Sunday, May 3, 2015

Final Blog for the Class

Looking back at what I've learned this semester, I am very content with the amount of different perspectives we as a class were able to view the Hunger Games trilogy in. I am fascinated specifically by the gender roles exploration we did in class and how that may affect/inspire the gender roles to be mixed up in adventure narratives of the future (Perhaps a Metroid movie? One can dream). 

I also appreciated the look at Appalachian life today, as that was a region of the world that I was not aware of before. How people living with the lowest of incomes and living environments can have their lives destroyed by the destruction of mountain tops - with a lot of what is going on in the media with race and gender, many would overlook (or altogether be unaware) of something as deadly and depriving as this to Americans. 

In terms of "challenging," I would say this class was an ENJOYABLE was of fully analyzing the Hunger Games from all perspectives. For me personally, being a Cinema major, looking at the films in class worked extraordinarily well for my discipline, yet I feel many other people's disciplines weren't as explored as much. 

I also feel that the material was rushed a bit - even with all the delays this semester, we spent a lot of time on the books and not as much on other materials. Could it be possible that only SOME time is spent on books (and have it required that people have read the books beforehand???) and more time on the essays and other materials? 

Overall, I am happy to have taken the Hunger Games SIS, and felt it a good extension of my film knowledge and knowledge of the world around me. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Predicting the End of the World

The Hunger Games is set in a very unique post-apocalyptic setting, having no distinct causation as to what happened to cause the end of the world, only the condition that it is "the end of the world" per say.

In terms of whether I personally believe in the "ending" of the world, any ending of the planet's current habitation would require significant change of some sort - something to trigger an event happening. Many of the suggested examples (nuclear or chemical warfare) require some sort of man-made motivation for entering such a destructive situation. 

I am fascinated (narrative-wise) by the idea of alien invasion - the idea of encountering a being/species so unlike our own is a very intriguing idea for a Cinema major, rooted by the childlike fantasies of meeting an alien! However, scientists haven't been able to discover (yet) any intelligent life in the outer reaches of space, therefore this notion, while exciting, can be ruled out. 

The most probable way the Earth would end, in terms of humanity, would bed climate changes. History has shown that climate has had major impact on many creatures of the Earth in terms of extinction and endangerment. The dinosaurs are the most famous example of a species of animal wiped from the Earth; a species that survived for thousands of years before being entirely obliterated from the planet.

There's also the threat of humans destroying themselves environmentally. Countries like China and even regions of the US have so much pollution, they have to wear masks to save themselves from the smog. It is most possible that humanity takes this pollution (and possibly global warming?) to the extremes, making the planet inhabitable for us to live on.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Gender Relations and the Hunger Games

In both the reading for class and Dr. Raley's lecture, the characters Katniss Everdeen and Bella Swan were juxtaposed to explain how gender roles in Twilight and the Hunger Games. Both the book and Dr. Raley explained how, practically, the gender roles are switched in the two stories. While Bella represents the stereotypical "damsel in distress" for contemporary teenagers, Katniss is pitted against a world that leaves her more aggressive.

 As discussed in the chapter, Bella is not only a protagonist in a "young adult" fiction, but also fits the character traits of that of a Romance novel, where the interaction between man and woman, inevitably both falling in love, is the most prominent part of the story. This is more stereotypical, according to Dr. Raley, of a female character in a story...... their story arch, especially in a Romance tale, always revolves around a male character. They are completely dependent on the male for their story to drive forward. Subsequently, the male figure (Edward Cullen and Jacob Black) drives the plot and "Gets the girl" at the end, making Bella the protagonist almost a joke.

While Bella is a weaker character, focused on "the man," Katniss, set in a dystopian story, has bigger problems then a male figure. The nature of the dystopian world demands that the protagonist (male or female) must find a way to survive. For Katniss, this means the male figures in Hunger Games, while present, are irrelevant compared to the need to protect those she loves in general, let alone something as trivial as "true love." This completely flips the idea of gender roles, being that Katniss is entirely independent and in control of her emotions. The males, particularly Peeta, are the weaker character, and the more dependent.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Music in the Hunger Games: An Appalachian Symbol

In the Hunger Games, music is as oppressed as the people that live in Panem. Like Katniss and the people of District 12, music evolves from a personal level and expressing community, to becoming a tool of rebellion, its lyrics the voice of the rebellion. 

Appalachian music, as seen in the film Matewan as well as discussed in class, music is a very colloquial element to the culture of Appalachian peoples. 
It helps to build a community, and to uplift that community from its economic situation. Quite literally, it “distracts” the individual from the life he or she lives by telling them “life’s not as dismal as it seems – there are good things about life as well.”

Similarly in the Hunger Games, music starts as a community-based motive to uplift the people of District 12 from within the community. The songs in District 12 are not force-fed songs from the Capitol – they are genuine, colloquial songs. The song “Hanging Tree” in Mockingjay is a less cheerful, but very heartfelt song about a man being hung who invites his love to join him at the tree he is to be hung in. Katniss explains “The phrase Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free is the   most troubling because at first you think he’s talking about when he told her to flee, presumably to safety.  But then you wonder if he meant for her to run to him. To death.

“The Hanging Tree”, while not an uplifting piece, is a catchy tune the people of District 12 to reflect their troubles, and eventually is broadcasted to the rest of Panem during the revolution. What’s important about the song is that there is no excess requirement of instruments of any sort to sing “Hanging Tree.” The song simply resonates based on its melody.

The same can be said for many Appalachian songs as well. The song “Little Sadie,” while catchy in melody, depicts a young prostitute being shot down in the street. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Totalitarianism - Fact or Fiction? 

By definition, Totalitarianism is the complete control of the people by the state, including private and public lives. 
Any government who does not go checked by a representative of each region falls susceptible to this form of government. 

In the Hunger Games trilogy, as well as many of the Dystopian narratives covered in The Hunger Games Companion, the governmental systems (or outlines of governmental systems as outlined by the facts of the story) are not checked by representatives outside the initial and ultimate leader of the system. 
In Orwell's 1984, "Big Brother" dominates all of the society in the story. Even the voice of the everyday person is censored to extreme measures, making any form of opposition almost impossible in the world of 1984. There is also an immense amount of propaganda in this novel that serves the purpose of intimidating the individual, making their voice seem small in the "eyes" of the government. The combination of clear and present intimidation, mixed with the unseen techniques of capturing ones voice and movement, create a world where caution is the forced perspective of the individual.  

These are two major factors of a totalitarian government - not only does one need the ability to monitor a society's speech and movement, in some cases down to the individual, but must also force this ability onto the people. 

I stand opinionated, of course, but in the Companion book, it mentions the Patriot Act of 2001, a law the United States put in effect shortly after the terrorist attack on 9-11. It is implied in this book, based one examples paralleled in the chapter, that Patriot Act was a form of monitoring that was detrimental to its people. While I can see the hesitation to enact a law saying the US has control and monitoring abilities over all we do, this was something that WE SAID IN CLASS: "What is wrong with the U.S. monitoring what you do if you have nothing to hide?" 

In 1984, while the extreme (and also highly unrealistic) scenarios of the main character Winston Smith made his life dreary, Smith's life was more or less content before he started dabbling with the boundaries of the government, in which case he became a target for the government. 
(In our the idea of resisting oppression reflects the fanciful ideas of a juvenile rebel. 

While it makes for good entertainment (In our culture, the idea of resisting oppression reflects the fanciful ideas of a juvenile rebel.) I believe our government misses the element of control that the dystopian world has. The systematic oppression found in a totalitarian government is eliminated in the U.S. by representatives of House/Senate and Congress, the law by its chiefs, etc.

In stories like the Hunger Games and 1984, there is no one to check Big Bother/ Snow, the principle difference between such stories and the U.S.

However, not every country has the system of government that the U.S. has in terms of representation. This means the threat of totalitarianism is all too possible.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

For Chris McAleer's blog, I very much appreciated the ties to the influence of the media in a dystopian future to that of the recent events of Ferguson. This is a scenario in today's reality that is immensely influenced and manipulated by the media. Just like in the Condemned, the media makes certain characters out to be less or more appealing to the audience than others. All of the "contestants" in the game are criminals, and their deaths are desensitized based on their criminality, much like in Ferguson, where racial stereotypes desensitize the death of an African American citizen of the United States. 

Amber Smith's blog also adds to the idea of the desensitization of violent acts in today's society. Her examples add the fact that our culture is constantly and repetitively bombarded with reality TV shows, such as American Idol and Survivor, making us unaware or unconcerned with the real struggles that less fortunate people endure in our society.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Social Media on Society: Dystopian article vs The Condemned

Dystopia with a Difference

- "mass media, on a personal level, can be used to control people's beliefs and behaviors...."

The Condemned 
- many of Breckel's team are aggressive and very into the idea of having the show go viral all over the world

Dystopia with a Difference
- State controlled news programs...convey misinformation by manipulating footage and having reporters present stories that serve the government's interests....."

The Condemned 
- Conrad's past is warped to make him seem more brutal and dangerous, making the show more interesting

Dystopia w/ Difference
- [Katniss] only develops a true critical perspective on the Games when she becomes a participant in them, seeing them for what they really are:elaborate fictions that present themselves as fact." 

The Condemned 
- Breckel's team is able to manipulate various camera angles to show the viewer what it is they want them to see; they are able to create the "elaborate fiction" from reality

- [Collins] worries that the lines are being blurred not only between different types of media but between media and reality, resulting in passivity on the part of viewers

- Breckel's team watches Paco's wife killed and tortured - there's an alarming number of them that are unaffected by the brutality of the murder

What both of these sources agree on is that the media is able to manipulate the events of personas very life, changing not only the actions of an individual, but also how society is able to view that individual's actions. Media becomes a tool that is used to harm, and in the case of Hunger Games and the Condemned, it becomes a deadly weapon. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My favorite book

 My favorite book by far was Catching Fire. To me, this book had the most content that was cohesive and interesting. 

A lot of times, a sequel to a popular and successful piece of art can be disappointing, not simply because they are bad but because they didn't meet the expectations that the first work did. With Catching Fire, the world of the Hunger Games is expanded, the characters are even more developed, and the plot thickens immensely. 

I also think that Catching Fire's themes resonate the loudest within today's culture in terms of the themes of oppression and defiance. For example, the whipping post can be thematically connected to slavery, Holocaust, and various different kinds of universal evils in the world, some of which hit home to many United States cultures. 

Slavery (in which many African Americans were whipped as slaves ancestrally), is a big allusion connected to Gale being whipped for the littlest offense.  

I also like that Catching Fire establishes the "Fire v. Snow" theme that resonates between Katniss and the President, appropriately named Snow.

 This is my favorite theme throughout the books - the way that fire versus ice is discretely portrayed in the books is really cool. For example, the way the Mockingjay symbol is constantly doused in fire, and how Snow's rose is white.....

....the little things impress me in the books, and Catching Fire does the best at expressing key themes throughout.
Catching Fire: Book v. Movie

Much like the first "Hunger Games," the book/movie comparison of "Catching Fire" shows that many events that occur in the book - in terms of chronological order and/or just all out inclusion of details - are omitted or changed in the movie so as to better tell the story from a "viewers" prospective, rather than from the point of view of Katniss. One of the first examples in the movie is the very beginning, when Gale kisses Katniss. 

 In the book, this doesn't occur until Snow tells Katniss he "knows about the kiss," in which Katniss recalls the events then. In the movie, the president shows Katniss the kiss replayed through a screen. Story-wise, this is much more linear and easier to follow for a film (trying to do a "flashback" would be awkward and confusing). 

One element that has "grown on me" after seeing the two films so far is the scenes where we see President Snow's life.To me, this adds a larger dynamic to the movie - the viewer sees, up front and personal, how Snow is gradually irritated (possibly scared?) by Katniss' actions. 

This is a perspective we do not see in the books, due to the PoV of Katniss, but for me it helps show the "big picture," as well as develop several characters that aren't detailed in the book. 

One thing that did bother me was that, through the movie, we are not able to see - as well as in the books - how District 12 suffers from Katniss' actions. In the book, we hear how the mines are closed at one point, how food becomes scarce, how people are punished and even killed. We even see Katniss and Gale go to see the Hob in flames. NONE of this is in the movie! 

Well, sort of: 

Overall, the film did a good job of maintaining the key points in the book, and portrayed them with great visual accuracy. The "clock arena" was just as I had pictured, and many characters looked exactly like I imagined.
Hunger Games: Movie v. Book

The first moment of the Hunger Games movie is an interview between Caesar Flickerman and Seneca Crane. ALREADY we are in completely different territory
storytelling-wise than the book, which is predominately told from the PoV of Katniss. Throughout the movie, we are also told various critical points (ex. what Tracker Jacker's are, how the chariot presentations work, etc.) through the news-esque narrations of Caesar and Claudius Templesmith. In all these instances of interview and narration, I feel as if this is simply the best way that the director is able to portray the information of the book without making it a "Jennifer Lawrence's voice is heard throughout the story."

A HUGE part of the movie that REALLY brings out the emotional stance of District 12 and the life of Katniss Everdeen is music. There is one moment in particular toward the beginning of the Hunger Games movie where the soundtrack brings out the solemn, decrepit state of District 12.

To me, the only way one can fully enjoy the movie "Hunger Games" to the fullest is if one had not read the book. SO MANY plot points of the book are either distorted or missing entirely in the movie that were crucial in the book. For example, Katniss is not given the Mockingjay pin by Madge, but buys it at a store??? And where's the Avox girl? Isn't she more important that the ONE line Katniss says about "They might cut our tongues out"? Also, the so called "mutant" dogs in the movie are not what were expected of the creatures depicted in the books. They look more like the dogs from the 1st Hulk movie, made from cheap animations rather than fleshed out to be the creatures of the book. There's also no indication to the ultra eerie fact in the book that these creatures are , in fact, the other tributes!

On the bright side, many huge parts ARE kept from the book, such as Cinna's line "I can't bet, but if I did, it'd be on you!" And of course the two scenes that Katniss has, one with Gale and the otehr with Peeta.

At the end of the day, I can appreciate the world of the Hunger Games was expressed as a whole in this movie, with Katniss leading the plot points of the story. This shows an overall success of Susanne Collins as a write, when one director and production team can fully flesh out an entire world beyond reality through the words in a book. While many book fans will miss the changes made, all can appreciate the story told through the Hunger Games movie. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why Did I Choose “The Wonderful World of the Hunger Games” as my SIS?

               For as long as I remember, my interests in life have been films – the viewing, the creation, and the overall admiration of cinema. As a child, my mother would always let me rent (over and over) the 1933 King Kong. I have since watched it hundreds of times, never once losing interest in the classic tale.

               Growing up, my interest into more sophisticated films increased, and has particularly swung towards a love for Science Fiction, and a dwelling into the worlds of fictitious creatures – of monsters, robots, aliens, and space. I especially enjoy when the elements of the fictitious meet the modern day world, through events such as apocalypses, invasions, etc.

               I was first introduced to the Hunger Games by my younger brother, who read it as a class requirement. My brother is not the type of person to overly enjoy books. However, I was intrigued when he said he really liked the book. I decided to give the first Hunger Games a crack, and I thought it was fantastic (Shortly afterwards I saw the films and the one thing I missed the most was having Katniss narrate the story).

 Because one of my two majors is Cinema I picked this class because, having read the first Hunger Games and seen all the movies so far, I thought it would be extremely interesting to analyze the series from a storytelling point of view. I also realize that it could be very interesting, with my other major being Psychology, to analyze the effects that the Games (and Panem) have on Katniss on a psychological level.

               I mentioned this in class, but my favorite character is Prim Everdeen. I can relate her to my  little sister, who grew up with two older brothers ten years older than her and has experienced many moments in her life that leave her wounded emotionally (i.e. her grandmother dying and her parents fighting). This has made my sister – her name is Emily – a stronger character in the family. This is what I seeing Prim – a girl who is young, innocent, but strong.