The Hunger Games, and it’s Unlikely Bad Guy

WARNING: SPOILERS!

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So, I’ve been a fan of the Hunger Games since I read the books a couple of months before the first movie came out.  I read all three books within a week, and have been hooked on the franchise ever since.

Now that the movies have all come out and I’ve reread the series again, there is one character that seems more despicable than the rest, at least on a personal level.  Oh, you’ve got President Snow and his league on pompous minons, controlling their little slice of the world through cruelty, suffering and callousness, but he’s always been the antagonist…the thorn in nation’s side, shall we say.  And then you’ve got President Coin, who came along towards the end of the series, originally positioned as a saviour, though it was hinted the whole way through her story that she was basically just a female version of Snow.  No, there’s someone in the books and the movies who’s betrayal really upset me, probably more than it should have.

Ceasar Flickerman.

Aka, this dude:

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Yeah, I bet you didn’t see that one coming.  In a book full of people who fall into two categories – brave and noble or weak and untrustworthy, there are plenty of people I could have said.  While it’s true that Gale’s betrayal (though unintentional) was tough, I still didn’t find it as uncomfortable to read/watch as Caesar.

I’ve thought about why this is for a little while now.  I mean, on paper it doesn’t make sense – he’s the embodiment of everything that is the Capitol.  His perfect teeth, his expensive outfits, his garish coloured hair and eyebrows.  He’s the face of the Hunger Games, and thereby all it stands for.  He’s shallow and fake.  Yes, on paper I should feel nothing at all about this character except mistrust and disgust.

I don’t though.

He seems like such a friendly guy in the first two books/films.  He helps the nervous contestants on stage, getting them through situations they’ve likely never even envisioned themselves in.  If it wasn’t for him, a lot of them wouldn’t get sponsors, and if they don’t get sponsors, they’re basically doomed in the arena (“If no one sponsors me, my odds of staying alive decrease to almost zero” – Hunger Games, Book 1, Chapter 8).  Plus, even as an embodiment of the Capitol, his crazy hair and over-the-top personality really make him seem like a good guy.  Even Katniss – who doesn’t seem to like anyone much, even her pretend-boyfriend most of the time – seems to get along with him.  Surely that’s saying something?

Then it all changes.  Once the dramas happen after the Quarter Quell, he becomes another minion of the Capitol.  He interviews Peeta several times, watching him appear increasingly unwell, and pushes him along.  In the films, he’s also the one that puts out the alerts for Katniss, which adds a whole other level of betrayal, and I think is what got under my skin the most.  It’s one thing to side with the Capitol, but quite another to speak in such a horrible way about someone you knew personally, who never did anything to intentionally harm you.  Yes, her rebellion affects his way of life, but he saw firsthand that she never wanted to be the figurehead of anything.  When she revealed the wedding-come-mockingjay dress, he saw her surprise.

He also saw what she went through in both Games.  I think, underneath the betrayal, his character upsets me because he had the chance to really help out the rebels.  He was centre stage.  The audiences ate up every word he said.  After watching the Games for the last fifty years, meeting all these kids, interviewing them…then watching their gruesome deaths, surely even he could understand the rebellion.  Surely he could see what they were fighting for.  If he came across as heartless from the start, or distant, or uncaring, then maybe it’d be easier to swallow.  The fact is, he was never any of that.  He seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and nice guys don’t throw kids under buses like that.

I guess the other reason he upsets me is because he is basically positioned in a similar light as Effie Trinket.  Both preening, pretentious, yet ultimately wonderful people from an otherwise messed up, wasteful city.  In fact, Effie was probably written as much more of a Capitol lapdog than Caesar, and with less power to help.  Yet, when it came down to it, Effie chose her side not on how it will affect her, but for her loyalty to Katniss and Peeta, and for knowing how completely messed up it is that she’s had to see so many kids she’s gotten to know personally die.  She lost her whole way of life by doing this, and it would almost be understandable if she didn’t join the Rebellion.  Caesar, on the other hand, fought the rebellion, betrayed people he could have done so much for and ultimately played a part in the deaths of so many people.

War is never easy, but that doesn’t excuse the actions of some people.  Especially people like Caesar.  He felt like a friend, someone I could trust, and then went and stabbed everyone in the back.  The worst part is, I should have seen it coming, but didn’t.  I just hope that whatever happened to him after the war ended, it was something Katniss and Peeta had a hand in.  After all, what goes around, comes around, right?

#loveme challenge – Day Fourteen

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Day 14 – Share a Fear You Overcame

This one goes back a loooooong time.  When I was little, I was terrified of dogs.  Like, I couldn’t be in the same room as them…or same house…or park.  I don’t know why exactly, though I could guess that being that small they must have looked like giants with big teeth and scary barks.  Plus, even since I can remember, we had this terrifying black dog “toy” that I hated.  It was about the size of an actual small dog, and was on wheels and had a handle.  I still don’t really understand what the point of it was.  Was it for me to ride on when I was tiny?  Was I supposed to push it around like a kiddie stroller?  Was I supposed to pet it like it was a real dog?  I have no idea.  All I remember is, when it was nighttime I had to walk past the playroom it was stored in to get to my bedroom, and all I could see through the darkness were its glassy eyes looking back at me.  I would sprint past the room every night.  Needless to say, I never once played with it.

The fear got worse when I was about five.  I was at a park with my mum and baby sister, and all I remember was being chased by a labrador.  I was terrified and screaming my head off and my shoes fell off and I kept running.  The dog obviously thought it was a game, and chased me.  The owner didn’t step in at all.  What sort of person lets their big dog chase a screaming five year old?  I don’t know.  An asshole, no doubt.

My sister (always the opposite of me) loved animals.  She wasn’t afraid of them, she talked about them all the time…yeah, she was one of those kids.  When she turned 4, my parents decided to get her a dog.  That was the excuse, anyway, though I have a sneaking suspicion the real reason was because they were embarrassed about having a 7-year-old that was mortally afraid of canines.

I remember all the homework my mum did on which dog breed to get.  She trawled through paperwork and books.  She wasn’t sure if she wanted a tiny dog or a slightly bigger one.  She’s grown up with all kind of dog breeds; my dad hadn’t had any at all.  I know deep down she wanted a corgi, but I guess she found too many reasons not to as it didn’t make the final list of options.  I don’t really remember what I was feeling as this was going on, though I can guess I didn’t like it.

The day finally came when mum had found a breed she was happy with, and a breeder with puppies.  We drove all the way to Geelong (which felt like forever at that age).  There was only one puppy left.  I don’t remember any of it, but dad has told us countless times that the first time he met the puppy, she peed on him.  I guess she claimed him as her own, because she came home with us.

On the way back, we discussed names.  I remember that.  It came down to two options, Wags (yes, like the Wiggles) or Patch, because of the big black spot on her back.  We ultimately went with Patch, which is probably a better option given Wags is horribly ironic when she had a docked tail.

I don’t remember how long it took me to come around to her, though I feel like it actually wasn’t long.  I guess maybe because she was so small and the rest of the family seemed to be okay with her, then I was too.

She grew up with me, my faithful furry friend.  She lived for 17 years, passing away from kidney failure last year.  It was tough, but she’d lived a long (spoilt) life, and by the end was blind, mostly-deaf and somewhat incontinent.  She’s the reason I love animals now, and the reason I have my own fluffy friend.  I’m glad she came into my life and helped me overcome my fears.  I’m sure eventually I would have to some degree, but I know I wouldn’t love dogs like I do now.

Thank you Patchy, RIP ❤

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Regrets, I’ve Had a Few

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Regrets, I’ve Had a Few.”

Dear N,

I put my trust in you when I shouldn’t have.  You were upset about how someone else had treated you, to the point you were inconsolable.   You looked at me through wet eyes and said through sobs “I don’t understand how anyone could do that to someone else, I would never do that”.  I believed you.  I shouldn’t have.  Whether or not they were crocodile tears I’ll never really know.  You confided secrets in me, and I you.  We weren’t best friends and that was never the plan or intention.  At the time, we were just two people who got along and had been simultaneously wronged by a person we thought we could trust.  We felt closer because of it.  Or at least, I did.
Fast forward twelve months.  Things had changed fundamentally in the world around us.  This isn’t the first time, so there’s no reason why it should have changed us as people.  I don’t believe it changed me.  For some reason, though, it changed you.  There was no reason for it.  You met some new people but the ones who’d stood by you hadn’t faltered or upset you.  We still had your back, like we had twelve months ago, and we thought you still had ours.
It came out of the blue that you’d talked behind our backs, filed serious complaints against us.  Complaints that you must have known would lead to our downfall.  Why?  That’s what I’ll never understand.  What made you suddenly think it was okay to do that?  What could you possibly gain from it?  Were we so horrible?  So many questions I’ll never know the answer to.
“I don’t understand how anyone could do that to someone else, I would never do that”.  Did you forget that moment, twelve months before?  I know you didn’t, because that was when I confided in you and what you used against me at my time of weakness.  How dare you?  You knew I’d never break the promise you’d asked of me at the same time, to keep what you told me secret.  Apparently that never meant the same thing to you.
The girl who wronged both of us was bad, that much I’d not denying.  You are worse though, because you saw what it was like from our side, and you knowingly inflicted that stress on us once again.  At least the first girl had the good sense to remove herself from the situation after filing the complaint – you decided that it was perfectly acceptable to stay, like you’d done nothing wrong.  I hope when you look around you now and see the hurt you’ve caused the people left behind, you realize what you’ve done.  You not only lost friends in the people you complained about, you lost friends who stood by us afterwards.
Despite what you did, at least some small good has come from it.  We now know who our real friends are and always were, and they now know not to trust you.  At least they won’t repeat the mistakes that we made.
I can almost hear your reply to all this.  You’d have your most innocent sounding voice, saying “I didn’t know it would lead to this!”.  BULLSHIT.  You knew exactly what you were doing, or at least would have had the common sense to know where it could lead.  There’s no excuse for it.  You went out of your way to cause major problems for people who cared about you, and that is the ultimate betrayal.  You caused them stress that didn’t need to happen, you caused tears that didn’t need to be shed.  You stood there, lit the match and watched the world burn.  I just hope karma pays you a visit very soon and gives you a hard kick in the pants.  That’s the least you deserve for being such a terrible person and an even worse friend.  And I hope karma is in the shape of someone you thought you could trust, so you understand what you did.
-JD

#loveme challenge – Day Eight

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I missed doing this for a couple of days but I’m just going to pick up where I left off instead of doing a mass catch up.

Day 8 – “Share a Scar”.

I’ve got a scar on the back of my hand that I’ve had for two and a half years now.  I got it from when my little 12-week-old puppy got a little too playful and scratched me.  When people say that puppies have sharp claws, they ain’t lying.  I love having this scar as it’s like a little permanent reminder of my bestest furry friend.  She’s still as playful as she was back then, but luckily her claws aren’t as sharp!

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#loveme challenge – Day Four


Day Four – “A Person who Loves You”.

This is an interesting one because normally, you’d expect it to be “a person you love”, which is easy.  There are a few people I could go with, but I think the most suitable option is the person who got me into blogging, and who is probably my oldest friend.

CJ is someone I’ve known since…well, pretty much forever. Our families grew up together and we’d hang out together as kids. I remember way back in the day we went on a nature hike somewhere (back then it felt like it was hours away, though I have a sneaking suspicion it probably wasn’t) and another time, we all went bike riding then had a barbecue afterwards.
Despite all that, it wasn’t until about 2009 we actually started hanging out away from “family gatherings”.


Since then, we’ve worked on films together, roadtripped together, travelled together and – up until very recently – worked together.  She’s the closest thing to a big sister I’ve ever had and although we’re been through some rough patches (especially recently) we’ve always forgiven each other and not let it get us down.

I guess the point of today’s challenge isn’t walking down memory lane, though.  Given it’s “a person who loves you” and this whole challenge us about being positive, I think I’m supposed to explain how I know she loves me.

I guess it comes down to one thing – she’s always there for me.  She’s helped me through so many rough patches in these past six years, she’s there to celebrate wins and commiserate losses.  She’s my voice of reason when I’m gonna do something dumb.  Even in the moments I took her for granted or let my emotions get in the way of my common sense, she’s stuck by me.  She knows that even if I fuck up, that it wasn’t my intention, and she’s there to help me through it.  Just like any sisters, there are things we do that drive the other insane, but we see through it and gently remind them to knock it off.

I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without her, and it makes me sad that I won’t see her as much now we aren’t colleagues any more, but I know she’s always just a phone call away 😊

– JD

PS, check out her blog.