media

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While reading Gathering Blue, my attention has been drawn to the people’s acceptance of the existence of beasts. Throughout the story, Kira, the protagonist, is always mentioning how she lives in fear of them. To be fair, based on her understanding of events she should fear the beasts. Her father was killed by some, and when people are sent to the field to die they are eventually taken away by beasts as well. Kira fears Vandara because Vandara is a survivor of fight with a beast in which she only received a scar.  This fact of life, that the beasts are out in the forest trying to eat you, is false. The very foundation of Kira’s persona is based on a lie, and, because of this, I have become more cynical of the things I hear on the news from the media and the government.

Recently, there have been lots of stories that have very definite stances on the global stage. America should let in refugees. Russia is not our enemy, but our friend. Britain should have stayed in the European Union. Assad is using chemical weapons in Syria. These events and opinions are released to the public and both sides of the issue treat their ideas as absolute facts. People like dismissing each other’s arguments on the sole basis of their ideology and not the argument itself. Overall this has caused me to take almost every article I come across with a grain of salt instead of treating it like it is one hundred percent factual. When the government says that sending missiles to Syria was the best choice, I’m not so quick to agree. When the media likes to repeatedly claim that Russia is trying to bring about the end of America, the argument brings me back to Gathering Blue. Maybe Russia is just a beast.

Brown, Michael. “Why are the Millennials Protesting?”. Townhall. March 10, 2017. https://townhall.com/columnists/michaelbrown/2017/03/10/draft-n2297066

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tom Doherty Associates, 2008.

Wallace, Kelly. “Is ‘fake news’ fooling kids? New report says yes”. CNN. April 3, 2017. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/10/health/fake-news-kids-common-sense-media/

In my research on media and communication in relation to dystopian fiction and to society today, I found a very interesting and informative source titled, “Living the Orwellian Nightmare: New Media and Digital Dystopia,” by Greg Diglin. I found it extremely helpful in uncovering some new ideas and new information for my paper, and it seems like anyone who is interested in the topic of surveillance or that of media and communication in dystopian fiction would find it highly applicable and helpful.

The basic, underlying argument that the author makes throughout the article is that many elements of George Orwell’s well-known book, 1984, can be observed in society today due to the fact that governments today are able to use new, unprecedented technologies in order to have similar powers to “Big Brother” in the dystopian novel. To elaborate upon this argument, Diglin first offers a description of the political and social conditions that 1984 emerged from, so that even someone who has not actually read the book could understand his argument. He then goes on to further his ideas through the use of events that have actually happened, as well as real organizations and people as examples of Orwellian influence in modern society. Some of these examples include the WikiLeaks Project, Edward Snowden, and real governments’ use of propaganda. He makes strong connections from the real world to the Orwellian dystopia, and successfully covers a range of issues, from surveillance, to propaganda, to netspeak, to create a very well-rounded and soundly reasoned argument. A few of his main points are that all people using new media are constantly subjected to surveillance through various government organizations, that the US government has used digital propaganda to promote warfare and influence citizens’ opinions, and that the use of the internet is leading to the breakdown of language and knowledge.

This argument is made easily coherent with the organization of the article into different sections based on those core issues of surveillance, propaganda, and destruction of knowledge, which makes it simple to find the information that you are looking for and gives it a logical flow. Overall, it’s an important source because it directly relates fact to fiction, and the dystopian world to the real world, rather than resting solely in one or the other, which makes it easy to connect them through common themes.

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!

 

Throughout YA literature, the author utilizes media and/or propaganda a source of gaining favor or support for a specific movement or ruling body. In such dystopian literature, people are in a society that is ruled or lead by an organization that might not have the total support of the people, but through the use of propaganda/media they keep the people blind, inline, or submissive using the messages they spread. By doing this, they retain control of the people through means such as inspiring hope, inspiring fear, or some other tactic of keeping the society in order or the people in line with their rule.

The Hunger Games exhibited these defining characteristics of dystopias as well. For example, when the Capitol displays the video at the District 12 reaping, it illustrated their use of propaganda. The video illustrates the message that the capitol’s regime is there to provide peace and security for the districts in exchange for their resources. They completely ignore the how they oppress the people and keep some of the districts in awful conditions. They also use propaganda to spread fear about how the previous time was filled with war and despair and that their rule prevents this.

The Capitol then justifies how the Hunger Games is a way to end all war and despair by each district offering up two tributes to fight to the death as a symbol of sacrifice for the greater good. If someone was to tell this idea to a person, they would think this it is completely crazy. Though through the use of propaganda and media, they illustrate how this idea is the only way of survival/peace.

Also, in the Mockingjay part 1, District 13 uses the symbol of the Mockingjay as a way to gain support for the revolution against the capital. They appeal to the emotions of the occupants of the other districts by illustrating the death, despair, and struggles of the people. This source of propaganda also gains their movement support but instead of trying to do it with submission, they gain support through inspiring people to be active and fight back. This illustrates both spectrums of how propaganda and the media are used to promote support for a group/movement.

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

Ross, Gary, et al, director. The Hunger Games. United States: Alliance Film, 2012.

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.

https://suprtickets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/katniss-peeta.jpg/

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.

Image Source: https://suprtickets.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/katniss-peeta.jpg/

Propaganda is commonly thought of as information used by governments to convince people to follow a certain cause such as the World Wars, the Vietnam War, government policies, or political agendas. Propaganda plays a key role in dystopian literature, books that revolve around this one fixated society where the rules are unbending and social expectations.

In the book Matched, the Society has constructed a perfect system to guarantee a long, satisfying life, provided you follow the rules. Cassia, the protagonist, has grown up with the same information, that the Society has replaced a failing and miserable way of life. Routines ensure maximum efficiency, Matches are made for ideal life partners, secure jobs provide comfort. in other words, there is order and peace. While at the recreational center, she and her friends watch a video of the history of Society and how it came to being. The video emphasized the horrors that the Society eliminated and how everything would collapse if the Society failed. Cassia described the video as “overdone” and “ludicrous”; the scenes are overdramatic with actors exaggerating death scenes. Her and her friends do not take the showing seriously; they know how fake it is, but they continue watching it since it is one of the few films available to them.

The Society may have removed diseases and hardships but also anything of the past. Only a hundred poems, a hundred songs, and a hundred painting were kept; it was reasoned that an excess of information causes chaos, thus all that was deemed unworthy was destroyed. Censorship is another form of propaganda, by limiting the public’s access to information sets up a biased atmosphere. The people have no choice but to trust what the Society tells them for they have no other resources. The Society has even deprived them of writing; everything is technology, ports, tablets, screens, and computers, devices easily monitored by the Officials. Writing is a form of communication, but it poses a threat as it is much more difficult to regulate. The secret poem Cassia’s given is easily disposed of, reducing the words to “ash and nothing.”

Controlling the means of communication and all history records allows for complete power over people; their citizens will believe any of the propaganda the Society feeds them, since all other sources of intelligence are nonexistent.

Citations

  1. Casey, Ralph D. “The Story of Propaganda”. American Historical Association. www.historians.org/about-aha-and-membership/aha-history-and-archives/gi-roundtable-series/pamphlets/what-is-propaganda/the-story-of-propaganda. Accessed 3 Feb. 2017.
  1. Condie, Ally. Matched. Penguin Group, 2010, New York.
  2. Thomas, Dylan. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.”Literature and Society: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Nonfiction.  Pamela J. Annas and Robert C. Rosen. 4th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2006.

In the novel the Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard, there are two classes that coexist in a modernized world. One rules with wizardry and fear, with silver blood that makes them special. The other, much greater in size, consists of normal citizens with red blood running through their veins. But, as in a typical dystopia, numbers mean nothing against such a strong totalitarian government. The superior power of the Silver elite allows for control of all technology, including the media. Television and news channels repeat the glory and fortunes of the empire while simultaneously crushing the hopes of millions of Reds that live in poverty.

With all this tension comes the rise of the Scarlet Guard, a group of rebel fighters tasked with taking down the existing rulers. Their path towards freedom is an arduous journey, but the group had gained momentum in recent times. They spread the seeds of rebellion in a quiet way. Eventually, there came a day when one girl, born of red blood, had powers that rivaled the strongest Silver. Mare Barrow’s ordinary, albeit horrible and suppressed, life is flipped upside down when she revealed her ability to control lightning. Captured by the government and subjected to unique torture, she was forced to become a pawn in the government’s plan to take down the Scarlet Guard.

Mare became the keystone piece for the totalitarian Silvers in order to discredit the Red opposition. She was at the forefront of every news update, discrediting the rebels at every turn. She gave speeches on the prosperous state of the empire. She marveled at the generosity and benevolence of every Silver in the palace. But while all this was going on, Mare was being used. The relationship between her and her captors was based on cruelty and deceit. She despised all the Silvers, and was forced to speak against her beliefs else her family suffer a horrible fate. Everything she said was a lie, fed to her by the ruthless rulers of the country.

The Silver government went through an enormous amount of effort in order to influence the public. They relieved Mare’s family from duty in a war, reworked her entire identity, and lied to both Silvers and Reds alike in order to create an image for the poverty stricken citizens to believe in. Keeping the masses complacent on the eve of a rebellion relied heavily on the actions of the media to promote a message of supposed peace throughout the empire. In turn, this would ease anger and tensions, uniting the plentiful poor in another cycle of false hope. The media acts in such a way that it shoves a message of prosperity down the throats of all who view it. Despite the fact that the benefits are only gained by a select few, the propaganda clouds the better judgement of those watching. And it is devastatingly successful when applied correctly. But, as Mare reveals, utilizing the media for your own devices can also spread a message that can incite a revolution.

Works Cited-

1. Aveyard, Victoria. Red queen. HarperTeen, 2015.

2. “Cover Reveal: King’s Cage By Victoria Aveyard.” Reads and Reels, 15 Nov. 2016, readsandreels.com/2016/11/.

3. Brittdraws. “Mare Barrow.” DeviantArt, 15 July 2015, brittdraws.deviantart.com/art/Mare-Barrow-546512899.

 Christian Matthews

The way propaganda is used through media in The Hunger Games is pivotal in the story development and also showing why Panem is a dystopian rather than utopia. Propaganda has been used as a tool for the government to convince people to follow their orders. A primary example was when Effie came to advertise the Hunger Games to potential players she showed on a big screen a false version of how the hunger games were, but once players started being chosen to compete in it, it turned into punishment because of the districts rebelling against the Capitol and so there can be “peace” in the Capitol. It impacts the plot because they started to forcefully choose innocent people to compete in the game like the young girl Rue. Rue impacts the plot tremendously because she isn’t fighting for what the other districts are fighting for, she is fighting for survival and to get out of the hunger games. Another important part of the story that doesn’t get the recognition for propaganda is when the Capitol would go live on the news periodically, so every District could hear. This I found efficient data because the Districts don’t know what going on “outside” of the Hunger Games bounds, they have no choice but to believe what the Capitol speaks about. Overall, The Capitol uses these propagandas to provide the districts with information that they want to provide only.