In The Hunger Games, Peeta is Katniss’s ‘movie girlfriend’

Peeta Hunger GamesMy friend dug up an NPR article from back in November about how The Hunger Games movies are smart and valuable not just because Katniss’s character challenges the way we portray women in film but also because they ask us to rethink how we represent the opposite gender.

As a girl, Katniss is physically capable, so she doesn’t need rescuing as a damsel, and she’s not helpless. But she’s also emotionally insensitive and unavailable, which isn’t a feminine trait according to what Hollywood and society teach us.

Peeta works in a bakery while Katniss hunts and is the obviously more formidable player in the Games. She saves him with physical strength and prowess while he saves her through goodness and kindness and sacrifice. Their relationship is a reversal of gender roles:

She kisses him sometimes, but she keeps him on a need-to-know basis, and she decides what he needs to know.

He loves her as she is, while knowing he’ll never change her and parts of her will always be mysterious and out of reach.

And Katniss’s choice between Peeta and Gale, the NPR writer argues, is essentially a decision between a movie girlfriend and a movie boyfriend:

Gale works in the mines, not in a bakery. He’s a hunter. He grabs her and kisses her because he simply must. He’s taller. (Real talk: HE’S THOR’S BROTHER.)There’s more to the unusual gender dynamics in these stories, in other words — particularly, I think, in the films — than the idea of a girl who fights. There’s also a rather delightful mishing and mashing of the ideas of what’s expected from young men in movies where everybody is running around shooting and bleeding.

Of course, referring to these characters as “movie boyfriend” and “movie girlfriend” sort of misses the point because the argument is that gender can mean anything, not just what we as a society say it does. But these terms do their job in helping the message hit home, and the whole idea is something I didn’t quite realize this fully until now.

My first contribution to PopMatters

This is Good News Part Two (more to come later). Here’s yesterday’s Part One.

I submitted a feature about gender in relation to artificial intelligence — specifically regarding HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey and SHODAN from System Shock 2. You can read it on PopMatters.

I have no current plans to keep writing there although I might send them a pitch or two in the future. :)

Hope you enjoy the story! I would love to hear your thoughts on my analysis.


Reading the game: who else loves Mortal Kombat?

People seemed to respond well to my previous article about the selection of Uncharted books and comics available, so I thought I’d do the same with another video game I reviewed recently, Mortal Kombat Komplete Edition. Since the early nineties, Mortal Kombat has developed a negative reputation for its violence and gore, and … let’s just say the Komplete Edition, which packs in the DLC from last year’s Mortal Kombat 9 for the same retail price, doesn’t help matters—especially not with its up-close and gruesome X-ray moves, which show back-breaking and skull-slamming from the inside out.

I like fighting games (Guilty Gear in particular), but I never really got into Mortal Kombat. I rented Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe from Midway Games and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (WBIE) back in 2008 because of my interest in comic books, but that wasn’t exactly the best representation of Mortal Kombat, and it didn’t make me a fan of the series to say the least. On the other hand, the new Mortal Kombat is arguably the best representation one could hope for, so I’ve seen both the ugly and beautiful sides of the game.

Anyway, since I was reviewing the game for a website, I had to do a lot of playing when MK isn’t normally my game of choice. Because the game’s story retells the events of the first three games, Mortal Kombat is a perfect introduction to the series. And it helps that the game is just GOOD.

Now on to some reading! I dug up these books for all the MK fans out there.

Mortal Kombat by Jeff Rovin
Publisher: Berkley
Paperback: 293 pages
Publication Date: June 1, 1995

This one’s an oldie and definitely out of print, but it shouldn’t be difficult to track down online. Considering the live-action movie came out in 1995, this is no doubt closely tied with the New Lines film. Rovin himself was an assistant editor at DC Comics in the ’70s. One of his other novels, Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: War of Eagles, became a New York Times bestseller.

Mortal Kombat: A Novel by Martin Delrio
Publisher: Tor Books
Paperback: 216 pages
Publication Date: August 15, 1995

Delrio’s book was a direct novelization of the movie. Apparently “Martin Delrio” is a pseudonym for not one, but two people: James D. MacDonald and his wife, Debra Doyle. The adaptation contains images from the movie. MacDonald assumed many different names and wrote the Circle of Magic (not to be confused with the books by Tamora Pierce) and Mageworld series.

Mortal Kombat: Annihilation by Jerome Preisler
Publisher: Tor Books
Paperback: 184 pages
Publication Date: November 1997

Preisler’s book served as a novelization of the second Mortal Kombat film, which released in 1997 along with the book. The author has written CSI and Tom Clancy books, most notably.

Also, somebody was crazy enough to put some of these books online, so you can read those for free. Amazingly, the author of the webpage provides different formats for each book, including .MOBI files and PDF.

Mortal Kombat: The Movie: Behind the Scenes by Michael Goldman and Richard Aaron
Publisher: Prima Lifestyles
Paperback: 96 pages
Publication Date: August 16, 1995

This companion to the original film might actually be worth a look for nostalgia’s sake. The book documents the special effects, plot, and cast of the movie along with 100 stills. Richard Aaron handled photography for Mortal Kombat and other media productions, and Michael R. Goldman worked as a feature editor and staff writer for Daily Variety at the time and contributed to several science fiction publications.

Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming by Yasmin B. Kafai, et al.
Publisher: The MIT Press
Paperback: 400 pages
Publication Date: February 25, 2011

You can tell by the title that this is a collection of essays, written by a number of contributors, so Mortal Kombat is only one topic of discussion—and unfortunately, I’m not sure how much of that discourse it represents. I’m getting the sense that the book is more about the medium’s response to women, in games and out of them, and less about Mortal Kombat itself, an implication that’s already been made based on the key word “beyond” in the title. So I can’t say that this is the perfect read for MK fans, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless and wanted to throw it out there. After all, Mortal Kombat has a lot of scantily clad women. I’m not even sure how some of their outfits stay on. Especially Mileena’s …

What Mortal Kombat books do you recommend?

My first blog award!

Thank you so much to Amy Marie, who runs a wonderful and very helpful writing blog called The Literary Mom, for giving me the Liebster Blog Award! As someone who greatly enjoys writing and building relationships with readers and fellow bloggers, this is an honor, and one that I deeply value. So thank you again, Amy! :D

The Liebster Award (as stated on Amy’s page):

The guidelines for the Liebster Blog Award are:

  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  • Reveal your top 5 picks for the award and let them know by leaving them a comment on their blog.
  • Post the award on your blog.
  • Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogsphere – other bloggers.
  • Most of all – have fun and spread the karma.

I’m extremely excited about the chance to point out some of my favorite blogs! If Amy hadn’t just received the award, I would definitely nominate her. (PS: She’s also critiquing the first twenty or so pages of my novel, so she’s twice as awesome.) Anyway, be sure to follow her and these other amazing bloggers:

1. Sarah’s Place: Embracing life in the northern lattitudes – No other blogger has welcomed me to the blogosphere quite like Sarah, and for that I owe her a great deal of thanks and appreciation. Not only that, but her blog is fantastic! She has (in my humble opinion) one of the best cooking sites on the net. I’m pretty picky about recipes—they can’t involve an excess of rare, needless ingredients or be too difficult to make—but Sarah consistently provides ones (complete with personality and great step-by-step pictures) that are easy to understand and make and look absolutely delicious. Keep up the great work, Sarah. No pressure or anything. Just keep being you! :)

2. Yo Mama: ‘Cause there ain’t no yo daddy jokes – My favorite women’s advocate and gender blogger who—brownie points for her—also has me listed on her blogroll (she’s also listed in mine, see the sidebar). She’s one of the smartest and most talented bloggers around.

(FYI, I’m totally open to blogroll exchanges, if anyone’s ever interested. Just send an email to wita [dot] blog [at] gmail [dot] com.)

3. The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say “Shhh” – Oh my goodness, I could say oodles about how wonderful Miss Anderson is. She has one of the most fun book blogs out there, and she adds layers (I’m talking Shrek layers, like an onion, only more awesome) of personality and charm to everything she writes. Plus, she doles out letter grades to the books she reads. Nice!

4. Sometimes Bailey: A non-fiction writer’s blog about making a literary life while balancing work and family – I haven’t pinned down Veronica yet—her blog entries are always refreshingly varied in my feed. Her posts about literature, life, and writing are always a pleasure to read.

5. Kristen Lamb’s Blog – Kristen is an author and a social media and publishing whiz, and her posts constantly brim with wise and insightful advice. Check it out!