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.