All posts tagged hope

As young adults come of age, one of the essential duties of any society, dystopian or utopian, real or fictional, is the preparation of those young people for their roles as productive citizens. In The Scorpion Rules, Bow presents a story set in what is both a prison and a school for future world leaders. They learn, hands-on, humility and the principles of sustainable agriculture. In the classroom they are taught history, philosophy, and the futility of standing against the AI. It is this sense of powerlessness that serves as the cornerstone of many dystopian regimes, and it is in answer to this feeling that many writers choose to present an alternative to today’s youth.

The modern world faces dark times as the art of mass surveillance is perfected, the political elite seem bent on sewing division and dependence, and the great capitalist industrial complex refuses to respect our shared resources and habitat. How then do we entice our young people to abandon this despondence? How do we instill them not merely with a sense of vague, unjustified hope but with a sure and rational sense of social agency?

The Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen begins the series responsible for the survival of herself and her family. She is a capable and experienced provider, adapting to her environment with skill and cunning, yet she does not consider her potential to change the world. She refers to the games as “the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy” (18). Many young readers will empathize with this point of view. The rise from an obscure life of mere subsistence to become a true agent of revolution is a powerful and enviable story, though rather an emotional and perhaps unrealistic one. Don’t we need more than simple pathos in our appeal to the next generation? For my research, I intend to consider the rhetoric with which we teach agency, particularly focusing on the logical side of arguments. (Hopefully we can agree that young adults have logical sides to which to appeal.)

Works Cited:
Bow, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2016, New York.
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2009, New York.
Good, Thomas Altfather. Climate Protest UMaine. Wikimedia Commons, 21 Sep. 2014, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:TAG_Climate_Protest_UMaine.jpg.

One of the most meaningful pieces of propaganda in both the book and movie adaptation of The Hunger Games, was the Treaty of Treason. It was orated in the book by the mayor of district 12, but shown in a video in the movie adaptation. However, in both instances the premise of the Treaty was identical, it “gave [the districts] new laws to guarantee peace and, [was their] yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated (Collins 18).

The effectiveness of the propaganda is due to the language and visuals provided by the Treaty. In the book the mayor “lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, [and] the brutal war for what little sustenance remained” (18). In accordance with the book, the video demonstrates visuals of violent war and helpless citizens. Using visual language, makes the Treaty a constant reminder of the terror of the Dark Days and is an effective scare tactic by the Capitol. Reminding the districts of such horrors of war and death creates an environment of fear and vulnerability, which allows the Capitol to control the people of Panem.

The most effective form of propaganda, as taught by my high school economics teacher, is one that provides a solution to the target audience’s problems. One of the examples he would bring up in class was the infamous Lyndon B. Johnson campaign ad featuring a little girl and an atomic bomb. The video is very similar to the Treaty of Treason video as each video utilizes children and the thought of war. Scare tactics are effective, but only when a solution or an “out” is provided to the viewer. In order to avoid nuclear war, the public was instructed to vote for President Johnson in the upcoming election cycle. In the same manner to avoid another Dark Days, “each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate [in the Hunger Games]” (18). As voting for President Johnson would provide a sense of hope for the people of Panem, there would be one victor of the Games. Using persuasive language and emotional stimulators, the Treaty of Treason is a very effective means of control for the Capitol.

Works Cited:

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2008.