EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’ve read Heather from Lesbians React to Blue is the Warmest Color’s review of Blue is the Warmest Color, you know I wasn’t just going to let her not write more reviews. Today, our favorite glib lesbian returns with her take on Catching Fire. Enjoy. I know I did. -Vince
In Catching Fire, Jennifer Lawrence Really Good at Killing People, Really Bad at “Commitment”
Thousands of young fans flocked to see Jennifer Lawrence save the world and kinda make-out with a metrosexual baker in Catching Fire this weekend. At least three hundred of those fans have no real employment and waited on line to get better theater seats than me, all of them raging tweens with tween-level commentary spoken at tween-level decibels. ONE DAY GALE IS GOING TO BECOME MY HUSBAND, said an eleven-year-old in the front row who will probably still be annoying when she’s thirty. PEETA IS SO FUNNY, screamed an autistic cadre of girls to my right, and my favorite: “Katniss is so kind,” whispered by a bullying victim to my left. Few of the comments were about Katniss’ fight against the “killer” monkeys (seriously, imagine Curious George on bad coke) but almost all of the observations were about Katniss’ love triangle. As much as I wanted to offer these beautiful young men and women as tributes to the Hunger Games, their commentary raises a good question: can Hollywood’s hottest and bravest young female action hero still get wifed up?
Female action heroes are historically bad at love and historically great in leather. Think of Rooney Mara in The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo, lethal with her hands but 10,000+ therapy sessions away from meeting someone for a friendly scrabble date. Or Faye Dunaway in Bonnie and Clyde, who went after a smug jailbird with untreated erectile dysfunction. Mariska Hargitay on TV’s Law and Order SVU dates a guy who seems cute and nice, but whoops-a-daisy turns out to be raping prostitutes. And while male action heroes – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sean Connery, Bruce Willis, for example – don’t get married, at least they get laid.
Jennifer Lawrence in Catching Fire is no exception. In the opening scene, Katniss and her best friend/love interest Gale (Liam Hemworth) are out hunting when she mistakes a bird for a human in the midst of a PTSD flashback. Gale later becomes upset when he tells her he loves her and she can’t return those same words. Be sympathetic, you want to say to Gale, also: she just thought a turkey was a dude’s face – you really wanna tap that? To the chagrin of all the hopeful lesbians in the audience, Katniss does seem to be genuinely interested in Gale. But she does have a few more pressing issues on her mind, i.e. the death of her entire family and civilization if she doesn’t get her shit together in the next twenty minutes.
In comes the machine-washable doormat Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Peeta is Gale’s polar opposite: a sensitive cake-maker who’s much more fit for a b-list college literary magazine than the Hunger Games. “What’s your favorite color?” Peeta asks Katniss, “Mine is burnt orange – like the sunset.” Katniss rebuffs his advances, traumatized both by The Hunger Games and his use of a Colbie Caillat simile. Peeta is genuinely in love with her, but Katniss initially only wants him to cuddle her in bed in order to soothe her PTSD nightmares and maybe – just maybe – so she can feel his morning boner. Later in the film she kisses him, and the audience starts to wonder if her attraction might actually be real. With that much tongue, we think, it’s got to be love.
So will Katniss choose Peeta the teammate/martyr or Gale the best friend/sociopath? The answer is, neither of them, and – both of them. For as much as Katniss kills monkeys, fights plagues, saves children, rescues civilization, yada yada yada – she is still very much a teenager, wrong about love. Her concerns may be different from the tweens in the audience that night (less worried about her phone’s battery power, more concerned about whether her family will be burned alive). Her romantic options may also be more limited than theirs (not so much as a choice between “funny Dave” or “hot Mike” but between a killer and a soon-to-be-mass-killer.) But her emotional literacy is at the same annoying level– interested in both guys, yet committed to neither and ready to whine. Couple that with a whoa-Red-flag case of PTSD and a you-could-do-better set of braids, it’s going to be a long time before Katniss ever partners up. Maybe that’s for the better. Bruce Willis is bald now, and we need someone to save us all.
Heather Dockray is a comedian and storyteller living in Brooklyn, NY. She was recently featured in Yeni Sleidi’s “Lesbians React to Sex Scenes in Blue is the Warmest Color.” You can see more of Heather’s work at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyv2ZgX35Ws and you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you aren’t from Moveon.org.