All posts by Mary Hirvela

I will be presenting my research for the conference presentation on Friday, titled “Corporations, the Media, and Propaganda: A Modern Day Dystopia?” I will be discussing the influence and power of corporations, the media, and propaganda in today’s world and how they reflect a modern day dystopia. I will use my independent reading novel Champion by Marie Lu (as well as the other books in her series) and The Hunger Games to provide examples and support to my claims.

This presentation is one that you won’t want to miss, because I will be discussing real problems that are going on in our world. These are the sorts of problems that you read about in dystopias, but that most people do not realize are actually happening in real life! For example, did you know that in the past, big fossil fuel companies paid the US Chamber of Commerce to block energy reforms?! Big corporations and the government have become so heavily intertwined that we often don’t realize it!

In my presentation, I will continue to discuss how big corporations have gained so much power in our world, and how they control many aspects of our society. These points will be exemplified by the fictional corporations in Champion and The Hunger Games and how they had a lot of power. I will show the reflection of power in the real world by presenting what I have found about big corporations today.

For my other point I will be discussing the media and propaganda, how they go hand-in-hand, and how they hold great influence over our society as well. Once again this will be exemplified by the media and propaganda in Champion and The Hunger Games. Then I will discuss how the media has taken over our own lives with propaganda that we don’t always recognize.

We need to be fully aware of what is going on in our world, and how we have tip-toed into becoming a dystopia. My presentation touches on this issue, and therefore it is one you will not want to miss!


I think it is really cool that dystopias, specifically YA dystopias, are able to take some pretty serious subjects and turn them into stories that a wide variety of people can read and understand. Furthermore, I think what interests me most about dystopias is how much they can be related to the world that we live in today. I have seen all sorts of topics in dystopian novels such as role of government, media, surveillance, power, etc. Specifically in my independent reading book, Champion by Marie Lu, as well as in the prequels to Champion, a lot of what happens in the fictional society is influenced by the Media. I hope to discover more about the role of the media and propaganda in dystopia and how it relates to the role of media and propaganda in real life as well. Additionally in the novels, big corporations play a huge role in their society. The Colonies are ruled by four corporations, which demonstrate just how much power the corporations have. I know that the corporations in our world tend to have a certain degree of power, and therefore I am interested in finding out more about the amount of power that corporations in our capitalist society have, and how much power they have over the people.

Example showing how big the media is in our society.

I would also like to relate this back to dystopian novels, and address the reasons that so many of these sorts of novels include themes relating to the media and big corporations. Ultimately I would also like to know what the popularity of these sorts of novels says about our society, or if it says anything at all. Do the themes that I have focused on offer a glimpse into the way our society works now, or possibly what we may face in the future? Or are they just entertaining books that sell?

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Everyone who has read The Hunger Games can clearly see that the media and propaganda is a huge part of the story. In the text we see the media in all sorts of places. The media surrounds the entire Hunger Games and makes it something that people want to watch. The media also acts to keep the districts in line with the aggravated hype created with the Hunger Games. Media is incredibly influential in real life, and is exemplified fictionally in The Hunger Games.

One of the main examples of the influence of the media in the story that comes to my mind is the portrayal of Katniss and Peeta’s romance that is broadcasted nationwide. Peeta originally introduced his love interest as a tactic to survive in the Hunger Games, which shows how he used the media to his advantage. In turn, the media used the story of the lovers to their own advantage, to capture the nation’s attention. Everyone loves a good romance; it’s why our own nation is enamored with shows like The Bachelor. In the book it is no different, and Katniss and Peeta get all sorts of attention. Therefore, I’m sure there would’ve been advertisements and propaganda created around them which was not specifically addressed in the novel.

The star-crossed lover story line came to bite the Capitol (and therefore the media) in the butt later, however, when Katniss and Peeta were the only two remaining people in the arena, and they were about to kill themselves instead of each other. This was an act of defiance against the Capitol, and was portrayed in the media to all of Panem. In this way, Katniss and Peeta unwittingly used the media to their own advantage. They used it to win the Hunger Games, and ultimately to spark the rebellion of the districts.

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After reading The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature book, and having discussions in class, I have gathered that a dystopia is a utopia that has fallen. Where a utopia is a dreamed up basically perfect society, a dystopia is just the opposite. The idea of the dystopias is often combined with other genres of literature. I do not think that combining dystopias with other genres changes the essence of a dystopia. Instead it adds another element to the story to engage the readers. For example, in The Hunger Games, there is definitely a romantic love triangle going on. However, this romance aspect of the story does not detract from the serious dystopia related issues at hand.

On another note, considering the popularity of YA dystopias, I think that when dystopias become marketed at young adults, that the underlying themes surrounding the genre do not change very much. In fact, I also do not think that the real problems in the stories are sugar-coated very much for young adults. For example, The Hunger Games deals with very serious issues, and young adults who are forced to kill each other. I would definitely not say that there is anything sweet about this subject.

With the rise of this genre, I think it is important to ask why it has gotten so popular. With the growth of technology and the direction in which our society is moving, it would seem that we are always striving to become better and improve our world. Are we trying to create a utopia? Are these numerous dystopia novels a warning to us that we will not be able to achieve the utopia we strive for? I think these become bigger questions when we consider that many sci-fi novels of the past predicted events and technologies that we have today. Which leads to the biggest question of all: when we read dystopia novels, are we glimpsing our future?