****This post contains a spoiler. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and are planning to, please stop reading now****
This last weekend, some girlfriends and I went to see The Hunger Games. It was a lovely day out. We went for dinner, which we haven’t done since Paris ‘09 and onto Starbucks for coffee out in the beautiful sunshine. Next on our agenda was the movies. We had all read the books and at least two of us followed production of the movie. The other was inducted forcibly into our ranks. You might say her name was called in the reaping and she had no choice but to become part of our overgrown district team.
So, there we were in our premier seats, one of my friends laughing inappropriately and the other being nudged by me to listen while popcorn lodged in my cleavage. Yep, I can’t say we are very mature when let loose.
The movie was great. After an initial eye roll from one of my friends on how the mockingjay pin was introduced we all settled in. I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were tears and a loud girlish scream at one point, but I’m sure the guy that let it out was really caught off guard. All in all, a well turned out show.
****Here comes the big spoiler so last chance to look away****
At the end of the movie, when the credits started to roll, I turned to one of my friends and said, “Peeta didn’t lose his leg.” We didn’t pass a lot of heed, just casually commenting on how it might be handled in the next movie.
When I got home, I began thinking about it more. That night I had a restless sleep. The next morning it occurred to me why it bothered me so much.
When I was twelve I watched a movie called The Boy Who Could Fly. It was about a non-verbal boy with autism called Eric and a girl who sees more in him than just that. He becomes the hero of the story, saving her when she falls from a bridge. I remember having a pretty big crush on Eric. In a bizarre twist, years after I named my own son Eric and he was later diagnosed with a learning disability and autism.
Looking back, that movie embodies one of my pet peeves with autism in movies and television, that the special needs person must be special in some other way to compensate for their disorder or disability. They are either an angel, or can fly or see the future. Back to the games…
I eventually figured out I was looking forward to one of the ‘Teams’ being a guy with a disability. Peeta didn’t develop super powers when he lost his leg, it did impede him. He was a pretty ordinary guy thrown into extraordinary circumstances and he learned to live with both the physical disability and the mental scars brought on by his reconditioning. He wasn’t perfect either physically or psychologically and yet a lot of readers rooted for him right to the end. ‘Team Peeta’ was born.
I wanted that for the movie too. I wanted Peeta to not walk away physically unscathed and I was left wondering why he did. Could it be that the movie producers didn’t believe teen girls could see a physically disabled guy as a hero or a heartthrob for their latest movie franchise? Maybe I’m over reaching and there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for leaving it out.
Katniss’s guilt at Peeta losing his leg was pretty important as was his resulting inability to keep up in subsequent books. Why was it okay for the contestant of the games to be brutally murdered in a bloody gore-fest but not okay to show an amputated limb? It seems incredibly peculiar to me. Handsome, brave, hero and romantic interest comes in all shapes and forms.
It was only afterward that I realized, apart from a brief mention, the Avox were also missing. The Avox were people who rebelled against the Capitol and had their tongues removed.