|Photo from LaineyGossip|
Most Hunger Games fans have taken this casting choice in stride, citing Kravitz's appearance in the movie Precious, or saying "AWESOME. I totally pictured Cinna as non-Caucasian anyway, because Lord knows a white dude would look WEIRD in gold eyeliner."
But, as these things usually tend to go, Cinna was never specifically indicated as anything other than Caucasian in the books. Thus, many people just assumed he was Caucasian and are apparently put out about the fact that his role has been cast to a non-white actor. Which is crappy.
Some are citing his hair and eye color (brown and green with gold flecks, respectively) as "proof" that Cinna is Caucasian, completely disregarding the fact that these superficial features are not exclusively available to people of European-only decent. It's also possible to get it from the Word of God herself, though to my knowledge no one has tried that yet.
Ultimately, though, I ask this: what does it matter?
It matters because in a majority-privileged society (Caucasian, in America's case), there's a natural inclination to default to white. If an author does not expressly state that a character is not white-skinned, the vast majority of readers will assume they are. This has a lot to do with our culture, a lot to do with unconscious psychology, and a lot to do with the fact that publishing overwhelmingly leans toward publishing and promoting white authors and "white" stories. It's the reason why cover whitewashing happens. Most readers are assumed white. It's assumed white people are the biggest purchasing audience (which may very well be true, I don't know). It's assumed that white buyers will not pick up a book with a non-white person on the cover.
So, Suzanne Collins did not say in her description of Cinna that he was not white. Therefore, he was assumed to be white. I find this duality intriguing, because fans of the books (myself included) made it very clear that they would be REALLY UNHAPPY if Rue and Thresh, who were described as "dark-skinned," were cast as white actors. Yet when a character who was not described by skin tone was cast as a black actor, some people took issue with it.
Personally, I think this casting choice was fabulous, because seriously look at that picture. Cinna incarnate? I THINK SO. But I'm curious about your thoughts, readers. What was your reaction to this casting decision? Why? I would absolutely love it if we could keep discourse civil and free of wankery, though. I am perfectly open to hearing from people who thought Cinna would be more appropriately cast as a different actor so long as the argument is logical. For instance: some people have mentioned that they think Kravitz is a bit old to play Cinna. I think this is fair commentary, as Cinna is described as a "young man" in the books. Not that Kravitz is OLD by any stretch of the imagination, but he's certainly not a 20-30 something anymore.
I'm quite interested in the perception behind assuming everyone is a white default and breaking down that assumption. This is an area of particular interest to me because 1) I am white, and 2) while I consciously try to break down this barrier for myself, I'm also mindful that I cannot fully comprehend the experience of people of color. So I'm curious about any and all reactions. Thoughts?