The marketing for the Catching Fire movie, sequel to The Hunger Games, has been mostly great so far. (Well, despite that Finnick mis-step). This week, they’ve been releasing individual cast member photos in Capitol Couture style. The first was Effie Trinket and premiered on the Capitol Couture tumblr, which is designed to front as if it is a fashion blog existing in the universe of the Hunger Games series. (Even its url, .pn, is a nod to it’s location in the fictional country of Panem.)
These portraits started off really strong. They featured characters like Ceasar Flickerman, Cinna, and our first official glimpses at Johanna Mason and Beetee.
We got a new picture of Katniss, which I thought was fantastic, styled in an extravagant white gown that I assumed was one of the 5 wedding gowns she’s made to model for the Capitol audience’s voting pleasure so they can select which one she should get married in. I mean she would obviously never style herself this way.
Peeta matches Katniss in an all-white outfit, and is seated in a chair the same style as the one she’s standing beside so that they can be easily photoshoped together. His boots even look to me like they could be hiding a prosthetic leg, if you want to pretend the first movie didn’t drastically alter the extent of his Arena injuries. Maybe Katniss is standing because she’s the one who takes the most active stance against the Capitol, but maybe Peeta’s sitting because he’s the one who got stabbed in the leg?
But then, everything in this wonderful, creative campaign was tainted when they threw in a picture of Gale.
Gale’s inclusion in this series makes no sense on a number of levels. Firstly and most obviously because Gale never goes to the Capitol. How would he have the opportunity to be styled and sit for this picture, and why would the Capitol be interested in profiling him anyway? Gale is known to the Panem television audience only as “Katniss’ cousin,” hardly on the same level as Game fixtures like the mentors, stylists, tributes, or announcer like all the other featured characters in this series are. Gale would definitely not be featured before Prim, at least. (Maybe there’s a Prim picture yet to surface?) I mean, yes, I know that in reality the actor Liam Hemsworth would pose for whatever promotional pictures his contract stipulated, and that the movie’s marketers want to emphasize him because he is an important figure in Katniss’ life (and because they’re trying to encourage a Team Peeta vs. Team Gale Twilight-esque atmosphere), but they’re the one who set this whole portrait series up as if it were coming from the shallow drama-obsessed Gamemakers of the Capitol!
Now they’re just completely undermining themselves, because this inclusion of Gale–holding a single white rose, which appeared to mark Tributes at the 75th Annual Hunger Games, until his out-of-place picture showed up, and no it doesn’t make sense to say “well then the white rose symbolizes those who rebel against President Snow”, because if that were true then Haymitch and Cinna should each have one as well–only forces me to be reminded that this whole thing is for a movie and despite the promise of creativity is actually being handled the same annoying way Hollywood handles everything. Reduce complex characters and interpersonal relationships to BOY LOVES GIRL, MAYBE! Assume that the audience is too stupid to pick up on nuance or notice blatant inconsistencies. Never let a main character wear protective headgear for an entire battle sequence, etc.
I mean would it have killed them to feature Gale some other way, in some other campaign, or in a solo image styled and released separately? I’m not the only one that noticed this discrepancy, by the way; many of the comments on Gale’s portrait at fansite Mockingjay.net point out the same thing. What do you think?
I don’t think I would be so frustrated if they hadn’t been on such a spectacular streak with the let’s-pretend-the-Capitol-is-a-real-place campaign, until this point. Maybe they’ll have it mastered in time for the next film, though.