Chapter Five: Smacking into Mirrors

This chapter, thankfully, does not start off with our dahling narrator. Instead, we’re told about how Tookie and Myrracle’s room is split in half with a line of duct tape, but Myrracle’s stuff ends up on Tookie’s side anyway.

After tossing away Myrracle’s stuff, Tookie sits down and thinks about how Myrracle will have a SMIZE on The Day of Discovery. Her thoughts then turn to Zarpessa and Theophilus, angsting over how Zarpessa had interrupted Tookie’s moment with Theophilus and thinking about her T O OKE button.

Theophilus, oh, Theophilus. Tookie swooned. She closed her eyes and licked her lips.

Your salted-caramel eyes, Theophilus…

She imagined Theophilus right in front of her. She leaned toward him, her eyes closed, her lips caressing the air.

We can call our boy Tookophilus and our girl Thoodie!

She puckered and her lips connected with a solid, cold surface.

Theophilus, she thought. Oh, yes, baby. I’m so happy you’re giving me my very first kiss.

I’m sorry that I had to expose you all to that, but it really must be seen to be believed. Why are we supposed to support Tookie? Why should we care about a girl obsessed with a boy who’s already in a relationship?

Tookie’s makeout session with what turns out to be Myrracle’s mirror is interrupted by Myrracle, asking who Tookie wants to kiss. Myrracle says that kissing “feels like a little wormy man is crawling in your mouth, anyway.

Because the only kind of kisses are those which involve tongues. Myrracle, you are truly an idiot.

The novel then jumps to Tookie waking up all of a sudden, standing between the kitchen and the living room. So Tookie is a sleepwalker. I wonder if this will get her into any kooky and awkward situations?

In the living room, she sees her father (The Incredible Chris-Crème-Crobat!) balancing on one hand, drunk on TaterMash imported from Kremlingrad. Y’know, Tyra, you could just say “vodka”…

Tookie reminisces about her father’s performances while working with the Circo del Soul troupe and his accident. Circo del Soul. That’s subtle. Chris-Crème-Crobat was to execute a new stunt, one said to be an unparalleled feat.

However, as he reached the seventh-story landing on the stage, his wife Creamy pulled out a mirror to apply makeup. A beam of light happened to reflect straight into Chris-Crème-Crobat’s eyes, causing him to fall. Fortunately, he “landed smoothly on his upper back, propelling himself forward into a smooth tumble.” So he did some sort of roll to negate fall damage, just like in Ocarina of Time?

And as the audience started cheering for him, Chris-Crème-Crobat gave a bow, immediately stabbing his eye into one of the swords around the stage.

(numerous self-inflicted injuries to my face)

Okay, I’m fine now.

After a mention of Tookie seeing her father’s eye on the tip of the sword, we’re told about how Tookie feared he would die—and how Creamy felt that he was now “defective” and told Tookie not to mention that she was the cause of the beam of light.

At that moment, Chris-Crème-Crobat notices Tookie standing there. She apologizes for scaring him and compliments his routine. Chris-Crème-Crobat asks for Tookie to spot him, and watches him do a handstand. He falls over, then snaps at Tookie for not paying attention. Chris-Crème-Crobat gives Tookie a disgusted look, then says:

“Just go. For all of us,” he said, waving her away.

Tookie, sad about being rejected by her father, goes back to bed without a word. Poor Tookie, she got scolded for agreeing to do something and then daydreaming instead of doing what she said she would do.

This chapter, like the previous two, was fairly short. But the next chapter, Chapter Six, is quite long…and has more than its fair share of very stupid moments.

However, I’m not going to give the name of Chapter Six, because the name of the chapter is the answer to a question that I’m sure has been at the forefront of everyone’s minds since the prologue. (Also because the name of the next chapter is really long.)

That question, and the answer to that question, shall be revealed…next time.

(And no, I have no intention of calling Christopher De La Crème by any name other than “Chris-Crème-Crobat”.)

Tagged as:

Comment

  1. Taku on 3 February 2013, 02:22 said:

    Kremli—

    Krem—

    Kremlingrad?

  2. Tim on 3 February 2013, 04:05 said:

    King K. Rool has taken to bootlegging, clearly.

  3. LoneWolf on 3 February 2013, 04:30 said:

    “Tookophilus”? Tookie-lover? Is the reference deliberate?
    And yeah, so far the protagonist is quite uninteresting.

  4. Epke on 3 February 2013, 07:42 said:

    So now we can add “Crimes against literature” to Tyra Banks’ list of heinous deeds. Kremlingrad? Tookophilus?

  5. lilyWhite on 3 February 2013, 08:23 said:

    Colour me stupid, but it just occurred to me that “Kremlingrad” is probably a mash-up of “Kremlin” and “Stalingrad”. It previously just sounded Russian to me. XD

  6. Tim on 3 February 2013, 09:16 said:

    A “grad” is a city, so “Kremlingrad” = Kremlin City = Moscow.

  7. Brendan Rizzo on 3 February 2013, 10:28 said:

    Well, Tookie just lost any audience sympathy she still had.

    As for what happened to Chris-Creme-Crobat, I am still trying to work out how anybody could just accidentally impale their eye on a sword. And Creamy reveals her shallowness once more. Something tells me this isn’t supposed to be considered a character flaw.

  8. Prince O' Tea on 3 February 2013, 11:54 said:

    Tookie seems like the type whose going to snap one day, skin Zarpesssa alive and then wear her skin to Theophilius like a bloody cape. “Look Theo, I did it for you! We can be together now…. why are you running away? How dare you run away… come here right now, we are going to make Foodie and Dookiefile whether you like it or not….. hehehhehehehehehehHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEHEEHEHEHHE”

  9. Pryotra on 3 February 2013, 12:49 said:

    We can call our boy Tookophilus and our girl Thoodie!

    And I thought Renesmee was stupid.

    Why should we care about a girl obsessed with a boy who’s already in a relationship?

    What makes her any different from every other boy obsessed girl in a YA novel? Seriously, if she wasn’t named Buttocks of the Cream, I’d be really quick to forget her. She doesn’t even have Zoey Redbird’s sociopathy.

    Poor Tookie, she got scolded for agreeing to do something and then daydreaming instead of doing what she said she would do.

    You know, if that was treated right, it could be seen as disproportionate retribution. I mean, if no matter how little of a mistake it was, everyone verbally abused her, it could have worked, but all I’m seeing is a kind of stupid girl with an unhealthy attachment to a guy who barely knows she exists. Who for some reason is the main character.

  10. Prince O' Tea on 3 February 2013, 13:23 said:

    Tookie increasingly reminds of those rabid little girls who become fanatically obsessed with male pop stars and boyband members, and proceed to send emails to their crush object’s girlfriends, telling them that they are ugly husband stealing whores who need to kill themselves at once for the good of humanity.

    Protip: a girl dating a boy you like does not maker her a villain, especially if they were dating before you started obsessing over him. People are not objects, and if they’re not attracted to you, deal with it. You are not entitled to any human being your hormones deem sexy.

  11. ScarletSpecter on 3 February 2013, 19:44 said:

    Protip: a girl dating a boy you like does not maker her a villain, especially if they were dating before you started obsessing over him. People are not objects, and if they’re not attracted to you, deal with it. You are not entitled to any human being your hormones deem sexy.

    THIS! A thousand times this. You know what I’d like to see more of? Heroines who are in love with a guy whose girlfriend is an amazing person. That way it would create an actual dilemma for the protagonist and sends the much needed message to young girls: Love and relationships are not a competition. The “other” girl does not have to be your enemy. But, no. We’ll have to go with the catty rivalry.

    Seriously, the contempt women like Banks and a disturbing amount of female authors have for other women is actually quite staggering. You see it in their portrayal of their female characters and how the differ from the more sympathetic males’. Myraccle is a shallow drama queen, Creamy is an even shallower stage mom, and practically every other female with no relation to Tookie is treated like a vindictive whore. The scariest part about this is that most authors probably aren’t even aware of the underlying misogyny these depictions suggest.

  12. Prince O' Tea on 3 February 2013, 22:44 said:

    You’re right, now that you mention it, I’m remembering a book I used to like, but now that I thinka bout it is actually rather nasty, for the reasons you’ve listed. When I was younger, I quite liked the Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging book (I only read the first one.) One part of it dealt with the main character (Georgia) hating a character… for being nerdy and dating the guy she was in love with. Georgia went through creepy behaviour such as stalking Lyndsy, spying on her getting changed in her room, and aggressively hitting on the boyfriend.
    When Lyndsey told Georgia to back off and to leave her boyfriend alone, Georgia was pretty much: “Who is this horrible bitch? I hate her. Who does she think she is?” She then spits in Lyndsey’s coffee… and we’re supposed to think this is justified. I mean, how dare she tell some creepy girl to stop aggressively pursuing her boyfriend? She should give the protagonist her blessing, or some shit.

    You’re right about the contempt some female authors have for female characters, and sometimes it seems pretty unintentional. The whole “women never wear dresses thing” is something that aggrevates me a lot, since it equates femininity with shallowness, bitchiness and vapidity. It was one of the things I found offputting about the Harry Potter books, since “girly” characters are almost always used as foils to demonstrate acceptable ways of being a girl. Cho is meant to be a mind-games playing, overly emotional drama queen compared to the straightforward and tomboyish Ginny, whose also a better athlete then Cho as well. Parvati and Lavender are giggling horoscope reading nitwits, compared to the bookish and intelligent Hermione.

    I just think there are many ways you can be a girl, and having a feminine personality doesn’t mean you’re a capricious vapid idiot or a scheming vindictive bitch.

  13. Brendan Rizzo on 4 February 2013, 11:26 said:

    Seriously, the contempt women like Banks and a disturbing amount of female authors have for other women is actually quite staggering.

    It might have something to do with what Chris Rock said about black people hating other black people. Since women have also been oppressed historically, the same reasoning might apply.

    Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging

    Wut. Srsly, wut.

  14. Tim on 4 February 2013, 12:05 said:

    You’re right about the contempt some female authors have for female characters, and sometimes it seems pretty unintentional. The whole “women never wear dresses thing” is something that aggrevates me a lot, since it equates femininity with shallowness, bitchiness and vapidity.

    It seems to mostly be an earlier (second wave, maybe?) feminist thing (it’s very clearly present in the work of writers like Marion Zimmer Bradley) that femininity itself was a construction of the patriarchy, and so being traditionally female reinforced the patriarchy’s power and only rejecting it was acceptable. Therefore, all feminine women are basically gender-traitors (see the Hawkmistress! spork to see this in action).

    This is mangled through the lens of half-aware authors to the modern Exceptional Girl Sue character (Katniss from Hunger Games is absolutely textbook) who is allowed to do things because she embodies traditionally masculine virtues. All other women are relegated to the standard role of needing to be protected (Prim, Rue) or are EVIL BITCHES who must be crushed / humilated / fended off by the Exceptional Girl. The Exceptional Girl will, however, instantly revert to a vulnerable bag of neurotic angst when placed in the presence of her Designated Male and will be saved by him to prove to the doubting reader that she is still a woman.

  15. Fireshark on 4 February 2013, 13:38 said:

    If the character seems too feminine, the book is anti-feminist, because women should never, ever make the choice to do something traditionally seen as womanly. How dare they suggest that women must conform to stereotypes?

    If the character seems too masculine, the author doesn’t like women, because women certainly never break gender norms unless they’re trying too hard to seem cool and empowered. How dare they shame Parvati and Lavender? How dare they suggest that women only are equal if they act like men?

    If the character exhibits feminine traits while doing well at things traditionally seen as masculine, she’s the worst of all, a best-of-both-worlds Sue who’s clearly designed only for escapist teenage girls. Tee-hee! Silly boys! We guuurrrllls can be good at sports/video games/warfare too!

    I really think the Sue moniker is too often used as a generic, all-purpose criticism towards any and all female characters. Some people tie it almost completely to the handling of their roles as girls and women. On the other hand, Gary Stu has never been about the character’s gender role, but about their role in the story. And I think that’s how Mary Sue should be used as well.

  16. Fireshark on 4 February 2013, 13:42 said:

    I mean, Tookie seems to be a Sue because her personality issues aren’t acknowledged and we’re expected to feel uber-sorry for her. But if Katniss is a Sue, it’s not because she’s a girl who knows how to hunt and fight, or because many other girls in the books are either bad or helpless.

  17. Fireshark on 4 February 2013, 13:48 said:

    I just think Internet lit discussion can get too hung up on gender at times.

    Sorry for the triple post.

  18. Tim on 4 February 2013, 14:54 said:

    I really think the Sue moniker is too often used as a generic, all-purpose criticism towards any and all female characters.

    The other conclusion is that most high-profile female characters are badly written.

    But if Katniss is a Sue, it’s not because she’s a girl who knows how to hunt and fight, or because many other girls in the books are either bad or helpless.

    No, Katniss is a Sue for a lot of reasons. The fact that she’s a specific type (the Exceptional Girl) is just part of that. Off-hand, she also has bad cases of:

    1. Protagonist centred morality. If Katniss’ narration says it, it is so. We must hate the foxfaced girl because she is foxfaced (even though she does all of fucking nothing to earn Katniss’ bizarre wrath). We must hate the Careers, even though it’s hardly bad to train your kids so they don’t die in the murder games, or for people to be chosen so that random people aren’t entered. Etc.

    2. Informed attributes. Much like good old Griffindor, we’re told her District sucks at absolutely everything, but we never actually see this and it only happens off-camera to people the story doesn’t care about. The minute she joins the Games, her helperguy sobers up, she gets a fashion consultant who doesn’t suck ass, etc.

    3. Have-your-cake-and-eat-it morals. The story repeatedly attempts to make her look blameless for killing people, apparently not realising her narration makes her sound like a sociopath.

  19. Brendan Rizzo on 4 February 2013, 15:26 said:

    I really think the Sue moniker is too often used as a generic, all-purpose criticism towards any and all female characters.

    The other conclusion is that most high-profile female characters are badly written.

    I agree with Fireshark that it seems to be a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t thing, since I haven’t come across a single female character from any story that hasn’t been accused of being either a Sue or latently misogynist. (Or both.) Yet surely at least some of them must avoid this?

    Though I haven’t read The Hunger Games, so I cannot comment on your analysis of Katniss.

  20. Lone Wolf on 4 February 2013, 15:43 said:

    I don’t think that Tookie is a Sue at this point at all. She’s just a bland protagonist.

  21. lilyWhite on 4 February 2013, 15:54 said:

    I don’t think that Tookie is a Sue at this point at all. She’s just a bland protagonist.

    Agreed. Though that does change later in the book…

  22. Tim on 4 February 2013, 16:04 said:

    I believe the main issue is that female characters tend to fit into a very limited number of extremely stereotypical roles (girly girl OR Exceptional Girl who is masculine and hates girly girls for being useless). You either end up stuck in the head of a bipolar ultra-jealous self-hater or a strange, giggling peacock-like creature who has no physical or mental qualities not related to attracting a mate.

    Can’t really say I’ve ever seen the ‘best of both worlds’ thing complained about or called a Sue, and the justification seems like the objectors are the kind of troglodytes nobody should listen to anyway.

  23. Lone Wolf on 4 February 2013, 16:38 said:

    People seem to use the word “Sue” to mean “badly written protagonist” or even “a positive character who I don’t think is that positive at all”. That would make that definition too broad.

  24. ScarletSpecter on 4 February 2013, 16:38 said:

    I agree that the Mary-Sue label is thrown around way to often. I think this is a residual side effect left by dated gender roles. However, I have to also agree that, if not a Mary Sue, Katniss is still a poorly written character for many of the reasons Tim has listed. I’ve said before that Katniss, Tookie, and Bella share many parallels along with other heroines in the YA genre.

    1)Blank Slates-The appeal of these characters is that they have vague, if-not nonexistant personalities. Even Katniss works more as a motif than an actual person. That way readers feel like they are the characters who are doing these cool things and getting all this attention.

    2)Black Hole Plot Fixation-The Universe must cater to their every need. Everyone’s priorities and thoughts should revolve around them in some way. A character’s entire alignment is determined in relation to the protagonist. So any character with honest rude opinions of them is in league with the devil. Even fairly impartial characters are frowned upon as apathetic or underwhelming (Effie Trinket, The Game Makers, etc).

    3) Competition/ Only One Syndrome -As been said numerous times, it’s easy to tell the author’s opinion of women when there’s a female lead we’re supposed to identify with. Since the protagonist is the only one allowed to be special, every other female character is obsolete in some way; be it being useless (Prim, Rue, Katniss’ mother), shallow (the game designers), or cartoonishly evil (Peeta’s mom) (i.e. petty feminine stereotypes). Women are just unexceptional creatures of habit who must “earn” respect. Rich girl Madge is even an anomaly for not being a brat despite her wealth. Since men, by default, are inherently exceptional they’re seen as heroes whose love and respect is the ultimate reward for the speshul heroine.

  25. Tim on 4 February 2013, 17:33 said:

    That way readers feel like they are the characters who are doing these cool things and getting all this attention.

    Yeah, it’s the lazy man’s approach to story immersion to never challenge the reader to immerse themselves in anything, rather like the spoilsport answer that the best way for someone to not notice they’re dry is to never let them get wet in the first place.

    Videogames are the worst for this with their silent, pointless protagonists who exist purely to carry out the will of the person the story is actually focusing on (eg Alyx Vance in Half Life 2 and Foley in Modern Warfare 2, both of whom could be the player character without having to change anything). It leaves you in the weird state of having an alleged protagonist who reacts instead of acting.

  26. Prince O' Tea on 4 February 2013, 18:45 said:

    “If the character seems too masculine, the author doesn’t like women, because women certainly never break gender norms unless they’re trying too hard to seem cool and empowered. How dare they shame Parvati and Lavender? How dare they suggest that women only are equal if they act like men?”

    While some might think that, I disagree. I don’t have a problem with female characters behaving tomboyish or feminine, I only have a problem when one is presented as ideal and the other is shamed/dismissed, that there is only one acceptable way of being. I don’t have a problem with Parvati and Lavender being shamed, what i have a problem with is when female characters are only treated as likeable or worthwhile when they confirm to particular archetypes: the girly girl vs the tomboy or the girly girl vs the intelligent girl. Because hey, if she likes lipsticks and parties and boys, she must be a complete idiot whose only there to show how the tomboy is automatically a better human being, right?

  27. Tim on 4 February 2013, 18:56 said:

    And if she’s perky and cheerful she must be an airhead, if she’s religious she must be a puritanical fundamentalist, if she’s rich she must look down on you, poor she must envy you…

    Basically all are compared to Sue, and all who do not want of her approval (and most who do) are instead found wanting.

  28. Pryotra on 4 February 2013, 19:39 said:

    Basically all are compared to Sue, and all who do not want of her approval (and most who do) are instead found wanting.

    This could easily be called the Law of Sues.

    Like how in a lot of bad fantasy novels, the one character who doesn’t like the main character will always been the traitor/evil adviser/Dark Lord in disguise etc.

  29. Prince O' Tea on 4 February 2013, 20:03 said:

    A Mary Sue of that nature always makes me think of one speech in particular:

    “The Sue is not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the morning and the night! ! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger then the foundations of the earth All shall love her and despair!”

  30. Epke on 4 February 2013, 21:34 said:

    “The Sue is not dark, but beautiful and terrible as the morning and the night! ! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger then the foundations of the earth All shall love her and despair!”

    But then she seemed to diminish and was but a Sue clad in white.

    Basically all are compared to Sue, and all who do not want of her approval (and most who do) are instead found wanting.

    Should have this in large and bold characters at every publishing house. Especially those who cram out YA.

  31. Betty Cross on 5 February 2013, 07:59 said:

    The criticisms of Katniss I’ve read in this thread seem to come from a blogger who goes by the names DragonQuill and Farla. She has made all the same points in almost the same language.

    I agree with some of them, but others seem unfair. Katniss hates the career tributes in volume 1 partly out of class resentment (since Districts 1 and 2 are much more affluent than the others and closely allied with the Capitol), and partly out of the situation (since they’re out to kill her). Both of these motives are ultimately ignoble but understandable given the situation.

    In volume 3, “Mockingjay,” which I must stress is an awful book by any standards, even among many who like the first two, she comes to the realization that despite everything Cato and Clove and Glimmer and Marvel and the nameless boy of District 3 were just tools of the Capitol and its horrible game, as she herself was.

    That takes some of the edge off the “sociopathy” charge, in my view. Katniss is not a sketch, she’s the best-realized character in the trilogy (because she’s the protagonist). She does some jerkassed things, but she does undergo some personal growth in the course of the trilogy — but a lot more degeneration, alas. I wanted Katniss (on the basis of the first book) to be a hero because of the way she sabotaged the 74th Hunger Game, but she wasn’t.

  32. Deborah on 5 February 2013, 08:25 said:

    Hermione has no problem being girly when she wants to. Remember the Yule Ball? And Bill and Fleur’s wedding? I’m not a huge fan of Ginny, but I don’t think it’s wrong that Harry just happens to prefer tomboys. He just wasn’t mature enough to handle Cho and her problems.

    I’m not getting into the Katniss debate except for one thing: If I lived in a place where the poor starved to death while the rich ate anything they wanted, I’d resent the rich too. It’s human nature.

    With all the massive amount of criticism that surrounds most female characters, its a wonder people still want to write them. I’ve also noticed this weird thing where male characters are simply taken as themselves—while female characters are thought to be representative of what the author thinks about all women, everywhere. It’s like male characters are people and female characters are political statements.

  33. Pryotra on 5 February 2013, 08:29 said:

    Also, taking the first book into account, Katniss doesn’t get a really happy ending.

    I’d say that she has some really major weaknesses as a protagonist, but she’s not a Sue in the sense that she is a way for the author to live vicariously through her. She, and most of the characters, can be best described by one reviewer I read: ‘thinly imagined’.

  34. lilyWhite on 5 February 2013, 09:03 said:

    With all the massive amount of criticism that surrounds most female characters, its a wonder people still want to write them.

    Now I can’t wait to see what people say about the near-entirely-female cast of the series I’m writing at the moment if it ever gets published. XD

  35. swenson on 5 February 2013, 09:16 said:

    I’ve also noticed this weird thing where male characters are simply taken as themselves—while female characters are thought to be representative of what the author thinks about all women, everywhere. It’s like male characters are people and female characters are political statements.

    This. This this this this this. A female character who is weak and girly MUST be the author being sexist by saying that all girls are weak and girly. A girl being portrayed as a full-of-herself, vapid clothing-obsessed prep is the author being sexist by saying all girls are airheaded. Girls being portrayed as really gung-ho and tough and able to do everything as good as the boys are the author trying too hard to be PC.

    You know what? Maybe they’re just bad characters. Maybe the author is just a bad author. Or maybe some girls in the real world really are like that, just like there’s cowardly and vapid and tough guys. It is not a bad thing to have female characters who are, quite frankly, awful characters. What is bad is when every female character is an awful character while male characters are either all good characters or are a variety. But having a female character who is a stereotype is not automatically a bad thing, and it isn’t necessarily a result of the Patriarchy’s Influence on the author OR the author being oversensitive/a feminazi/whatever. Jumping on every single female character and her perceived “Sue” issues is ridiculous and needs to stop. Male characters are allowed to just be characters, whether good, bad, or stereotypes. Let female characters be the same.

    And for what it’s worth, the most basic level of Sueness is that she blatantly bends the world around herself. The rules of logic and reality do not apply to Sues. Sues go through horrific troubles but come out with nothing more than a sad story to angst about at convenient moments. Sues have precisely one physical flaw amidst their overpowering beauty, yet refuse to believe it so they can play the innocent while men fawn over them from every side. Sues conveniently develop new powers so they can save the day every. Single. Time. Katniss is not a traditional Sue, or if she is, she’s not a very bad one. Bad things do have lasting effects on her. She doesn’t manage to save the day ever; the best she ever manages is saving her own life. And especially in the third book, she’s not portrayed as a perfect person that everyone adores; she’s got lots of issues and I think we’re supposed to like her less.

    She is a bit of a morality warper, I’ll give you that. What she perceives as reality tends to be truth. But that’s only one aspect of Sueness, and not, in my opinion, the most important one.

  36. Prince O' Tea on 5 February 2013, 09:24 said:

    I hadn’t thought about that, but for the most part that it feels like the exception, rather then the rule. The way Hermione is written is that she is an intelligent girl who is supposed to be “above” typical girly behaviour. I don’t think that’s a problem in itself, but when feminine characters mostly have their femininity written as negative behaviour (Parvati and Lavender’s vapidity and superficiality, Cho’s mind games. Even the most sympathetic girly girl character, Fleur, is mostly characterized by her snobbery and haughtiness.) I just think HP is one example of authors who unintentionally write “girly girls drool, tomboys rule” into their work.

  37. Prince O' Tea on 5 February 2013, 09:31 said:

    I don’t really see Katniss as a sue myself. I think she’s the product of her genre: a dystopia that still depicts horrible acts of violence and cruelty in a fairly gritty fashion, but is still extremely high on the sliding scale of idealism. The ending is almost a fairytale, in that the heroine is able to overthrow the cruel and all powerful Capitol, where the unfortunate truth is… the odds are really not in her favour in the slightest. In a real life Panem, she’d probably be picked up and carted off to room 101, where she’d be screaming “No! Do it to Prim! Tear her face off, I don’t care, do it to her!” Maybe I’m a cynic, I guess. As far as YA protagonists I go, she’s all right. Not a heroine for the ages, but certainly one of the better ones.

  38. Betty Cross on 5 February 2013, 11:39 said:

    In a real life Panem, she’d probably be picked up and carted off to room 101, where she’d be screaming “No! Do it to Prim! Tear her face off, I don’t care, do it to her!”

    Frankly, Panem as a dystopia is downright wimpy compared to the 3rd Reich or the Soviet Union, which were two of the models for Orwell’s Oceania.

    That’s why I like to say Panem is more of a traditional authoritarian regime than a 20th century totalitarian one. A traditional authoritarian state, like 18th century France, will leave you alone if you don’t directly challenge His Majesty. You get by if you keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, do your assigned job, and pay your taxes. This is Panem as Collins describes it.

    Totalitarian regimes are constantly rounding up people and putting them in state-controlled organizations where they can be bombarded with propaganda about how much the government is helping them and assigning projects (in addition to the regular job) that they can do to prove their loyalty. The German word for this is Gleichschaltung. Panem does NOT do this, except for requiring everyone to watch the annual Hunger Games teen-massacre.

  39. Brendan Rizzo on 5 February 2013, 11:57 said:

    That’s why I like to say Panem is more of a traditional authoritarian regime than a 20th century totalitarian one. A traditional authoritarian state, like 18th century France, will leave you alone if you don’t directly challenge His Majesty. You get by if you keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, do your assigned job, and pay your taxes. This is Panem as Collins describes it.

    This can still be dystopian, though. After all, there’s a reason the French revolted.

  40. Prince O' Tea on 5 February 2013, 12:02 said:

    I’m surprised there hasn’t been a revolt for 75 years, considering how much the Capitol goes out of its way to antagonise the industries and people it utterly depends on. I would have thought a few trade embargos from the vital districts (such as the ones that supply food and power) would have the Capitol screeching to a halt in an extremely short state of time.

  41. Tim on 5 February 2013, 12:30 said:

    I agree with some of them, but others seem unfair. Katniss hates the career tributes in volume 1 partly out of class resentment (since Districts 1 and 2 are much more affluent than the others and closely allied with the Capitol)

    Which would not actually happen. She, like a lot of bad YA protagonists, has the attitudes of a middle-class modern teenager; she resents everyone above her for thinking they’re better than her when the system should be hammering into her that they actually are better than her. She even does it with the people from the Capitol with her endless observations about how vapid, shrill and stupid they all are.

    Plus her pointless haet and raeg extends to people like the foxgirl who have done nothing whatsoever to her. But strangely not to Thresh who is big and strong and shit and just as much of a threat to her.

    and partly out of the situation (since they’re out to kill her).

    Everyone’s out to kill her, though. Given Collins is a spectacularly lazy author and kills almost half of the Tributes off-screen as soon as the game starts, it boils to “grr rich kids I hate them I’ll kill them” as about 90% of her internal monolog. Which is why she comes off as a sociopath, there’s no real impression that she doesn’t want to kill these people or finds the whole situation horrifying.

    I wanted Katniss (on the basis of the first book) to be a hero because of the way she sabotaged the 74th Hunger Game, but she wasn’t.

    How does she sabotage them, again? Almost every time she does anything it’s exactly what the Capitol wants, and the only act of sabotage she commits is after the Capitol goes back on its word for absolutely no reason. Really they sabotaged the games themselves more than Katniss did.

    Katniss is not a traditional Sue, or if she is, she’s not a very bad one. Bad things do have lasting effects on her.

    Yeah, but usually bad things happen to her one at a time and each individual bad thing has an effect, resolves, and then a new bad thing happens after the previous one is entirely dealt with.

    That’s why I like to say Panem is more of a traditional authoritarian regime than a 20th century totalitarian one.

    It’s actually more like an occupation force than a legitimate government of any kind, given its power is entirely derived from its ability to do harm to the Districts if they don’t do what it says.

  42. swenson on 5 February 2013, 12:49 said:

    after the Capitol goes back on its word for absolutely no reason

    To be fair, there was a reason: it makes way, way better television to force the lovers everyone has come to support to kill one another. Such tragedy! Such emotion! Such… ratings!

  43. Tim on 5 February 2013, 13:03 said:

    I don’t know about that, wasn’t the whole idea that the angle of them as lovers made for good ratings? I don’t see how killing them after that would do anything but annoy the audience who wanted to see them both walk away from the games, especially after you’ve told them that’s what’s going to be allowed this year.

    Also it’s not like they had any method of enforcing it, or even dealing with both of them just flatly refusing to kill each other. The whole ending comes across as contrived and something the Capitol should have a contingency plan for, because it’s stupid to think it’s the first time two worn-out kids have tried to give them the finger.

  44. Prince O' Tea on 5 February 2013, 13:19 said:

    Agreed, it does seem strange that Katniss is so Speshul that she’s the first person EVERRRR to try and give the Capitol the finger. I mean, we see varied acts of rebellion in the74th game alone with characters like Foxface and Rue.

  45. Betty Cross on 5 February 2013, 14:31 said:

    Agreed, it does seem strange that Katniss is so Speshul that she’s the first person EVERRRR to try and give the Capitol the finger. I mean, we see varied acts of rebellion in the 74th game alone with characters like Foxface and Rue.

    I myself have wondered why many “tributes” down through the years didn’t just commit suicide rather than be drawn into such a hopeless contest.

    I also agree with the many critics who’ve said the Hunger Games would very likely provoke more rebellion rather than put a damper on it. I can see the Games lasting 10-15 years, maybe, but not 3/4 of a century.

    PS – This just occured to me: Despite its faults, the HG trilogy is clearly more interesting than “Model Land” becuase we’re still discussing HG rather than Tyra Banks’ awful fictional effort.

  46. Tim on 5 February 2013, 15:03 said:

    The main thing is that after a government secures its power it usually tries to be seen as benevolent; it establishes the rules, and tells people if they play by the rules then nothing bad will come of it.

    I’m working on this in what I’m writing now; nine former kingdoms have been united under one ruler. Initially this was done by crushing resistance with giant floating rocket batteries that can destroy entire towns, and would do if they harboured rebels. But the whole time the new government is telling people it doesn’t want to do this and only does it to ensure the security and prosperity of the new nation.

    The idea is to create as large a gulf as possible between people’s experiences if they do what you say and their experiences if they don’t. Most people will prefer the path of least resistance, so they’ll start seeing the rebels as undesirable. It’s easier to drive them out of town or inform the authorities of them (whereupon they arrest the rebels and celebrate the bravery of those who informed on them) than it is to deal with near-invincible warships. Meanwhile the government sets about destroying things nobody likes, such as pirate enclaves than the scattered kingdoms never had the resources to take on by themselves.

    Eventually the battery ships are seen as enforcing law and order and the rebels as selfish malcontents who don’t care about the suffering they cause to the people around them. Propaganda focuses on the abuses of the old regimes to the point people are honestly happy they’re gone and don’t really want them back.

    Of course this state isn’t stupidly evil or set up to collapse because of the actions of one person (or collapse at all), but it’s how such a nation would function if it wanted to continue existing.

    The games don’t work because they punish people regardless of whether they follow the rules or not, and there’s not much worse you can do to people than forcing them to watch you murdering their children. It would work better if the Tributes were all volunteers, since then there would be an element of victim-blaming (“it’s their own stupid fault for putting their name down”) but as it is everyone’s at equal risk.

    As well as that, the Capitol’s enforced specialisation means it needs the Districts more or less intact; you can hardly threaten to destroy your entire farming or manufacturing base and expect them to take you seriously. Like I said elsewhere, it’s like the brain trying to secure its position by threatening to removed the other body parts; sucks if you’re a tonsil or appendix, not exactly a threat to the heart or lungs.

  47. Betty Cross on 5 February 2013, 18:29 said:

    The main thing is that after a government secures its power it usually tries to be seen as benevolent; it establishes the rules, and tells people if they play by the rules then nothing bad will come of it.

    Tim’s right here.

    Collins tells us practically nothing about the founding of Panem. I suspect there was a period when the Capitol regime was more of a help than a harm, after which there was a period of corruption and oppression, which sparked the first rebellion. Collins tells us nothing about what happened before the “Dark Days” of the first and unsuccessful rebellion.

    Apropos of this, I suspect the name of the country is not an abbreviation of panem et circenses. That’s sort of like calling your country the Empire of Evil. Perhaps there was a period of mass starvation following the globial apocalypse, and a new state was founded on the principle that no one would starve, that there would be panem, “bread”, for all.

  48. Betty Cross on 5 February 2013, 18:37 said:

    With all the massive amount of criticism that surrounds most female characters, its a wonder people still want to write them. I’ve also noticed this weird thing where male characters are simply taken as themselves—while female characters are thought to be representative of what the author thinks about all women, everywhere. It’s like male characters are people and female characters are political statements.

    Sounds to me like a symptom of patriarchy. Men can be individual human beings, but women are “types.”

  49. Tim on 5 February 2013, 19:39 said:

    Collins tells us practically nothing about the founding of Panem.

    Yeah, it’s really the opposite of what you’d actually do, which is tell them all about how establishing Panem was necessary and the right thing to do while glossing over that one of the Districts rebelled to the extent it was a legitimate threat to the Capitol’s power. If anything they’d tell people 13’s evil ways were what they needed Panem to save them from.

  50. ScarletSpecter on 6 February 2013, 15:17 said:

    One more mention about Katniss. Since it is from Katniss’ POV, this explains why the the narration feels so biased. So, theoretically, it’s not the “author’s” opinion as much as it’s the character’s…Then again, you could use the same excuse for Twilight and Bella’s narration, but that doesn’t stop it from being awful.

    I guess my problem with Katniss is that her views are rarely challenged. Chalk it up to lazy writing and bland characterization, but it just seems she’s allowed to judge every character (most of which are female) and the portrayals themselves rarely display any depth or nuance to diminish her prejudice. The narrative beyond Katniss’ thoughts never seems to make an effort to illustrate anything to the contrary. This gives me the feeling that Collins/Bank’s may actually agree with Katniss/Tookie. But, its abitrary.

    The problem is not so much that there are some female characters who are awful/pathetic people, granted it’s realistic. The problem is when just about every female (and gay/effeminate male) character is treated with concious derision compared to their male counterparts. Just as if every minority character is treated like a thug/joke/subhuman while every white character was a normal individual. Unintentional or not, the mentality in all its unsavory innuendo is still there.

  51. Tim on 6 February 2013, 15:29 said:

    One more mention about Katniss. Since it is from Katniss’ POV, this explains why the the narration feels so biased

    Yeah, but it’s a weak excuse since there’s more or less a 100% overlap between Katniss’ opinion and objective fact. When the world is constructed to make everything a character believes true, that’s the author’s problem, not the character’s. You can hardly call that arbitrary: it’s not wrong to conclude the author must agree with something if they show no indication of any other perspective even entering their mind.

  52. Prince O' Tea on 6 February 2013, 18:15 said:

    To be honest, I’d have the same opinion of Katniss, Bella and Ana if they were males. Harry is still one of my least favourite main characters ever. I just want good characters.