When I love a book, it’s easy for me to get really into it. When I was about seven years old, I, like many little girls, fell in love with the historical American Girl dolls and, really, the American Girl books. Those books were made for a kid like me. Fiesty little heroines are good, but setting them in a bygone era? I was done for. My favorite American Girl was Samantha and after reading her books, I became obsessed with all things Victorian and insisted my mother made me a winter cape, spats for my boots, and a dress with a pinafore, just like Samantha. To this day, I’m still a bookworm who gets obsessed with my reading material.
That reading material includes The Hunger Games, the bestselling dystopian novel that was then turned into a box-office-record-breaking movie (taking in $155 million in North America its opening weekend). In the months leading up to the film’s March premier, many makeup companies sought to capitalize on the trend by introducing HG-inspired lines and ad campaigns. Meanwhile, beauty editors gushed over sneak peeks of the citizens of the Capitol from the film. You know, the Capitol citizens who are characterized in the book as vapid, narcissistic, terrible people who make sport of children killing each other. Their fashion and beauty choices, which seem ridiculous and grotesque at at first glance (tattoos all over their faces and bodies, dyed skin, rainbow-colored hair, extreme plastic surgery), are there to remind readers that we, right now, aren’t so different from the residents of the Capitol.
So why, then, are brands releasing beauty products inspired by the film? China Glaze teamed up with the studio and released a nailpolish line with shades like “Smoke and Ashes” (as in…smoke and ashes from the coal mine where protagonist Katniss’ father was killed, leaving her the family’s sole provider?) and “Electrify” (as in…the electric fence that surrounded District 12, keeping its citizens trapped and starving?). The ad campaign featured a freakish-looking Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and asked “What will you wear to the opening ceremonies?”
Hm, well, I hadn’t thought about it because after reading the book, I had no desire to be at the opening ceremonies of the games in which 24 impoverished children fight each other to the death.
But doesn’t giving the impression that you didn’t actually read the book — and if you did, that you totally didn’t get it — feel kind of dumb?
Like I said, I get the urge to get really into a book; what I don’t get is the urge to want to look like the book’s villains. Sure, the book is a work of fiction, so it’s not completely and insanely insensitive. But still, I can’t help but feel like the brands and fans buying into this trend are completely missing the point.