It seems like everyone is weighing in on casting suggestions for Catching Fire. The Girl on Fire site has been doing a “Finding Finnick” series; one of our recent posts presented a wonderful possible structure for the film, prompting a commenter to quail in terror at the thought of Harrison Ford as Plutarch Heavensbee. All of this prognosticating and wondering has led me to a very different possible direction for casting the Victors chosen to compete in the Quarter Quell. Why not cast actual celebrities, a la The Celebrity Apprentice and other horrible reality shows? Before you start throwing things at me, follow me after the jump to see my suggestions and to see why having actual athletes and movie and rock stars as the Victors would actually be completely in line with Collins’s story of entertainment as slavery for both its viewers and those it ostensibly glorifies.
Why, one might reasonably ask, should filmakers consider those who have already tasted (and in some cases overdosed on) fame and fortune? The answer is simple: these men and women already know what it means to be a Victor. They have fought to “pay their dues” and attain the highest accolades in their fields. In many cases, they have had their bodies altered beyond recognition to fit some pre-conceived notion of what beauty is supposed to be. Along the way, like Finnick, they have often become commodities to be bought and sold, their relationships regarded by the public by as just so much tabloid fodder. Seldom does anyone think about how celebrities really feel, or about the strain on their family and social life.
We even have our own versions of the Quarter Quell. Reunion movies and band performances, remakes, and all-star games allow fans to get another look at the once-glittering stars who are, sadly, often mere shadows of their former selves. There is something pitiful about watching the Beach Boys (none of whom has been a boy in a several decades) singing “Good Vibrations.” Every TV show from the 1970s and 1980s is getting a remake, and It looks like Dallas is rolling its stars out of mothballs and down to Southfork again, too. While many stars may, like Brutus, relish the chance to get out there and slug it out again, many others, like Cecila, want to move on, despite a culture that wants them to stay the same, the Victors we “love,” forever.
So here’s my list of the needed Victors so far. Since we don’t know much about some of them, we could basically throw in anyone who had a “one-hit wonder” song or who has been on Dancing with the Stars as space fillers for those spots. Though my friends at the Y and I all think we would make swell washed-up former Tributes, these folks would probably be a better fit. Here are my picks
Cashemere and Gloss: Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Beautiful, shiny people who have been traumatized by this world since childhood.
BeeTee: Brent Spiner–he’s been in fun sci-fi roles before (like Independence Day)
Wiress: Gillian Anderson. She can play smart, and she knows weird. Plus, I like having two sci-fi icons as the D3 team.
Finnick: Zac Ephron, or some other gorgeous creature who graced the cover of Teen Beat a few years ago, but who isn’t doing much now.
Mags: Betty White–she’d have to work at feeble, but she knows the feeling of being re-comissioned.
Morphlings from 6: Keith Richards and Linsey Lohan. They know re-hab, and the lack thereof.
Johanna: Pink. She’s actually who I have in my head when I read Johanna. There is something there of the combination of vulnerability and power, and I love the way she always seems a bit uncomfortable in glitzy glamour outfits, like Johanna pulling off that tree costume.
Celia: Jennifer Garner. She is mostly out of the limelight now and trying to have a family life while forgetting she and her husband Ben Affleck have been called “Benifer,” yuck.
Seeder: Queen Latifah. She has that maternal instinct, and she knows the cruelties of movies, music, commercials, and fashion.
Chaff: Morgan Freeman. He’s come a long way from VIncent the Vegetable Vampire on Seasame Street, and he’s seen it all.
What do you think? I hope folks will comment with other suggestions, maybe people I’ve missed. It is, of course, unfortunate that so many great choices (Amy Winehouse, Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger) are no longer with us, due to the very pressures of a world that makes gods of our Victors/celebrities, and then, when their temples are tarnished, abandons them to obscurity, isolation, and death.