All posts by Jack Gibney


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Brook, Tom Vanden. “Syria Likely Responsible for Chemical Attack Condemned by President Trump.”USA Today, 5 Apr. 2017. USA Today, Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.

Kingsley, Patrick, and Anne Barnard. “Banned Nerve Agent Sarin Used in Syria ChemicalAttack, Turkey Says.” The New York Times, 6 Apr. 2017. The New York Times, Accessed 10 Apr. 2017.

For my conference presentation on Monday, March 13th, I will be giving an overview of my research paper The Fortitude of Selflessness in Undermining Propaganda in Dystopian Societies, and highlighting a few of the main and most compelling arguments within it. I will argue that in dystopian societies, there is a reoccurring theme that those who are in power (the upper-class, the government, etc.) will create a façade to hide their imperfect lives behind and control the masses through propaganda in the form of social entrenchment, oppression, and fear. I will further argue that this method of control is adept at pitting the citizenry against themselves, but is structured on the assumption that they will act in their own self interests. Cracks in the façade begin to form and propaganda begins to lose its grip when a selfless hero emerges and is thrown into the midst of the ruling class and is put in the spotlight for the nation to see. It is through the hero’s selflessness and refusal to be used as the government’s pawn, that allows him/her to rouse a rebellion and begin to bring down the government.

My paper uses Red Queen and The Hunger Games as contextual evidence. Since Red Queen is a recently published novel, little scholarly writing on it has been published. Consequentially, I will present my argument through the lens of The Hunger Games and show how Red Queen exhibits strong correlation.

I will first address the methods of propaganda and control the Capital uses in the districts; in “I Was Watching You Mockingjay”, Sean Connors presents a compelling argument that the Capital maintains internal class divisions in the districts in order to pit the citizenry against themselves and not the Capitol. Secondly I will present the selflessness Katniss exhibits throughout The Hunger Games. Finally, I will analyze how serving Rue and caring for her, as well as Katniss putting Peeta’s interests before her own, highlight her refusal to be used by the Capital, and are the actions that defeated the Capitol’s propaganda and began to unite the districts. As a result, the Capitol had to increase its use of violence to maintain order, and eventually declare war in an attempt to suppress the rebellion.

If my thesis sounds compelling and, and you want to know how Red Queen supports my thesis and strongly correlates to The Hunger Games, you will have to read my paper and listen to my conference presentation to find out. Feel free to be actively engaged and ask questions after I present and/or tweet me with any material you have questions about, or think I should address in my paper.


Davidson, James. A question from the audience. Business 2 Community, 31 July 2012,     170#ja8odJQiywP6Fpj1.97. Accessed 4 Mar.2017.

The themes of my independent reading book, Red Queen, are centralized around the idea of how the ruling class maintains their power and control over the lower class in their (dystopian) society. There is a strong correlation to The Hunger Games in how the Capital maintains control over the twelve districts. In Red Queen, the Silvers continually “show off” their power to the Reds to remind them who has the “right to rule” and the power to do so. Ubiquitous propaganda in the forms of lies and deceit, as well as forced conscription reinforce the façade that the Silvers are perfect and have everything in order. In a similar fashion, the Capital’s propaganda throughout the districts in Panem, emphasized by the Peacekeepers, spies, and the Hunger Games, reinforce the Capital’s power and right to rule, as well as the false truth that Panem is thriving (this is especially prominent in the events after Katniss and Peeta win the Hunger Games).

In both societies, a hero with the potential to topple the established order emerges from the lowest class and is put in a spotlight before the ruling class. For Mare, this happens during the Queenstrial when she discovers her abilities in front of the royal Silver families; for Katniss, this occurs when she volunteers as tribute for Prim, and finds herself as the District 12 tribute for the 74th Hunger Games and lands before the eyes of the Capital and the nation of Panem.

The element that really interests me, and is what I will be discussing in my research paper, is finding that moment, exemplified in Red Queen and The Hunger Games, where propaganda in dystopian societies begins to fail and how the established order crumples under the actions of the hero (i.e. Katniss and Mare). From the research I have conducted and will continue to do, I have noticed that the ability of both governments, in The Hunger Games and Red Queen, to control the masses by propaganda and fear, hinges on the assumption that citizens will look out and act in their own interests, not others’. Propaganda begins to lose its grip when a selfless leader who refuses to be used as a pawn and controlled by the government emerges and will continually look to the interests of others before him or herself. Both literary leaders, Mare and Katniss, come from the lower class, break the law to provide some form of support for their family, and also have anger directed toward the ruling class. It is their selflessness that enables them to subvert the established order while among their midst and seemingly being used as the government’s “pawn”.

            I will then conclude my paper by arguing what these themes translate to as a message to young adult readers. So far my research points me in the direction that these themes underscore the belief to kids that they can make a difference in the world they are living in. If there is something in society they do not agree with, or do not want to be a part of, they can make a difference. Not by having special abilities (like Mare and Katniss), but by being selfless. By not giving into power and pressure, but by looking out for others and making an impact that way.



“Katniss Buries Rue with Flowers.” bitchmedia, Bitch Media, 10 Mar. 2014, 19 Feb. 2017.



In dystopian societies, those who control the power will go to all extremes to make sure societal entrenchment, oppression, and fear remain true. In Red Queen, the perception of the strength and power of the ruling class is the foundation of how they maintain their wealth and opulence. In Mare’s (the narrator) world, there are two kinds of people: Silvers and Reds.

Since she was born, Mare had been indoctrinated in every aspect of life to believe that Silvers, the ruling class, are inherently better than the impoverished Reds. Their silver blood gives Silvers supernatural abilities and thus the “right” to rule over the normal and crimson blooded Reds. The perception of the Silvers’ strength and power is all that is needed to suppress Red crimes and uprisings against Silver rule and the royal crown.

The largest building in every Red village is a massive area. On the first Friday of every month, all Reds are required to attend a series of showcased fights. The “Feats” are battles between Silvers – not for Red entertainment, but to send a message, and to show off the strength and power of Silvers. Mare tells the reader, “Only Silvers can fight in the arenas because only a Silver can survive the arena. They fight to show us their strength and power. You are no match for us. We are your betters. We are gods” (Aveyard 6). The Feats are a way to intimidate the Reds, to repeatedly show and tell them that rebellion against the crown will not be tolerated, and will not stand a chance. Unlike Reds, Silvers have abilities and they fight and train for sport. The Silvers do it for a good reason too, it has been repeatedly shown that arena cities have recorded a reduction in Red crimes, rebellions, and unrest (Aveyard 7).

Through a series of unlikely events, Mare is thrown into the middle of the royal family’s court politics where she quickly learns that everything she’s known about the Silvers is not true. There is a social hierarchy among silvers and the royal families, and those on top will do anything to maintain the image that they are powerful and better than the rest. In their world, perception is reality and “to look powerful is to be powerful” (Aveyard 97). Mare learns that hard way, that “the truth doesn’t matter. It only matters what people believe” (Aveyard 342). And this is the inherent problem with all dystopias and widespread propaganda. If the lower classes actually knew that their perception was actually false, that the ruling class did not have it all together, that there was no need to fear, then rebellion and dissent would be rampant.

Propaganda is an adept tactic for feeding lies to the masses and reinforcing false truths, but the problem with building your society on lies and deceit is the same as building your house on the sand. All it takes is for a storm to come, and one wave to knock the foundation right out from under you. In the Silvers’ perfect world of opulence and rule over the inferior Reds, that wave is Mare Barrow – the Red girl with crimson blood and Silver abilities.



Aveyard, Victoria. Red Queen. New York, HarperCollins.

“Red Queen — Silvers Have Nothing to Fear from Us Reds.” Pinterst,


The terms ‘utopia’, and especially in the past few years, ‘dystopia’, have been come almost buzzwords of American literary culture due to the genre’s sudden popularity in young adult (YA) fiction and the global success of The Hunger Games series. However, by no means are utopias and dystopias a modern age phenomenon. Man has always been fascinated by reaching an ideal state or community. Utopias date back to ancient Greece and Plato’s “Republic” and his philosophical discourse on how he envisioned the ideal society would run, but by no means did Plato refer to it as an “utopia” because the word was not coined until 1516 when Thomas Moore wrote Utopia. The word utopia is Greek, stands for “non-place” and hints at the reality that the perfect society or state of government cannot be achieved. Throughout history, authors saw this as a basis for utilizing Utopian Literature as satires for criticizing contemporary society and bureaucratic struggles. Just as a man’s heart reflects his life, so is utopian literature used to reflect the essence of society.

A utopian story was considered to be a ‘dystopia’ if readers were meant to perceive the described society as inherently much worse than the one that they were living in. Author’s utilized Dystopian Literature as forewarnings of the dangerous direction society is headed in, and the times to come. Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four are as Gregory Claeys put it, warnings of “the quasi-omnipotence of a monolithic, totalitarian state demanding and normally exacting complete obedience from its citizens… relying upon scientific and technological advances to ensure social control (Claeys 109).

The heavy influence and almost saturation of the modern day YA Fiction genre by dystopian works is vital to understanding the authorial critiques of today’s culture. The best way to teach someone something new is when they are young. The adolescent stage is an important stage of one’s life because that is when they become aware of the dangers, joys, successes, and short comings of contemporary society. They are able to formulate their own opinions about right and wrong, and what should be done about the challenges our society faces each day.

If authors want to see change, or leave society in good hands when they pass, then gearing their satirical works toward the post millennial generation is the prefect strategy. As their readers grow up to become the next politicians, public figures, and business leaders of the world, the themes they read about, and characters they looked up to, will still be playing in the backs of their minds and will influence the decisions they make, which will have lasting ramifications for years to come. And honestly, in an egocentric, consumeristic, and secular culture, may the odds be ever in our favor.







Works Cited:

Claeys, Gregory, editor. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature. Cambridge, 2010.