The Book to Movie Ratio: What’s The Deal?

by ELEXA SIERRA

Staff Writer

On the very first page, of the very first chapter of the very first book of The Hunger Games series, author Suzanne Collins describes Katniss Everdeen quite unmistakably, “straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes.” Unless Hollywood directors are blind, or illiterate, what is the logic behind changing simple character descriptions prophesied on the very first page? Not a big change, some of you may think, but if we take this oh so tiny detail and find the real meaning behind it you’d be surprised and more than likely disgusted at Hollywood logic.

When I was reading the Hunger Games (given it was 8th grade) I pictured Katniss the way the author had wanted me to. To my disappointment, Hollywood Katniss was nearly nothing like the brave heroine I carried in my mind throughout the story. What was so different? And why had it affected me so much? Coming from a girl with an olive complexion, which ranges from golden or light brown to moderate brown, it was a big jump to see the porcelain face of Katniss, with bright blue eyes on the big screen. At the time I did not understand why it was such a big deal to find an actress that fit the description, women such as Eva Longoria or Aishwarya Rai, women of color who could easily be the book Katniss. Brushing it off I assumed it was due to the popularity and demand of Jennifer Lawrence, the Hollywood Katniss Everdeen, until I began to see a pattern.

Another one of my favorite books, The Host by Stephenie Meyers, had also fallen victim to the “Hollywood illiteracy”. The main character, Melanie Stryder is described as a teen of average height, dark shiny hair that swings down to her shoulders, sun browned skin and muddy eyes. Once again, this was the girl I had in my mind throughout the entire 619 paged story, and once again, to my disappointment, it was not the same girl on the screen. Saoirse Ronan the movie Melanie Stryder, with an easy Google search is clearly not the girl described above. Do not get me wrong, I love these actresses and storylines and major motion pictures, but anyone looking closely can see the blatant replacement of brown skinned women and girls for lighter and whiter people. Is it too much of a burden to match a book description to a movie? Or is it the color and ethnicity that makes up the accuracy of the book to movie ratio?

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