OK. I love the The Hunger Games Trilogy. I read it straight through — all three books in probably as many days. I loved the characters, the plot, the clean and clear writing that basically stayed out of its own way. (You can read my micro book review of this series by clicking the Books to Read tab about five inches above this sentence.)
The one thing that really struck me about these books (other than, of course, the post-apocalyptic version of what was once the United States, the idea of teenage tributes fighting to the death, the descriptions of said teenagers dying by spear, poison, venomous bees, etc.) was the way the people from the Capitol looked and dressed.
Here’s a nice contrast: Effie Trinket, from the Capitol, and Katniss Everdeen, a tribute from District 12 (formerly Appalachia):
Effie looks a might done-up, no?
Most people from the Capitol are. They dye their hair outrageous colors, dye their skin in shades far beyond our tanorexic orange, tattoo themselves in metallic tones, and alter their features through plastic surgery to look more like cats than humans — they pretty much do what we do, just intensified by about 15%.
I haven’t seen the movie yet (it’s a bit harder to schedule outings with one-year-old twins) but the thing I’m most interested in seeing is how the other Capitol characters — Octavia, Flavius, etc. — are presented. Would anyone see the similarities between their flamboyant appearance and our own?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for a little make-up, a little hair product, a little keeping up with the status quo. But some of the things we do — many that I do too — seem a little, well, weird. Painting our nails red or pink or coral or black (the black being no more weird than pink, when you think about it). Spraying our skins with chemicals to make them appear darker — or lighter. Stripe-ing our brown hair with blonde streaks, or using chemicals to make it unnaturally curly or straight. Using lasers or injections or flat-out surgery to make us look younger, sexier — better. If the U.S. goes the way of ancient Rome, and a country like Panem rises in its place, and we’re too busy trying to feed ourselves than worry about shaving our legs, I think all our current practices will seem very weird indeed.
But not now, not yet.
This Sunday I read an article in The New York Times Style section, Forget the Plot. What Nail Polish Is She Wearing?, which reports that some enterprising nail polish company has introduced a line of colors tied to The Hunger Games. Here’s the most essential bit:
Lionsgate, the studio behind the film, worked with the nail-polish company China Glaze to introduce the Capitol Colours line. Because the film’s characters are too busy murdering each other to get manicures, the nail polishes are sold as products worn by the extras. A bottle is $7, and colors include a sparkling moss green called Agro.
“Having a nail polish for the rabid young girl fan base to relate to our movie on a personal level feels smart,” said Tim Palen, the studio’s chief marketing officer …
Smart? In what way? (At least the writer of the article has the sense to point out that the main characters don’t have time to get their nails done because they’re too busy trying not to get killed!)
If you click on the Capitol Colours link you will see a woman who looks a lot like Effie Trinket.
If you Google around, you will discover that some of the colors are paired with some of the districts — the districts that are forced to send their children to the Hunger Games. Nice, huh?
I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting too riled up about a piece of fiction that inspired a movie that teamed up with a nail polish company to make paint.
But if my twins were older — and into nail polish — I know I’d be having a conversation with them about beauty and artifice, power and abuse, surface and meaning, consumerism and hypocrisy.