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.
Media and propaganda are used daily to influence a group of people to believe a certain viewpoint. In today’s day and age, we see different media channels telling the same story in completely different ways. This is why countries that have more of a totalitarian government often have censored media. This way only one message will reach the citizens of that country and conflicts won’t arise because of different viewpoints. Many dystopian societies have a single person who makes the decisions. This person wants to influence the people in a certain way to get them to believe in the same thing. By censoring what the citizens know the leader is able to limit the chances of conflict arising.
In The Hunger Games readers see propaganda and the media used in different ways. In the first and second book only the capitol has access to the media. They send out messages in the form of videos and these videos often remind the districts why they should not rebel against the government. Once the games begin the capitol monitors what districts see which further makes the citizens see only one side of everything. In the third book District 13 starts sending out their own propaganda. This comes in the form of videos that show that they survived the bombing by the capitol. Their videos are also used to persuade citizens to start fighting back against the capitol.
Once the capitol starts seeing these videos they start a propaganda battle with District 13. This is their attempt to retaliate against the possibility of a rebellion starting throughout Panem. The two different sets of propaganda show that if there is more than one opinion conflict may arise. Hindering conflict is why dystopian societies try to limit the media and propaganda that their citizens see.
The following two pictures show the different propaganda that District 13 and the capitol use against each other. One is written as a reminder to the citizens to behave so that they aren’t punished by the Peacekeepers. The colors are friendly and the poster “kindly” reminds citizens that the key to happiness is to make sure that they don’t act out against others. The poster from District 13 is red and black which is bolder and more menacing. The poster uses the Mockingjay as the symbol to come together and fight for freedom. The two posters send across different messages, but they are both influencing the citizens of Panem to believe in a cause.