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“Villain Made Heartthrob: The Allure of President Snow in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”

Villain Made Heartthrob: The Allure of President Snow in The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (TBOSAS), prequel to the iconic Hunger Games movie trilogy, was recently released in theaters November 17, and has garnered a large response and social media presence.  

 

Based on the book by Suzanne Collins, the movie portrays the backstory of President Coriolanus Snow, the infamous villain from the original Hunger Games trilogy. Known for his white roses, chilling demeanor, and cruel dictatorship, most, or at least myself, have originally considered Snow nothing more than a heartless villain. But that changed when Suzanne Collins released TBOSAS in 2020 and then a few years later, the movie adaptation followed. In TBOSAS, we don’t see Snow as the powerful antagonist we are familiar with. We see him as a young man with redeemable qualities that don’t reflect the evil we know he becomes. In the movie, he is a mentor in the 10th annual Hunger Games to a tribute from district 12 – Lucy Gray Baird, a character with several similarities to Hunger Games’s protagonist Katniss Everdeen.

 

TBOSAS’s recent hype has for the most part revolved around a single element – President Snow himself. Through talks with my friends and the social media craze I have seen most plainly on Tiktok, many are drawn to this new version of Snow that is portrayed by actor Tom Blyth. Overall, the Snow depicted in TBOSAS is a young character who many evidently couldn’t help but root for, despite explicitly knowing the extent of his moral downfall. There are signs of his worst tendencies that eventually manifest into his villain persona, but many overlook them in place of the undeniable appeal young Coriolanus Snow has on his audience. This may seem confusing, especially to an older audience. How could anyone root for a man who eventually endorses the killing of children, the starving of thousands, and all of the other unforgivable acts Snow commits once president? Ultimately, the appeal of the young Snow we see in TBOSAS cannot be fully credited to his layered character or the complexity of his moral descent.

 

To put it plainly – people like young Snow because they find him attractive. One Tiktok edit of Snow in the movie is captioned “If bad why hot”. Another edit’s caption reads, “ignoring all his red flags because he’s so pretty.” 

      

A comment, posted under another edit of Snow:

“I’m literally giggling and blushing and kicking my feet and twirling my hair”

 Finally, “I could fix him,” followed by two broken heart emojis. 

 

These comments and edits are just a few of many. Open Tiktok, search President Snow, and you will bear witness to a slew of edits of Tom Blyth playing the young villain in TBOSAS to songs like “My Boy” by Billie Eilish and “Style” by Taylor Swift. 

 

This instance of liking the villain is nothing new – Loki from Marvel, Anakin from Star Wars, and Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter to name a few are villains who each have their own fanbase. To many, there’s something appealing in the way that it shouldn’t be appealing, like the cliche trope of the “bad boy,” taken to a whole new level. 

     

Some may consider it unnerving that so many teenagers so easily disregard Snow and other villains’ evil tendencies in favor of their looks, while others may argue that since it’s fictional, there’s no real harm. In fact, this topic in general introduces the debate of how seriously we should take fiction and our response to it: Are there real dangers in romanticizing villains like Snow simply because of their physical appeal, or is it completely harmless and fictitious with no meaningful real-life implications?

    

On one hand, I believe fiction is very relevant in non-fictitious matters and the fictional media we consume can have very real impacts on how we view and interact with our society. An extremist may even say this attraction to villains like Snow represents the shallowness of our society that has led to a decline in meaningful and non-superficial relationships. Another may say it leads to the dangerous romanticization of toxicity that can extend to real-life relationships, most significantly in teenagers. 

     

But is it that deep? Should people really be shamed for watching edits of an attractive villain with no moral guilt, knowing they would never excuse their actions in real-life? It’s an interesting discussion that the recent craze surrounding President Snow in The Ballad of Song Birds and Snakes brings to light. 

 

Regardless of your take on this, I recommend seeing the film for yourself – and see if you too fall prey to the charms of young President Snow.

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Rachel Wicker, Guest Writer

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