The Hunger Games

The movie “The Hunger Games” is based on the book of the same name written by Suzanne Collins.  “The Hunger Games” is set in a dystopian society called Panem.  Panem which is divided into the Capitol, where the rich people in government live, and 12 Districts where the citizens live in abject poverty.  Many years before the movie is set, there was a civil war in which the then-13 Districts, rebelled against the Capitol.  The Capitol won the war, in the process, District 13 was completely destroyed.

Every year, to remind the citizens of what happened the last time they rebelled, each district has to give up 2 tributes: one teenage boy and one teenage girl, to fight to the death in the Hunger Games.  These are broadcast live throughout Panem.

The movie itself, follows the two tributes from District 12, Katniss Everdeen, and Peeta Mellark.  The plot of the movie, centers around them getting picked/volunteering for the games, getting ready for the games, fighting, and ultimately, in a rebellious act, threatening to commit suicide simultaneously when they are the last two tributes still alive, in order to become the first couple to win the Hunger Games.

This movie has dystopian themes of governance and human rights.  In this society, there is a totalitarian government headed by one man, President Snow similar to the government in the novel ­We, where the head of the government known as the Benefactor, is supposedly elected but the outcome is assured.  In both the “Hunger Games” and We, the individual is only important to the functioning of the society.  In We, there are no ‘people’ as such, only the citizens have numbers instead of names, while in “Hunger Games” the society isn’t a collective, there is still that theme of individual sacrifice for the greater good of the society when it comes to the tributes.

Every year, 24 teenagers are selected knowing that only 23 will come out alive, and this is cheered and emphasis is placed on the tributes’ bravery and sacrifice, knowing that they have no choice in the matter, once they’re chosen, they must fight, for the good of Panem.

This movie is also similar to the novel The Time Machine when it comes to the class system.  In The Time Machine the society is divided between the aristocratic Eloi and the proletariat Morlocks in a world where the Morlocks are in control and the Eloi are herded as sheep.  In “The Hunger Games” the aristocrats and other wealthy people in the Capitol want for nothing and are in control of the society, while the proletariat citizens of the districts are treated like sheep led to the slaughter.

The members of the capitol are tone-deaf.  They cheer on the tributes and place bets on their favorites to win.  They don’t seem to realize that these are real human lives being lost: picked up from poverty to kill their fellow citizens, for the entertainment of those whose children will never be picked.

4 thoughts on “The Hunger Games

  1. I remember a particular scene in which President Snow explains to his son, Seneca, that the Hunger Games is about giving the districts hope, but not too much hope that can pose an actual threat to the Capitol. Hope is absolutely necessary for rebelling heroes not only to become dedicated believers in their mission themselves, but also to instill hope in others so that they, too, may come to believe in (and join) their mission. It is cruel for an abusive power to manipulate hope to their liking.

    Often, authoritative regimes use fear to control the level of hope in its people. Panem uses the random selection method of tributes within each district as one tool. People live in poverty and if they want more food, they must volunteer to enter a family member’s name into the drawing. The more times a name is entered, the greater the probability (and fear) of being chosen as a tribute.

    Instead of making the Hunger Games a complete and total sacrificial massacre (where every tribute must die), there is one victor by the end of the Games. This is that small ounce of hope that President Snow has allowed to exist among the districts—but once Seneca changes the rules and announces that there are two winners of the Hunger Games, Snow realizes that too much hope has been given to the people. With greater, and now more powerful, hope given to the people, Katniss is labeled as a symbol of hope for the people—and Snow knows it.

  2. I’ve seen the Hunger Games movie, though I haven’t read the book, and I’m confused about how this huge society composed of several different districts (shout out to Our Great Society!) tolerates the whole idea of this “hunger games” competition. It’s an outright disgusting practice, with horrible consequences for several families and no upside at all, besides for the pleasure of a ruling upper class. So why do the citizens of Panem do it every year? Throughout several of the dystopian works we’ve read in the course, there have been similar practices of some kind of a very disagreeable tradition such as this one, but there’s usually some kind of reinforcement of the idea of a need to sacrifice for the greater good of society. Or, if not that, then there’s at least an illusion of choice in participating in something like this. But in Hunger Games, there’s no communicated need for a greater good, because the whole district is a nervous wreck during the random selection of tributes as nobody wants to be chosen. There’s no illusion of choice either, because whoever is chosen for the Games is forced to participate. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to enjoy the action scenes of a bunch of attractive teenagers fighting each other to the death, but for me the society of The Hunger Games isn’t at all believable.

  3. I don’t think that this movie is so far from the truth regarding human nature, especially when it comes to the citizens’ viewing of rampant violence and murder. History has many similar examples of a society glamorizing violence, the most obvious the Gladiators of Rome. As the Roman crowd would vote for their favorite gladiator in the Colosseum, tributes from all the districts are made into public images so that citizens can root and bet for their favorites on the screen. Scary when you think about it!

    The total control exhibited by President Snow in later movies is eerie, particularly his use of media and propaganda to promote lies reminiscent of the government in V for Vendetta.

  4. @cl154571 definitely not far from real life. In addition to the Gladiator of Rome, we also have Boxing, and many other sports glamorizing violence.

    When I watched this movie, I was thinking about how it was similar to my country’s history. Before Malaysia was independent from colonial rule, the races (Malay, Chinese, Indians, and the indigenous people) were segregated into different parts of the country and assigned different trades. It’s very similar to how the districts in Hunger Games were separated. Very soon, of course, the segregation in my country led to an uproar and then revolution, which proved that the segregation of trade and geographical location based on race is not a sustainable model.

    Much like many dystopian/utopian communities, I find that this movie shows the use of fear as a way to regulate community. Even though the segregation of the districts is causing so much suffering, the point of the Hunger Games was to re-instill fear within the people, and hence why the people has not caused an uproar… until Katniss’ , the girl from the underdog district, has won the competition.

Comments are closed.