Thursday, May 8, 2014

Blog #14: Reflections

As I reflect on this semester, I look back at our class from a slightly different lens than my classmates because I was the only student who had not read the books prior to signing up for the class. I was falsely under the impression that we would read the series through the semester as a class, on the first day of class I was abruptly informed that I would have to read the books on my own, and very quickly. I ended up reading the series within a week or so and for the most part enjoying the books. This gave me a different perspective on our in-class discussions, as the trilogy had, had time to ferment in the minds of the other students while for me it was still fresh. In terms of the other class material we had to read, I thought that the Gresh book was very elementary and did not enjoy reading it, and did not learn much from it; in comparison, I thought the collected essays in the Pharr and Clark book were much more informative and better written. Some of the other readings were useful, while some did not really resonate with me. The blogs were a well used tool, expanding on topics we discussed in class and giving us more space to express our views, but perhaps we could have been given more creative freedom in our writing. Overall, I am happy that his class introduced me to the world of the Hunger Games and found our journey through it quite interesting.

I have now completed my journey through The Hunger Games. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Blog #13: Reflections on Presentations

The first round of presentations were all pretty good, the one that stood out to me was Danielle's about gender roles in the Hunger Games. I found it very interesting how gender roles in series were very undefined compared to traditional ideas, especially in the capitol. At the beginning of the first book we get an idea that gender roles will be different in this trilogy because Katniss illegally hunts on her own and supports here family. There are some vestiges of defined gender roles in that it is still the men who work in the mines, Gale symbolizes the typical male hero and Prim is a more typical feminine hero. But for the most part as Danielle pointed out the lines are blurred, in the capitol everyone cares mostly about dress and fashion, Katniss and Peeta are both 'mixed gender' hero's and in District 13 everyone is equal and expected to do their fair share of work for the rebel cause. I think perhaps one thing Danielle could have mentioned is the importance of Katniss being a female hero with masculine qualities in a wider, cultural aspect. Many feel that the books and movie would not have been as popular if Katniss was a boy, that because she could stand up and fight for herself was appealing to young girls and fulled the series success. At the same time Peeta was not the typical male hero, which added to the appeal of the couple, but overall I think Danielle did a good job in discussing the topic of gender in the Hunger Games.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blog 12: The Nature of Evil

"There has to be evil so that good can prove its purity above it (Buddha)." Evil, or at least the idea of evil has been around as long as humans - and probably sentient beings have been around. In modern times due to continued technological advancement those who are evil can cause greater damage and are better known throughout the world. For most people, Hitler and his Holocaust are the very embodiment of evil, and rightfully so. Around 11 million people were brutally killed by the Nazi regime during Hitler's reign of Germany. Mr. Rubin Szatajer, knows what happened during those dreadful years all to well. During his speech he brought up an interesting point "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing (Edmund Burke)." And in many ways this is true, the western world largely stayed silent about the atrocities committed until war was inevitable. But was this evil latent in the German people, or was it something any one of us would be capable of doing. It seems as if evil is something that can be committed by most of us, as evidenced by the Milgram experiment - as long as an authoritative power gives us the order. It is mostly the leaders who are clearly evil- as they are the authority, names we all know like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot...etc. These can be compared with The Hunger Games as there are some characters who are clearly evil- namely President Snow, as well as certain game-makers and peace-keepers, but the majority of characters who seem evil, are probably just normal humans who are following orders. Unfortunately we don't more often stand up to those who are unjust but thankfully it seems as if for the vast majority of the population there is hope. 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Blog Entry 11: The End of the World

The world as we know it is going to end, in around 2.8 billion years when the sun explodes and destroys the earth and all the other plants in the solar system. But the real question is will the end of the world come sooner than that, through a man-made disaster, a natural catastrophe, aliens or another source? I believe that the humanity will suffer devastating consequences thanks to the continuing environmental degradation of the earth. Even though there has been mounting scientific evidence that over-use of resources is destroying our plant there has been relatively little done to change our damaging practices. This falls under the millennialism category that Dr. Krebs mentioned, as one of the categories of millennialism is environmental degradation. This also links to the Hunger Games as it seems as if some environmental catastrophe led to the civil war of Panem. This was in combination with the apparent use of nuclear weapons- specifically in District 13. The Hunger Games shows us some of the dangers that could occur if we do not take heed to the warning signs. The control of resources is becoming increasingly important, many wars already occur at least partly for the control of resources water and oil being the most prominent. There are other rather less predictable ways that could cause major damage or end our way of life - a major volcano that blocks out sunlight, a large asteroid impacting the earth, an alien invasion; but I do not believe any of these disasters would be the cause of the end of the earth.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Children of Men: Movie Reflection and connections to The Hunger Games

The movie Children of Men paints a picture of a dystopian future where no more babies are born, much of the world has descended into anarchy and chaos while Britain appears to remain as one of the few surviving nations; albeit one that is an extremely authoritarian police-state. There are some obvious parallels with the Hunger Games series including the restriction of travel, control of information, and the violent armed forces. The reason the main character of Children of Men – Theo Faron – is needed is to gain access to travel permits that are extremely hard to come by. It is hard and dangerous to travel, with both the state and outlaws roaming the countryside, this is very comparable to the Hunger Games where there is virtually no travel between districts besides for government officials, troops and tributes. Furthermore, the citizens of both the Britain of 2027 and Panem have little to no information of what goes on in the outside world, the British people do not really know what is happening in the world as the government controls the media and those who reside in Panem do not even know what happens in neighboring districts. Finally, as authoritarian states both Britain and Panem have extremely harsh and violent police forces who abuse and mistreat the citizens. The major difference is that the catastrophe in Children of Men is that there are no more births, while in Panem there appears to have been a war and environmental disaster. Even though there are broad differences, the general tone and outlook of the movie, Children of Men and the book series, The Hunger Games is very similar. 

Blog Entry 10: Dr. Mazerof and the Hero's Journey

Katniss’s story has many similarities with the Hero’s Journey, but before we explore the relationship between the two, we must first understand what the Hero’s Journey is. There are three major steps in the hero’s journey, (1) the departure, (2) the initiation, and (3) the return. The departure entails the hero finding out about the journey that must be taken, deciding with he/she should go on the journey, and crossing the first threshold to go on the trip. The initiation is when the hero goes on the main path, through trials and tribulations, gains allies, and completes the initial quest. Finally, the return, which marks the hero going home, the new challenges he/she faces, and the freedom the hero has finally achieved.

 Katniss’s journey goes along many of these paths, she receives a call to adventure when her sister is selected in the reaping; she needs the journey as there is no real future besides one of poverty in district 12. She goes through training in the Capital and with Haymitch, she slowly makes friends with other tributes, most notably Rue, her relationship with her father deepens as the skills he taught her save her life and she defeats her greatest enemies. At various points of the series Katniss is rescued from without, and when she finally does return home, she has finally achieved some peace with herself and the world. Even though there are ways Katniss deviates from the hero’s journey, she fulfills the basic principle of ‘leaving a placed that is uncomfortable and returning transformed. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Reflection 9: Dr.Casey

Dr. Casey’s lecture on his biography and how his past shapes him today was very interesting and relatable to the notion of leadership in The Hunger Games. It was fascinating how Dr. Casey’s life unfolded, from a young boy in a small community in South Carolina where few people went to college to becoming the President. Dr. Casey did not have any grand plan, he simply took the opportunities that were presented to him, when he was a child he would simply read the books that were available to him, to travelling the world with the Kellogg Foundation.

Dr. Casey’s lessons in power are also relatable to the Hunger Games, most specifically in his styles of leadership differs from both that of President Snow and Coin. Dr. Casey believes that “who you are tied up with” is the most important aspect of being a leader as you cannot do everything yourself and must rely on other people to succeed. This is in contrast to both Snow and Coin, who had few if, any advisers and made virtually all executive decisions themselves. Another important lesson from Dr. Casey’s youth was that he was a part of forced busing as a part of school desegregation; this led to him never really thinking about race or diversity as an important differentiating factor.  In comparison, both Snow and Coin, especially Snow tried to split people up into classes and segregate them between districts. This eventually played a major role in his downfall. Coin went in the opposite direction treating everyone the same, this had its drawbacks as well because each person is an individual and needs some freedom which was stifled under Coin’s rule.