Katniss Everdeen and Girls Who Obviously Do Things #LikeAGirl

Dear ladies,

In case you didn’t already know it, we’re gross. So much so that the whole advertising world is busy telling us how gross we are in an effort to help us conceal our unholy level of disgusting, because we should totally be ashamed!

These companies sell us (and in part help create) our insecurities. But don’t worry! Then they empower us! How, you ask? By making us feel insecure about having said insecurities, of course!

Thankfully, The Hunger Games isn’t like that. They may sell clothes, makeup, and nail polish that represent the selfish, ignorant elitists of the tale that should in no way be glorified. They may try to sell us elongated sandwiches full of irony to promote a film about the struggles of the starving and underprivileged. They may soften the collective fan experience by only letting people who possess certain technologies or live near certain stores get exclusive early access. But they would never exploit Katniss’ gender as a means to pander to a false empowerment campa— OH WAIT.

*blink blink* WHAT?

First off, as many fans have discussed several times over on every Hunger Games related form on the Internet– Katniss Everdeen does things LIKE A GUY. One of the most interesting thing about her is that she transcends gender stereotypes by taking on traditionally masculine roles. If anything, Peeta is the one who does things #LikeAGirl.

Don’t get us wrong– we still think Katniss has a hefty dose of femininity and is a great role model. But she can be a great role model for ANYONE, not just girls. If Katniss and Peeta’s genders were reversed, the main character would still be a great role model. To say that her accomplishments matter BECAUSE she is a woman and that she should inspire girls any more than boys is just ludicrous.

Does she get super secret strength just from having her monthly period? Is that what makes her such a great hunter, strategist, and leader? DID WE MISS THAT PART OF THE NOVELS?!

Also, this totally fails to empower us. It has the opposite effect:

  • Katniss Everdeen is made of pure awesome. She fights for justice, leads a nation, and creates a new way of life for the entire populace of a struggling society.. and hey, she’s a woman!
  • Well, I’m a woman and I do none of those things. Therefore, I SUCK. And don’t dare try to tell me I could sway the nation and lead a bloody human rights revolution right now, because then you’re just lying.

Then Always jumps in to really drive that point home:

Yikes.

We really, really hope this isn’t a long-term, ongoing partnership with this brand. It’s straight up patronizing: “Oh look, she’s a strong, heroic leader AND a woman! Let’s all stop and treat that like an anomaly!”

A major facet in Katniss’ likability factor is that she hates misleading campaigns that paint her as a false hero for the people. In a strange way, that’s what makes her a real hero.

It’s painful to equate that Katniss’ success and power to the fact that she, just like all the other women out there, survives that time of the month. In fact, it gives us cramps. Katniss never seems to get cramps. Dammit, we can’t ever measure up to this chick!

All in all, we think our friend Joan said it best when it comes to the premise of this whole campaign:

And There Goes The One Topic We Never Thought We’d Come Across Here,
The Girl With The Pearl

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5 comments

  1. From what I’ve seen so far this campaign seems to by trying to work against the idea that strong women are an anomaly (gonna post this here for reference:

    ). And I am definitely for anything that is trying to combat the idea that things that are “girly” are somehow not as good. Yes, they are trying to sell a product, and yes their only tie to Katniss is her sex, but they are challenging social norms like Katniss did. Even if it is just ads, it’s hard for me to criticize anything that is trying to change our society’s ideas that things women do, are interested in, or create are less important or valuable or worthy of our time.
    I think a lot of what you said about the cosmetics industry is true, but I don’t know that this is exactly the same thing. Cosmetics try to “beautify” you, and in order to sell them, they must make you think you need the make over (another little video on that: http://www.hulu.com/watch/645296). But Always make pads and tampons, meant to help you deal with an unpleasant time of the month – not meant to make you prettier. Frankly, I’m glad I live in a time period and place where I have access to these things.
    But in all honesty, Katniss probably didn’t have to deal with her monthly due to amenorrhea probably caused from starving.

    1. The article we linked to talks more specifically about beauty companies, but this is definitely something pad/tampon brands do too. There’s two types of advertising:
      1) “Your period is gross and you should be uncomfortable UNLESS you buy our allegedly superior products. Then you’ll feel less gross than if you use the competition’s.” There’s an implication that you shouldn’t feel “fresh” or confident if you don’t use brand X. This is what you mentioned earlier when you said the company makes you think you need their product. That method is followed by…
      2) “Don’t you dare feel uncomfortable about your monthly lady issues! Look at all these people who ALSO get their period and are still awesome all the same!” Which is the #LikeAGirl campaign. Usually it’s a fewer real-life examples, a little more “You can wear white jeans and run marathons and swim!” than this campaign, but it falls into the same category.

      These two ideas are in pretty heavy conflict, but they’re presented by the same companies. Not just Always, of course. They all do it, mainly because there’s very few other options other than those two for the brands. I get the feeling you work in PR, so I’m sure you know what I mean.

      But really, that’s not even the sticking point for us so much as that Katniss is a really not an efficient figurehead for the product. Besides the probable health reasons you mentioned (good thinking!), this is a character who has a strong distrust of media and teaches fans throughout her story NOT to believe the hype behind the latest media pitch. Hell, that’s what the brilliant propos being released are– short advertisements through which fans are being showed that they can’t trust the Capitol media (which heavily reflects modern society in comparison to Katniss’ background), because everything being released in them is somewhere between an exaggeration and a lie. To specifically use Katniss, a character who would balk at such campaigns, as a figurehead to promote the girl power image that she never even considers is just asking for cynicism from fans. And boy, are we a bunch of cynics! haha

  2. I congratulate Kait for completely missing the point of like a girl campaign. The like a girl campaign is thought provoking. The purpose of the campaign is of course sell a brand and the product but it does not exclude that it can have opportunity to make people thinking…

    Would katniss promote anything, well.. no because she is a fictional character. Same as characters from animation movies would not do anything in real life because they are not real. Same as iron man.. would tony stark advertise a car? No because he is millionaire and most importantly is a fictional character.

    I think this campaign is quite positive and because companies have to make money (that creates jobs btw) this in my opinion is one of lesser evils.

    1. It’s not thought provoking, though. It’s another “Girls can do anything, even things that aren’t necessarily expected of us!” campaign. They’ve been done before. And while the stories and accomplishments of women matter and I very much prefer it to anything that shames women in the beauty or hygiene ad industry, campaigns like this probably aren’t changing viewers’ lives. Hmmm.. Suddenly lots of unusual commenters freaking out in defense of this campaign, though…

      If you want to get into a “fictional character” argument…
      Tony Stark would advertise a car. Because Tony Stark is a billionaire who has an impressive car collection. Yes, he is fictional character, but he is a fictional character who is known for owning quality cars and having RDJ film a commercial in character for a brand implies that their vehicle of good enough to be part of an impressive automobile collection.

      Obviously companies need to make money, but choosing smart, sensible advertising that meshes with the characteristics of your movie is important too. The key is RELEVANCE. As a comment above pointed out, Katniss may not even have her period at this point in the story because of amenorrhea and even if she did, it’s not a factor in the story line whatsoever. So why go for a campaign for tampons just because it talks about the accomplishments girls and Katniss is one? Is there really nothing more relevant in the world? Out of all the possibilities out there, it’s way in left field. Also, choosing another brand to advertise probably wouldn’t have gone and cost anyone their job because they’d still be advertising, so let’s chill on the poor assumption that we don’t want them to advertise anything with anyone ever.

  3. I’m not that annoyed at this subtle brand tie-in (so far, I may if it gets more intense) but ITA with the idea that Katniss “can be a great role model for ANYONE, not just girls”, and that a marketing campaign that emphasizes her being a girl just reinforces the stereotype that “male heroes are attractive/marketable to both sexes, but female heroes are only attractive/marketable to other women”.

    On the other hand it is certainly the case that most of the THG fandom DOES indeed consist of women, as opposed to, say, the HP fandom, where the hero is male, or even the ASOAIF fandom, which doesn’t really have a hero, is much more balanced gender-wise (though the GOT show has a higher male viewership, it seems the show changed the story in many ways to specifically attract a male audience).

    So hopefully someone at LG will realize “hmm, this tie-in just sends a message that this story is for a female audience only and could backfire by driving away male viewers”, and back off on the Always partnership.

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