The Problem with Fan Theories

Better titled as: Danielle Gets Annoyed at a Huffington Post Article

Now, I don’t know anyone – myself included – who doesn’t speculate and theorize about the books they read. When the Harry Potter books came out, my friends and I would talk for hours upon hours about the intricacies! I’ve had in depth conversations about the Twilight series, despite many people in the world thinking it’s a vapid and soulless saga. I never, ever want to seem as though I’m encouraging anything other than hours upon hours of conversations about books.

But I have a serious problem with the way fan theories permeate media and become mainstream “things” at times, especially when the theories don’t hold any weight.

The reason I’m writing this post is because of this Hunger Games theory I read about on Huffington Post – fittingly, it has a perfectly click-bait title of: ‘Hunger Games’ May  Have A Dark Secret You Don’t Know. Yes, I clicked. Sue me.

Anyway, if you don’t want to read the article, I’ll break down the theory simply for you:

District 5 contestant Foxface didn’t eat those Nightlock berries accidentally – she knew they were poisonous! *Gasp*

Basically, the theory in detail states that Foxface, who had “studied the plants that would be in the arena” wouldn’t want to be the girl on fire. According to HuffPo’s redditor source, she wouldn’t want to blatantly commit suicide and outsmart the gamesmakers, because then the Capitol would go after her family. She saw the way out when Peeta picked the berries. The article even shows a gif from the movie of her studying the plants.

Okay, so I read the HuffPo article over and over, and just got madder and madder! Do you realize this was BROUGHT UP TO JOSH HUTCHERSON!? I was inwardly raging, and not in a good way.

So I commented on the article. I laid out my points and explain why this theory was, in a word, asinine. Then I deleted the comment because I don’t want my Facebook showing up on a HuffPo article. So I decided to come talk about it here.

This is why that theory is absolutely not true at all.

  1. These are the two gifs the article uses to show Foxface is “studying plants:”


Okay then. First, these gifs – from the MOVIE I remind you – don’t show her studying plants. They show her playing a memory/matchmaker game, figuring out where the matching symbols are. This highlights her cleverness and tracking ability, the only attributes she shows in the book. We don’t see her actually being smart enough to know what’s going on – we see that she’s clever enough to track and outlast. That’s why she was able to follow and steal from the Careers; her ability to remember where things are is how she steals their food through the maze of landmines.

When I went to do some research, I was reminded, however, by the Hunger Games wiki that there is an edible plants training station in the book. However, it also states that in the movie, we see Foxface playing a matching memory game (aka gifs above) where the edible ones are yellow and the dangerous ones are red when you click on them. The only colors they light up are blue and white when she matches them correctly. So, because of that gross inaccuracy on the part of the wiki page, I’ve got to discredit its validity that she’s actually studying them. I will admit it’s been a while since I’ve read the book though, and if she is said to be studying plants, well, then I will admit there is a flaw in my plan.

So, like I said, she is not studying the plants she will see in the arena, she’s simply playing a memory game. There’s also a better reason I know this…

2. Foxface cannot be studying plants in those gifs because contestant are very specifically not given super in depth details about what they will face in the arena. They train blind. It’s made very clear in the books. She has absolutely know way of knowing what flora will or will not be in the area. As I stated above, there’s never any immense detail about the edible plants training station in Hunger Games, so we can’t know if it details out what they can and cannot eat in THIS arena, or just in the general, ya know, life. And since that’s the case…

3. There’s almost no realistic way Foxface would be aware that Peeta picked up poisonous berries. Why? Because Districts 5 and 12 are nothing alike. This is the official, Lionsgate-released map of Panem.

See that? The two districts are in VASTLY different climates. District 5 would have none of the green vegetation that Katniss, Gale, and Peeta see in District 12. She’d have grown up in SoCal/Arizona temperatures – meaning lots of browns, low trees, and dust. It’s highly unlikely these berries would be native to two distinct climates.

Well, okay, now that I’ve gotten that out I feel much better! I love The Hunger Games Trilogy. I think it’s a really great work of YA Lit. It’s intelligent all on its own – without these theories that are mainly based on the movies trying to mess it up. Using that scene as a catalyst is super irresponsible because Suzanne Collins didn’t create that scene. Ultimately, the theories need to come from the books.

There are examples of fan theories that work though. A recent one on Buzzfeed about Harry Potter proves this. This theory, about the Deathly Hallows story and who Dumbledore represents, actually uses moments from the book to flesh it out. It’s also a theory that has no standing on the events of the series.

So there’s my 50 cents. What do you all think about fan theories? Do you think I’m discrediting this HG theory too quickly?


2 thoughts on “The Problem with Fan Theories

  1. I haven’t seen the latest movie, so I thought for sure that the gif was making fun of the conspiracy theory process 😉

    Don’t you think authors have motivations for side characters in first person stories that they know about but never write into the book? We are so sure that they are there and that the clues you be consistent because we want there to be that deeper reality. It is a credit to the author that the background feels so real that readers assume that there is more behind the scenes that was intentional.


    1. Oh, I absolutely believe authors create back stories we never see. And I completely agree that the presence of fan theories is a testament to the fact that authors can create these hugely believable settings and worlds.

      I just dislike that some fan theories seem to permeate the “mainstream” just because someone was searching on reddit.

      Liked by 1 person

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