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.


Blog Entry #5

The Hunger Games and Dystopian Fiction

       Dystopian societies may be described as a society in which many aspects are unpleasant, commonly seen when a centralized government rules the country. Collins, the author of The Hunger Games Trilogy, attempts to create a dystopian society through her books in order to give the reader examples of true life examples of poor treatment of the citizens when a government is solely in control. In "Dystopia With A Difference," Henthorne states "By presenting Katniss' dystopia on a personal level rather than a political one, Collins is able to help the readers imagine what living in a radically degraded environment may be like" (Henthorne 112). The readers are informed of the cruelty that the people of Panem face through the life of Katniss Everdeen.
      Similar to a totalitarian government, The Hunger Games trilogy is a great example in which the Capitol (government) is in complete control of the Districts, in an attempt to create a dystopia. The Capitol is a place where only individuals of the highest class reside, and they are provided with food, necessities, and all types material goods that are produced and imported from the Districts. The people in the Districts, especially District 12 which is Katniss' home, usually live a very poor lifestyle. Many of these people are starving and are in the Capitol's complete control, which is enforced by the Peacemakers. According to Henthorne, the districts are left to starve as a way to maintain control by the Capitol. Since food is so scarce in the Districts, the Capitol may use this as a means of control considering they are the ones who control food supplies.
      Dystopian societies value stability above all else. This statement simply means that the people of this type society will often lose their rights and freedom due to ultimate control by the government. These individuals will also be expected to sacrifice for the government. For example, Katniss' father was killed in a mining accident, in which he was working long and arduous days to provide coal for the Capitol's use. The people of the Districts are not allowed to talk badly of the Capitol, and when the beginning talks of the revolution spouted the rebels had to make sure to be careful of when and where they had these conversation. If the Capitol found out what the rebels were planning, they would surely be captured and turned into Avox's, or even killed. Propaganda is a major way of justifying all in the name of stability, and it plays a large part in all three books, especially Mockingjay. The games play a major role in the media and are considered to be a part of every day life in Panem, in which the people in the Districts are forced to watch them each year. Once Katniss is in the games herself, she sees them as what they really are and goes from passive to active by controlling the narrative and rewriting it (Henthorne 113). We see this in both Hunger Games and Catching Fire when Katniss threatens to eat the berries, as well as when she uses the arrow to destroy the arena at the Quarter Quell. This may be considered an act of defiance and may lead to a revolution due to its broadcast on live television throughout Panem.

       Reading is strongly looked down upon and forbidden in dystopian societies. Dystopians HATE reading, especially fictional stories, because reading evokes imagination, questioning and emotions. Of course a totalitarian government would not want their citizens getting ideas to rebel from a book. Citizens of a dystopia are taught strictly what the government plans to teach them, and reading would only give them new hope and ideas. The Capitol would certainly not want the citizens of Panem to get any ideas of a revolution, which is why the people in the Districts go to school to learn specific jobs based on which District they live in. They are also reminded of why the games exist, which is to prove that nobody can rebel against the Capitol.
       Dystopian societies serve the interest of a particular group, and in The Hunger Games, that group would clearly be the Capitol. The Capitol receives all of their food and material good from the Districts, while the people in the Districts are starving and barely have anything to live off of. Clearly these people do not agree with the type of society they are living in and would ultimately like to revolt against the Capitol, which is the main plot of Mockingjay. The people in the Capitol who reap the benefits of the poor citizens' hard work in the districts do not even realize what life is like for people without these benefits. They have no idea what it is like to live in the districts and be deprived of food, live in tiny old homes, and spend all day working to provide for the citizens of the Capitol. Henthorne makes a remarkable point that "in order for some to live in luxury, others have to suffer" (Henthorne 118).

       One may notice that The Hunger Games reflects contemporary cultural issues such as material excess of goods in high class societies, class disparity and the role of mass media in manipulating the citizens of a society. In society today all of these things exist and affect people in many different ways. Henthorne takes a different approach in his belief that District 13 may actually be a more frightening dystopia than Panem, and it seems to strongly represent what happened in the United States following the September 11th attacks. Certain rights such as habeas corpus were ignored, people were tortured in order to gain information and authorized bombings killed innocent civilians. Some may also say that this comparison may also be applied to the Boston Marathon bombing in which people's houses were searched without warrants, in search of the men who were behind the bombing. Also, in The Hunger Games the citizens are often desensitized due to the violence of the games which is shown on live television. Young children are getting slaughtered and killed, and the people in the Capitol enjoy watching these terrible acts without realizing how violent they actually are. Violence becomes part of the lifestyle in Panem, especially in the Districts where people get murdered or torture for breaking simple rules.
        Finally, the use of propaganda in order to manipulate the citizens of Panem plays a major role in The Hunger Games trilogy. In Mockingjay Collins uses propaganda as one of the most powerful tactics for beginning and maintaining a revolution among the people of the Districts. Katniss is seen as the "Mockingjay" and the leader of the rebellion as she is shown on almost every piece that is created. Beetee uses his technological skills to hack into the main system and override the messages from the Captiol and replace them with the pieces created by District 13 which advertise rebellion. The media seems to be the main trigger of the Districts all coming together to take action against the Capitol and its unfair and cruel treatment of the people of Panem. Henthorne describes how Collins believes that the problem with media taking over our lives is that the people become viewers instead of taking action for themselves. This may be true because everyone expects other people to take action, and nobody ultimately steps up to be a leader. In Catching Fire Katniss realizes that she was chosen by the people to be the leader of the rebellion and that she has a huge responsibility on her shoulders; she is the ultimate figure of the rebellion.