panem

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In The Hunger Games (film), a propaganda film version of the “Treaty of Treason” described in the book is shown before the reaping that sends Katniss and Peeta into the 74th Hunger Games. It uses a variety of rhetorical techniques to convey its point, which is to remind the districts of the Capitol’s version of Panem’s history, as well as explain the Capitol-District relationship to the viewer.

The clip begins by evoking an emotion of discomfort and uneasiness, utilizing human skulls embedded in mud in the rain, and men in hazmat suits reminiscent of Chernobyl, standing behind flames and ruin. The uneasy mood quickly shifts to sympathy, as the narrator (President Snow) says “widows, orphans, a motherless child.” He places blame on the districts for starting the uprising that causes these gloomy circumstances. “13 districts rebelled against the country that fed them, loved them, protected them” is an example of asyndeton. This rhetorical device creates the illusion that Snow’s list is longer than it really is (making it seem like the Capitol did more for the districts than it really did) as well as making each list item more impactful, giving the actions a unique emphasis. As the video progresses further into the uprising period of Panem, the scenes become shorter and shorter, which makes the viewer more and more frantic and uneasy. Finally, after showing the mushroom cloud of an atomic bomb, it is quickly replaced with a peaceful, billowing wheat field. The contrast between atomic bomb and quiet field (followed by a toddler running into its parent’s arms) makes the peace that follows the rebellion seem that much better and hard-fought in comparison to the death and destruction we were shown only a second ago.

Taking a step back out of Panem and looking at how the real audience interacts with this propaganda, it’s easy to see that the filmmakers intentionally made it poorly. The narration is cheesy, the transitions are reminiscent of educational history videos shown on rolling TVs in an elementary school classroom near you, and it looks like it was directed by a History Channel docuseries filmmaker. If we are supposed to identify with citizens of the districts, Gary Ross’s directing combined with Tom Stern’s cinematography succeeds in displaying how out of touch the Capitol is with the districts. Capitol citizens would eat up false drama and theatrical scenes, but the people of the districts couldn’t care less about the cheap tricks. It doesn’t look like too much money or effort was put into the video, which is reminiscent of how much money and effort the Capitol spends on the districts.

Looking at this video clip from perspectives both inside and outside the world of Panem allows two completely different analyses, both of which say something different about dystopias and how characters and readers/viewers interact with them. Using real-world film techniques to show the Capitol-District relationship is an example of how filmmakers shove as much information from the book into a 2-hour movie time slot.

A universal characteristic of dystopian societies is a ruling government that will do anything to be sure that oppression and fear are instilled within its society. In other words, it is the means by which a government is able to control its people. In The Hunger Games, the Capitol utilizes myriad forms of propaganda to prove to the citizens of Panem that the games are necessary and exciting.

One example of this is the method of scoring each of the tributes following their training sessions. This is a source of entertainment for the Capitol, acting like a betting system. The citizens of each district see the number that is matched with their tributes and are swayed to be either hopeful or distraught regarding the outcome. However, common sense would tell us that they should feel some sort of sadness no matter what, seeing as children are about to fight to the death. Additionally, tributes that achieve higher scores have more people who ‘like’ them and thus more sponsors. Ultimately, the idea of Panem being swayed to root for the tribute who receives the highest score from the Capitol is a usage of propaganda.

Another example is the streaming of the games on public TV. It compares the game to a sporting event, which shies away from its gruesome reality. The game updates are televised in the same style as a news update. Claudius projects the faces of fallen tributes, shoots off a cannon to signify their deaths, and announces the rule changes in the same style a sports commentator would. Just as it is the public’s civic duty to keep up with their own news, it is Panem’s citizens’ responsibility to listen to the Capitol’s updates.

A final example of the Capitol’s propaganda is that the games are presented in such a glorified way. When being broadcasted, for example, the games are projected in an exciting way with triumphant music. Additionally, the parade of each district’s tributes builds the games up even more. Dressing the tributes up in fancy, unique attire in an attempt to intrigue Panem is yet another way that the Capitol is using propaganda.

The controlling governments of dystopian societies use propaganda to influence their citizens to think in the same way that they do. Therefore, within the society, the propaganda functions as a reinforcement to the government’s power and an aid in its regime.

Works Cited:
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http://yestotally.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Tribute-parade.jpg

The worldwide phenomena that the YA dystopian novel The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has become in the recent years called for an enormous amount of advertisements, movie posters and all sorts of marketing to cater to the audience’s demands. Lionsgate Films, while promoting the third movie in the franchise “Mockingjay, Part 1” decided to design and release a collection of portraits depicting and representing several of Panem’s districts.

Each of the images came accompanied by a blurb about the individuals portrayed in the collection.  These portraits were published in the Capitol’s website as if they were designed and distributed all across Panem by the same Capitol with the objective of glorifying the citizens of each district and thanking them for their hard work and contributing to the community where they belong.

If these portraits have been supposedly created and designed by the Capitol it is obvious that there is always going to be an underlying message. I decided to analyze in particular the portrait associated with District 10, because I believe it has a lot to say and holds a lot of hidden meaning. I am going to refer to different objects and areas of the portraits that I labeled in the images.

The first thing I noticed when looking at the image for the first time was the smoking pipe (1). It is most certainly something placed on purpose and I believe it is a way to depict the Capitol. It is there to show their veiled presence throughout Panem. People in the districts hold no riches when compared with the Capitol and therefore the pipe would seem absurd if it were not mimicking the citizens of Panem’s capital.

Secondly, I started to notice how they turned the model into a citizen that fits into the definition of “cattle” by using a furry coat and a nose ring (2). Clearly the nose ring is an icon that is widely associated with cattle, as it is a symbol we can find in many advertisements and related products. The furry coat obviously envelops the model as if it were his second nature, its clothes, and its comfort. It can also be thought that it is the Capitol’s way to mask their belief that the people in the districts are more animal-like and savages when compared to their own.

It is also important to notice how the district’s seal (3), a cattle and two crossed butcher knives, is then contradicted by how the model is holding the lamb, as if it were its own baby or prized possession, close to his heart. Therefore we are lead to believe that citizens in District 10 value their cattle, but as the emblem shows, in the end they are as lethal as any other for “the good of Panem”.

 

Finally, I would like to talk about the text in this portrait (4). The blurb itself is already downgrading the citizen by saying “raised amongst the herd” as if he were part of the cattle of District 10. However, it is masked by thanking the citizen for its hard work and its contribution to the nation, placing importance in the recognition of “love your labor” and “make us proud”, which ultimately leads to the famous “Panem today, Panem tomorrow, Panem Forever”.

As a whole I believe these portraits created by Lionsgate Films were thoroughly thought through when being designed to align them with the Capitol’s ideology and propagandistic views that are so widely represented throughout the books and movies. These portraits have veiled meanings, thus, the truth is found between the lies.

While reading The Hunger Games, it’s hard not to notice how much propaganda is used by the Capitol. The Capitol uses its many methods of propaganda to keep its citizens in place and unaware of its inner-workings. One of the methods that stands out the most to me within the novel is the “history of Panem” speech given at the reaping in the very first chapter of the novel. The speech makes the Capitol seem so much more glorious and gracious than it really is.  I imagine that when the speech is given in Districts like 2 and 3, citizens applaud the capitol for its accomplishments in putting the rebellion down; however, when the speech is delivered to District 12, the people know how full of crap the Capitol is.

Nonetheless, The Capitol is effective in its use of propaganda; it convinces the districts to put forth their best “tributes” to fight in “The Games”. In the film adaptation of The Hunger Games, the producers decided to incorporate this “history of Panem” in a video instead of through a speech. While watching the movie, I found the video extremely effective in making it seem that the people in The Capitol are the good guys as opposed to the bad guys that they truly are. I also imagine that the video in the movie is very similar to how the speech is delivered in the book. While it is an unfortunate reality for those who live in the Districts of Panem, The Capitol has its citizens convinced that “The Games” are not only the best way to keep peace, but also a great mode of entertainment for them. In fact, they have been so effective with their advertising and promotions for “The Games” that it lasted 74 years before any legitimate rebellious activity occurred. Ultimately, while The Capitol was effective with “The Games” for a long time, but as President Snow said himself, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope”, and Katniss becomes that beacon of hope for Panem.