Susan Collins and the Dystopic world of The Hunger Games

Introduction

1. Background

2. History and Myth

a. The Myth before the Myth

3. Social Structure

a. The crews as microcosms of society

b. The Women

c. The Social Outcasts

d. Homosexuality and Lesbianism

e. Inter-Racial Relationships

4. Forms of Government

a. Democracies

b. Dictatorships

c. Utopias/Dystopias

d. Other Forms

5. Politics and International Relations

a. Overview

b. Treaties and Conventions

6. Law and Order through Space and Time

a. Traditional ways of settling legal disputes and reaching verdicts

b. About the contemporary legal system

c. Examples of contemporary Legal Dilemmas

Protection of Privacy

Genetic Engineering/Cloning

Freedom of Information

d. About the futuristic legal system

The Prime Directive

Time Travel and Time Machines

Birth Control

Genetic Engineering

The use of Telepathy and Telekinesis

Criminal Law

Nanotechnology

Cryonics

Definition and Rights of Intelligent Life

Laws of Robotics

Corporate Laws

The Internet and Control of Information

Election Laws and Procedures

7. Technology

Summary

 

 

Susan Collins and the Dystopic world of The Hunger Games

 

Introduction

“Just as the town clock strikes two, the mayor steps up to the podium and begins to read. It’s the same story every year. He tells of the history of Panem, the country that rose up out of the ashes of a place that was once called North America. He lists the disasters, the droughts, the storms, the fires, the encroaching seas that swallowed up so much of the land, the brutal war for what little sustenance remained. The result was Panem, a shining Capitol ringed by thirteen districts, which brought peace and prosperity to its citizens.

Then came the Dark Days, the uprising of the districts against the Capitol. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth obliterated. The Treaty of Treason gave us the new laws to guarantee peace and, as our yearly reminder that the Dark Days must never be repeated, it gave us the Hunger Games.

The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins.

Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch — this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion."

1. Background

Collins says that she drew inspiration for the series from both classical and contemporary sources.

The main classical source of inspiration came from the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, where Minos forces Athens, as a punishment for past crimes, to sacrifice seven youths and seven maidens to the Minotaur, by whom they are killed in a vast labyrinth, a cycle that doesn't stop until Theseus kills the Minotaur. Collins, who heard the story when she was eight years old, was unsettled by its ruthlessness andcruelty. "it was just so cruel", Collins said, as Athens was forced to sacrifice its own children.

Collins also cites the Roman gladiator games as source of influence, as is clearly evident in the carriage procession scene in the second Movie, which appears to have been taken straight from "Ben Hur"). The entire design of the Capitol, for example, from its name to the names the residents choose for themselves and their lifestyle, inspired by the Roman Empire, and also the lavish feasts in which you had to throw up in order to keep on eating.

A contemporary source of inspiration was Collins's recent fascination with reality television programmes. She relates this to the Hunger Games in how they are not just entertainment, but also a reminder to the districts of their rebellion. On a tired night, Collins says that while she was channel-surfing the television where she saw people competing for some prize, and then saw footage of the Iraq war. She described how the two combined in an "unsettling way" to create the first ideas for the series.

Collins feels that there are three key elements to create a good game; an all-powerful and ruthless government, people forced to fight to the death, and it being a source of popular entertainment.

2. History and Myth

According to the Novels, the dystopic country of Panem was created following many natural disasters that struck North America, causing most of America to sink in the sea. The country was divided into 13 districts, varied in size and structure, some with a major city at the center, or villages scattered around a main square. The smallest district in terms of population is District 12. Panem’s capital city is the "Capitol", lavishly rich and technologically advanced, located in the Rocky Mountains, and ruling the Districts with a high hand.

Before the rebellion, or the "dark days", the districts and the Capitol coexisted in prosperity and on good terms. After the rebellion known as the "dark days", the Hunger Games were initiated, in which each year, two Tributes from each District - a boy and a girl – are selected to participate. The purpose of the Hunger Games is to provide entertainment for the Capitol and to serve as a reminder to the Districts of the Capitol's power and lack of remorse. The Games are a televised reality event with the participants, called "tributes", being forced to fight to the death in a dangerous public arena. The winning tribute and his/her home district is then rewarded with food, and supplies and riches. It is believed that during the Rebellion District 13, weaponry (responsible for providing nuclear weapons for the country) was completely destroyed, but at the end of the second book of the series, it is revealed that District 13 was not destroyed, but continued to exist underground. At the end of the 75th Hunger Games the Districts rebelled again, the Arena was demolished and District 12 was destroyed.

a. The Myth before the Myth

 

 

 

3. Social Structure

Each district has a resource or activity that sets it apart and most of the residents are employed in its production, preparation, and so on. Most of the products manufactured by the districts go to the Capitol.

Most districts poor due to the hedonistic conductof the Capitol and the dictatorship that controls the country, but the most distant Districts from the Capitol, districts 11 and 12, are the poorest. Districts closest to the Capitol, or those who enjoy its support (Districts 1, 2, and 4) are considered to be wealthy because they produce expensive items for the Capitol, and are also treated more warmly and sympathetically than the other Districts. The "careerists", the strongest contenders sent to the Hunger Games, come from those Districts.

District 1 - Manufacture Of Luxury Items.

District 2 - Stone Quarrying Industry, Construction Tools And Weapons.

District 3 - Electronics Industry And Enterprises.

District 4 - Fishing Industry.

District 5 - Power Industry.

District 6 - Transportation Industry.

District 7 - Wood And Paper Industry.

District 8 - Textiles Industry.

District 9 - Grain Industry.

District 10 - Cattle Breeding Industry.

District 11 - Agriculture Industry.

District 12 - Coal Mining.

District 13 - Graphite Mining and Making Nuclear Weapons.

a. The crews as microcosms of society

 

b. The Women

In the Games, at least, women fight as equals to the men; And it turns out that there are female District Governors.

c. The Social Outcasts

 

d. Homosexuality and Lesbianism

None

e. Inter-Racial Relationships

None

4. Forms of Government

The ruler is a President

He has assistants (Government Ministers?)

There are District governors

There is a Game Master

a. Democracies

 

b. Dictatorships

The Capitol is the seat of Panem's brutal, totalitarian government and is located in the western Rocky Mountains of the former United States and Canada. The Capitol is the home of the dictatorial President Coriolanus Snow and several other major characters.

Citizens of the Capitol are far removed from the deprivation and open oppression of the twelve Districts, and are generally preoccupied with extravagant fashion, parties, and mass entertainment like the Hunger Games. Most Capitol citizens depicted in the novels appear either oblivious of, or totally unconcerned with, the poverty and desperation that prevails elsewhere in Panem. Compared with the Districts, the Capitol is extremely wealthy and technologically advanced, with citizens enjoying a very high standard of living. Visiting Tributes, who have grown up with the constant threat of starvation, are shocked by what they consider wasteful decadence in the Capitol. For example, the selection of dishes served at parties is commonly far greater than one person could sample, so it is usual to provide emetic beverages, allowing guests to continue eating. Due to this extravagant lifestyle, it is rare for Capitol citizens to join the Peacekeepers (described below), as it requires its soldiers to avoid marriage for twenty years and is often considered a punishment to avoid spending time in jail. In addition, residents of other districts who are considered criminals or traitors may be forced into servitude in the Capitol and converted into Avoxes, a brutal form of punishment in which offenders have their tongue surgically removed.

Citizens of the Capitol are culturally distinct from those of the Districts, speaking with a characteristic accent and choosing first names of ancient Greco-Roman derivation, with the city itself having a distinctly modernized version of Roman architecture. In the books, the Capitol buildings are described as "candy-colored", rising in a rainbow of hues. The fashions of the Capitol are exotic and ostentatious, with citizens dyeing their skin and hair with vivid colors, adopting tattoos, and undergoing extensive surgical alteration in the name of style. The Capitol accent is distinctive, said to sound "silly" and effete to people from the Districts; the accent is described as being "high-pitched with clipped tones and odd vowels". The letter "s" is a hiss and the tone rises at the end of every sentence, as if the speaker is asking a question. Despite the bloodthirsty nature of the Games, the people of the Capitol are shown to be vulnerable to sentimentality.

Residents of the Capitol cannot be chosen as tributes for the Hunger Games.

c. Utopias/Dystopias

 

d. Other Forms

 

5. Politics and International Relations

 

a. Overview

 

b. Treaties and Conventions

 

6. Law and Order through Space and Time

 

a. Traditional ways of settling legal disputes and reaching verdicts

 

b. About the contemporary legal system

 

c. Examples of contemporary Legal Dilemmas

 

Protection of Privacy

 

Genetic Engineering/Cloning

 

Freedom of Information

 

d. About the futuristic legal system

The rules of the Game

1. Every year, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen are selected by lottery from each of the twelve districts and forced participate in the "Hunger Games".

2. Every 25 years, or a quarter of a century, "The Quarter Quell" takes place, in which male and female Tributes are chosen among past winners to participate in a special edition of "The Hunger Games". In every Quarter Quell, thought, the rules are slightly changed.

The Prime Directive

 

Time Travel and Time Machines

 

Birth Control

 

Genetic Engineering

 

The use of Telepathy and Telekinesis

 

Criminal Law

Peacekeepers are the combined military and police force in Panem.

Peacekeepers also form the bulk of the military of the Capitol as they serve as foot soldiers, guards and hovercraft pilots.They wear black trimmed white uniforms consisting of a helmet, a standing collar, waist length tunic, and trousers which are tucked into high black boots. In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, their appearance is different from the first Movie with a full helmet, darker visor, heavier looking armor and they were also carrying automatic rifles. Peacekeepers are usually residents of the Capitol and District 2 who sign up for 20 years during which they may not marry or have children. Peacekeepers maintain orand suppress dissidence through coercion and brutality. They are led by a district Head Peacekeeper who is the commander of each garrison and they ensure that the Capitol's laws are obeyed and punish those who break them. Punishment by Peacekeepers normally consists of public floggings. Peacekeepers are usually equipped with automatic weapons such as machine guns to further discourage social disobedience among the Districts. Originally, the Peacekeepers in District 12 were relaxed, but in Catching Fire, the Head Peacekeeper, Cray, was replaced by the much stricter Romulus Thread.

Nanotechnology

 

Cryonics

 

Definition and Rights of Intelligent Life

 

Laws of Robotics

 

Corporate Laws

 

The Internet and Control of Information

No internet, no computers

Election Laws and Procedures

It is not clear how anybody is elected for office - clearly not by a democratic process; According to the third book, President Snow simply poisoned the entire opposition in order to gain power.

7. Technology

Dystopic Panam is designed, at least in the Movies, to look like a cross of a medieval and 1940's society, and except for virtualization there is nothing that can be considered really futuristic or even Science Fiction. Even the dress design is a mix of modern and old (except cloths worn by game participants in ceremonies and parades). The only exception so far is Katniss's wedding dress turning into a mockingjay – a feat of technology, not just of design.

What they have:

Trains

highly developed virtual technology

Virtual TV

Aircraft

The Capitol has absolute control over all of it, like "Big Brother" style.

What they do not have:

Food growing Technology- hunting with bows and arrows, mining is done manually, etc. (at least in the district 12)

Computers

Books (?)

Paved Roads

Electrical and Electronics for civilian use

Vehicles (?)

Summary

The first novel in the trilogy was first published on September 14, 2008. On March 17, 2009, Lionsgate announced that it had acquired worldwide distribution rights of the film version of The Hunger Games from Color Force. Soon after the acquisition, Collins began to adapt the screenplay and the two companies later went on to co-produce the film.

Catching Fire was published by Scholastic on September 1, 2009. The film version of the story – also co-produced by Color Force and Lionsgate – was released in November 2013.

Mockingjay was first published in hardcover by Scholastic on August 24, 2010. The film version is being split into two movies both co-produced by Color Force and Lionsgate, Mockingjay - Part 1 which will be released on November 21, 2014 and Mockingjay - Part 2 which will be released on November 20, 2015.