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Finnick Odair casting reignites Hunger Games racism debate

Finnick Odair is supposed to be a heartthrob. So what's wrong with Jesse Williams over, say, Zac Efron?

The most recent character from The Hunger Games series to gain media attention is Finnick Odair, the handsome victor of the 65th Hunger Games who appears in the second installment of the popular series.

 Author Suzanne Collins described Finnick in the novel as tall, athletic, and muscular, with tan skin, bronze-coloured hair, and most importantly, "famous sea green eyes".  With the Hunger Games sequel in pre-production, buzz has erupted over who will play the series newest eye candy.

Hunger Game enthusiasts have begun to advocate for particular stars to fulfill the role of Finnick. Thanks to the combination of a die-hard fan, Twitter and the creation of Tumblr page #JesseForFinnick, Grey’s Anatomy heartthrob, Jesse Williams is the leading contender. 

Racial disputes have been flaring up.

"I'm sorry but unless I read the wrong book, isn't Finnick Caucasian? By tanned skin Collins meant his skin was darkened from the sun (swimming/fishing) not that he is of a darker skin ethnicity," read a comment that has since been removed from the myhungergames web site due to an outcry from fans.

"Someone please tell me where in the book that it says that Finnick is white? Why does it matter that Jesse [Williams] is not white. He matches the [novel character] description," jesseforfinnick's post read on the same Hunger Games message board.

This is not the first time casting of the Hunger Games series has sparked racist comments from fans, who initially argued against the delegation of  an African-American actor, Amandla Stenberg, to play the role of Rue in the first film.  

Amandla Stenberg as Rue

"She has dark brown skin and eyes," reads Rue's character description in the novel. "But other than that, she's like Prim in size and demeanor," Collins adds, hinting at Rue's ethnic diversity and stating that only Rue's mannerisms (not appearance) is of close resemblance to her sisters.  In the novel, Katness develops an attachment to Rue in the arena because of her close resemblance to her younger sister, Primrose.  When Rue's character casting in the film did not match the physical appearance (particularly her skin colour) of the delicately pale and blonde Primrose, fans began to dispute.

It is curious though, how only the actors that do not meet the standards of character descriptions based on ethnicity are being debated. 

In the novel, Collins created Haymitch to be paunchy and middle-aged, with the look of The Seam: curly dark hair and gray eyes. And yet, the blond haired, blue eyed Woody Harrelson was cast to play the part.

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch

Also note how no sign of a punch stomach was to be found on Harrelson and no effort was put into adjusting his hair and eye colour to better resemble his character description from the novel.  So why didn't this inaccurate character casting cause as much uproar as the African-American Rue and now potentially ethnic Finnick?

This is the problem though, when novels become movie adaptions: die-hard fans begin to argue about the physicalities of the cast members, whether there is resemblance or not.  

Does looking at Jesse Williams make your heart melt and your knees weak? The correct answer is yes, and as such, what the heck is the problem with casting him as the hottie District four mentor?

This writer's vote is a strong 'yes' when it comes to advocating Jesse Williams for Finnick.


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