I’m thrilled to say that my paper “We are the Districts: Fannish Resistance to The Hunger Games Marketing Campaigns” has been accepted for the Console-ing Passions Conference in Dublin, Ireland, June 18-20, 2015.
We are the Districts: Fannish Resistance to The Hunger Games Marketing Campaigns
Fans love Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy The Hunger Games not only for creating one of the strongest, non-gender conforming female protagonists in young-adult fiction, but also for its focus on structural economic inequality and violence as media spectacle. But marketing campaigns for the movie adaptations seemed to distort this message of social justice and gender equality: In particular the Capitol Couture cooperation with Cover Girl and Net-A-Porter, as well as Vosges’ Hunger Games chocolates line, lured fans with luxury goods celebrating class elitism and normative beauty ideals. Some movie fans, including Collins herself, interpreted these campaigns as a clever form of subversive irony confronting consumers with the reality of being part of the inequality-reproducing machinery. Others, however, were concerned about the strategies that capitalized on luxurious excess and feminine beauty, while sidelining the discussion of real-life politics. Using the example of Capitol Cuties and the Harry Potter Alliance’s Odds in our Favor campaign, this paper analyzes forms of social activism emerging from The Hunger Games fandom. Even though these initiatives are inspired by the ethics fans perceive to be at the heart of the fictional texts, they are not affirmative: As fans sense that beloved texts betray the same ethical principles they established in the first place, their activism can turn against the texts and their producers. At the same time, the Hunger Games marketing and fans’ resistance against it raises questions about the role of fans as customers, and their implication in the same structures they want to change.