We waited in line before midnight, hair braided to the side. We gawked over Effie’s costumes and laughed at Peeta’s attempts to spit game. And — spoiler alert! — we all cried when Rue died. All of us. And we didn’t cry any less because the actress is black — and then tweet about it. Is that wrong?
But of course, there are people in this world who did take to Twitter to air out their mindless thoughts on the matter, resulting in what reads as blatant racism in less than 140 characters.
“Kk call me racist but when I cound out rue was black her death wasn’t as sad #ihatemyself“
“yea I didn’t picture any character in #thehungergames to be African American, especially Rue”
“WHY IS RUE BLACK SIGH”
The tweets continue on Hunger Games Tweets, which initially began as a comical blog showcasing people who had no idea what the movie was about. Instead, it morphed into a collection of ignorance and hate toward a 13-year-old actress, Amandla Stenberg, who gave a gut-wrenching performance of one of the most moving moments of the movie — no, the trilogy altogether.
However, Slate tracked a few of these brave tweeters down — you know, the ones who didn’t deactivate their accounts and flee the Internet for all eternity — and discovered that some of the hate is misdirected, since they didn’t make the comment about the race of the actress, but rather the oddly short description of the character by Suzanne Collins. One Twitter user collected hate for tweeting, “Rue is a black girl in the movie?! I was totally picturing a younger Dakota Fanning.” In his defense, he says he tweeted the comment when he hadn’t seen the movie yet and was simply surprised that someone who reminds Katniss so much of her blonde, blue-eyed sister would be played by an African-American actress. (Apparently, Collins didn’t mean literally.)
Maybe it’s the fault of the author, who simply thought that Rue having “dark brown skin and eyes” was a sufficient physical description for a character – even though the first to-do of any fictional character sketch is to describe the character physically, even when the story is only in development. Or maybe it’s the fault of the people who tweeted, for not reading closely enough or thinking about their thoughts before they tweeted them. They didn’t consult the “Are you sure you want to tweet this?” button in their heads before hitting the “Publish” button on their smartphones.
Or maybe it’s our fault, for caring. For reading way too into a tweet. Sure, tweets get people into trouble all the time — that’s how Twitter wars start between celebrities. But then again, they’re celebrities, who are held accountable for every little thing they say in an interview or in passing, and now, on Twitter. They put themselves in the public spotlight through their careers. And now it seems that every public social media account is on the same platform, ready to be misconstrued by the media or other anonymous users around the world.
Normally, I wouldn’t care — we college girls post mindless things on social media all the time. Complaint-filled tweets, drunk pictures from last night, odd contempt for our professors ever semester. It’s okay — it’s what Twitter was made for, right?
Except that so many of these Hunger Games Twitter users — racist or otherwise — have been the subject of hate, flooded with tweets that suggest death as a tempting option. Which, for some reason, doesn’t qualify as one the many forms of bullying that we’re supposedly supposed to be fighting. Technically, it’s defamation — can’t people sue for this? (I’m in California, so I’m SURE such is possible, as is any kind of lawsuit, really.)
And though I personally haven’t had my inbox filled for occasionally venting about my boring class or annoying group project members (seriously, they’re the worst), it’s causing me to rethink what I put out on social media. After all, sooner or later, every one of us college girls is going to try to get hired at one job or another, and all those HR personnel are going to think is that I’m not a hardworking job candidate, but a lazy, drunk girl who complains about absolutely everything. Don’t they know that’s the entire point of Twitter?
Now that “cherry-picking” tweets is a trend — heck we love it here on CollegeCandy — it looks like we as a social media-savvy generation must tread with caution. And I don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong when it comes to these Hunger Games tweets, since no adequate context will ever fit into 140 characters (unless you go on a Twitter rant like Kanye in the middle of the night). However, it is a huge warning to everyone to watch what we post on the Internet, because we never how someone else might be reading it, perceiving it and choosing to act upon it. And at that point, we won’t be able to control it either.
Should “cherry-picking” people’s stupid tweets be allowed? Or should people be held accountable for the things they post online — no matter how mindless and ill-perceived?
Ashley is a UC San Diego grad who is holding on way too tightly to a potential career in magazines and goes to Vegas all too often. She’s fascinated with celebrities and strawberry beer and doubles as a pathological texter/emailer/blogger. Feed the addiction with tweets @cashleelee. Thanks in advance.