Smugglers Stash

Smugglers’ Stash & News

Hi everyone, and happy Sunday! We hope everyone is staying cool in this crazy stupid heat!

Hunger Games Pretties:

Yeah, we know you’ve probably seen all the awesome new shiny poster (HERE), but have you taken the time to scour the official movie Facebook page? All of the tributes are up, side by side, and it’s pretty cool! Check it out.

Comic Con SD:

So, this year we aren’t at CCSD (BOO!). But that doesn’t mean we aren’t keeping abreast of all the news coming out of San Diego. Take, for example, this awesome promo shot of Hawkeye.

HOLY CRAP. Cannot wait.

Of course, the level of excitement for Hawkeye is easily dwarfed by our level of excitement for The Walking Dead season 2! Even if the series has almost completely broken with the comics, who cares?! It looks fantastic.

This Week on The Book Smugglers:

On Monday, Ana reviews YA paranormal novel The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab.

Tuesday, Thea does her review of another YA urban fantasy-style novel with Wildefire by Karsten Knight.

On Wednesday, Thea’s back with a review of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day by Ben Loory, a collection of very strange, yet satisfying short stories. Later in the day, she’s back with a review of Eat Slay Love by Jesse Petersen (come on, you knew she’d have to finish the series!).

Thursday, Thea takes over again with a review of one of her most highly anticipated novels of the year, Working Stiff, the first in a brand new UF series from Book Smuggler favorite author Rachel Caine – plus, we’ll have a giveaway.

On Friday, we close the week out with a joint review of Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore.

It’s another busy one! Until Monday, we remain…

~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers

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  • Jordan
    July 24, 2011 at 3:24 am

    Admittedly, I find it kind of surprising you guys haven’t mentioned how, uh, totally whiteKatniss’ actor is, considering she’s meant to have darker skin in the books. I mean, they gave her a fake tan and dyed her hair, and that’s totally cool? Not to mention both the actor’s and the author’s totally dippy, ignorant comments about it either…

    Come on guys, I thought we had a case to make about whitewashing. There’s no use in protesting it on book covers if you support it in films. I’ll apologise in advance if you have raised it, because I really do love your blog and you ladies are pretty cool, but I feel strongly about this and the fact that is such a NON-issue with so many people bothers the crap out of me. It’s like everybody’s so wrapped up in how amazing the series supposedly is that they’re letting it get away with things they wouldn’t tolerate from others.

  • Katy
    July 24, 2011 at 6:04 am

    The Hunger Games casting crew nailed Rue spot on with Amandla Stenberg!

  • Thea
    July 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Jordan – There are a few things we find troublesome with the Hunger Games casting (especially of principal characters), but not in the way you are thinking. We’ve talked about this on twitter, in person, with friends online and in real life. Jennifer Lawrence is not the Katniss I had pictured in my mind, and she certainly doesn’t seem to match any description of the character (I’m more irritated that she’s so…emm…buxom, and looks nothing like a wiry girl that has to scrap and hunt in order to feed her family). However. Is the fact that the actress is naturally blonde and blue-eyed true whitewashing? Katniss is olive skinned with grey eyes – but we don’t know her ethnic background. She’s from the Appalachians, which really doesn’t say anything about race either (as this is a pretty white area). There are many caucasian people with olive skin – plus, if you’ll recall from the books, Katniss’s mother and sister are both light-haired and light-eyed.

    I don’t think this is a case of whitewashing so much as it is a case of ‘let’s get a big name to help sell our movie.’

    I think it’s a huge wasted opportunity and shows how Hollywood embraces a lack of ethnic diversity in its casting practices – it would have been awesome if Katniss had been cast with an actress that is a person of color – but I don’t think you can really say that this is a full-on, blatant case of whitewashing. That’s just my personal opinion, based on my own reading of the books. Furthermore, in this interview with the director of the film, this was said:

    In the books, Katniss is described as being olive-skinned, dark-haired, possibly biracial. Did you discuss with Suzanne the implications of casting a blonde, caucasian girl?

    Suzanne and I talked about that as well. There are certain things that are very clear in the book. Rue is African-American. Thresh is African-American. Suzanne had no issues with Jen playing the role. And she thought there was a tremendous amount of flexibility. It wasn’t doctrine to her. Jen will have dark hair in the role, but that’s something movies can easily achieve. [Laughs] I promise all the avid fans of The Hunger Games that we can easily deal with Jennifer’s hair color.

    (From Oh No They Didn’t).

    Had they cast Rue as a white girl, now THAT would have been a different story. But, as you can see from the casting link above, both Rue and Thresh are represented by African American actors. And that’s cool.

    And on one last note – we Smugglers are firmly against whitewashing. But we also pride ourselves on making sure we vet each and every case we come across, and we are not quick to jump the gun and say that something is whitewashing when we don’t personally believe that it is (take our post on Holly Black’s White Cat, for example). We appreciate your enthusiasm to end this reprehensible practice, and we want you to know we take whitewashing very seriously. We certainly aren’t “ignoring” anything because of a supposedly amazing series.

  • Thea
    July 24, 2011 at 9:51 am

    Katy – COMPLETELY agree. Rue is adorable, and looks perfect for the role. *sniffles*

  • Ceilidh
    July 24, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Looking forward to your Wildefire review. It’s been so divisive amongst my friends – some giving it 1 star, some giving it 5. I was in the middle myself but was very aware of its problems so I’m eager to hear what you think of it.

  • Amelia
    July 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I’m okay with Katniss not looking exactly like the books, my big issue with her and Peeta’s actors is that they just look really ‘meh’. Loking at them, I don’t see any of the characters fire or determination. To me, the District 2 tributes look much more like the Katniss and Peeta than than the acutality (I acutally thought that was them until I saw that they were 2 not 12).

  • Jordan
    July 24, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Thank you for your response — I really do appreciate it. And I’m glad to know you’ve spoken about it, though perhaps not for the reasons I have (I agree she’s too old as well!). Rue’s a cutie too, btw, and I’m thrilled about Thresh too, but throwing a couple of black people in and saying that deals with the race problem doesn’t fly with me.

    But I’m not convinced. To cast a white girl in the role of a girl clearly described as “olive-skinned” then tan her and dye her hair is *not* okay. To say that we don’t know her ethnicity and that’s a good enough excuse is crap, along with the ‘let’s get a big name to help sell our movie’ excuse (though I know you guys probably don’t like that one as much as me — I’m not suggesting you support it at all). That’s the kind of reasoning that allows Ged in the SciFi channel movie to be played by a white guy (he’s ambiguously brown in the books, right? That makes it okay to turn him white becase Le Guin never says he’s more or less Native American in the text). While I’m at it, Avatar: The Last Airbender gets the same treatment from cartoon to film and is probably a better example. We can all see that Katara and Sokka are brown-skinned, dark-haired, blue-eyed and live in Arctic conditions like Inuits/Eskimo, but because it isn’t made *very clear* to us that they’re not white then it’s okay for the film to cast them as white people. I think it’s better said than me a few times on the Racebending site that when a character’s ethnicity is ambiguous in the source material, the call always goes out for a very white actor to play them and nobody else.

    To go back to the original point, whatever Katniss’ ethnicity is, it isn’t Northern European, as made very clear in the book’s description of her. For Collins — who I have just about no respect for at this point in time — to say that she’s okay with a brown-skinned character made white and that we should all be okay with it because Lawrence can dye her hair is appalling, insensitive, and frankly insulting to my (and others) intelligence.

    On the subject of Katniss’ “mixed” family, I can certainly relate. My father is of Macedonian descent with very dark reddish-brown skin. His mother is Macedonian, and his father is a very white Englishman. *My* mother is lily-white skinned. My brother and I take after her, me being green-eyed and brown-haired, him being blue-eyed and blond. My father identifies with being Caucasian, with the connotation of being “white”, because his facial features resemble that of a Caucasian (that and he is one, of course). It’s just that he’s dark-skinned. He also has green eyes (which suits the whole Katniss is darker skinned with light eyes concept). My understanding of Katniss and her father is that they are in a very similar situation to mine, except that while she turned out “olive” I turned out white. But my uncle and my dad match Katniss and Prim better, because my dad’s dark and my uncle is quite a lot paler, like his father.

    What I’m trying to say is that I understand the confusion in identifying as “white” but having non-white skin. My father and I considers ourselves as being in the same “group” (for lack of a better term) though I’m much paler than him. So I get the whole “brush it under the rug” kind of mentality. But the fact is, if my father was cast in a film and played by a white-skinned man I’d be offended. He’s brown, that’s who he is, and that’s how he’s seen by others. I fear that for kids who are brown-skinned and don’t indentify with being white as he did/does, they’re getting ignored again because they’re just not white enough to sell a movie, and I don’t see that as being any different to erasing them from a book cover in favour of a pale-skinned person. To be told that your skin colour doesn’t matter is crap, because we all well know that a darker skinned person has a harder time in regards to discrimination than white people. To have a skin colour washed out in a film is crap again and I won’t accept it.

    I apologise for the long post (and for any typos…) and if it’s disrespectful because I really don’t mean to be, it’s just that I’m fairly disappointed in the reaction to the issue here when I expected something else. I’ll also apologise to anyone who *is* brown-skinned (unlike me) who thinks I’m being presumptious. I only have my situation with my father and various friends to base my opinion on, plus people on the net who share my sentiments.

  • Jordan
    July 25, 2011 at 3:26 am

    I should also mention that I also don’t mean to cause any offense by the term “brown-skinned”. It’s just that when you’re talking about ambiguity that’s about the only term that fits well, and “tanned” doesn’t really cut the mustard…

  • Thea
    July 25, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Jordan – As a “brown skinned” person (that is really more of a yellow-brown, or even olive), I don’t take offense to your use of the term. As someone that is a person of color, I appreciate your concern. I understand how it feels to grow up with white people taking the place of “brown” people in books and film. As a mixed-race kid that grew up in three different countries, believe me when I say, I get it.

    I understand what you’re saying, but I think you’re making a key fallacy here, confusing race with appearance. This is a whole different scenario than Avatar (which we have blogged about). The Last Airbender world is one that is very clearly Asian. The characters, the cultural touches, the very setting of the world is very obviously east Asian. Casting white characters to portray Aang, Sokka and Katara is undeniable whitewashing. YES. I agree with your outrage.

    In the case of the Hunger Games, the movie folks are taking a character that is described as olive-skinned and using a fair-skinned actress. This makes the actress choice unfaithful to Katniss’s described appearance, but I do not think it constitutes whitewashing because the descriptor “olive-skinned” says absolutely nothing about race.

    If you want anecdotal evidence, you can look at the case of Book Smuggler Ana. Ana is 100% white. She is blonde and blue eyed. Her sister, however, is very dark skinned (even darker than olive, if we’re being sticklers), dark haired, and dark eyed. This doesn’t change the fact that she is still 100% white. Had they made a movie about Ana’s sister and used a fair skinned actress with light hair and light eyes, this would be unfaithful to her appearance – but it is not whitewashing.

    Given that we KNOW Katniss’s mother and sister are white-skinned, with blonde/light hair and light eyes, given that Suzanne Collins made it very clear that two secondary characters in her world were not just “dark” but actually black, I don’t know how much weight can be attributed to one phrase (that olive-skinned descriptor), especially when it is so nebulous and inconclusive as to the actual ethnic makeup of the character.

    If you don’t agree, that’s totally fine. That’s your opinion. It’s just not mine.

    I will say again, though, I feel like the casting and Hollywood folks dropped the ball. Because Katniss’s description is so open to interpretation, they easily could have (should have!) used an actress of color. How awesome would it have been to have had an Indian actress play Katniss? A Latina? A southeast Asian? It’s a huge missed opportunity, and that pisses me off.

    I don’t like the casting of the principal characters for the film. I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence is a good choice for Katniss. But I don’t think it’s a whitewashing issue.

  • Ariel
    July 26, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    Had they cast Rue as a white girl, now THAT would have been a different story. But, as you can see from the casting link above, both Rue and Thresh are represented by African American actors. And that’s cool.

    Wait, what?

    Honestly, at first I thought you were being sarcastic when I read that first sentence. It’s mind numblingly strange to see someone stick up for casting directors overt racism, priding them on being such lovely, fair folks. I’m half welsh, half native american, and small. Seeing Katniss being portrayed as a unrealistically pretty tall white girl sucks, and didn’t fit any sort of idea of what the character looked like in the novel. What they seem to be saying for Thresher and Rue, albeit unintentionally, is “We’ll follow skin color/racial descriptions in our source material when it comes to minor characters, but toss off if you think we’ll risk putting someone who might be or be mistaken for hispanic/black/native/asian as our main character in a blockbuster movie just to make it more authentic to that same source material we were talking about before.” and frankly, that’s insulting. I can’t even begin to explain how sad I was when I heard someone I could finally relate to was going to be played by someone so unlike myself and many of the girls I’ve met and lived with in hard, scary, and downright brutuel situations like Katniss had. Instead, they’d be just like every single other skinny, big boobed, very white, naturally beautiful girl in hollywood. And people STILL defend this behavior and treatment of race in Hollywood.

    I’m sorry if this is rude, but seeing this kind of behavior, for all kinds of movies, not just the hunger games adaptation, defended all over the internet is starting to really get to me. I really love your website and I’m not trying to be a jerk. I just wanted to say why everyone may not agree with you or is happy about how flippantly you throw out the idea the cast has been white washed

  • Thea
    July 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Hi Ariel, thanks for the comment. I think you’ve misread my comments above, though.

    It’s mind numblingly strange to see someone stick up for casting directors overt racism, priding them on being such lovely, fair folks.

    I did absolutely nothing of the sort! In fact, if you go the comment right above yours, or my comment above that, you’ll see that I’ve said repeatedly that I think the casting folks dropped the ball. The fact that they cast Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss pisses me off to no end.

    The point of contention is whether or not the casting choice is representative of whitewashing. I don’t think it is.

    I truly am not trying to be flippant, and I’m sorry if you’ve interpreted my comments that way. Both Ana and I take whitewashing VERY seriously. We take it so seriously that we make sure that we vet every case of it that we are presented with. I simply do not think this casting is a case of whitewashing. Your opinion is your own, and of course you are entitled to it! I simply do not share it.

  • Sylvia Sybil
    July 27, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Whether or not the author originally intended the character to be a POC, a whole lot of people read her that way. And it is the way the author, director and actress have responded to these readers (“We’ll just dye her hair! We gave you some POC in Black Dude Dies First roles, why aren’t you impressed?”) that have convinced me this movie is going to suck on the race front. If they can’t address race directly in interviews, why would they on set?

    The original casting call precluded the possibility of an actress of color as Katniss. You can’t honestly claim you’ve got the best actress when you wouldn’t let all actresses audition. And the hair dye and bronzer make it obvious it wasn’t appearance they were grading on. Plenty of POC have that coloring naturally. Their flippant responses and lack of concern only compound this, in my opinion.

    Count me in with those who are bothered by the lack of coverage this racial bias is receiving around the blogosphere. I’m seeing lots of mentions of how awesome the movie will be and how pretty the posters are with few acknowledgments of the insensitive (to say the least) way race has been handled by the author and director. Even if Collins had always meant Katniss to be White, that’s no excuse for the brush-off these concerns have received.

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