Sunday, March 29, 2015

Music in District 12

Through out the Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss mentions songs her father used to sing and that Katniss would eventually pick up. Music becomes an important part of Katniss' life as she even mentions "We may have been the smallest district in Panem, but we know how to dance" (Mockingjay). This relates to the Appalachia region where District 12 is supposedly located in the futuristic Panem. Music is very important to Appalachian people, as Mr. Walt Michael explained to us in his lecture. He explained a specific type of song very popular in the Appalachia region called ballads. We see examples of these in Katniss' songs she sings through out the trilogy.

A ballad is a story but as a song, a song that tells a story in other words. One of the most famous Appalachian ballads is "John Hardy". Mr. Michael played it for us during his lecture. It is a story of the historic figure John Hardy who shot someone in a card game and ran away. He was later captured and hanged for his crime. His hanging was quite the spectacle in the town as most of the town showed up to see him hanged. The song goes into detail about his escape and how he was captured which makes it an interesting way to tell a story. It also becomes a fun and easy way to learn history.

One of the songs Katniss sings is called "Deep in the Meadow" and it is also a ballad similar to the ones from the Appalachian region. The song goes:

Deep in the meadow, under the willow
A bed of grass, a soft green pillow
Lay down your head, and close your sleepy eyes
And when you awake, the sun will rise.

Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.

Deep in the meadow, hidden far away
A cloak of leaves, A moonbeam ray,
Forget your woes and let your troubles lay
And when again it's morning, they'll wash away.

Here it's safe, here it's warm
Here the daisies guard you from every harm
Here your dreams are sweet and tomorrow brings them true
Here is the place where I love you.

The song is a story about slowly drifting off and saying that when you awaken, everything will be better. Katniss sings this to Rue as she is dying but she had also sung it to Prim whenever she was ill. The Appalachian songs tend to tell full length stories about troubles or historical people but Katniss' sing is still a story.
Katniss does not really mention using any instruments for their celebrations. She only mentions singing and dancing. Appalachian music tends to use Banjos and Guitars as Mr. Michaels told us. He even brought one of each out to play the songs for us. I imagine that for Katniss' songs similar instruments would be played.

Song Lyrics: "The Hunger Games" Pages 221-222

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Totalitarian Regimes in Our World and Panem

In a totalitarian government, the power is all in the government and they control everything in the state where the government is. They control everything from the media to the way of living. Through out history, we have seen many totalitarian regimes and even in today's world we see some. In the Hunger Games trilogy, it is definitely present.

In "The Hunger Games Companion", Lois Gresh discusses economic states and how it relates to the Hunger Games and other dystopian novels. In our world today "the top 1 percent of all households controls 43 percent of the wealth and the next 19 percent owns 50 percent (Gresh, 11). How is this related to totalitarian governments? Well, if there is a huge wealth gap then the top of the money ladder have all the power. As many people say, money means power. The Capitol has all the power in the Hunger Games. They have luxury items that the other districts can only dream of owning. The districts make the items and yet they do not get to keep them. In fact, if they try to take some of their hard worked items, they are severely punished. This is how the Capitol keeps all the power in the Capitol, by controlling the wealth and making sure that they get everything. This is also shown by the actual Hunger Games. Every district gives two tributes except for the Capitol. In "Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games," the essay "Absolute Power Games" by Anthony Pavlik describes how this works. "Pitting district against district in a death match also reflects the way each district is dislocated from others, through a political strategy of divide and conquer the maintains the Capitol's elite position" (Pharr and Clark, 31). President Snow controls how the districts communicate. The strategy is that they do not and no one is allowed to travel to other districts either. So, when the rebellions start in "Catching Fire" Katniss stumbles upon it in the Mayor's office and hears about it from Bonnie and Twill. The first time Katniss really sees the other districts though is during the Victory Tour where she realizes that all the Districts are as oppressed as her's is.

Gresh describes several aspects of a totalitarian government which are "government control over citizens, harassment of citizens, erosion of civil liberties, penalties for invoking freedom of speech [...] repressive regimes face rebellions" (Gresh, 25). We see examples of these through out our history in many of the totalitarian governments we've had. For example, we have Stalin, the dictator of Russia for many years. Stalin ran a Communist government system. Anyone who did not follow his ways, was shipped off to Siberia, never to return again. Under his rule, many people starved to death and he was the one who starved them. Gresh goes on to say how he "tortured people, imprisoned them, exiled them, starved them" and goes to show us that Stalin was quite a brutal dictator (Gresh, 23). In the Hunger Games, we have President Snow who is the main dictator in the series. His policies are strict and it keeps the districts in order. Rue even mentions in the "Hunger Games" that they are not allowed to eat the crops is District 11. If they do "they whip you and make everyone else watch" (Collins, 202). This is an example of how totalitarian governments will show their power. They will show punishment in front of everyone in order to shame the "criminal" and to show that the government will show no mercy.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Looking at Other Blogs

Nicki's blog was appealing as it is a different color than most of the blogs. I thought having the purple color was really cool and the design with the birds was unique as well. She also uses so really good fan art that is unique and has found some other great pictures. In her posts, she also includes some very good information I had not thought of before reading the post.

Becky's blog had great titles to her posts which really captured my attention. From her blog you can also tell that she loves the character Johanna because she talks about her and even includes some really great pictures and gifs of her from the movies. She also includes some bolded words to draw attention to the important ideas in her post.

Lissy's blog had a great header photo and it looks amazing. In one post she posted pictures of how she imagined some characters not included in the movie would look like. I thought that was really interesting as I hadn't thought about that. There are a lot of pictures on her blog which really add a lot to the blog. The pictures are interesting and unique so they are really cool.


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Media in Society

Media is an influence on everyone's life as it is every where we go and everything we see and hear whether it be on television, radio, or magazine covers and more relevant in our time, the internet. In The Condemned and The Hunger Games Trilogy, media is central to the main ideas of the movies and books.

The Condemned is entirely focused around a show and how it is trying to attract the world's attention. The premise is that the world wants entertainment and the way they view entertainment is through violence. So, they have convicts on death row from around the world fight to the death on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Violence seems to be everywhere in our society today whether it be in video games or in our favorite movie and Tom Henthorne goes to say that "popular programs desensitize people to violence and conflict"(95). I mean I myself like some action in my television shows and movies but it can cause us to react as we should if a tragedy shown similar to in the programming becomes a reality.

Throughout the "game" the convicts are playing, more of the players die but more people are also watching. In order to watch, you have to pay with a credit card. The producer does not care that there are people fighting to the death, only that he is getting the money. The people watching though, have a different reaction. The Hunger Games depicts a similar ideal as they send children into these arenas to fight to the death. The Capitol and the other elites, do not seem to care that these young children are fighting to the death, because it is entertaining for them. Meanwhile in the districts, they are cheering for their tributes to come home but the families of the tributes are sitting wondering how and why this continues to go on; why they have to risk their children's lives for the sake of the Capitol's power.

Tom Henthorne goes on to say how reality television shows are similar to movies and books such as The Condemned and The Hunger Games. Programs such as Survivor are based on surviving in conditions just as they had to in the both the movie and books. Reality television today is not reality at all, as people may seem to be real but they are always playing a role. In The Hunger Games, Katniss and Peeta were constantly playing the role of the "star-crossed lovers" (even though it was more Katniss playing than Peeta) and people believed that their love was true. Which shows how the games are Panem's reality television. In The Condemned, there did not seem to be any manipulation at first but we later see that one of the contestants was being favored and given advantages throughout the games.

Based on all of these sources, we can tell that reality television is very not real and the media depicts so much and can even desensitize us to what is the reality. The media is also heavily controlled in most of the sources discussed and even in today's society it is regulated just not as heavily. 

Tom Henthorne Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: A Literary and Cultural Analysis
Chapter 5 "Real or Not Real"