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?

I Can’t Stay Mad At You

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “I Can’t Stay Mad at You.”
Do you hold grudges or do you believe in forgive and forget?

I don’t really believe in either.  I mean, it depends who I’m mad at and what they’ve done, but if they aren’t someone I’d consider a close friend, and if they’ve done something I see as horrible, I will cut all ties with them.  I wouldn’t say I hold a grudge, because that would mean I’m actively staying mad at them.  No, I just try to leave them in the past.  I don’t forgive them and I don’t forget what they’ve done, but I also don’t waste my energy on thinking about them.  Instead, I try to heal myself from the damage they’ve caused…and that, for me, takes a long time because I get hurt by others actions easily.  I try to see the good in everyone and if they’ve gone and done something to offend/upset/hurt me (intentional or not), it takes a lot for me to switch off the hurt.  Admittedly, I am getting better at both keeping my distance from people, and at moving on, but it isn’t (and will never be) an overnight process.  I think holding grudges is a waste of time and something I moved on from doing in high school, but I also think forgiving and forgetting is a recipe for more pain down the track.

That being said, if one of my close friends does something wrong, I am all about forgiving and forgetting.  It takes a lot for me to consider someone a close friend, and for me to do that I have to trust them and their motives completely.  If they’ve fucked up, I always believe it wasn’t their intention and that if, given a second chance, they wouldn’t do it again.  I know that’s contradictory to my attitude towards everyone else, and can definitely lead to issues later on, but I’d like to think if I made mistakes they’d forgive me too.  That’s what friendship is, isn’t it?  Knowing the person well enough to give them extra chances?

-JD

#loveme challenge – Day Ten

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Day 10 – Share a Secret

Hmmmm.  This is a tough one.  I’m a pretty open person, so if something is secret it’s for a good reason.  I think I’ve been pretty honest in this blog – a lot more so than I’d originally anticipated – which is making answering this question hard.  I guess the post I wrote yesterday was something I’d previously kept very much to myself.  I recently lost my job for something stupid and something I shouldn’t have done, but the reason it got found out (in part, anyway) was because I put my trust in someone I shouldn’t have.  That’s always been my problem, no matter how many times I get burned because of it – I always look for the good in people and always want to trust everyone.  It has gotten me in trouble many times and maybe after this latest incident, I’ll have finally learnt my lesson.  Maybe.

-JD

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