Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blog Entry #10

Final Blog

      Before entering this class I had not read any of the Hunger Games books and I was not sure what to expect. I enjoyed this class and I especially enjoyed reading the books because they were great books and very interesting to read. This SIS class related The Hunger Games trilogy to a variety of different topics and disciplines, requiring the students to think outside the box and truly analyze the books.
      This semester we related The Hunger Games to many different disciplines such as dystopian literature, gender roles, philosophy, religion and reality television. From simply reading the books I would not have been able to make all of these connections on my own. The most interesting guest speaker in my opinion was Dr. Raley and her lecture on gender roles. I found it very interesting to analyze gender roles in today's society and compare them to the roles each of the main characters play in The Hunger Games. After analysis of the characters, it is clear that Peeta and Katniss play almost reversed gender roles; Katniss being the protector and caretaker while Peeta is the sensitive and romantic type. Relating The Hunger Games to reality television was also interesting because I would have never made that connection from simply reading the books. Once it had been pointed out to me I began to realize how many similarities there are between the two. Although it is voluntary, some reality television shows torture their contestants as well, just like the Gamemakers do in The Hunger Games. I also really enjoyed listening to Mr. Rubin Sztajer speak about his experience during the Holocaust. It is not rare that one receive an opportunity to listen to an individual who has had first hand experience in Nazi Germany and the concentration camps. Of course one cannot compare his experiences in the concentration camps to a fiction Hunger Games, but it was still interesting to hear about and realize that people can be treated as cruelly as President Snow treats the citizens of the Districts of Panem.

     I thought that this class was challenging because sometimes it is hard to see the connections between The Hunger Games and the various other disciplines and topics. One must truly analyze the books in order to find these connections. I feel that I read each book in depth and that I was able to fully understand the main points and details of each of the books. It is imperative to see how important Katniss is as at the Mockingjay and how her role is developed throughout her actions in each of the three books. Listening to the guest speakers and discussing the books in class helped me understand the connections better and ultimately made it easier to write my blog at the end of the week.
     Overall I believe that this was an interesting class and it was able to help me realize how similar our society may actually be to The Hunger Games. Without this class I would have never made these connections and thought about the books in this manner.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Blog Entry #9

       The nature of evil is a major topic represented in The Hunger Games trilogy. There are many instances in which one may analyze the evil actions of specific characters throughout the books.
       Dr. Baron, a philosophy professor, discussed the different types of ethics that exist - utilitarianism, consequentialism, deontology, virtue and care. Utilitarianists believe that the right action is the one that maximizes utility. The actions produce the greatest balance of pleasure over pain for the greatest number of people. For example, President Coin and President Snow are two great examples of people that would be considered evil through this type of ethics. Both of these individuals do NOT act for the greater good, instead the only think about themselves.

       Consequentialists believe that the morally right action depends on the consequences and focuses on the possible outcomes. In The Hunger Games the reader may see a few examples of this type of ethics. When Katniss and Peeta threaten to eat the berries at the end of the 74th annual Hunger Games they had to weigh out the possible outcomes, as did the Gamemakers when they chose to have two winners. Other examples may be when the tributes such as Johanna and Finnick sacrifice themselves in order to protect Katniss, who will eventually be the symbol of the revolution. Also when Katniss is supposed to kill President Snow but kills President Coin instead.
      Deontology is the theory that the morally right action is independent of consequences and focuses on duties and obligation. This includes the formula in the end of itself, which states that you cannot use people for your own benefit, as well as the formula of universal law which states never to do anything that you would not want other people to do in that same situation. Deontologists believe that it is never acceptable to lie. In The Hunger Games Haymitch and the rest of the rebels hide the truth about the rebellion from Katniss. When she enters the Quarter Quell she has no idea that many of the tributes around her are planning to revolt against the Capitol. She later finds out when she escapes the arena and realizes that Peeta has been taken by the Capitol.
       Virtue Ethics state the traits and characteristics that make a good person. The golden mean is when one takes into account actions/feelings and creates an appropriate response, which is usually the mean (somewhere in the middle). This type of ethics is portrayed when Katniss volunteers for Prim. Many may say that Katniss represents characteristics that make her a good person, which include her courageousness.

       Finally, care ethics include thinking about others and their well being. Katniss exemplifies this type of philosophy when she cares for Rue in the 74th Hunger Games. She does not receive any benefit from taking Rue as an ally but she feels that it is the right thing to do to care for Rue. Dr Baron stated that in order to be evil, one must have a specific intent and find pleasure in causing harm to others.

      Gresh takes a different approach on what drives evil forces in the book The Hunger Games Companion. She discusses the biological traits that cause people to act in certain ways; "It's all induced inside the body, specifically by the neuronal connections in the brain" (Gresh, 139). "When a neuron sends information down an axon away from the cell body, neuroscientists say that there is an action potential or that a spike has occurred" (Gresh, 138). Gresh describes the conclusion that evolutionary psychologists have come to in regards to how our minds work. Other theories state that "evil criminals are born with what researchers call criminal or risk genes" (Gresh 135). Basically, these researchers believe that one is born with evil DNA and cannot alter the gene.
     There are many different theories and perceptions on what makes an individual evil. Many of the characters in The Hunger Games possess characteristics in one form or another of evil. Evil actions are seen throughout the entirety of the trilogy through many different individuals.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blog Entry #8

     There have been many criticisms on the role of gender relations and romance in The Hunger Games trilogy. Katniss is not portrayed as a typical female character and Collins strays from the norm when creating a plot consisting of a female main character. This character possesses qualities that are often associated with masculinity and sometimes lacks emotion and other feminine aspects.
       Dr. Raley discussed gender roles in society and in the media, as well as comparing these issues to the storyline of The Hunger Games. Gender differences may be seen through everything that we do including the clothing we wear, the way we behave and the way we speak. Gender relations may vary from culture to culture and also may change over time. For example, in the early 1700's our founding fathers may have been spotted in long coats and high heels, wearing wigs and facial powder. In today's society, if a male was to dress like this he would certainly be stereotyped and picked on. Gender is also seen through the media, where the main characters are usually men, while the women abandon their independence and may be seen as a prize. The Hunger Games is significant because the main character is a girl, Katniss, who is strong and independent. Unlike many novels/movies, she is not dependent on a man, in fact it seems as if Peeta is dependent on her. Her hunting skills, protective instinct, leadership, rebelliousness, and temper are all characteristics that are usually seen in male characters; they may be considered very masculine traits. Katniss is also very unemotional considering that she has two men falling for her, yet she is not particularly romantically interested in either of them. The only reason she continues the romance with Peeta is in order to win over the audience and stay alive in the Hunger Games. This is something that is rarely ever seen in movies/novels today, in which the female is usually extremely emotional and tends to be dependent on the man in her life.

        Pharr and Clark compare the characteristics of Katniss to Bella of Twilight in "Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games." The authors conclude that these two characters are extremely different. For example, "where Bella in consumed by the drama surrounding her romantic life, Katniss remains largely ambivalent about it" (Pharr & Clark, 213). I believe that this is a major reason for the significant difference between the heroines. Bella is the typical girl whose life revolves around her dramatic love triangle, while Katniss couldn't care less about the romance in her life because she has bigger issues to deal with. "While Bella is book smart and has an affinity for literature, Katniss learns survival skills and knows how to skin a lynx." These two are just many of the examples why Katniss is portrayed so differently than normal female lead characters. The lack of emotions in Katniss' character are what make her stand out as an atypical female lead role. "She is unemotional, and she remains emotional detached throughout much of the narrative" (Pharr & Clark, 122). For example, when Katniss leaves for the games she refuses to cry with her sister, Prim, because that would make her look weak, and of course she could not look weak in public. Katniss must stay strong throughout the book in order to protect her mother and sister as well as her "star crossed lover," Peeta. It is almost as if the two switched gender roles in the trilogy due to the fact that Katniss is always protecting him and remaining emotionally detached.

       Katniss' character defies the social norm for gender roles in today's society. It is very difficult to find a good novel/movie that contains this type of heroine as a main character. In accordance with what Dr. Raley stated in her lecture, men are typically seen as the stronger character, while women are not usually portrayed as strong and independent like Katniss.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Blog Entry #7

       Music plays an important role in The Hunger Games trilogy, which is especially shown through the third book, Mockingjay. Collins writes in the final book "we may have been the smallest district in Panem, but we know how to dance," referring to the people of District 12. "The Hanging Tree" is a song that is reference several times throughout the trilogy and has a deeper meaning that may be portrayed as a rally for rebellion.
       "The Hanging Tree" is a song that Katniss' father used to sing to her when she was a little girl, which was eventually banned by her mother because it was not a pleasant song. The song is a major symbol in the books due to its underlying meaning. It is about a murderer who is singing to his lover to come back to the tree where he was hung. As the song goes on, one may realize the deeper meaning in a few of the specific lines. Each verse starts off with the lyrics "Are you, are you coming to the tree," which I interpreted as the singer telling the audience to return to the state of mind in which being free was acceptable and necessary.
        The third line contains different lyrics for each verse, which may be used together to form the overall meaning and tone of the song. In the first verse the singer uses "where they strung up a man they say murdered three." The listeners do not know exactly what happened with the man or if he actually murder three people because the singer states it as if he had just been accused of murder. "Where the dead man called out for his love to flee" is the third line of the second verse and seems as if the murder is trying to protect his lover by telling her to run away. The audience realizes that the dead man is behind the narration of the song when he states "where I told you to run so we'd both be free." Clearly he is trying to run from something/someone in hopes of a better life for him and his lover. Finally, in the fourth verse the singer sings "wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me." This line really brings the meaning of the song together because the singer is now asking his loved one to take action with himself. They must have already been to the tree before and maybe participated in a rebellion against the unfair government.
       "Strange things did happen here" is the fourth line of each verse and suggests that the dead man may actually have been innocent and that the violence and little respect that people have for each other is "strange." The line that ends each verse is "no stranger would it be, if we met at midnight in the hanging tree." When the singer says "in the hanging tree" he refers to the fact that it is necessary for people to sacrifice themselves for the greater good and ultimately fight for freedom and a better life.
      It is easy to believe that this song is meant to rally a rebellion, especially because Katniss mentions that she is not able to sing the song aloud due to its meaning; the song is considered forbidden by the government of Panem. Her mother even tells the girls' father to completely stop singing the song in an attempt to protects her family. Overall, I believe that the signer is trying to get the people of the Districts together and help them realize that they should be free people and the treatment that they receive is cruel and unfair.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Blog Entry #6

      A totalitarian government may be defined as a "system that is centralized and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state" (Google). These types of societies were often seen in the past, however, some totalitarian governments still exist today. The Hunger Games trilogy may contain many similar characteristics to a totalitarian society.
      In the book "Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games," the authors closely analyze characteristics of a totalitarian society and relate them to the trilogy. Pharr and Clark refer to the essay "Ur-fascism," written by Umberto Eco, in order to describe the characteristics of a fascist society. In his essay he states "dissent is betrayal," which is definitely something that is seen in the trilogy when Peeta gets beaten for publicly warning District 13 of an attack, and when Cinna gets tortured right in front of Katniss (Pharr and Clark, 32). Some other characteristics of a totalitarian regime may be "actions for action's sake" and "scorn for the weak," which are also seen in the trilogy through President Snow and the Capitol (Pharr and Clark, 32). Not only is President Snow and the Capitol an example of a fascist government in The Hunger Games, but Alma Coin and District 13 also run a very strict government in which food is rationed equally, residents are given a specific schedule each day, and there may be consequences for breaking the rules. The authors go on to discuss how Gale attempts to kill a great amount of innocent people in order to neutralize the nut, while Snow drops bombs on a bunch of children who were placed around his mansion as a human barricade (Pharr and Clark 34). Eco's essay states that one does not need to display all aspects of a totalitarian regime in order to become one;  "all you need is on the of them to be present, and a fascist nebula will begin to coagulate" (Pharr and Clark, 35). Systems of government that reflect totalitarian leadership may be seen in the Middle East, where the "Arab Spring" revolution is taking place.
       Gresh also analyzes the trilogy in relation to a totalitarian regime in the book "The Hunger Games Companion." There are several steps to a rebellion such as the one that takes place in Mockingjay. The first step is a large portion of the population becoming unhappy with the government, which is most definitely the case for the Districts of Panem. Next, majority of the people living in the society must feel that the only way to solve these problems are to overthrow the government. In The Hunger Games it is sort of a domino effect, when one District revolts it leads to other rebellions in other Districts as well. The third step is the elite classes voting for rebellion. In the trilogy these people may be considered Plutarch Heavensbee, head Gamemaker, and Beetee who is an inventor. There also must be a crisis in which the regime would be unable to use force against the people, and this may be an economic collapse or scarcity of food and water. Lastly, there must be no other government that intervenes with the rebellion. All of these steps clearly take place in The Hunger Games trilogy which is why the rebellion may be successful. (Gresh 25-27)
       Totalitarian regimes insist that the government should be all-powerful and the states/citizens should provide primarily for the success of the government. One may see how this clearly relates to the Capitol, in which the people of the Districts hardly have an food to live on and they must work arduously to provide food and material goods for the Capitol.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Blog Reflection - In Class

     The blogs of my classmates are interesting to view and read their entries each week. Both Haley and Jamie have great thoughts incorporated into their posts and they contain many pictures to make the blogs more appealing to the human eye. Haley's blog consists of "flip cards" in which the viewer may click on a picture in order to open a certain blog. Once the viewer chooses a picture/blog entry, it pops up onto the screen for us to read. Haley's blogs are also very informational and contain a lot of detail on each of the topics. It is clear that she spent a lot of time on her blogs and put a great deal of effort into them. Jamie's blog is also interesting, containing a yellow background that catches the reader's eye. It is very colorful and contains many pictures that correlate to her thoughts in each of the blogs. Blog entry #3 even contains an animated picture, which is interesting. Jamie's thoughts are interesting to read about and her ideas are very clear and to the point. I believe that both of my classmates have created very nice blogs that are appealing to they eye and have wonderful thoughts and detail.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Extra Credit Blog - The Condemned

     Many say that The Hunger Games is just another version or "copy" of the film The Condemned, starring Jack Conrad as a prisoner awaiting execution with a sudden chance to avoid his death sentence after being purchased by a wealthy person. In both of these movies, television and the media plays an important role in each society, similar to some reality TV programs that we watch today such as Survivor and The Bachelor.
      The Condemned and The Hunger Games trilogy have many similar aspects, which may be why many people believe that Collins' idea for her books came from this movie. In The Condemned, Jack Conrad has a chance to keep his life instead of receive capital punishment by fighting in a contest against with 9 other people on death row. They each have a bomb placed on their ankle and they fight until the death; the winner, of course, has his/her bomb removed at the end. Similar to The Hunger Games, the contestants are all from third world countries, which may be compared to the tributes from the Districts which live very poor lifestyles. The battle is broadcasted live over the internet for anyone to watch, just like how the Capitol broadcasts the games live in each District as well as the Capitol itself.
       The media is such an significant aspect of each of these societies, similar to American society today, which may be a message that the authors and producers are trying to send. Television and the media may be used as a way to manipulate citizens, a technique used in Mockingjay to get the people of the Districts to revolt against the Capitol. Also, broadcasting violent events such as the games or the battle in The Condemned is somewhat desensitizing to society that is viewing them. This means that the people become used to violent acts such as these and begin to believe that it is normal or common, which it most certainly is not. In the popular reality TV show, Survivor, participants engage in alliances that we know will not be able to last because there can only be one winner. They also participate in physical contests that occasionally involve violence and physical contact, although not life threatening.
       Tribute in the games can get sponsors from the audience in order to send them necessities or things that they need to survive in the arena. This means the the tributes must put a lot of effort into impressing the viewers and gaining fans. This explains Peeta and Katniss' romantic relationship, although some of it may have been real, it was all a plan from the beginning to gain sponsors. The same types of things happen in reality TV shows today in order for the contestants to receive votes and succeed in the show. Society sometimes gets emotionally involved in these shows just from watching and keeping up with them every week. Henthorne also believes that since fashion is a major factor in all 3 of The Hunger Games books that it may be related to shows such as Extreme Makeover or America's Next Top Model. In this aspect, women are transformed into sexual objects and face the challenge of maintaining their sense of self while their physical aspects are changing drastically. Katniss is different because she realizes that this is not something to be proud of and she does not appreciate her transformation. In American society, the media and TV shows place such a strong emphasis on physical appearance that most women cannot come to this realization on their own.
     The media plays an important role on society and this is emphasized through The Condemned and The Hunger Games. Although these may be extreme case scenarios, they are meant for the viewers to realize how the media may manipulate society and how powerful it really is.