For Slate's Browbeat blog, L.V. Anderson tracked down some of the teens who tweeted in response to the shocking news (to those who can't read well or don't read carefully) that Rue's character in Hunger Games is played by a black actress. The 'Hunger Games Tweets' Tumblr that originally collected such responses went viral.
Anderson writes that most of the kids she reached out to ignored her, and it's no surprise that the teens who did speak up were two who were responsible for the least racist (and arguably not racist at all) tweets of the bunch. Their reactions were nothing in comparison with vitriol expressed by other fans, like, "When I found out Rue was black her death wasn't as sad."
One interviewee simply said, "Rue is a black girl? I was totally picturing a younger Dakota Fanning." He told Anderson his tweet "didn't have an ounce of racism at all," and we agree. And here's her exchange with the kid who tweeted "Why is Rue black? Sigh" (hardly hate speech):
Zoee is also a student; she’s 16, and she lives in Singapore. “I was not being racist AT ALL,” she told me in an email. “When i [sic] tweeted that, it was because I was surprised Rue was a black girl as it was said in the book that Rue reminded Katniss of Prim, who was a small blonde pale girl.”
Zoee says she was “majorly pissed off” when she found out the creator of Hunger Games Tweets had published her tweet, which she described as tantamount to “slandering me.” (Zoee’s tweet appeared alongside the comment, “Why so sad? Is it really such a bummer that her casting stayed somewhat true to the book?” How this amounts to slander is unclear.) Zoee received a number of responses from strangers on Twitter, who “said stuffs [sic] like I was ruining humanity, I was fcking [sic] ugly and that I couldn't read.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, being told that she’s f[—-]ing ugly and ruining humanity didn’t make Zoee reconsider the content of her tweet. “Maybe I could have phrased my surprise of Rue not looking like Prim in a less offensive way even if I had no intention of being racist AT ALL,” she wrote.
Anderson also talked to the creator of Hunger Games Tweets, who gave his own analysis of the tweets at issue and said, "I don't necessarily think that teenagers should be publicly crucified for saying dumb things. There are some things, however, that do require a lesson in consequences. Especially with the use of social media. There's a big lesson to be learned here."
We agree. Even when it comes to something as silly as the characters in kids' movie, if you're old enough to talk about race in a public forum, then you're old enough to answer for it.
Read more at Slate.