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Between the dystopia books I have read and the movies I have watched, each dystopia has some type of control playing out in the plot of the books or films. The people within the society are being controlled, but we have to figure out what type of control is playing out. Is the control from the government, a single person acting as a dictator, or technology? Which every control the dystopia you are watching or reading has, every dystopia has something in common: propaganda.

Propaganda is like advertisement to persuade people to do or think a certain way. Dystopia uses propaganda to make a citizen be biased toward an idea, a person, or a group of people. Here, look at the propaganda below and think about what it is trying to do.

What is the first thing that pops into your head? To me, seeing the word “HOPE” make me think of the changes America is making these days. Barack Obama is the first and only black president we have had in the White House. That itself is a big change for Americans, especially for African American. It makes citizens believe that there is hope after all for change to happen to make America better than it was before.

Dystopia makes their audience think what would happen if this certain event happens to the world. Using  propaganda, controlling the citizens of the society becomes a little easier for whom every wants them to be controlled. Propaganda makes it harder for people to have an opinion of their own about something or someone. For example, let’s look at the company Puma. Puma is well known fashion company founded in 1948. A lot of people used to wear their products a lot in the beginning and then people stop wearing and buying products because it was old fashioned to them. Puma now has to persuade people that they are the new and improve fashion company by having famous Olympian Usain Bolt wears their clothes to advertise their styles in the world. By doing this, Usain Bolt is helping them persuade people that wearing Puma is cool and is the new fashion to wear just because he is wearing it. People look up to celebrities as a guide for what to wear and what to have. Just like in The Hunger Games, President Coin had Katniss be in the video so that she can inspire and persuade people from other districts to fight with her against the Capital.

A point of view that may be common to many millennials is this: I read the The Hunger Games because I heard about the movie. Just before the release of the first movie I certainly read the book with a set of preconceived notions as a result of the hype and many advertisements for the movies. I understood the idea of the Games and knew that Panem was not an ideal place to live, but I still focused most on the relationships between Peeta, Gale, and Katniss and the “greatness” of the games rather than the corrupt Capitol or lack of resources throughout the districts and even the fact that young children are called to manslaughter. The New York Times discusses in their article “How ‘Hunger Games’ Built Up Must-See Feverthat the producer’s challenge in making The Hunger Games is to create the movie without showing all of the film (referring to the grotesque scenes of children’s deaths). Brooke Barnes of the New York Times says, “the movie itself is quite tame in it’s depiction of killing”. This should bring a few questions to mind. Does the marketing of the film change the intended meaning of the novels? Do advertisements for the film and related merchandise inhibit a viewer or reader from realizing the true dystopian nature of Panem?

This advertisement for The Hunger Games movie focuses solely on Katniss and Peeta. This draws the viewer into this relationship rather than the games or the beginning of a revolution.

Online marketing techniques and polls were used in order to market the movies how the people wanted to see them and of course to bring in higher profits. For example, posters and movie cover photos like the one seen above is not inclusive of any important themes other than romance, which is not the primary message of the series. Another example of this distraction, that may even be labeled a misunderstanding of Collins’ work, is the CoverGirl “Capitol Beauty” collection. This collection markets each individual district as if they are character from the capitol with extreme hair and makeup. This in itself distracts from the written meaning and actions taken in the book since district characters would never really present themselves in this way.

CoverGirl created a makeup line for each of the districts. While each is tailored to the products of each district, it glorifies the capitol’s work with makeup used on the tributes before the games and distracts from the raw idea of the murder that takes place throughout the games.

When the media markets exactly to the viewer’s preferences the originality of the film along with its true dystopian underlay can easily be pushed aside to instead watch the film as an exciting fight between tragic heroes that happens because it has to. The film was marketed strictly as an intense and exciting piece of entertainment, where Katniss is brave and changes the world without much analysis of the dystopian society and real possibility of something similar happening in our own world. While the filmmakers certainly display the controlling government and starvation throughout the districts, as well as the killing of children during the games, it is not a blatant representation of Panem as a dystopia but rather an entertaining fight between multiple tragic heroes that is ultimately reviewed as a “great movie”.

Barnes argues further in the New York Times article that “Lionsgate’s efforts appear to have sold the book as well as the movie”. The statistics show that the creation of the film as well as it’s effective advertisements have proven successful in increased book sales. This, at surface level, seems great for the producers and for Suzanne Collins. But, there still remains the debate over whether the advertisements inhibited the common viewer from understanding the book as a YA dystopia or as an unrealistic but entertaining story.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/business/media/how-hunger-games-built-up-must-see-fever.html

http://www.fashiongonerogue.com/covergirl-hunger-games-makeup-collection/