Unnerving Characters of The Hunger Games

Cross-fandom inspiration time!

On Day 11 of the 12 days of Pottermore, JK Rowling talked about Draco Malfoy. Particularly, she mentioned how “unnerved” she was by the massive amounts of Draco fangirls who assumed that under all the bullying, bigotry, and general cowardice, the character actually has a heart of gold. The author said she’d had to drop some truth about the character plenty of times in the past: As much as people will romanticize him, he’s still a pretty awful person who never really shook off all that bigotry.

Now, Draco Malfoy is the victim of fans romanticizing him under the “Bad Boy With A Heart Of Gold” stereotype. We loathe this trope beyond all others. Draco is not this trope, nor are Hunger Games characters that fanon (fan canon, that is) wants to trope up, like Finnick and Gale.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other characters for which the immense fan love might be considered a bit “unnerving” in the eyes of Suzanne Collins, even if they don’t necessarily romanticize the character. Perhaps they love him for the sheer fun and easy entertainment, the swagger and the smile.

You know who we’re talking about…

Caesar-flickerman-catching-fire-movie-8

No, seriously!

Caesar Flickerman has pizazz FOR DAYS. He makes us laugh. His style is unmatched. So we all love him, right?!

What we often overlook is that underneath it all, Caesar Flickerman is a pretty fucking awful human being.

We might think he’s just the standard vain, mindless Hollywood entertainer type, but not really. Caesar maintained his fame because he was the best spokesperson for the annual systematic sacrifice for children. He reassures and perpetuates lies in order to give a dictatorship the upper hand. When he interviews Peeta in Mockingjay, he absolutely knows that Peeta is being tortured and repeating carefully rehearsed falsities.

Book!Caesar is pretty much President Snow’s right-hand man. In the films, we’re provided with Antonius and Egeria, who kind of serve as intermediate Ministers of Propaganda. In the books, they don’t exist, so it’s easy to imagine Caesar is involved in plotting media relations that oppress and mislead the people. Especially since Snow sits off to the side and monitors all his segments. Even if he’s not so much involved in the planning in the films, he’s still the mainstay responsible for the execution of said plans.

So he manipulates, oppresses, and coerces. But he does it in a glitter tux with purple hair and a day-glo grin, so we forgive em!

We’re all quite susceptible to Caesar’s charms. And really, it’s not our fault– It’s Stanley Tucci’s!

But now that you think about it… isn’t that character adoration kinda unnerving?

Stick That In Your Holiday Pipe And Smoke It!
The Girl With The Pearl

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8 comments

  1. I would say CF is as much a victim as the tributes, at least the Careers. Like Cinna or Effie he was born into a corrupt and evil system and knows which side his bread is buttered. I feel most people (just like in our own world) would lack the courage to kick against the status quo. Caeser simply had no choice. The only good he could really do was be as sympathetic as he could to tributes about to go into the arena, and use his skill in questioning to give them the best chance he could to get them sponsors.

    Sure he know

    1. See, I think that’s the romanticizing of characters that JKR referred to right there. Sure, there are characters like Cinna and Effie who feel they don’t have a choice and want things to change, but surely that’s not the whole Capitol. Caesar works with Snow more directly than either Cinna or Effie would have and never really shows remorse or discomfort. In fact, he kinda basks in the glory of his position. It’s possible some Capitol types aren’t well-meaning rebel sympathizers underneath it all, just like Draco doesn’t have a tolerant heart of gold underneath it all.

      1. I think that if any character is romanticised, it’s Effie. Like CF she had that pizazz, style, makes us laugh, she does seem to care about Katniss and Peeta- after they’ve won and she’s riding the gravy train. She’s upset when people she knows and cares about are reaped but when they were starving, terrified children she sees them as ‘animals’. She showed zero sympathy or remorse for the previous tributes she personally had reaped. At no stage, ever, does she indicate that she wants things to change. She doesn’t like the QQ twist, because it affects her but if it had been other random children, Effie would have been fine, excited for a new games.

        Unlike Cinna, she’s very enthusiastic about the games. She’s an escort because she wants to be, she chose to make a living selecting random children to die. She did not join the games to help innocent children, or to make a change from within. She was not a well-meaning rebel, or even a Capitol citizen too afraid to speak up. Effie is the embodiment of the Capitol citizens that are pro games and pro Snow. She doesn’t see anything wrong with the games or the deep segregation in their society, she benefits hugely from it. She’s not entirely heartless, she does care about her victors. But I think it’s really wrong to put her in the same category as Cinna. She has more in common with Flickerman than she does with Cinna.

      2. I’ve also been unnerved by the Caesar-love, too. Especially in the context of THG fandom because one of the main themes is how people are often NOT as they appear on the surface, people are constantly lying and dissembling and engaging in false pretensions, not just the villains but the heroes (Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, even Prim goes along with the charade Katniss puts on in CF to hide the fact that she went beyond the fence). Yet, many of the Caesar fans seem to assume that because he ACTS as if he cares about the tributes in the interviews, therefore, he actually DOES care about them.

        Now, of course, much of the lying that goes on in THG is motivated by sheer survival, which makes it more sympathetic. But I never thought that was Caesar’s motive. Unlike Katniss, Peeta, or Finnick, he wasn’t reaped, he wasn’t forced to participate in the Games. I suppose you could argue that perhaps he was coerced to go along with the propos in MJ. But most of the time, celebrities who are in positions similar to Caesar in real life had to actively seek out those positions, devoting a lot of hard work as well as scheming and schmoozing to do so. He’s not just some random newsreader merely repeating Capitol propaganda off a teleprompter (like, say, the ladies who read official pronouncements on TV in North Korea).

        The fact that Caesar grew up in this system and knows no other certainly mitigates his culpability to SOME extent but it certainly doesn’t make him a hero. (I’d say this is true for Draco as well, and as it turns out he is not quite as evil as his father or aunt, but he never really redeems himself.)

        As for Cinna and Effie; I think Cinna certainly is meant to be a genuine rebel from Capitol ways, even as far back as THG. (And BTW I loathe the theory that he was NOT born there because this gives the impression that the only way Cinna could have been a rebel is if he came from a District). Effie, at least in the books, I think is meant to be less culpable than Caesar, but certainly no angel either. Indeed, I always assumed that SC meant for Effie’s sudden reappearance at the end of MJ, to be yet another “here comes the new boss, same as the old boss” moment, a hint that the Coin regime is really not that different than Snow’s.

        Now, I think the movie version of Effie is meant to be much more sympathetic to the rebellion, from both the actual performance as well as interview comments about Effie growing a conscience in CF. But even in the movies, she makes it clear that she considers herself a prisoner of D13, she helps Katniss mostly out of pride/Plutarch’s manipulation and her personal attachment to her.

  2. Very good point…. Something to think about. Though the movie characters are slightly different from the book counterparts, it’s still creepy to think about. That doesn’t mean of course that ceasar is all bad, but he’s certainly not a character you can root for. He’s just so charismatic it’s hard to see past what’s going on in the subtext.

  3. Yeah. I was first introduced to THG through the movies and found Caesar pretty sickening. Yet I found him fun to watch at the same time. Reading the first book and finding out that Caesar does try to help the tributes in his own way (and that Katniss doesn’t view him in a completely negative light) made me dislike him less. But he’s still one of the most despicable characters in the franchise because he specifically enforces the idea in the Capitol people’s minds that the Games are entertainment (instead of the atrocity they really are). Yet it is hard to completely hate him, isn’t it? He’s just so friendly and happy

  4. At first I must say I barely remeber those films and didn’t like them that much. But if we’re talking about the books I think it’s a bit unfair to compare CF with Malfoy. We KNOW Malfoy as much as we can and we know he is bigot and whatever, but we don’t know anything about CF besides that he’s the host of the Hunger Games. So for me he is more an ambiguous character. I can see him being all in for the games, I can also see him being different. But I don’t see him as an all evil character. Shallow like Katniss prep team at best but at least in the books he ses senible enough. I also doubt that a control freak as Snow would leave anyone alone who has that much appeal to people, like CF has. May he be pro or contra games, I bet Snow controls him as much as he can. So, whatever CF’s motives are, he can’t be more than a puppet because Snow could never allow a person who’s in the spotlight that much be in any kind of power. That just goes completely against the characterization of Snow to leave anything as critical as that host untouched and uncontrolled. Maybe that is why people tend to see him as a more tragic character than a willing supporter. For my opinion, the characterization of Snow is the reason why we never hear much about CF’s true colors in the books. He’s probably very hard to come by in the strict and controlled world of panem snd no one really knows him. So I enjoy all kinds of fanfiction about CF, may they show him as supporting Capitolite or otherwhise, because that character leaves so much for the personal fantasy. I just can see both. Just think of how far Katniss or Finnik where willing to go to satisfy Snow! And the Avoxes are proof that no one is safe, not even in the Capitol.
    What I absolutely don’t understand is why people try to whitewash Effie so hard. For my opinion she is as Capitol as one can get and a far better suited example to be compared with Draco. Yes at the end she does her deed but she never gives the slightest hint that she despizes the games even a little bit. The only thing she cares for is loosing her personal gain together with her precious victors. While CF at least definitely does his best to make every tribute shine and feel good on stage, whatever his reasons might be (and Katniss’ reactions give proof of that) she just says the most horrid things and does not care the slightest about the harsh reality her tributes might had to face and where they were going. Heavens! She complained about table manners of her last tributes which were starving kids which died in those horrible games she so much adores! How can anyone see her as anything else than shallow and bigot after that is beyond my understanding.

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