Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Hunger Games and looking for attention

The world will definitely be watching.

There are two things you should know about me that most people don't realize. One, I absolutely love being the center of attention. Two, I'm completely and unhealthily obsessed with The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games's protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, is a lot like me, but has little desire to be noticed. It isn't until she volunteers for the Games in her sister's place that she's thrust into the spotlight. Her mentor, Haymitch, tells her she needs to get people to like her if she wants sponsors, which could mean the difference between life and death. Her stylist, Cinna, puts her in an outfit made of synthetic flames, giving her the nickname "Girl on Fire" that sticks with her throughout the series. And Peeta, her district partner and initial rival, shocks everyone the night before the Games by announcing that he has a crush on her.
But before the Games begin, before Katniss can get the sponsors she'll need so badly, she has to be scored. By the time is is her turn to impress the Gamemakers, they've already evaluated over a dozen other tributes. They're tired and hungry. Even when Katniss shoots an arrow right in the heart of her target, they're not paying her the slightest bit of attention -- until she gets frustrated and shoots at the pig they're eating from. The apple in the pig's mouth hits the wall, stunning the Gamemakers and earning Katniss one of the highest scores.

I went to high school in a small town. My school had about a thousand students, and everybody pretty much knew everybody. I was the smart, nerdy girl who did musicals, got good grades, and read Robert Jordan novels during my free time. I wasn't the pretty girl, the athletic girl, or Homecoming Queen. But I liked being the smart girl, because a less than glamorous identity was better than no identity at all.

And nerds are kind of "in" right now anyway, right? (source)

But the real world is different. The real world is made up of a lot more than a thousand people, and most of them don't care who you were when you were a kid. It's much harder to stand out and be noticed, and sometimes I feel a lot like Katniss in front of those Gamemakers, wanting to shoot arrows at people just to get them to pay attention to me.

In one particular scene in the movie, Katniss is preparing for her final interview before the Games, twirling in a pretty red dress in front of Cinna. Not for the first time, she expresses her inability to impress people. But you impressed me, Cinna notes.
"That's different," Katniss insists. "I wasn't trying."
"Exactly," Cinna says.

Trying to stand out in a crowd is difficult, and not everybody can do it. Not everybody can be the most popular, the most noticed, the most liked. There are hundreds of millions of people in the United States alone, and nobody will be important or noticed by everybody else. So what can we do? If we take our cues from Katniss, we can stop trying so hard to impress everyone. Granted, we all have to care what people think at one time or another. For most of us, we have to put on a good show in public so we won't get fired from our jobs, just like Katniss has to put on a good show in the arena if she wants to live. But people aren't stupid, and they'll see through a phony act. If you want to get the right kind of attention, being you is probably the best way to go.

Now if only I could get Josh Hutcherson to notice me...

1 comment:

  1. We love The Hunger Games at my house too. I was smart as a kid, but shy, so I've never wanted to be the center of attention. In fact, that would be a hard part of being a writer for me if I ever get published.