'Hunger Games' and Hollywood's racial casting issue

Lenny Kravitz plays Katniss' stylist Cinna in "The Hunger Games." In the novel, Cinna is described as having short brown hair.

Story highlights

  • Some "Hunger Games" fans are displeased that Cinna, Thresh and Rue are played by black actors
  • Both Thresh and Rue are described as having "dark skin" in Suzanne Collins' novel
  • Casting director: Usually, fans are angry when a film adaptation strays from the novel
In "The Hunger Games," wealthy Capitol citizens of all races and ethnicities come together to watch the 74th annual bloodbath of the same name. It seems some present-day moviegoers, however, are a bit less "post-racial."
Earlier this week, some "Hunger Games" fans tweeted their discontent because the characters of Cinna, Thresh and Rue are played by black actors in the big screen adaptation. This, despite the fact that both Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) and Rue (Amandla Stenberg) are described as having "dark skin" in Suzanne Collins' novel, while Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) is simply described as having short brown hair.
Whether fans' remarks -- such as, "Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little innocent blonde girl you picture" -- stem from poor reading comprehension or intolerance, they're indicative of a larger issue in Hollywood, said Harry M. Benshoff, an associate professor of radio, TV and film at the University of North Texas who co-wrote "America on Film: Representing Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality at the Movies."
"Hollywood has never been on the forefront of the civil rights movement," said Benshoff, who hasn't read or watched "The Hunger Games."
Despite certain character descriptions being spelled out in the book, Benshoff said, people typically project themselves onto a character in order to empathi