Katniss and Peeta On Ice

We’ve already discussed a handful of ways The Hunger Games and The Olympics aren’t all the different. But there’s one other comparison we’ve noticed that has blossomed into a very Hunger Games-like situation. America’s own Katniss and Peeta (Hunger Games, early Catching Fire), if you will!

We're more interested in how he keeps his hair so bouncy!

We’re more interested in how he keeps his hair so bouncy!

Maybe we just weren’t paying enough attention four years ago, but this time around, ice dancing team Meryl Davis + Charlie White = America’s sweethearts LIKE WHOA. Besides the fact that they both look like Disney characters and seem to defy the laws of gravity on ice, there’s one really obvious thing about them: A bazillion total strangers ship them. HARD.

There’s a fine line when it comes to shipping real people. We tend to go against it, unless the people are definitely in a relationship already. Meryl and Charlie are not. And yet, it still feels a bit like the star-crossed lovers from District 12.

These two have known each other since childhood and obviously care about each other deeply. However, it’s probably very platonic, like siblings. But the media (mainly US Olympics broadcaster NBC) glorifies it. They never call it a love story, but audiences will only listen to two attractive people being interviewed about how amazing and special they think the other is before implications settle in.

Aaaaand real world!

Aaaaand real world!

Then there’s Charlie White’s actual relationship. Interviewers do ask about his model/ former ice skater girlfriend, but Charlie is quickly to brush them off and talk about how his relationship with Meryl is all that matters right now. He’s also said that it’s okay that people assume he and Meryl are dating, as they often try to portray people in love. We’re not sure that he’s trying to promote the idea that he and Meryl are together. He probably just wants to keep his private relationships private, but quotes like that sure do fan the shipper fire.

We know exactly where Meryl and Charlie stand (at the top of the podium! BOOM!), but it still doesn’t feel all that different than Katniss and Peeta being paraded around, trying to show their country’s citizens how good they are together and impress sponsors. Katniss feeling like she has to play down her life with Gale during the Victory Tour feel familiar? There’s no survival or political forces at sake, but the analyzing, attention, and shipping? Totally there!

Is it a little weird? For sure! We’re talking about real people and real media manipulation. But if this ain’t the real world spilling over into Suzanne Collins’ world, we don’t know what is!

Officially Filed Under “Comparisons We Can’t Stop Making” And Let Go,

The Girl With The Pearl

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5 comments

  1. From what I recall, the same thing happened with Torvill and Dean, the UK pair that really put ice dancing on the map way back in the 1980s (they won the gold at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics); fans assumed they were dating, and when they wound up marrying other people, many fans were shocked. Of course, many skating partners (such as Gordeyeva and Grinkov) do indeed wind up romantically involved, even if they met as kids (somewhat like how Gale and Katniss would have been, if that worked out).

    It seems like perhaps Davis and White (or at least White, don’t remember Meryl hinting at anything the way Charlie has) themselves might be happy to fan the flames of publicity by not altogether denying the shipping rumors; and certainly, they would be far from the first rumored celebrity couple-that-isn’t-really-a-couple to do that, either.

    And while in THG, the Katniss-Peeta “ship” winds up being exploited by others, Peeta himself is the one who started it all, and Peeta further deliberately fans the flames himself in CF with the fake marriage and pregnancy announcement. Much of the time, the media aren’t just one-sidedly exploiting celebs, the celebs themselves are manipulating and using the media for their own ends as well.

    All that being said, it is somewhat disturbing how many people assume “close partnership between two attractive people” MUST have a sexual/romantic component; and with the increased social acceptance of same-sex relationships, many are happy to ship close friends of the same sex as well. (Though this is still mostly limited to fictional friends, not RL ones. This is different from slash, BTW. Slash was, at least initially, meant to be subversive, fanfics about canonical same-sex ships are technically NOT slash.) The overall trend seems to be to extol sexual/romantic relationships as the most important and meaningful ones, and dismiss friendships and family ties as secondary.

    Yet, in THG, I think it’s meant to be quite obvious that Katniss’s love for Prim and others she deems “family”, biological or not, is much more important than who she winds up hooking up with at the end. I hope the MJ movies don’t lose focus on that. Indeed, SC’s editor has stated that she had to convince SC to include more romance in MJ, and I’m pretty sure the whole “who will she choose” scene with Peeta and Gale was added on afterward in response to this request; when I found that out, I was like “okay, that’s why that scene seems so awkward and out-of-place, like it was lifted from Twilight; because it is!” However, I am resigned to that scene being in the MJ movies in some form.

    1. The claim that Collins was pushed by editors to keep up the love triangle through Mockingjay, surfaces from time to time. I’ve seen it several times, but noone has *ever* been able to back it up with a source. So I’d be very interested to see if you have one, satsumarena. Partly, of course, because I agree with you that things like the “who will she choose” scene seemed out of place.
      Aside from that, though, I don’t really see why we should have to compare family, friend and romantic bonds. It all depends on the circumstances. Katniss is a teen, an age where focus turns to friends and romantic partners more than family. As part of the process of finding out who you are as an independent individual. I think that’s one reason why we hear much so more about Gale, a friend, than Katniss’s mother.
      I do wish, though, that Gale had never been considered romantically, and through that, SC could have shown how important friendship is, and how it’s just as tragic to lose that.

      The “sexual/romantic” thing speaks to primitive, evolutionary instincts in each of us, though. That’s what gets exploited and is the basis of shipping, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s dirty or shameful. Sometimes it’s the love of you life. I don’t think Peeta can be dismissed as “the one she hooks up with in the end”. He’s much more to Katniss than that.Their relationship is built on friendship, mutual needs, and what he symbolizes to her, as well as attraction.

      1. Re the editor requesting more of the love triangle, here’s a link to the original interview:
        http://blog.sarahlaurence.com/2010/11/interview-with-kate-egan-editor-of.html

        In case the link doesn’t work, this is what Kate Egan, SC’s editor, stated in 2010, and I also found it quoted on hypable.com.

        “Storytelling is Suzanne’s strength. As an editor, I help her develop the characters. For example, I asked her for more of the Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle. Suzanne was more focused on the war story.”

        BTW, I’m not saying Peeta is simply “the one she hooks up with in the end”. My point was that “who will she choose as a romantic partner” is not the main theme of the story. As opposed to, say, Twilight, where this was the main plot, and the series, unlike THG, basically winds up as “HEA” where the love triangle is concerned, even though the major villains of the story are never actually defeated, and it’s hinted that they’ll be causing trouble later on. And yet, Meyer basically said the story had been wrapped up with a big bow on top, so it seemed she didn’t see the other aspects of the plot as that important.

        I certainly don’t think sex and romance is “dirty” or “shameful”, and I don’t agree with the “Team Katniss” take that “Katniss never loved either Gale or Peeta, she was just using them to survive”. However, I do think that modern Western pop culture tends to over-value the importance of romantic love over other forms of love. Maybe it’s because I come from an Eastern culture in which family ties have traditionally trumped romance, and I know a lot of people who had arranged marriages? Interestingly, my mother (who actually did marry for love) was still surprised people shipped Davis and White, and said she sees their relationship more as that of a brother and sister. Which I totally agreed with.

        1. Thanks for that, Satsumarena 🙂 And sorry if my post came off as rude, but I was seriously starting to think this was an unfounded rumour. If for no other reason than I never would have thought an editor would actually go out and specify her own contribution to someone’s book.. A little shocked now..!

          Your make some good points. I tend think the love triangle (“who will she choose”) gets in the way of the love story, and the building of a realistic romantic relationship, because It gets “twilightized”. If that makes any sense.

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