Jeffrey Wright Cast As Beetee In Catching Fire, Cue The Racist Tweets

Jeffrey Wright cast as Beetee Volts The Hunger Games Catching Fire racist tweets black Lenny Kravitz CinnaToday 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:

Jeffrey Wright Beetee Catching Fire black racist tweets

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:

Jeffrey Wright Beetee Catching Fire black racist tweets

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

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    • Maggie

      Although he’s not what I expected, I can totally see Jeffrey Wright as Beetee. He may have been “suave” in other performances, but Beetee is a totally different character. I’m excited to see how he plays it! And every other character, really.

      Also, to people bothered about him being black: Panem is North America in the future. There are black people in current North America (duh) so why wouldn’t there be in the future? You’d think people would have learned after Amandla Stenberg did such a perfect job playing Rue (even though, as you said, Rue is black in the book) that people would be more open minded.

      • Anonymous

        You’re absolutely right. I didn’t expect it either, but the casting was fabulous for the first film. Collins doesn’t particularly describe the appearance of Beetee in the books, so every reader has his/her own mental images, including those doing the casting. Lenny Kravitz did an excellent job portraying Cinna, as did the rest of the cast with their characters, and there’s no doubt that the acting will be just as splendid in Catching Fire. It really shouldn’t be a shock that Wright was cast, since there’s no way to say it’s inaccurate. And, like you said, just because he has played “suave” characters in the past, it is called acting for a reason.

      • Looks

        I agree with you both, Collins did leave the reader to use their imagination when it comes to appearance. In Catching Fire, Beetee, as well as Wiress, are described as having “ashen skin” and “black hair”. It’s interesting how a lot of people took ashen to mean pale and white. Ashen skin has nothing to do with the pigment of your skin. All skin tones can experience “ashiness.”, but it can be more noticeable on darker skin tones.
        multiculturalbeauty.about[DOTCOM]/od/Skincare/a/Kick-Ash-No-­More-Ashy-Skin.htm

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    • 888

      Mainly, I’m annoyed with how inaccurate books to movies are made. This includes the casting, though I normally am more disappointed if Hollywood majorly screws up the plot, like they did in the Twilight movies.
      I’m also annoyed that people think that by casting “minorities” as characters will somehow make it even, because isn’t it technically racist of them to cast someone as a character just because they are black? Wouldn’t acknowledging the color people are whatsoever technically be racist? Because the definition of “racist” from dictionary.com states that racist means, “2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination. 3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races. ” Wouldn’t this technically make you racist against white people since you are intolerant of them taking all of the roles in a movie?
      Anyways, why haven’t people picked up that Collins might also be racist? Because in the book, she has the majority of people that work in the agriculture district as being black, or at least that is what we assume since both tributes from district 11 were black. Obviously, any people in the districts are slaves, but by using blacks as the people of the farming is hinting she thinks farming is what blacks were meant to do. Seems like a stretch, but isn’t that exactly what you are doing by saying that just because someone black is cast, that people automatically don’t like it? Please stop being an idiot. I agree that some people are racist, but just because they don’t like a character for a role because they don’t match the description given in the book doesn’t make them racist.

      • Dani

        The point is there was no description of him in the book as being white so people are getting upset over literally nothing! Reading comprehension! Use it!

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    • Truth

      Martin Luther King: The Movie….Paul Giamatti has my vote. Now lets see how many blacks don’t like that. Double standards.

      • Dani

        Um Martin Luther King was a real person with a fixed appearance. This is a FICTIONAL character whose race was never specified and left to interpretation. There are no double standards because the author never says beetee is white. That’s your own personal bias.