Mockingjay Meta Fiction Friction

Earlier this week, JJ made an excellent post about the best and worst moments in Mockingjay. It did a great job covering the bases, but I’ve still got a bit of a quibble that’s become pretty controversial among fans.

THE END OF THAT DAMN PROPO

The screening of the first propo was pretty brilliant, at first. We saw Katniss’ fierceness through the lenses of Castor and Pollux’s cameras, how District 13 cut and played upon her words for the ultimate effect. Then things got reallllllly familiar: A burning Mockingjay pin with outstretched wings, title treatment font, and Rue’s whistle, musically engineered to sound exactly like every Hunger Games movie promo in existence and the slew of popular ringtones.

THIS... Except with different words. Yep.

THIS… Except with different words. Yep.

Urghhhh.

We’ve talked to friends and fans alike about the decision and the results are pretty mixed. In fact, some people think it’s brilliant, that putting the movie advertising images in almost their exact form straight into the movie was a great nod to the audience and adverts alike. They consider it a tie-in of sorts. And truly, we’re glad they liked it.

Some others, including myself, found it to be so utterly displeasing. Besides taking you out of the scene by reminding you of the commercials, practically screaming “THIS IS A MOVIE! HOPE YOU WEREN’T TOO WRAPPED UP IN IT!” just after a powerful scene, it seems like an awkward pat on the back. Multiple people decided that their advertising style was so witty and perfect that they’d just add it into the movie itself, assuming District 13 would do the same thing a bunch of modern day PR folks did. We realize that big wigs we love, like Francis Lawrence and Nina Jacobson, were probably in on the decision too, so we’ll try not to judge so harshly. Perhaps it was supposed to be coming full circle, but instead some of us hit the fourth wall HARD and broke right through that sucker.

Mind you. we’re not saying that those elements aren’t good for a commercial or a propo. Both are meant to rile up a crowd, but for very different reasons. Could we have two equally smart but not quite so identical ways of riling up people on their couch considering a movie vs. people in a war torn dystopia considering revolution?

Did this ruin the movie for us? OF COURSE NOT! The movie was still incredible overall, but we all have our hangups and quibbles. it won’t haunt us forever, but my face will likely twitch in some fashion every time I watch that part. And then like two minutes later I’ll be fine because Effie is wittily insulting President Coin’s hair. So is the way of the world.

So what do you think? Was the moment a little TOO meta for you? Or was it just right?

We Approve Of Recycling… Just Not In Our Films,
The Girl With The Pearl

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13 comments

  1. I fall into to the camp of loving the symbol at the end of that propo. I recently re-read Mockingjay and in one of the passages from the book is ending the propo with a flaming Mockingjay on a black background. The people in Lionsgate used that idea to market the first movie and kept going with it.

  2. I thought it was brilliant AT FIRST, as in, the first time I saw it. But I tend to agree with the OP after thinking about it for some time. I think that while it was funny to me as a fan who knows the story already and that gave me an amount of detachment. But if I was JUST watching the movie for its own sake, that moment would really have pulled me out of the experience in a weird way.

    Now realistically the THG films were never meant to represent high art, but I think this moment really cheapens the movie and comes across as a gimmick. I recall that before the Annie Cresta casting was announced, many fans wanted Sam’s RL then-fiance (now wife) to play her, while others didn’t want that because it would come across as too much of a gimmick. I think this stunt has the same flavor.

  3. I actually really liked it. And I found it amusing when they did it in Catching Fire. I don’t think of it as recycling, I think of it as like an Easter egg to those fans in the know. The real posters and advertisements have always crossed into the movie world: think the very majestic Victors posters or Capitol portraits. They were for us…but also for the Captiol audiences. They just did it in a reverse way in the movie, which was just a few seconds and didn’t bother me.

  4. OK no! It took me right out of my suspension of disbelief into Reality. I did not want Reality, I wanted Katniss’ world.

  5. I agree it’s a gimmick, and a pat on the back for how brilliant they think their marketing has been. I don’t like the cockiness of it, especially considering the weaknesses of the total MJ1 campaign.

    BUT, my reaction first time I saw the movie? I smiled and thought it was cute. You’re right that it happens after a very heavy scene, so I may have been relieved for that little meta bit there as a moment of levity. Is that contrary to the purpose of the propo? Yes, but as the movie goer I was already sold by Katniss’s “live” performance so I could let it slide.

    With all the in-universe stuff they’ve been doing, I’m not surprised they took this step. I can definitely understand the argument for it being a distraction though.

    1. Your comments remind me of the Hogwarts Professor critique of the very first THG movie, that it dedicated way too much time to the machinations of Snow and Seneca, and winds up extolling the cleverness of the Gamemakers much more than the bravery of Katniss and company.

      Now I haven’t been to that site in years because I really think HogPro went too far in claiming that THG has a Christian message; I think such an interpretation is certainly reasonable for HP and Twilight, as both series’ authors refer to religious themes in the actual work (HP has actual Bible quotes and people talk about souls and salvation in Twilight), but NOT THG, which doesn’t mention religion at all. However, I think he’d agree about moviemakers patting themselves on the back.

  6. I thought it was brilliant and it did not take me out of the movie at all. I actually viewed it as another “in-world” thing– are we the rebels cheering on Katniss? Are we citizens of the Capitol viewing this propaganda with excitement? It further enforced the impact of the movie for me.

  7. I think it was *mostly* a good idea, though I definitely see the point of fourth wall broken, getting taken out of the movie, etc. I took me out of it, too. A little.
    BUT there’s a big chance that the Mockingjay marketing symbol actually was based on the D13 propos originally. Like TeamButtercup says.
    Also, yeah, the moviegoing audience and the district rebels are very different. Yet there are similarities. Doesn’t every moviemaker want their movie to be relevant? To say something about the real world? And that’s what I think they did here: We are being manipulated, too. We are also subjected to propaganda through media, whether by politicians, or, more innocently, by marketing departments who want us to pay to see their movie. We are the ones who need to be made aware. It’s what Donald Sutherland keeps saying too, right?
    And if this is their message, I can forgive them for taking me out of it a bit.

    1. Problem with that idea is that this message is only going to have its full impact for people who are familiar with BOTH the movie and the marketing. Let’s say a 5 year old who’s totally ignorant of the movie today, happens to watch it 10 years from now at age 15.

      Well, that teenager is NOT going to get the message that “perhaps you are being manipulated by the marketing for this movie just the way the people in the movie are being manipulated by propaganda”, because they won’t remember what the content of the marketing was. I’d say that even goes for casual adult fans, perhaps the parents of this hypothetical 5 year old who might wind up watching it again when their kid is 15.

      Which is why to me, the meta moment falls more in the category of an Easter Egg than anything meant to really get the audience thinking.

      BTW I do watch a lot of old TV shows as well as movies and believe me, a lot of the time I noticed little references to what I assume were contemporary events, that just don’t have the same impact now. Old Saturday Night Live shows also have the same issue, a lot of the jokes aren’t as funny to people who don’t recall the exact contemporary events that inspired, say, a Bill Clinton skit in the 1990s, or a Reagan skit in the 1980s.

      1. Well, it’s a different era now with all our digital access to information. Who’s to say that teenager isn’t going to look up the trailers on youtube? Also, people don’t have to follow the marketing closely. Casual adult fans will surely have seen one trailer or TV spot, don’t you think? They are everywhere, and each ends the same way. I’d say the Mockingjay and whistle are pretty well-known by now.
        But sure, call it an Easter Egg. If you get it you get it, if you don’t, no problem. it’s not like you need it to follow the movie, or like it’s the only path to the movie’s larger message. And people who don’t recognize it won’t get distracted by it either, will they? Advantages to either side.

        1. Agree with you here, Louise! While in my first viewing, it wasn’t a good feeling, being took out of the movie, but I enjoy the feeling now. It was like “hey, here in D13 we are using Katniss too!” and seeing how the districts respond to it, comparing with the fans a few weeks ago talking about the trailer. Okay, the scope it’s different, but still. Non-fans probably overlooked the moment. No damage done.
          I guess we’re talking here about people that are familiar with the marketing, right?

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