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Hunger Games spawns dystopian Barbie

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While praised for its faithful depiction of the books, The Hunger Games movie may be sacrificing depth for the ever-marketable romantic cliché. Mattel Inc. recently released the newest addition to the Barbie family in response to the Hunger Games franchise: a Katniss Everdeen Barbie.

Admittedly, the Katniss Barbie created by Mattel, Inc. is a fairly accurate representation of what Jennifer Lawrence looks like in the film. Her outfit is a replica of the one worn in the movie and she still carries her signature bow and arrow.

Those advocating the doll claim it is a step in the right direction for Mattel by creating a harmless toy that could be used as a positive role model for children. It also seems to be a trend, since the company recently agreed to make a bald Barbie to raise funds for the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (a foundation for youth with a skin condition causing baldness).  

Mattel's Katniss Everdeen Barbie might also be helping promote the notion that girls -- gasp-- don't have to be blonde in order to achieve fame or success. The company does seem to ignore Katniss’ body in the movie (actress Jennifer Lawrence, while slim, doesn't come anywhere near the doll's incredible bust-hip-waist ratio) but it made a drastic alteration to the Barbie template by flattening her feet to fit combat boots, rather than high heels.

More love triangles, more sales

Call it the price of success, but boosting the marketability of The Hunger Games has led to a few changes that may not rest well with fans. Jennifer Lawrence portrayed Katniss as the strong yet compassionate heroine fighting an unjust regime – but the film’s marketing took extra pains to highlight the love triangle between her, the handsome blond Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and dark, brooding Gale (Liam Hemsworth). That may remind audiences of another highly successful marketing tool -- the Bella-Edward-Jacob triangle in the Twilight franchise.

Firstly, the love triangle is really not that prominent in the first Hunger Games book. Gale in the novels is introduced as more of a best friend to Katniss, almost a brother figure. But in the movie, Gale is given the feeling of being more of a romantic interest in Katniss’ life. As Katniss and Peeta engage in an on-screen kiss and other romantic scenes, it becomes quite clear who she prefers, while the books describe a lot more ambiguity in Katniss’ feelings.

The movie’s romantic scenes, which are meant to appeal to young girls who would appreciate a battle between men for a woman’s love, draw attention away from the desperation of the games and the dystopian world in which the characters live. The real drama in the Hunger Games book is less about the Gale-Peeta love rivalry and more about Katniss’ struggle for self-preservation, and chance to save her family and district from the ravages of extreme poverty.

Already, conversation is being had all over the Internet about the most popular choice of the moment: Team Peeta or Team Gale? 

Hot on the heels of the Katniss Barbie doll, Tonner has announced that it would be selling Katniss, Peeta and Gale dolls. Will this marketing and commodification of the Hunger Games characters help spread the book's more profound messages about humanity, or will it water it down to a teenager's romantic fantasies?  


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