How we relate to The Hunger Games dystopia
The President is not your friend. He is a liar, a murderer and a tyrant. He sends children off to die for nothing more than for his own pleasure. He says it is to teach the people a lesson. But how do the dead learn?
The people are scared, broken, and mindless. They are puppets to the citizens of the Capitol, basing their livelihoods on their whims and emotions. The rich control the poor and less fortunate. The minority, the citizens of the Capitol, has rule over the people of Panem and can change their lives if they wish. But are they really living? They have no freedoms. All they can do is work and try to survive. There are few laughs, scarce happiness and only one game in Panem: the Hunger Games. The most exciting time of the year and perhaps the most terrifying is when 24 tributes, some as young as 12 years old, are sent off to fight to the death.
Suzanne Collins created a futuristic, dystopian world not so different than our own in her trilogy, The Hunger Games, which has just been turned into a huge Hollywood blockbuster. She incorporated many of the problems we are facing today within our country. Main character Katniss Everdeen is an average citizen of Panem from District 12, the coal-mining district. By volunteering to save her little sister, she ends up the center of attention and, because of this, she becomes even more exposed to the injustices that go on throughout Panem.
Panem is comprised of 12 specialized districts and the Capitol, which is the wealthy city center and government headquarters. When Katniss reaches the Capitol, she sees just how unequal the distribution of wealth is. The people of the Capitol spend all of their money on clothes, extreme plastic surgery and expensive foods. Life in the Capitol reflects the economic inequality and materialism of America. The subject matter is even more relevant with the advancement of the Occupy movement and the parallel revolution that springs up in Panem. Our culture can also be self-centered and extremely obsessed with money. Most people do not even look twice when they see a homeless person on the street or someone asking for donations to a charity. The American ideology tells us we’re the best and no one is going to tell us otherwise.
In Panem, the elite few rule and the people of the districts are like the 99 percent in both wealth and power. They can alter the lives of Hunger Games tributes based on their every whim and fancy if they so choose. Not entertained? Let’s throw the tributes a curveball and see who dies.
The Hunger Games began after the Dark Days when the districts rebelled against the Capitol for all their injustices. When the districts lost the battle, the Capitol decided to create something to remind the citizens of Panem of their failure and never to rise up again. Twenty-four kids were chosen at random to fight for their lives. The lone survivor is the victor.
While the totalitarian government makes Panem a dystopia, the state of the Capitol is contrastingly quite utopian. Everything is full of life and color. People want for nothing. Everything is within their grasp. Everyone in the Capitol believes what he or she is told. Both the people of the Capitol and the districts are kept numbed and submissive by propaganda. They know nothing of sympathy or empathy for those in the districts, so the deaths of tributes are equal to losing a pawn in chess. Since the Capitol citizens know nothing of hard times and terrible deeds, they are living in ignorant bliss.
The Hunger Games trilogy is scarily similar to our times now and what we could end up like in the not-so-distant future. We already had our gladiator phase back in ancient Roman times, but the Games are already a reality for troops. We send our men to die, in some instances, for nothing more than oil or land, and we watch the nightly news of the fights like entertainment. The victims of warfare are kept at a safe distance so that we feel no remorse or sympathy. Though we care about our soldiers, many sit back passively when we have to send them to another war. The unjust system could also be reality for us if we don’t change our ways.
Panem is the name of the country ruled by the corrupt. It is a place where the rulers are fat and satisfied and the people are starving and knocking on Death’s door. We have to learn to appreciate things and help out those in need instead of hoarding all we have for ourselves, or we could end up just like the Capitol.
Kristen Tomkowid is a freshman journalism major from District 13 and the odds are always in her favor. Email her at ktonow1[at]ithaca[dot]edu.