With the release date of the second theatrical chapter of the Hunger Games Trilogy, “Catching Fire,” around the corner, I find myself re-entwined in the world of the citizens of the fictional society of Panem.
As a dystopian society in an undisclosed time period, the people of Panem reside among 12 districts, each with a unique and distinct role in the upkeep of their society ranging from fishing, to coal mining, to oil production. In descending order, the districts are ranked in importance to the Capitol, the governing body that reaps most of the benefits of what the districts produce. The high level of surveillance in the districts is used to prevent the people from revolting, and the lucky ones from districts 1-4 have lived a life that has given them no reason to believe that a reason for revolt even exists.
Lower numbered districts are seasoned to believe that they are up to par with the Capitol, but in reality they are a pawn in the Games with everyone else. Every year, 23 children are sacrificed, two from each district, in search of one victor. The Victor is promised a life of luxury and immunity from the Games, but they are never truly free. They become mentors, routinely poked and prodded for show alongside the contenders in the current games for the Capitol’s entertainment.
When the show is over, the Games begin. This society, these games, and the totalitarianism of the government in this fictional publication may seem like a far cry from our land of the free, but in reality the series serves as a foreshadowing of what the future of North America holds for us.
It is highly implied in the novels that Panem has formed from the ashes of what was once our 50 states in a post-war time following the collapse of democracy. Our government has been collapsing before our eyes, contrary to what they want us to believe. Events which have only ever previously occurred decades apart, such as the war in the Middle East, the recession, and the government shutdown, have been occurring simultaneously with no end to the chaos in sight.
It is no secret that we only have the knowledge of a small percentage of what is actually happening behind government walls, which begs the question of what is being hidden from us: are we closer to this collapse than we realize? Or worse, are we being kept in the dark about how closely monitored we really are?
The technologies used in the Hunger Games to monitor the citizens are not so much more advanced than the technology available to us now, and with government regulation on the release of technology it is impossible to know what advances have been made available to those in power. The government manufactured tracker-jackers from the Hunger Games series, small birds modified to record and deliver messages from rebel spies, are comparable to overhead flying drone cameras used for government surveillance.
The more attention paid to detail while reading or watching the series, the more it begins to feel like a warning. The characters from the Capitol embody the worst qualities in a human, particularly the innocent bystander and car accident effects. Thousands of Capitol citizens watch the Games for entertainment while their own children are tucked safely into bed at night, and though they may know it is wrong, they allow the abomination to continue. Is this where the apathy in our country is leading us? Will we all fall in a role somewhere while those with power dictate our lives? If so, we cannot say that we were not warned.
Leah Mulroney can be contacted at email@example.com