Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Case Study In Working Hate For "The Hunger Games" For All It's Worth

For years I've read that writers would be wise to think of different ways to use the same material, writing a variety of pieces that can be marketed to several publications. For instance, if you have written a historical novel and have done a lot of research on the period involved, you could try writing a nonfiction article to be sold God only knows where. Or if you've written one of those women-escaping-from-life-by- heading-off-to-a-foreign-country-where-the-men-are-a-lot-hotter-than-they-are-here stories, you could try writing a travel piece on the country involved. Know something about dogs? Put the knowledge to work in an article for a dog publication and maybe another for a children's magazine.

I, of course, have trouble concentrating on one subject long enough to write one treatment. However, Gina Barreca, a professor at The University of Connecticut, shows us how this is done by managing two publications in twenty-four hours relating to her hatred of The Hunger Games.

I kid you not. In 12 Things Tenure-Track Faculty Can Learn From 'The Hunger Games' , published the day before yesterday in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Barreca begins by saying "I saw The Hunger Games and hated it." Talk about a lead. She's totally into making lemonade from lemons, because in her second paragraph she says, "But I do believe that there are lessons to be learned from the movie, important ones, and ones, most crucially, that will make the cinematic experience tax-deductible for me when I write about them." See? She's read some of those same how-to articles I have.

I don't actually understand all the things she says tenure-track faculty can learn from The Hunger Games, but I'm not a tenure-track faculty member. For instance, I can't figure out why Barreca would have loved to have seen Jennifer Lawrence "pick up a bowling ball and toss it around like a Hacky Sack." Huh? The tenure-track faculty who commented on the article loved it, though, except for the guy who called it (quote) a pile of crap (end of quote). So Gina knows what she's doing.

Okay, then, yesterday, Barreca's op-ed piece, "The Hunger Games" A Humorless Bore, appeared in The Hartford Courant. Here we learn that not only did she hate the movie, she hated the book, too. Barreca is still kind of academic here, making some literary references and complaining about Hunger Games' author Suzanne Collins' comma splices. I have to admit, when the book came out, there was talk on a listserv I frequented about the book's poor copy editing and grammatical errors. I am embarrassed to say that when I read it, most of them shot right by me.

Here's the line my core group of followers is going to love: "True, the books were written for kids who prefer short sentences and having words with more than three syllables defined in the most rudimentary ways." I considered writing a post about the irony of a feminist professor trashing an entire genre that women academics struggled to establish as a field of study, especially given UConn's history with the late Francelia Butler (see Leonard S. Marcus, Minders of Make-Believe page 254). But then I found Barreca's Chronicle of Higher Education piece, and the rest is history.

By the way, Barreca has promised another Hunger Games article for The Chronicle of Higher Education later this week. That will be three pieces of writing published in one week about something she hates. Personally, I think this is a brilliant achievement. I'm not kidding. I would like to do it, myself. And often. Like, maybe three times in one week.

1 comment:

Debby G. said...

If she hated the book, why did she see the movie? Oh, wait. So she could write articles about it to stir up controversy and publicity for herself.

Does the feminist prof prefer the wimpy protagonist of Twilight? Or the status quo movies with male leads?