what will happen once the games begin. If I recall, the closest she comes is mentioning that “[Peeta and Katniss] won’t be [in the Capitol] for very long”. But she keeps trying to put a positive spin on it- telling them how fantastic the Capitol is and how much they’ll enjoy it (despite their very short stay), telling them all about the great food, etc. When there was tension at one point (after Haymitch said that Peeta wanted to meet to talk to Haymitch alone from then on, I believe), it was Effie who broke the tension, trying to shift the subject onto dessert instead. And her almost compulsive focus on manners. She wants everything to go well while the kids are with her. She wants everyone behaving themselves, she wants people to get along and she seems to get visibly distressed when the subject turns to the Arena.

    Or I could be reading too far into things because I did a character study on Effie last semester and used both the books and the movie to make my case. o_O

  2. I disagree. I watched the film before having read the books and I was pretty creeped out by Effie in the film. I totally understood the horrifying juxtaposition of her happy, cheery, superficial nature with the cruel and tragic events going on. I distinctly remember feeling rather disturbed by her behaviour and how much she failed to empathise or comprehend the magnitude of what was happening.

    It can be harder once you’ve read the books because you don’t notice the subtle effects as much as someone coming into it blind. Now when I watch the film (which I have done multiple times) I kinda think of her as comic relief and kinda sweet, silly and fun. I still consider the moral concerns about her behaviour, but now it’s more intellectual than visceral. Once you’ve got to close to the material, you can’t have those same gut reactions again.

  3. I didn’t watch the movie before the book, but I did see the trailer with the reaping scene before I read the book, and found Effie’s performance in that whole reaping scene to be very disturbing. And I say “Effie’s performance”, not “Elizabeth Banks’ performance”, because I really got the sense that she was playing the part of the “perfect hostess”, and that this was not how she behaves when she’s out of the public eye and has her “hair down”, so to speak.

    Besides, when you consider the story as a whole, I don’t think we were ever meant to actually HATE Effie, or other Capitol people who were in similar positions, such as the prep team.

    I will, however, be interested in the hints we’ve got from Nina and others, that CF will show Effie reconsidering her beliefs and actually questioning the status quo. I think that if they go in this direction, it will actually provide the movies with layers that weren’t really there in the books. I saw the book Effie as certainly bonding with Katniss and Peeta, and showing alarm when Cecelia is reaped, and feeling some indignation on behalf of the Victors, who she felt attached to personally. However, I never was convinced that she ever got to the point of actually questioning the entire system. SC seemed to re-introduce her at the end of MJ simply to make her “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” point about Coin’s regime.

    Note that one thing the book never does is show a fairly ordinary Capitol citizen like Effie evolve from accepting the status quo as a given, to questioning it because of the impact on people they know personally (the Victors), and eventually realizing that the whole system (not just the Games) is rotten. Plutarch doesn’t quite count, because (1) though we don’t know when we first see him in CF, he had already been part of the rebellion for years and (2) seemed much more motivated by ambition and self-interest than actual disillusionment with the ways of the Capitol.

    Now, I personally DO see Cinna as a Capitol citizen who rejected the status quo. I know there’s a speculation that he was actually born in a District, but that theory seems to be based on the assumption that it’s impossible for someone born in the Capitol to do what Cinna did. That seems to be reflect an “everyone born in the Capitol is evil and can never change their ways” prejudice that Gale and other rebels use to justify committing atrocities against them. (And historically, was used to justify the Reign of Terror, the murder of the Romanovs, etc.) However, Cinna also seems to have already completed this journey by the time he meets Katniss.

    Especially considering how we could certainly argue that the average person who watches these movies really is closer to Effie in terms of social position and status than Katniss, I can certainly see SC herself thinking that showing Effie developing a conscience in the films, is a good idea, since she certainly does not present a simplistic “Capitol people bad, rebels good” story in Mockingjay.

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