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A teenage girl is carefully treading through the woods. She is tall with long dark hair, confidently carrying her bow and arrow. Her aura is strong, yet flawed and tortured. She exhibits the traits of a warrior, although a reluctant one. We learn the only reason she has become so efficient with her weapon is so she can be a better hunter in order to feed her starving family. By her side is a handsome male companion, who frequently accompanies her in the woods. It is not clear if there is a romantic attraction, but we can deduce that it is not the only focus of their relationship.
Panem, the desolate wasteland where the girl and boy reside, holds a yearly televised competition where teenagers are picked at random to take part in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a competition that results in teenagers fighting each other to the death until there is only one left. The greatest love that our heroine displays is when she volunteers to take her sister’s place when she is selected to represent her district in the games. For The Hunger Games to become of the most successful young adult book and movie franchises of all time, the concept seems a tad bleak. But the greatest gift we could have received from this somber tale is the gift that is the main character, Katniss Everdeen.
Katniss Everdeen is a tormented leader, only placing herself in harm’s way to protect her sister, Prim. Her load is already heavy with the pressure of keeping her family from starving and becoming a mother figure to Prim after her mother succumbs to grief. Now she has to focus on keeping herself alive. Katniss is self-contained, brooding, and hates attention. She falls in love with her teammate Peeta, but it does not weaken her decision making skills. She uses it to her advantage in order to gain more sponsors so she can defeat her enemies. Katniss is someone who we can legitimately call a role model.
Katniss never strives to be a role model, she just is. Unlike say a Bella Swan or Anastasia Steele, she’s not this young lost soul trying to find her place is in the world. She doesn’t meet a mysterious love interest that turns her world upside down. And the romance that she does have is only one aspect her journey, her main focus is to lead the rebellion against the Capitol leaders who have been persecuting the districts for years.
Because of everything mentioned above, the Hunger Games film franchise should have failed. The story was not fantasy. As cruel as the actual hunger games are, it’s a reality show meant to entertain. A reality show that everyone watches no matter how horrible the circumstances become. Katniss’ fake romance with Peeta increases her likability among audiences. Her reaction to her friend Rue’s death becomes the catalyst for Panem’s rebellion against the capitol. It’s social commentary. Eerily accurate social commentary.
So why does the world exactly need Katniss Everdeen? Maybe she reminds us that no matter how far we’ve come as women or people, we still have some fighting left to do. She reminds us that some of us don’t want attention from being photographed, maybe we would use the attention we receive to help others. We have skills and we work hard. We’re survivors. You know, just a thought.