“Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch– this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy” (Collins, 18). Imagine living in a world where the only source of entertainment is controlled under a totalitarian government. A world where the regimes ideology of “good television” is forcing twenty-four adolescences to fight to the death and the last man standing is the winner. The dark, twisted ideology of The Hunger Games has become a yearly ritual for the citizens who live within the Districts of Panem.
The Hunger Games were established because of the uprising of the Districts against the Capitol (Collins, 18). For the past seventy five years, Districts One through Twelve has provided one girl and one boy, called tributes to participate in the brutal tournament (Collins, 18). Many individual from the Districts find these games as a cruel and malicious attempt to seek vengeance from the Districts that had once upraised and rebelled against the Capitol’s order. Though some may feel that the games are appalling, their actions say something completely different.
Because of their refusal to challenge or boycott these inhumane games, the morality of Panem as a society seems to be nonexistent when it comes to the lively hood of others in reality television. The acceptance that the country has for the Hunger Games could stem from the fear they have towards their Government. Throughout the novel, the government’s relationship with the twelve Districts is seen and viewed as an unhealthy and corrupt one. After the Dark Days, and the signing of The Treaty of Treason, the Capitol used their powers to abuse and manipulate the citizens of Districts One through Twelve.
As a way to humiliate and torment the twelve Districts, the Capitol requires them to treat the Hunger Games as a festivity” ( Collins, 19). Panem’s government system is not run as a democracy, but as a dictatorship. Instead of letting the people have a voice; their Capitol maintains their authority by making the twelve Districts fear the worst possible outcome. In the novel, the government’s messages towards the Districts and the Hunger Games are clear: “Take your children and scarify them and there’s nothing you can do. If you left a finger we will destroy every last one of you.
Just as we did in District Thirteen” (Collins, 19). Their totalitarian approach could clarify why the people of Panem are afraid to speak up and strike against The Games. Even though some may believe they are forced to watch or participate in the Hunger Games, their lack of motivation to organize together and protest shows their acceptance of the Games. Through the Hunger Games, the twelve Districts are presented with the ideology that there is as a way of getting out of poverty and starvation. This could explain why the Districts are more willing to take part in the Games rather than speak up against the inhumane treatment of kids.
Because of the uneven distribution of wealth, many citizens find it hard to survive thus forcing them to live in distressed living conditions. The advantages of being victor of the Hunger Games are not only beneficial for the winning tribute, but their District reaps in the benefits as well. “The last tribute alive receives a life of ease back home, and their Districts will be showered with prizes, largely consisting of food. All year the Capitol will show the winning Districts gifts of grain and oil and even delicacies” (Collins, 19).
The Districts watch these games in hopes at a chance of climbing the latter towards success thus showing their acceptance of the torment that a tribute will go through while in the arena. By rallying against the reaping, the festivities or the Games, the citizens from the Districts could be seen as having ethics or principles Though the underprivileged may see the hunger games as ploy to gain wealth and prosperity, it could be argued that the Capitol view the games for pure entertainment. The wealth of the Capitol citizens seems to make them less compassionate towards the ideology of the Games.
The citizens of the Capitol are collectively different from the rest of the nation and may see the people of the Districts as less than human. According to Shaffer’s philosophy, “dehumanization- denying someone the status of personhood- is a technique used by oppressors to lure a populace into the enjoying of the suffering of others”(Shaffer,80) The killing of innocent lives in the arena is not seen as sad or cruel in the Capitol’s eyes, but as exciting and gives for good entertainment. For their viewing pleasure, the citizens of the Capitol urge the Gamemakers to manipulate the games to as a way to add excitement.
Despite the fact that the Games promote the belief that tormenting a child is ok, the Gamemakers uses their control in the seventy fifth Hunger Games by igniting fires to force the tributes together and ultimately kill each other. (Collins, 173). The tactics and techniques of torture and misery are used by the Gamemakers to ensure that the people of the Capitol are enjoying the show. The Gamemaker ‘s and their most active viewers seek amusement with toying on the emotion of the tributes without taking in regards that they are watching the slaughter of innocent people. Tributes are instead viewed as animals instead of human beings.
Katniss experience the Capitols disrespect towards human life when she meets with her prep team after winning the hunger games. She expresses how their conversations about the Games were focused more on them and about where they were or what they were doing and not on the dying boys and girls in the arena (Collins, 354). The Capitols enjoyment towards the games not only stems from their uncompassionate nature but through the pleasure of seeing people in agony. According to Shaffer’s ideology The Hunger Games, is a popular event for the country of Panem because of the enjoyment a person receives while watching others suffer.
(Shaffer,) One can see the truth in his philosophy by the approach of the people in the Districts and Capitol as they join in and watch the brutal exchange. The hunger game is presented as a celebrity event that promotes the deadly brawl between Districts. Their enjoyment of death during the Games shows their blatant disregard for a human’s life or well-being. Shaffer supports his theory with the German word Schadenfreude, which is defined as the enjoyment to obtained from the suffering of others (Shaffer, 77)
The Hunger Games displays Schadenfreude in its most natural form when the Capitol citizens cheer on the deaths of the tributes inside the arena (Shaffer, 76). Their tolerance of the Hunger Games shows how cold-hearted an individual can be towards a person.
Cruelty, violence and death are the reoccurring themes in the annually televised show called Hunger Games. This could also be seen as an underlying theme throughout the novel. The wealthy class sees violence as good entrainment as some of the underprivileged class views cruelty as a ticket to live in a life of prosperity. The Districts refusal to condemn the Games may be seen as the citizens becoming content with their current lot in life. But for some of the citizens, they see the games as callous and cruel and are able to see more of the evilness behind the Hunger Games.
The Capitol’s ruthless nature of ruling ultimately stops individuals from voicing their opinions about the games. Their cruel ruling of the government not only stimulates fear within the country, but eventually stops the power of the Districts from building a better tomorrow for the next generation to come. Work Cited Page
Colins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Toronto: Scholastic, 2008. Print. Shaffer, Andrew. “The Joy of Watching Other Suffer.” The Hunger Games and Philosophy. Ed. George A. Dunn. Irwin, William, and Nicolas Michaud. Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, 2012. 75-88. Print.
The Hunger Games movie had a multimillion-dollar weekend opening and seems destined to be the most successful film of the year. Which is remarkable because it's a political movie set in a not-too-distant America and expresses themes that are familiar and disturbing.
The Hunger Games was published in 2008, the first book of a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. It imagines a post-apocalyptic America, "Panem," with an authoritarian central government set in "The Capitol." Inhabitants of the Capitol live a life of luxury while the rest of the citizens of Panem live in twelve slave colonies, "Districts," scattered across North America. Once a year the Capitol televises a great spectacle where two teenagers are selected by lottery from each district, brought to the Capitol, trained and groomed, and then transported to an arena for a battle where only one teenager can survive -- the games' slogan is, "May the odds be ever in your favor."
The Hunger Games heroine is sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen who represents District 12. She supplements her family's diet by (illegal) bow hunting. Her archery talents protect her when the games begin.
The Hunger Games novel was targeted for young-adult readers - -there's violence but no sex -- and then crossed over to a larger audience. The Hunger Games movie grossed more than $155 million in its first weekend: 61 percent of moviegoers were women and 56 percent of ticketholders were over 25.
Unlike other recent blockbuster movies -- Harry Potter,The Dark Knight and Spider-Man -- The Hunger Games is set in a recognizable America and expresses themes from the contemporary zeitgeist.
The first is that things aren't going well. The Hunger Games is part of a wave of dystopian novels -- other examples are Pure and Divergent -- that are favorites with young-adult readers. The books assume an America that has been ravaged by nuclear war or an environmental calamity. This builds upon fear that the US is headed in the wrong direction -- in the most recent Gallup Poll 72 percent of respondents felt this way.
The second theme is that the central government cannot be trusted. In The Hunger Games President Coriolanus Snow, an autocrat, governs the Capitol, which controls the twelve districts by means of a ruthless police force. In addition to forced-labor camps, Panem utilizes extensive electronic surveillance, and during the period of the games, compulsory television viewing. This reflects the belief the US government cannot be trusted. Those on the right believe the federal government has been usurped by "socialists" and gotten too big. Those on the left believe the federal government has been bought by plutocrats and isn't doing anything to protect workers. Many Americans believe there is too much government intrusion into our private lives.
The third Hunger Games theme is that government no longer works for all the people. There's a small group that lives a life of privilege while most people struggle to fend off starvation. Collins doesn't use the terms 1 percent and 99 percent, but it's clear that those in the Capitol are members of the 1 percent and everyone in the Panem districts is part of the 99 percent.
The fourth theme is ubiquitous surveillance. There are cameras and listening devices planted everywhere in Panem. Even before Katniss enters the games, she's aware that most of the time her movements are being observed. After she enters the games she has no privacy; a tracking device is implanted in her arm and every move Katniss makes is broadcast on TV.
The fifth theme is young adults dying as "entertainment." This is the aspect of The Hunger Games that's gotten the most negative attention -- the notion that a battle to the death involving teenagers serves as a form of reality television for the citizens of Panem. (By the way, the movie is rated PG-13.) But the fact is the US has an unusually high rate of teenage violent deaths. Car crashes are the leading cause of death among all teenagers, but homicide is the leader for black male teens. If you couple these facts with the ubiquitous American culture of violence -- the prevalence of handguns, violent imagery in books, films, games, and music -- most contemporary teenagers accept the violence in The Hunger Games as near reality. Note that at the end of Harry Potter, Harry and the teenage students at Hogwarts School engaged in a battle to the death with Lord Voldemort and his allies.
The sixth theme in The Hunger Games is revolution. This is only hinted at in the movie -- there are scenes of fighting in District 11 after Rue is killed. But, in Mockingjay, the final book of the trilogy, Katniss leads a rebellion against the rulers of Panem. We're beginning to hear muttering about revolution in the US: states seceding from the union, Americans withdrawing to survivalist enclaves in the deep woods, Tea Party radicals eliminating of the federal government, and so forth.
Sixty-three years ago, Orwell's dystopian novel 1984 turned out to be prophetic. Will that be true of The Hunger Games? Decide for yourself and "May the odds be ever in your favor."