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[personal profile] ladderax
Lately I have probably been annoying everyone on Twitter with how much I've been talking about Johanna, so I figured I may as well bite the bullet and make an LJ post for people to talk about her, rec fics, art, meta and fanmixes, etc.



WHY:

Johanna is my favorite character in the Hunger Games trilogy, and that’s saying a lot for a series that also includes Cinna, Peeta, and Finnick. She’s pretty much everything I like in a character: clever, intelligent, tough but not invulnerable. She’s a bit of a Byronic hero: she’s got a tragic past; she’s cynical, clever, rebellious, mistrustful of the status quo, and given to despair. I also love that her background and occupation aren’t the sort you might usually associate with such a character, but Collins doesn’t make her purely about brute strength, not at all—she’s what TV Tropes might call a Genius Bruiser (although she’s not necessarily book-smart, but definitely cunning). Her psychology is fascinating, though only tantalizing hints are given throughout about her motivations. How and why did she learn to act “like a sniveling coward” and to hide her true abilities during her first Hunger Games? Was she really acting? What was her family like, and what did the Capitol do to them? How did she become friends with Finnick?

The moments of vulnerability she gives us in Catching Fire are really incredible. In typical dismissive fashion, she says of her fellow tribute “He wasn’t much, but he was from home.” Her love of her district, shown again in Mockingjay when Katniss gives her the bundle of pine needles and she begins crying, adds depth and humanity to her otherwise brusque persona. And she doesn’t try to hide it. Her cold veneer is rather thin—she actually wears her emotions right on the surface. The moment I knew I loved her as a character was when she brought Beetee and Wiress to Katniss and she shoved them and screamed at them to stay down. It was a very uncomfortable moment, and she wasn’t particularly likeable then, but I could really identify with her frustration, with the “ugly” and mean and sad aspects of her personality. And her relationship with Katniss is also interesting. Katniss believes immediately that Johanna has it in for her, but looking at it from Johanna’s point of view, I imagine Katniss might not have seemed especially friendly either—Katniss’s strength isn’t her interpersonal skills. Did Johanna really hate Katniss before they met, as Katniss seems to believe? Or is Johanna offended that Katniss rejected her overture of friendship? It was surprisingly sweet when Johanna fixed Katniss’s necklace and said “Make him pay for it, OK?” And our early impressions of her—stripping in the elevator to shock Katniss, talking excitedly about clothes—actually make her seem playful and fun. No, she doesn’t take frustration particularly well, but she accomplishes everything the rebels told her to do in the arena.

And she has that awesome Victor Laszlo moment where she shouts “WHOLE COUNTRY IN REBELLION? WOULDN’T WANT THAT!” I stood up and cheered when I was reading the book.

So basically, Johanna is a hardened killer whose default mode is sarcasm and bluntness, but who also has a kind, vulnerable and playful side. Her emotional openness makes her a great foil for the often-repressed, sullen, quiet Katniss. And the gaps in our knowledge of her life are great opportunities for meta speculation and for fic. What happened to her after the war? [personal profile] recrudescence had a great idea that NEEDS to become fic—-Johanna for President!


CASTING:

Ah, casting. There has been rampant talk of Kristen Bell, Naya Rivera and Mila Kunis playing Johanna. There have been fairly good arguments for all of these, but I’m unconvinced. I feel a bit guilty about being so unconvinced, since many of my arguments hinge on “but she wouldn’t have a cute little doll face!” But I also would like to see her not look so traditionally “cute” or “pretty”. Also, there are actresses I just plain like better. It would be awesome to have a mostly-unknown actress play her.

SO HERE ARE SOME CASTING IDEAS.

Zoe Saldana


Jaimie Alexander


Q’Orianka Kilcher


Jena Malone


Ruth Wilson


Chiaki Kuriyama


Michelle Ryan


Freema Agyeman




FIC RECS:

I’ve only read gen fics so far since I don’t really ship Johanna with anyone (besides broship with Finnick). But I would love some good recs, gen or otherwise. These are all mostly character studies.

You have burst at the seams, by [personal profile] thewindwarns
Johanna's history, from birth to after the revolution. It is beautifully poetic and weaves a whole world in a relatively short time; I savored every word.

Melt My Heart To Stone, by [personal profile] ladyofspring
Three short but devastating fics about Johanna's unfinished business and how not all was well in Panem after the revolution.

Bouncing Back, by Whipstitch
How Johanna and Finnick invented a game and became friends. Funny and bittersweet and perfectly in-character.

Let It Rise, by [profile] starlingthefool
"Waiting. It's stupid. You're almost always better off doing something useful." An evocative portrait of District 7 and Johanna's love for it, as well as of the beginning of a friendship between Johanna and Peeta. Plus maple syrup.

The Phoenix: Burning Day by Phoenix Refrain
I’m still working on reading this one, but I’m enjoying it so far. It’s long and plotty and really immerses you in Johanna’s psychology, and you watch her believably become more and more like the Johanna we see in canon. Even though there are some aspects that don’t really mesh with my headcanon (I always pictured Johanna as queer), it does the character great justice. There are some SPAG issues, but overall it’s well-written and intense and the closest thing to a Johanna-centric novel-length gen fic I’ve found on the net so far.
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la pellegrina

May 2012

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