Monday, May 4, 2015

Last Blog Post

Throughout the course of this semester, I have learned a lot about the world of The Hunger Games, as well as how a variety of disciplines relate to it. I was surprised by how unrelated some of the material seemed to be to the Hunger Games, but once we explored these subjects, I gained a greater understanding of the historical, social, and political relevance of Panem to the modern world.

I learned a lot about qualities of dystopian fiction and apocalypticism specifically. I had not known much about dystopian fiction prior to this class, but I was fascinated by how many books I have read are qualified as dystopian fiction because they fit into the 6 qualities Dr. Carpenter discussed in her lecture. It makes sense to classify dystopias as utopias gone wrong and especially to say that they value stability above all else. The first book series that fits into this category that I thought of was the Divergent series, which also features a strong teen female protagonist that defies her corrupt government system. I also was interested in the fact that dystopian novels call our attention to ways in which we may already be living in a dystopia.

I was impressed by the frequency that our class material was able to connect facets of modern culture with a fictional world. The material really caused me to think if things like reality show competitions or violent competitions like the UFC were steps towards becoming desensitized to violence like the people in the Capitol were. I also enjoyed discussing gender roles in relation to The Hunger Games, but did not learn much new material there since I had already heard discourses about gender role reversal in the series prior to the class. I enjoyed learning about Ethics and Evil and how to define evil based on different ideologies and then taking the opposite of those moral ideals. I could clearly classify Coin and Snow as evil based on those definitions. It was easier to comprehend the abstract idea of evil when considering apathy for inflicting pain or enjoying hurting others as a base for evil. It was also interesting to consider evil to be favoring the interests of an elite group in favor of the majority, because by the ideas of Utilitarian ethics, most of the Capitol would be evil.

The two topics that I found most interesting and in depth were the connections between Apocalypticism and The Hunger Games and the connection between The Nature of Evil and The Hunger Games. I was fascinated with learning new things about apocalyptic groups and their charismatic leaders. I found that I could relate much of the social structures of apocalyptic groups to the power structure of Snow and the government and the Districts. I thought the fact that many outlying groups are isolated, and that that isolation leads to even more tension with the outside world, could be related to the isolation of the Districts so they could not communicate or unify with "the outside world."
I was appreciative that the Holocaust survivor could visit McDaniel and share his experiences. Much of the hope he kept throughout horrible and traumatic events can be compared to Katniss' hope in spite of the Capitol's attempts to mentally torture her and her family. Both Ruben and Katniss were oppressed and humiliated by the government and groups of elite in power. Both defied their torturers in different ways: Katniss by becoming an essential part of  a physical rebellion, and Ruben becoming an essential part of a mental and educational rebellion.

I enjoyed all of the readings and found them easy to comprehend, but I wish we had more time to discuss each of them.
I was surprised and impressed by the depth of the material in this course and how much we could apply young adult fiction to both the past and present. I learned a lot about topics that I did not expect and enjoyed branching out. However, although I enjoyed the time spent on Appalachia and their music and its connection to The Hunger Games, I would have preferred to spend more time instead on understanding the physical aspects of being in the Games. I would have enjoyed going more into depth of the tolls on Katniss and the tributes other than the reading about starvation. I also wanted to learn, or at least attempt to learn archery in order to comprehend how much coordination and skill it takes to shoot as well as Katniss.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nature of Evil

The definition of evil, what makes a person evil, and where evil comes from have been widely contested. Gresh characterizes evil people in chapter 7 as people that are not mentally insane and know what they are doing, and they enjoy what they are doing. Psychotic people do not know the difference between right and wrong and may have mental disorders; psychopaths, however, are lucid, functioning individuals in society that lack the ability to feel compassion or empathy for their victims. According to the reading, characteristics that describe psychopaths that also apply to President Snow include: egomaniac, no remorse, no sympathy for others, superficially charming and personable, sadistic, and manipulative.
Snow was evil because he killed hundreds of kids for the sake of his own cause, lacking empathy for the Districts.
Dr. Baron defines evil by psychological terms in his lecture. He compiles different ethical perspectives, and defines evil for each viewpoint as acting the opposite to the standards of that ideology. For instance, Deontology believes that one should act upon the morally right action according to duty and obligation, and should disregard consequences of the action. This ideology would want you to tell the truth in any situation, even if the truth would hurt someone, because it is your moral duty. In Deontology, it would be evil to be apathetic and not perform your duty. In utilitarianism, or performing the action that benefits the greatest amount of people, evil would be harming many lives in favor of a few, something that President Snow does with the Hunger Games. When combining the opposites of the ideologies of Utility (focus on the individual), Duty (apathy), Virtue(vice), and Care (harm toward others), Dr. Baron defines evil as "individual pleasure from causing harm to others-as a result of vice or extreme apathy towards others' humanity." Presidents Snow and Coin are evil because they knowingly sacrifice human lives for the benefit of themselves and their elite group. They lack empathy for others who do not agree with them, and make decisions to harm these people, thus they fit the definitions of evil.
Hitler was evil because he killed millions of people for his own cause, lacking empathy for their humanity.

*Sorry for the late posting of this blog, I thought I posted it Sunday, but I must not have saved it before I shut off my computer because I was on my blog today and it hadn't posted. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Gender Relations and Romance in the Hunger Games

Dr. Raley states that gender is something we “do” or perform through dress, behavior, and speech. Depictions of gender appear in the media. Katniss Everdeen is often evaluated by literary critics because Katniss defies typical gender norms. Katniss and Peeta’s relationship also contradicts the formula usually used in media of a male hero and dependent female in need of protection. Katniss displays more “masculine” than feminine characteristics. She is a protector/provider for her family. She is adept in hunting, faces danger, expresses anger rather than sadness, and she is strong, emotionally and athletically. She also has some feminine attributes like being conventionally attractive, and keeps to herself, but these are not as pronounced as her strong “male” qualities.
In many modern movies, a theme often portrayed is women abandoning their independence in favor of settling down, or a more traditional lifestyle. If the main character is male and the story includes romance, then the woman is the “prize.” Women in media are either hypersexualized or chaste, making their sexuality an essential aspect of the character. Katniss is chaste. She is uncomfortable around nudity, doesn’t struggle with sexual tension, and is inexperienced. However, romance and Katniss’ lack of sexuality does not add or detract from the story. Peeta furthers the reversal of gender roles by being the typical “movie girlfriend”: in need of saving and protecting.

Although Katniss’ “love triangle” with Peeta and Gale is an important part of the story, The Hunger Games isn’t classified as a romance. Even without Katniss’ feelings, the series would still be a dystopian fiction about revolution and the Hunger Games. The romance aspect of the story is added to appeal to young adult readers and make Katniss more relateable. 
image from

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Music in Appalachia and the Hunger Games

Music is a big part of the Hunger Games trilogy and in real life Appalachia. Although music is not common in District 12 because the people have no luxuries, Katniss knows a few songs that her father taught her when she was younger. After her father dies, Katniss does not sing anymore except for Prim's sake and when Rue dies. She first starts to think about music again after her father's death when she becomes aware how important music is in District 11. Katniss whistles a simple tune used in District 11 orchards and uses the mockingjays to replicate the tune in order to signal to Rue in the arena in the first Hunger Games. 
The song "Deep in the Meadow" is a lullaby Katniss used to sing to Prim, and she sings it again when Rue is dying to comfort Rue. This lullaby would have been common among District 12 children and the lyrics and melody would be warm and relaxing, showing that even though poverty and tragedy is rampant among District 12, they have ways of retaining their humanity and coping. 
"The Hanging Tree" is a song Katniss learned as a child, but she does not realize the meaning of the song until she is older. She sings it in the books/movies during a propo. The effect of this haunting song is that it unites the people of the districts against the Capitol because they can relate to viewing death/suicide as an alternative to the unfairness of living in Panem under the Capitol's rule.
The music in Appalachia is soulful and country sounding. Bluegrass and banjos are popular in Appalachia. Some of the ballads have similar subject matter to the ballads in the Hunger Games. For instance, the song about murderer John Brown being hanged is similar to the hanging tree, which is also about the death of a criminal and its effect on the town. 
A difference between Appalachian songs and District 12 songs would be the instruments. Appalachian ballads were often played on guitars or banjos, whereas the people of the Seam did not have the money for instruments and seemed to rely more on their voices. Both the music of the Hunger Games and the music of Appalachia had lyrics about their geography. Both peoples love their forests and mountains. The people of the Seam sing about valleys and forests, and the people of Appalachia sing about their mountains. 
Image sources:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Totalitarian Government Today and in the Hunger Games

It is possible for us to have totalitarian regimes in today's time due to several government strategies and economical, political, and social factors. We have had totalitarian regimes such as Stalin's regime, oppressive regimes in the Middle East (like Libya), and Hitler's regime. These real life examples can be related to President Snow's ruling in the Hunger Games, as well as President Coin's ruling.
Characteristics of totalitarian regimes include "antidemocratic actions," political and economical rule by the elite, monopolistic control of mass media, military forces and weapons, and policies of systematic violence and terror against those depicted as enemies. Terror tactics are used to oppress the rights of the common people who rebel. Propoganda is shown to the citizens of the regime, brainwashing many into being desensitized to their oppressive situation. Governments of totalitarian regimes try to "keep a close eye" on the people of their country/region. One way the U.S. has witnessed this governmental control is with the passing of the Patriot Act, the Terrorism Information and Prevention System, and the Total Informational Awareness Act.
The Hunger Games Companion says five key factors lead to rebellions in the Hunger Games, and often in real life. The first factor is that the majority of the population is extremely frustrated and unhappy with the government. In many real life situations, and in Panem, the government uses their power to keep the elite class in a better situation than the majority of the population. This wealth disparity is evident in the Capitol's wealth compared to the poverty of the districts. The unfair conditions are also present in the U.S. as indicated by our huge wealth disparity: 1-10% of people own 90% of the nation's wealth. However, America has a defined middle class that does well enough, but is not rich; Panem seems to be more deeply divided: the Capitol's luxury vs the districts struggling for food. These environmental conditions along with Snow's use of Peacekeepers and violence to maintain order, and the Hunger Games are characteristic of oppression in totalitarian regimes.
The second factor is that the majority of the population (regardless of social or economic class) agrees that the only solution to their issues is to overthrow the government. Another factor of rebellion is support for the rebellion by intellectuals and the upper class. In the Hunger Games, some of the Capitol citizens join the rebel cause. In order for rebellions to succeed, a crisis must prevent the regime from using oppressive force to tame the people. Major rebellions may also become a definite action if other countries do not intervene to help the oppressed population.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reflection of other blog posts

  • I love the background and how it contrasts with the writing
  • great format for the pictures and lots of pictures and gifs
  • phrased very professionally (good writing skills)
  • good bibliographies for sources
  • gifs are relevant and add to the overall appearance and effect of the content
  • great eye catching titles
  • simple, clean layout looks very professional
  • the sources have links, which is convenient
  • lots of pictures and gifs, large enough to catch attention 
  • good use of bold print/sub sections within the Haymitch article. It is divided into different specific thoughts and makes it easy to read
  • great organization of ideas in blog posts (for instance, the Dr. Carpenter lecture post)
  • lots of pictures keep interest
  • clean, organized format/layout
  • pics are very large
  • I like the picture at the top of the blog (cover pic?)
  • interesting choice of pictures. good variety