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.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dr.Shibley Telhami, The Arab Spring, & the Hunger Games

Dr.Telahmis speech on the Arab world and the Arab Spring can be very clearly connected to the Hunger Games through two major points, the issue of identity, and what to expect in power-revolution societies.

Dr.Telhami spoke of the issue of identity in the Arab world and broke down peoples views into four categories - that of state, Arab, religious and world. His polls indicated in the past people viewed themselves mostly of state but in recent decades people consider their sense of being Arab and their religion as more important. This is for a variety of reasons - the rise of the internet, the diversification of news sources; previously only state channels were accessible, the rise of satellite TV has led to a boom in Arab wide news channels most notably Al-Jazeera. These two developments have led to Arab people learning more about the world and their region from less biased sources contributing to a rise in the pan-Arab support. In Panem all media was controlled by the state and the peoples of each district had no idea what was happening in the country as a whole beyond what the government wanted them to know. But as District 13 rose up and the rebellion began they managed to hack the system and spread information to the people. This united the people and gave them an identity of state rather of district - spearheaded by the Mockingjay Katniss. The control of information is vital to the success of any totalitarian government and as Arab dictators and President Snow lost their grip on information, they lost their grips on the reigns of power.

A third way that the Arab spring and the hunger games are connected is that there are questions about the future. After the initial elation has died to, a new government must be set up and in most Arab countries few know what they will look like. In Panem most people assumed there would be a new world order after the dethroning of President Snow, but over time it became clear to some, especially Katniss that Coin had many similarities with Snow. She decided to kill Snow to save the rebellion; and it seems as if the new government in Panem had become a much more democratic system. But if Coin was still alive and in power there is a good chance that there would not have been much change. Many Arab countries that overthrew their leaders are now running into difficulties with the military, radical-Islamic groups and other parties all vying for power. There is a very real risk that the new leaders of Arab countries will be all to similar to their former dictators and it is a question that will only be answered in the coming years.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

District 12: Song & Dance

Music and dance are important to people from every culture, all across the world, but they are especially important to people who are subjugated and abused. This can be seen throughout history, from its importance to African-American in slavery and those who reside in the neglected Appalachian areas in America today to its importance in the Panem and especially the more impoverished districts such as 11 and 12. The Appalachia has historically been and remains on the periphery of mainstream American culture, because of this the people of the region have developed their own unique song and dance that remains largely untouched by popular culture of today. Through this isolation a unique form of music formed through time- bluegrass, which was most famously spread by recently deceased singer Pete Seeger. The music helped to bond the people of Appalachia and to preserve their culture. District 12 is a very direct comparison to modern day Appalachia- it is based in the same area and the people face the same difficulties, of living a life in the mines, being trampled on by the government and corporations but managing to create their own unique culture that helped them through the hard times. In comparison though it seems as if in District 12 the capitol has managed to stamp out much of the culture out of its people as shown by the reaction Katniss's mother has when she hears Katniss and her father singing "The Hanging Tree" and there is not much of a mention of song and dance through much of the series. There still are some unique, individualistic characteristics of District 12 such as The Hob (black market) or in District 11 where the workers had songs to help them get through the day. But in the mines of District 12 it seems as much of the life of the people had been beaten out of them.

Pete Seeger - An Icon of Appalachian Music

Some of the Instruments liked to bluegrass music - most notably the Banjo

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Media, Television and Text in the Hunger Games

The ability to control and manipulate text, television and information is one of, if not the most important tools totalitarian governments have. The government of Panem and real governments all over the world use this power to help maintain their positions of control while undermining any potential threats. In the world of Panem the government has completely control of virtually all information until the system is cracked in the Mockingjay. There is virtually no contact between districts, the entire education system is completely perverted and there are no dissenting voices - at least in public. Many parallels can be drawn from the world of Panem to governments currently operating in the world today, the most obvious example of this is in North Korea where the state controls all media and spreads propaganda. On the other hand the media can be used for good and to overthrow the old establishment. Examples spread far over time, from Martin Luther's 95 theses that started the protestant reformation to the importance of the press in the American revolution to today where social media was one of the driving forces of the Arab Spring. Twitter and other forms of social media were vital to the organizing efforts of the protesters and YouTube was vital as it gave the protesters the ability to show the world what was happening on the ground. Finally, looking back at Panem and the uprising that occurred, one can see the importance of the media as that broadcasting centers were usually one of the first locations the rebels tried to control or destroy.

Caeser, one of the most vital men in the Capitols control of the media

Social Media played a vital role in the Arab Spring

North Korean Video showing how Americans live today.

Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses - His ideas spread rapidly due to the development of the printing press. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Least Favorite Book

Which of the three books did you like the least? Why?

The book I enjoyed the least is the third and final book in the series - Mockingjay. This is for a variety of reasons, most notably, I read all three books within a matter of days, the unsatisfying ending and the rushed plot development. Coming into this class I believed we would all read the series as a class over a period of weeks, but unfortunately it turned out that we were supposed to have read the books beforehand and every other class member had done so. This meant I would have to read the books at a very rapid pace to catch up; over the course of one weekend I read all three books - aided by the fact I got quite drawn into the series. But as with anything else there was the issue of diminishing returns, by the time I was reading Mockingjay I was getting increasingly tired of the world of the Hunger Games. Secondly, as with many books and movies the ending is the hardest part and Mockingjay like many books and movies left me unsatisfied, perhaps nothing could leave me satisfied but I will associate those unfulfilled feelings of the series to the third book. Finally, I feel as that the final book was a bit rushed, especially the third part of the book and would like some concepts specifically how each character ends up and their relationship with Katniss as there are quite a few untied knots at the end of the book. This is not to take away from the series as a whole as I did enjoy it - evidenced by me reading the series in three days.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Catching Fire: Book v. Movie

Catching Fire
Book, Movie Comparison
The Humanization of President Snow

In the books we rarely if ever see President Snow outside of his official capacity, he is always cruel, dangerous, mischievous and most certainly evil. We only see him as the foil to Katniss and the people of the districts aiming to make their lives miserable and keep them repressed. There are no lighter sides of President Snow or redeeming qualities, at least in the books.

But in the movies we seem him beyond that role; in the first movie we see him pruning roses in a garden and in the second we see him with his granddaughter. At first this was quite jarring because of the impression generated of him through the books. He seems to care about his granddaughter but at the same time his daughter looks up to Katniss. She of course does not understand the importance of Katniss and the revolution at hand so she provides an interesting dilemma to Snow. She is one of the few things he loves but in the movie she constantly reminds him of Katniss whether it be through her adoration of Katniss or her having a mockingjay pin.

Overall, Snow's granddaoughter does not have a major role to play and was not vital to the stories development but she did play her part well. She gave viewers a more complete and rounded picture of President Snow Personally, I liked her inclusion to the movie series as in the books President Snow was almost inhuman but now regardless of the his undoubted evil at least he is somewhat human.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Hunger Games: Book vs. Movie - The portrayal of Gale Hawthorne

One major difference in the book and the movie is the portrayal and screen time of Gale Hawthorne. Both the book and movie treat him in similarly in the beginning of the book where he is given lots of exposure and importance but it is after Katniss volunteers in the reaping and heads to the capitol that his role changes. The book is written in the first person from Katniss Everdeens perspective but the movie is told from a third person perspective which changes the portrayal of Gale. In the book he is just mentioned when Katniss thinks of her  from afar but we never really get to see him or know what he feels. In contrast the book cuts to scenes of him during key periods of the movie; such as when Katniss and Peeta kiss in the cave. I feel the movie reminds of Gale more powerfully than the book did because of the visual representation required as compared to the book which could just have him included as just one of the people Katniss thinks of. Furthermore, Gale is included in one of the most graphic parts of the book and movie; when he is whipped by the new head peacemaker Thread. The movie once again creates a more powerful image of the whipping due to the violent nature of the scene. Overall even though there are differences in how Gale is portrayed his role remains similar in both the book and movie - small but vital. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Blog 2: Tributs and Gladiators

Write an analysis of the parallels between the  tributes in the arena and gladiators in old Rome. how can we apply the notion of "panem et circenses" to the hunger games.

There are two major parallels between the tributes in the arena and gladiators in old Rome; firstly, the majority if not all the participants are chosen from a subjugated peoples - the populations of the 12 districts and the numerous civilizations the Romans conquered. The peoples of the 12 districts were powerless against the power of the Peacekeepers from ruling their lives and drawing their children in lots for the hunger games while the peoples of ancient Greece, Gaul, Germany were powerless in stopping the invincible Roman army from bounding them to a life of slavery; or if they were lucky a life as a gladiator. Furthermore, there were those who volunteered to be both tributes and gladiators. This is due to the second major parallel, both tributes and gladiators enjoyed position of relative prestige and acclaim. The Hunger Games and gladiatorial contests had great popularity in both Panem and Rome and those who excelled in the games and contests were considered hero's by the people and the state.

The notion of "panem et circenses" or 'bread and circuses' can be applied to large extent to The Hunger Games, with the annual tesserae given to those who enter their names additional times into the draw equivalent to the bread, with the hunger games itself being the circus. In Roman times some believed the very idea of a civic population governed by an effective government had given way to a population easily bought by food and entrainment by a corrupt governing class. In comparison in the Panem the population which had previously rebelled lived in a much greater fear of their government were somewhat appeased by the government through "panem et circneses"

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why The Hunger Games?

Why did you choose this class? What are you hoping to accomplish in the course? What is your favorite character of The Hunger Games?

Few book series have been as critically successful or had as large as an impact in popular culture as The Hunger Games has. Therefore, over the past few years I have constantly been reminded about the series and its success. In addition, in the past year my father and sister have raced through the series, this nearly made me read the books because my father and sister usually have very divergent book preferences but they both loved the series. I held out and have not read any of the books or watched the movies; I thought this class would present an opportunity to enter the world of The Hunger Games. Furthermore, dystopian novels such as 1984 and The Haindmaid's Tale intrigue me and this book seems to be in the interesting middle ground between books based in popular culture such as Twilight and dystopian novels such Brave New World.

 I hope to accomplish an understanding of the meaning and ideas behind the book as well as why the series has been so commercially popular. There are countless numbers of dystopian novels, what has made The Hunger Games successful while similar novels have failed? Where does the dystopian world of The Hunger Games fit, in the realm of dystopian worlds and novels?

 Hopefully I will be able to update the blog with my favorite character of the Hunger Games once I have read the books.