The Hunger Games wasn’t really part of the secondshelfdown pledge, in that I hadn’t read the books until I went to see the film, and that was only a few weeks ago. They certainly weren’t in the queue. But the second I bought them (on Kindle, no time to wait for the postman), I gobbled those books right up like a bacon sandwich on a hangover. They are brilliant.
I didn’t blog about them because a synopsis is pointless – if you haven’t already read the book or seen the movie, you will have at least seen a trailer or, failing that, have absolutely no interest in anything I’m going to say about it. Also because they’re precisely that brand of YA dystopia that I like to gorge myself on without feeling like there’s homework involved.
But I was gobsmacked to hear about Katniss Barbie. Behold:
With no hint of irony (not their strong point, I grant you), Mattel have released this doll, ‘specifically created for the adult collector’ (their actual words – could this get any creepier?).
I mean, yeah, she looks great, the outfit looks very authentic, and I guess we should be grateful that she’s got a bow instead of, I don’t know, a pair of heels and a mirror to check her makeup AND send out a distress signal, but there is still something very troubling about this to me.
Katniss is not a doll-y person. She’s a hunter and a survivor. The idea of a doll is pretty much an antithesis to her. There’s a whole bit about how happy she is when, after her initial beauty treatments in Panem, she can grow her leg hair out again. Leg hair! On a teen fiction heroine! I nearly wept for joy. Now, this photo’s only waist up, but I’m pretty sure they won’t have drawn in any three-day shaving stubble below the knee in tiny Barbie biros.
Plus, the whole point of The Hunger Games is that it sends up, rather than plays to, that ‘Bella Swan’ ideal of the girl whose only value is as a romantic interest. Katniss and Peeta pretend to be in love because the crowds want to see her as desirable. The Hunger Games is a hideous, macabre exercise in image. What’s more, she spends most of the third book desperately endangered by various people’s need to make her into a figurehead for their movements, as we realise that it’s not just in the Arena where people try to shoehorn you into roles that don’t quite fit. Or, I don’t know, hammer your identity onto a pre-formed one.
Ahem. I present, Katniss-Barbie.
I guess the one good thing to say about it is that at least they didn’t make a Bella Swan Barbie. Whether they create a Peeta-Ken, a Gale-Ken, or maybe both – they can choose their favourites, remains to be seen.