Today in Catching Fire news, Jennifer Lawrence is back to being a brunette, and Lionsgate has cast its Beetee: Stage and screen actor Jeffrey Wright! Beetee is the male Tribute 3 victor alongside Wiress (Amanda Plummer); because of his expertise with electronics, he gets the nickname “Volts.” However, he’s considered something of a weirdo by the other tributes, except for Katniss, and no one realizes his true skills til later in the Games.
And now, according to the movie canon, he’s black. And not everyone is happy about this. It’s really unfortunate that race keeps rearing its head with Hunger Games casting, but a lot of fans have taken exception with Lionsgate’s colorblind casting. Every time an actor of color gets cast, there’s someone to oppose it, saying that they “didn’t envision the character that way.” We saw this backlash when Lenny Kravitz was cast as Cinna last year, and even with Amandla Stenberg as Rue (who, for the record, is black in the books).
Readers automatically assume that most of Suzanne Collins‘ characters are white because that’s what we do. If anything, she’s hinted more than once that in this future Panem’s citizens are mixed-race, but that doesn’t stop readers from jumping to Caucasian. Sure, some of it might be because Tony Shalhoub was the only actor really floated for Beetee. But if you go to Twitter, you see users posting “huh?” statuses. Nothing horribly offensive, but enough to frustrate you. Like this:
Or this gem from Tumblr:
i know i can’t be the only person who thought Beetee was black when they read Catching Fire so why the fuck did they cast a white guy god damnit ahhhhhhhh
At least this second response is taking exception with Wright’s persona, and not his skin color:
In most cases, being white doesn’t have any bearing on the Hunger Games characters’ station in life or personal beliefs, so it shouldn’t matter if Lionsgate decides to experiment with casting and bring in more diversity. It’s all about the quality of an actor. To be honest, we fans had our fears about Kravitz not because of his skin color — though, yes, it was jarring to change our mental image of Cinna — but because of his age and relative inexperience. And then he blew us away!
So seriously, guys, be more open-minded and realize that we got ourselves a truly skilled actor to beef up the supporting cast. And when I say “skilled,” I’m talking about his work in Angels in America, not Casino Royale. Get it straight. (Though if we could hear Beetee grunt, “I’m bleedin’ chips!”, it would be kinda funny.)
Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN.com