reading into things

The 5 Most Unintentionally Erotic Moments of Catching Fire

ID_D39_15394.dng Photo: Murray Close/Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a laudable, rousing movie that also made me feel like a total perv. How did this happen? To be fair, there are a handful of scenes in the movie that are fully meant to carry a sexual charge — Finnick’s lascivious sugar cube scene, for one, or Johanna’s totes inappropes elevator stripdown — and yet all too often, I found other moments to be titillating in ways that surely weren’t intended. I promise you that I am not normally this person! (You know the sort of person: She’s your co-worker Betsy, and that one weird day when you had to use her computer, you found that she was in the middle of writing a very NC-17 slash-fic starring Taylor Lautner and a bendy, bi-curious Robert Pattinson.) But in the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you the five Catching Fire scenes where I picked up on some weirdly sexual vibes; please raise three fingers to the air in solidarity if you found these moments to be unintentionally erotic, too.

When It Looks Like Cinna and Katniss Might Kiss
Just before Katniss gets sent up to the surface to begin the 75th annual Hunger Games, she shares a quiet moment with her stylist Cinna, and I was suddenly galvanized by the idea that they were about to make out. Why else would they stand so unusually close together? Yes, this was an emotional moment for the two of them, but you can’t just stand there stock-still with your beautiful lips just inches apart: Either go in for the hug or respect the friend zone and bob back a bit! Part of the problem may have been Lenny Kravitz’s gorgeous Rorshach blot of a face: He’s so impassive and opaque that you can project nearly anything onto him. Is he hungry? Annoyed? Is he about to tell Katniss, “I’m bisexual,” and it’s going to be awkward because she totally knew that already and now is really not the time? Tell me I’m not the only one who noticed this.

When Woody Harrelson’s Nipples Are at High Alert
Here you go, here is your litmus test for this article: Do you remember the scene where Haymitch and Effie come in to talk to Katniss and you’re not even listening to what they’re saying because Woody Harrelson is wearing an embarrassing dip-dye henley and his nipples are uncomfortably erect? I saw this movie in IMAX, and Woody Harrelson’s nipples were so gigantic that they could practically date Hayden Panettiere. Who was in charge of icing Woody Harrelson’s man-mammaries in that scene, and why? Those things looked like they could cut glass (or Gloss).

When Finnick Gives Peeta CPR
Is Peeta really as hapless as he seems, or is it all part of a cunning strategy? If I’m being generous, I could say that Peeta constantly messes up in Catching Fire as part of a plan that’s meant to off Mags, the morphling, and anyone else unfortunate to share screen time with the perma-falling baker’s son. When you look at things that way, maybe Peeta walked into that force field on purpose, since it’s just about the only way he could snag some mouth-to-mouth from Katniss, a desperate gamble for sexual attention that also scored him one very welcome bonus: Finnick shoving his fragile mentor Mags out of the way so he could be the very first person to put his lips to Peeta’s. Josh Hutcherson, you earned your Out magazine cover with that one.

When Gale Gets Whipped
Listen. Listen! I am not trying to get all S&M on you here: Obviously, Gale’s whipping scene is a sad, scary moment and it’s not meant to be sexy at all. So why were you leaning forward in your seat, silently willing director Francis Lawrence to cut to better angles of Liam Hemsworth’s shirtless, writhing body? I wasn’t doing it, you were doing it. Explain yourself.

When Haymitch Pins Katniss Up Against the Wall
At the end of the movie (spoilers, obviously, but come on), Katniss goes berserk on Haymitch once she finds out that he and Beetee were planning a dangerous revolution in the arena the entire time. (Katniss hates surprises!) She goes flying at her mentor, and Haymitch responds by pinning her up against a wall, where he’ll plunge a syringe into Katniss to sedate her until the last scene. But that doesn’t happen right away; instead, Haymitch and Katniss kinda struggle against that wall and things start to get weirdly Fifty Shades of Grey between them. Again: The friend zone has been violated. I realize that Haymitch has a good excuse to be up in the girl on fire’s face, but it’s still weird how long they’re full-on slammed against each other. Maybe we’re reading too much into it, or maybe it’s just a J.Law thing — after all, in the upcoming American Hustle, a heated confrontation between Lawrence and her nemesis Amy Adams actually does end with an unexpected kiss. But if you felt the same way about Catching Fire, let your freak flag fly and make your voice heard! (Just don’t start shipping Plutarch Heavensbee and President Snow; there is a line, and you have crossed it.)

EDITED TO ADD: I cannot believe that I forgot to include two scenes suggested below in the comments: the moment where Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick writhe around in the boil-curing lake and make enough moaning noises to power an entire season of Red Shoe Diaries, and the scene where Finnick eagerly kneels to lap up the water coming out of that tree spigot with a gay-porn expression that positively screams, “Shoot it on my face, bro!” I’m not sure what it says about me that I found these omissions more embarrassing than the fact that I wrote this article in the first place.

Catching Fire’s Unintentionally Erotic Moments