word choice

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In The Hunger Games, the games are a major factor in keeping the districts in check. To justify them each year, the mayor of District 12 describes the history of Panem and the uprising, or, in the case of the movie, they play a video dubbed by President Snow. In this video, the Capitol uses very specific wording and imagery to craft their narrative to the people.

The first message the Capitol wants to convey is pretty simple: the uprising was bad. The video starts off with Snow saying “War, terrible war. Widows, orphans, a motherless child” while showing images of an atomic bomb going off and of a mother crying. Snow is merely listing these terrible things, but by doing so he is setting the mood for his next words: “The uprising…”. This is done intentionally to reinforce in the minds of the people that the uprising was a bad thing, and to discourage them from trying to rise up again. Later he continues to reinforce this idea by describing the uprising as treason, and the people as traitors. He never mentions the reasons that the uprising happened, just that it was bad and the people were traitors. This way the people are left in the dark on the purpose of the uprising and have no reason to sympathize with them.

The second things the Capitol does in the video is justify the Hunger Games to the people. Snow begins his description of the games by saying that “freedom has a cost.” In this sense, he is implying that the ending of the uprising was a positive thing, because it resulted in freedom, and that the games are justified as a trade off for this positive thing. He then goes on to say that the games are actually about “honor, courage, and sacrifice” and not just a bloodbath intended to remind the districts that they have no power. The most powerful line in my opinion is when Snow says the games are necessary to “safeguard our future”. Again, he is stressing the importance of the games and how they are necessary for their society to remain at peace.

The most important aspect of any propaganda is how successful it is in convincing its audience. In the case of this video, the people of District 12 are certainly not convinced. They see their children go off to the games each year to die and feel like they are powerless against the Capitol. The games don’t seem justified to them, just cruel. Therefore I don’t believe this video was good propaganda because it was not successful in its purpose.