Our forefathers knew that their battle in the darkest days of AIDS was not against disease but against dismissal. “Silence = Death.” They kept a constant vigil of scream so that there would be no choice but to hear, no choice but to see, so that there could ultimately be some chance to understand.
And that’s why we parade. Every year, at another parade for which I give thanks, the pride parade, come the inevitable questions: “Why do they have to put it out there like that?” “Why the leather, feathers, skin, whatever?”
Why? To be seen. To demand to be seen. It’s an act of defiance if you don’t want to see me, but ultimately an act of generosity if seeing me helps you understand me.
The Capitol are the enemy: its citizens are vapid, selfish, exploitative, narcissistic and worst of all apathetic; they don’t care about where their new dress comes from or who is making their dinner or how many children died making their new emerald necklace; they live in such excess that they purge between meals at parties while the people who sourced that food are starving in the fields; they literally place bets on the deaths of children! We really feel like we can’t drive that one home enough. Like, they just make kids kill each other on live TV and then the kids who survive grow up to be sold into sex slavery or to abuse alcohol as a coping mechanism or to be so PTSD-stricken that they can’t even talk anymore. We know what you’re thinking right now: “damn, that sounds sweet, I want to be just like the people in the Captiol.” Right? No? Yeah, us either. But that’s what CoverGirl and Lionsgate seem to think.
At its core, The Hunger Games is a book about the trauma of hyper-consumption–but when it comes to traumatizer vs. traumatized, CoverGirl’s Capitol Collection falls squarely on the side of “traumatizer.” The makeup line comes with a lookbook that will help you “get the looks of the Districts” and is so unaware and self-absorbed that it kind of feels like it has to be a joke. The only time anyone from the Districts looks anything like something in that lookbook is when children are brought to the Capitol and dolled up to be paraded around on live TV as though they were props instead of humans (because of course, to the Capitol, they are props). Then two days later they take the makeup off and kill each other and probably die themselves while their families look on, horrified and defeated. FASHION!!!
But of course, the reason that this line even exists is because we, as a culture, are actually pretty close (metaphorically anyway) to the Capitol. Consumption at any expense is pretty par for the course here, and the people who grow our food and make our clothes aren’t really in much better shape than the people of the Districts. Our culture really, really values outward appearance and it insists that girls about Katniss’s age should be less into leading a revolution and more into getting the right look. The Capitol Collection encourages girls to identify not with rebellion and justice, but with superficiality and self-interest. We think that is not only ridiculous, but scary and super dangerous.
Seconded. Of the many whackadoo merchandising tie-ins associated with Catching Fire (Subway comes to mind), the CoverGirl campaign may be the worst. There were plenty of ways to create cosmetic tie-ins that didn’t fetishize poverty or so thoroughly embrace and sanitize the barbarity of the Capitol.
Yep, here’s the meta part of the Hunger Games Trilogy that surprisingly goes over so many heads. Watching people complain about characterizations and choices made during filming (ie: romance v. non-romance between Katniss and Peeta), and of course the larger marketing campaign’s either total lack of self-awareness or complete immersion into the narrative, play right into it. Largely, these movies are not about showing Katniss’s struggle, but about selling the spectacle to the us as an audience.