“What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by? What do they do all day, these people in the Capitol, besides decorating their bodies and waiting around for a new shipment of tributes to rill in and die for their entertainment?”
The Hunger Games is full of stark contrasts, the most significant and jarring of which is the transition from the starving hunger of the citizens of District 12, to the abundance of food and full bellies in the Capitol, and then back to the hunger when Katniss steps into the arena.
The premise of the Games is relatively simple: 24 people, ages 12 to 18, comprised of one girl and one boy from each of the 12 districts of Panem are sent into an arena full of deadly dangers, and are forced to fight to the death until one lone victor remains. At the beginning of the Games, there are some meager supplies and a plethora of weapons housed within an elaborate structure known as the Cornucopia. When the Games start, the tributes run every which way and the bloodbath begins.
Throughout the games, children are slaughtered in the most brutal ways, including being stung to death by genetically enhanced wasps, speared through the chest, and “eaten” by man-made beasts. In past Games, tributes have been stoned and struck with an axe, and some have been electrocuted and essentially gassed.
Above and beyond the brutality of the Games, every single moment is televised to the entirety of Panem, and for the Capitol, bets are placed and enjoyment is taken from the suffering of the tributes.
Many people will say that our society is far from the state exhibited within the Hunger Games, but this is a false statement. I watch a little reality television myself, specifically Survivor, which has been on since 2000 and is currently airing its 26th season.
In Survivor, 16 to 20 contestants (depending on the season) are transporting to an exotic locale where they are split into tribes. While these tribes are teammates, they are also competing against one another in order to win the million dollar prize and the title of Sole Survivor.
At their camps, they are met with meager supplies, usually consisting of rice, one machete, and one pot. They have to build their own shelter, make fire, boil water, and then compete in challenges to stay alive in the game. If they fail, they face tribal council where the tribe will vote out one member every time they go. Beyond that, medical evacuations have happened, and some contestants have been so debilitated that they quit the game.
Many people in the United States, as well as countless other countries, watch Survivor each and every season and eat up the events that are presented to us on our screens every week.
Essentially, we are watching people starve and argue/fight with each other and one by one they are voted off. While contestants don’t brutally kill each other, gruesome injuries are all too common. Really, if you think about it, we as a society aren’t too far from having something like the Hunger Games on our television screens. In fact, Survivor is eerily similar to the Games and if it was taken one step further, would be the exact same.
Both involve starving people.
The creators of both end the lives of contestants in the games (voted out in Survivor, killed in the Hunger Games), in order to keep the interest of the audience.
Rule changes are present in both shows.
In order to survive each, one must trust some of the other contestants/tributes, all the while wondering if/when they will stab you in the back.
The hosts, Jeff Probst and Caesar Flickerman, are both timeless and never seem to change from year to year.
I enjoyed reading the Hunger Games and its sequels, though the violence does disturb me. However, the fact that we as a society are actually quite close to having the Hunger Games on our television screens is more disturbing than the violence in the novels, at least in my mind. Although, this does not include the fact that first world countries such as Canada and the United States are essentially the Capitol, and the third world countries are like District 12.