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.