The Hunger Games trilogy is a truly insightful expression of the potentially devastating consequences of having state-control media. Has anyone else noticed that one of the defining features of any great dystopian tale (take Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell as an example) is the media in its entirety being under the sole control of either one political leader (in this case, President Snow) or one ‘party’? Well, you SHOULD…
In the case of Catching Fire (and the Hunger Games before it), President Snow and the game makers choose exactly what aspects of the tributes struggle in the games they want to show on the television broadcast. Likewise, in the districts, the citizens have no clue as to the behaviour (i.e. rebellions) happening in other districts. Freedom of expression is punished cruelly. The word of the Capitol is law. It is ‘divine’. It is unquestionable. And they make sure that no one in the districts is ever given a dash of hope to fuel the fire of rebellion suppressed within them. Why do they want to rebel? Because they are unhappy. They are mistreated by the state. They are poor, starving, scared, cold, ill etc. Thanks to the unintentional defiance of Katniss Everdeen, it is time for a revolution!
But how does this relate to us? Well, there are certainly still parts of the world that, even today, that have aspects of their media controlled, sanctioned, watched by the state. Even western civilisation isn’t exempt. Aside from entertainment and education, the media’s purpose should be to act as a WATCH DOG for the government, their actions, policies, decisions. But this is such an idealistic notion. The media takes hand-outs from the government and vice versa. Major media conglomerates are owned by one single person (*cough* Rupert Murdoch) and therefore exude their own political view. A balanced, detailed, impartial media system is what allows the population to make an informed decision. Take this away, control it further, and the public is held essentially held hostage by their own ignorance (and, in the case of Hunger Games, fear).
There is so much more than I can say about this topic… including about Ceasar’s heavily constructed and ‘fake’ television show as ‘infotainment’, the Capitol’s obsession with a reality television show that is not too dissimilar to what we partake in these days, the creation of an ‘icon’ (therefore a celebrity) in the form of Katniss. Maybe I will sit down and fully articulate this…? Watch this space!