Propaganda is the key behind most issues in dystopian societies, novels and movies alike. Propaganda is a fantastic way for the government, or other groups, to use ethos, pathos, and logos to create visuals for their cause/beliefs.
A very specific instant of propaganda being used to influence a dystopian society can be found in the Hunger Games series. From the very beginning of the first book, Collins shows the Capitol’s propaganda with the description of the speech given before the reaping ceremony. The speech describes Panem’s past and how the Capitol has supposedly saved them all and made the world a better and more peaceful place. Later on in the series, it is mentioned that clips are shown from District 13, the District the Capitol bombed and supposedly wiped out years ago. But it is later revealed that District 13 is alive and well and the video clip is the same one from when they were first bombed, as seen from the same tiny bird flying in the corner of the screen. An instance as simple as a video clip of District 13 has helped the Capitol hold control of the Districts as a whole. The Capitol uses the images and words in their propaganda videos and speeches to strike fear in the hearts of the Districts, which allows the Capitol to remain in control. The Capitol uses pathos when they create fear in the citizens of Panem by constantly reminding them who is in charge through the use of the speech before the reaping (or the video in the movie adaptation). They use logos by showing District 13, creating a message of “hey, you don’t want to mess with us or we’ll bomb and kill your District, think about that first”. The Capitol also uses ethos by describing how horrible life was before they took control, giving the impression that the Capitol knows what they are doing and can be trusted to take care of the citizens because they know the past and don’t want to return to it.
Another form of propaganda can be found in District 13. Once District 13 is up and running, they get ahold of Katniss in Mockingjay and use her to get their message out. At this point in the series, Katniss has inspired rebellion in the hearts of the Districts simply by her rebellious nature and refusal to quit. District 13 acts on this and begins to make promo videos to get the hesitant Districts to stand up and fight against the Capitol. While District 13’s propaganda may seem to be more for a better cause than the Capitol’s, they are still using ethos, pathos, and logos to attempt to convince the citizens of Panem to join their cause. They show Katniss in action to use ethos by showing that they have “the Mockingjay” on their side. They use devastating images of bombed Districts to inspire pathos, and have Katniss make calls of action to use logos.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2008.
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay. NY, NY, Scholastic Press, 2010.