Panem

VICTOR’S VILLAGE STUDENT SERIES: Bread and Circuses in The Hunger Games and the Roman Empire

SURPRISE! We have one more entry in the Victor’s Village student series! This last one is a thought-provoking, meaty article from HGBC’s “assistant fangirl” (aka teaching assistant), peetasgirl!

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In the Roman Empire:

The phrase, “bread and circuses,” was coined during the time of the ancient Roman Empire by Juvenal, a satirical writer. In its original Latin form, the phrase would have been “panem et circenses,” or “bread and games.” This statement has become a common phrase, even in modern political satire. It describes a self-serving government (or emperor) who has done nothing to serve the people, yet is able to maintain popularity by offering state-sponsored “gifts” of food and entertainment. Essentially a bribe, which is unknowingly taken, but which still has the desired effect. It is an underhanded tactic to maintain power and control over a people.

“Panem et circenses” was an actual political strategy, used by the Roman Emperors and Senators to maintain their powerful positions of authority over an ever-increasing span of Empire. These leaders correctly realized that if the general populace – vast in number – were to become dissatisfied with their government, it would be easily overthrown. Later in the Roman Empire, these entitlements had become so popular, that sponsoring the “games” became the peoples’ expectation. Rulers were often judged, not by their effectiveness as public servants, but by the quality of the games/gifts sponsored.

When “panem et circenses” was first penned by Juvenal, he was attempting to awaken the common people to their pathetic attitude of complacency. It was a wake-up call. Juvenal saw himself as a voice to the people, and decried the selfishness and ignorance that he witnessed in the general populace. Roman citizens, who had once proudly participated in their government, had willingly laid aside their civic responsibilities. Instead, they had become satisfied with temporary appeasements from a self-serving government. The citizens had sold their inheritance for a bowl of soup, satisfying the immediate appetites, but at a terrible cost – the loss of their rights in government.

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In The Hunger Games:

The post-apocalyptic nation of Panem draws its name from the first part of Juvenal’s phrase. At first, it seems quite ironic to name a nation “bread,” when its people have so little food. As I think about this, I think it was a brilliant move on the part of the author – it sets up the entire dystopia.

imagesThings are not as they ought to be in Panem. The nation’s name is Panem (bread), which is the one thing that everyone needs in order to survive (food). Naming a nation “bread” implies a land of plenty and promise – provision for all. This is implied in the name. It is a very hopeful name. The government wants to capitalize upon this hope, and BECOME the hope of the people. For this reason, any other source of hope (Katniss) can be dangerous.

The government of Panem made some very calculated moves, in order to be viewed as the sole provider of both bread and hope. There is plenty of bread, but not for everyone. The government (the provider) decides who gets the bread. They use the people’s hope and need as a means of both physical and psychological control. They keep the people hungry, keep them hoping for more, giving grain to the Districts monthly (but never too much), in order to maintain their image as “the provider.” What Panem’s leaders have created is a state of total dependence. By so doing, they ensure that the citizens in the Districts would never rebel against the hand that literally feeds them. The Districts cannot rebel against the Capitol – it is their only hope of survival.

The Capitol itself is another matter. If the citizens in the Capitol were to rebel against the government, there would be upheaval in all of Panem. The Capitol’s citizens live in such close proximity to President Snow and the government agencies, they could easily stage an effective coup. So, it is in the Capitol that we see the Roman Empire’s strategy of “panem et circenses” employed to its fullest extent.

Capitol citizens receive much more than bread – they may have all the food they wish. It is a society where excess has become the status quo. Their entertainment – the “circenses” – is sponsored by the state via The Hunger Games. Tributes fight to the death for the amusement of the Capitol’s citizens, giving them an exciting diversion, and distracting them from the reality of Panem’s national condition.

Crafted by one of HGBC's students

Crafted by one of HGBC’s students

We read about them in the books, living lives of extravagance, and we want to shake them and shout, “Wake up! Can’t you see how all the other Districts in your country are suffering, while you live so luxuriously? It’s not fair!” This is what Juvenal thought about the Romans, and why he made his famous “bread and circuses” statement long ago. Like the citizens of Rome, the citizens of the Capitol are completely ignorant of others’ hardships; they are asleep. The government prefers this, and carefully controls the media to portray the Districts as they see fit.

Capitol citizens are content to never think beyond their own self-centered lives, because they have been appeased by the government, and pacified by the media. They, too, are prisoners of the state of Panem, dependent upon the government as the sole provider of their “bread and circuses.” Unlike the citizens of the Districts, however, the Capitol’s people are completely unaware. They fail to realize their true position.

In Mockingjay, it becomes an especially harsh reality for the Capitol citizens to face, having the thin veneer of “bread and circuses” ripped away. For the first time, they witness what the government – and, unknowingly, themselves – had been carefully orchestrating for 75 years: A volatile nation, filled with governmental corruption and lies, where the wealth of the few weighs heavily upon the shoulders of the poor and starving.

Is it any wonder why Snow works to hard to keep everyone in the dark? To be the only hope?
Peetasgirl

Violence, Lies, and Videotape– The Parallels Between Panem and Ricegate

The good news: We’ve got a guest post today!

But there’s some important notes about this post: The subject is heavy and possibly triggering for some people. The opinions are those of the writer and they ain’t rainbows and kittens.

With that said… Take it away, Satsuma!

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NOTE: The following contains, toward the end, spoilers (though vague) for Game of Thrones Season 4, and another vague spoiler for (the original) Dr. Who.

First of all, let me apologize for not exactly bringing the funny in this post, because I just couldn’t figure out a way to do it.

Most of you likely know of, or perhaps even seen, the infamous video featuring the talented Mr. Rice, formerly an employee of the Baltimore Ravens, punching his then-fiancee (now wife) so hard she was knocked unconscious. Now, I have always been fascinated by the many parallels between Panem and the real world, but I must admit I didn’t notice any here, until I read the timely post by JJ regarding Josh Hutcherson revealing that Peeta is shown saving Katniss after she’s set on fire by the parachute bombs, and her comment that: “It may also help buy back some goodwill from the purely movie-going audience for all the times he *gulp* tries to hurt her in hijacked rage.”

And then I realized, that there IS a parallel between the Ray Rice video and Mockingjay. A pivotal MJ scene also features a video of a celebrated male contestant in a game known for violence, attacking his fiancee. Not only that, this incident is important in MJ not really because Peeta attacks Katniss, which he has before this point, but because, when he actually watches his actions on video, Peeta is shocked and horrified at himself, to the point of suicidality. The idea that SEEING something makes a unique impact on people, certainly seems to be the case in how quickly public outrage mounted after the Rice video was released, forcing powerful entities such as the NFL to make an about-face, and how even Rice’s defenders, who claimed earlier that “no one really knows what happened in that elevator”, were forced to as well.

Not that video footage is required for shock and outrage, of course; just see what happened in Ferguson, MO. And just because people see images of violence or its effects, doesn’t mean they’ll reject it; many of Adrian Peterson’s defenders admit to seeing the graphic pictures of the injuries he inflicted on his son, but still state that what he did was acceptable discipline. And certainly, what seems to be damning video can be edited or taken out of context, as the torturers do with the Katniss videos they show Peeta; Ray Rice is now claiming as much, as he appeals his indefinite suspension.

And then there's this in Part 2...

And then there’s this in Part 2…

But in general, it does seem images have an impact on people that the written word just doesn’t have. And now we get to JJ’s point about movie-only fans, and the idea that perhaps adding more positive Peeta-Katniss interaction in MJ might counter-balance the impact of seeing Peeta physically attack Katniss. I suspect that even for book readers who know what happened, actually SEEING him try to strangle her, as opposed to the brief, fade-to-black one-liner we get in the book, will have a quite different kind of impact. In general, the only fandom players I have really seen hate on Peeta, are anti-Everlakers who’d prefer Katniss wind up with Gale, Haymitch, Finnick, etc. Indeed, it’s KATNISS who seems to get most of the vitriol for her reactions to hijacked Peeta. But will this change when we actually SEE what he does?

Now, even before Ricegate raised the general awareness of intimate partner violence, I have thought that the MJ film runs a risk of coming across as condoning or excusing violence in relationships. Now, certainly, as far as we know, nobody gave Ray Rice toxic hallucinogens, BUT it’s certainly plausible he may have had alcohol in his system, or even that the hits he’s received on the field have affected his brain. Yet, the conventional wisdom about what he did now seems to be, “There is never ANY excuse for a man to hit the woman he claims to love”. So, what will the casual movie fan, think about Peeta’s actions? And what will they think of Katniss? Note that the public hasn’t exactly been THAT supportive of Mrs. Rice, either; many people have sighed at yet another example of a woman standing by a man who doesn’t deserve it, or even cynically suggested that she finds the occasional KO a reasonable price for the fame and fortune she can access through her husband.

Certainly, there are many incidents of male – on – female violence in the story so far in the context of the Games, but fans seem to have accepted that there is nothing specifically “gendered” about, say, Thresh killing Clove, or Marvel killing Rue; it was fairly obvious that they would have handled a male tribute in the same position, no better or worse. And some fans argue that Peeta’s acted out of perceived self defense, and that this motivation is MUCH different than that of an abuser. But there’s also the take that, as JJ stated, Peeta acted out of “hijacked rage” and vengeance, not just self-defense, which comes a lot closer, uncomfortably closer, to real-life stories of spurned suitors turning violent.

IMHO, many people who commit acts of domestic violence are NOT inhuman monsters who we can safely consign to the “Other” category; Adrian Peterson seemed honestly perplexed as to why anyone would label him an abuser, and he very well might NOT have beat his son to satisfy some twisted sadistic urge; many of his defenders seem to honestly think harsh “discipline” is the only way to prevent their kids, especially in tough neighborhoods, from becoming juvenile delinquents. But then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if, say, Mrs. Mellark reacted the same way to an abuse allegation. “How dare you call me an abuser? I’m just trying to show my sons how to survive in this cold, hard world, and if I have to be a little harsh to make my point, so be it. Would you rather they get a few swats from me, or be whipped in the public square?”

So, just because Peeta is not a monster (even though he actually calls himself one), does that make his actions acceptable? I’m not talking about legal prosecution, certainly he’d likely qualify for an insanity defense. The issue is, will people who actually see visual images of him attempting to strangle Katniss to death, then later attempt to beat her head in with a rifle butt, find these actions forgiveable? Will they find the eventual Peeta-Katniss ending to be acceptable, or send some kind of dangerous message to women that “if the man in your life was mentally ill at the time he attacked you, you should forgive him, marry him, and have his kids”? Or will the casual fan conclude, “See, I told you this was just another Twilight. Why do those silly teenage girls lap up this nonsense that there’s something noble about loving a man who has insidious urges to kill you?”

And here’s another interesting example (beware, GOT S4 spoilers ahead) of fictional scenes that stir up controversy about real life issues.

Remember the tremendous controversy around a scene in GOT S4, that most show-only fans interpreted as an obvious rape? The source scene from the book, which is notably in the POV of the more sexually aggressive partner, is more ambiguous, and GRRM himself denied that he meant to write a rape scene. But one interesting fan debate that took place was this; are the showrunners at fault for misinterpreting canon and writing a rape scene without realizing it? Or, does a close reading of the original book scene, reveal that it was GRRM himself who did so, it only became apparent that he did when we actually got to SEE the scene, not just read about it?

So, I am very curious as to whether the movie WILL manage to redeem Peeta, and the P-K ship, or whether movie-only fans will wind up with a far different take on whether an Everlark ending casts a ray of hope, or just adds to the tragedy of war. I have wondered myself if Peeta and Katniss really were capable of raising well-adjusted children, or if they were doomed to repeat their respective cycles of family dysfunction. And since Peeta’s mental state certainly seems to be based in part on real PTSD sufferers, flashbacks and all, I wonder if the wider fandom wind up debating, whether SC wrote an apologia for acts of domestic violence committed by military veterans and other PTSD sufferers against their families, without realizing it.

Of course, as I have noted before, the idea that Peeta CONTINUED to be violent toward Katniss during flashbacks post-war, despite his treatment, is fanon, not canon. Also, SC never claimed that she was trying to provide her readers with models for healthy romantic relationships. But neither did GRRM, yet that didn’t quite shield him from criticism.

(And now my Who spoiler):

On the other hand, the original Dr. Who program managed to show the Doctor almost strangling a woman while in a temporarily insane state, without apparently detracting from his hero status; and that was when Dr. Who was still considered a safe kiddie show. IMHO, the Doctor post-reboot is NOT really that much darker than his pre-Time-War self, though he apparently received a testosterone infusion during his hiatus. (Okay, I finally managed to bring in some humor).

I suppose only time will tell.
Satsuma

Panem New Year

The Gregorian calendar year just finished out, and a brand new year has begun. This got me thinking something odd– does Panem even have a New Years? Sure they have a calendar year, but do they celebrate the end of it, or the beginning of a new one? Or, here is another thought, do they even know what year it is, or is it year 75 for them? Did President Snow like so many real conquerors destroy the countries calendar and make it start completely over with Year One? Historically speaking this isn’t a new practice, for thousands of years cultures would be conquered by others and everything would be altered or destroyed for the remaining citizens, including even their calendar– look at what happened to the New World for example. Time is history.

The farther out you get in the Districts, i.e. places like District 12, the past is a very calendar2abstract, and ephemeral thing– something that’s better to not be thought about, because your next meal means more than knowing that 300 years ago everyone had cars, and access to affordable healthcare. We do know though that people in the Capitol know more about the past, or history, not your average Capitol Citizen though, no– people like Plutarch Heavensbee, and even Effie Trinket. I have a hypothesis that the higher up you are in the ranks of the Capitol, the easier access you have to the relics, the libraries, and perhaps even the museums that house the precious knowledge of the past. I don’t doubt that when the final war that destroyed the North America that most of us know now, in Suzanne Collins’ fictional world, that people, historians, archivists, and religious leaders stole, and hoarded cultural artifacts to keep them safe from being destroyed. People do it now even, not that long ago I recall hearing a news report about almost an entire town in Northern Africa that hid ancient Islamic scrolls and texts, because the town was being invaded by Islamic extremists that would notoriously destroy texts that didn’t adhere to their narrow beliefs. So, an Imam took an entire ancient archive, and split it amongst willing townspeople to hide in walls, cellars, attics, and other off-the-beaten-path places. Who’s to say that North Americans wouldn’t do that same thing?

Does Panem have a New Year though? Do they know that at the end of December a year is up? Or do they mark their calendars solely by The Hunger Games? You tell me.

Them There Eyes

Part of The Experience: The Los Angeles Premiere of Catching Fire

Being separated from my iPhone is proving to be a specific kind of anxiety I’ve never experienced before in my life. Thus is the rule however: When you attend a studio sponsored premiere of a major motion picture that’s touted to be one of the biggest box office draws of the year, you’re required to check your phone at a security check point, or entrust it to the confines of the walls of a friends over priced hotel room. The JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, California is enormous with over 20 stories of height to its name, it’s also painfully modern, with an ample use of glass and steel in its inner and outer design scheme, and its shiny cream-colored floors, and sumptuous carpets lining its corridors scream, “luxury! Luxury! Luxury!”, and just because my butter yellow iPhone 5c was being housed there for over three hours, luxurious amenities included or not are not making my anxiety any less great.

This is how I spend most of the evening, in a near constant state of anxiety, fear, and of course tempered excitement. Movie premieres are an everyday occurrence in Los Angeles, but I do not live in Los Angeles, and therefore movie premieres are not an everyday thing, or nuisance according to locals, to me. Yes, because god forbid they have to walk around the block to get to the Staples Center, and not cut across the plaza directly outside The Nokia Theater. Walking seemingly to the average Los Angeleno, at least from what I’ve gleaned, is about as pleasant as getting a bikini wax. And considering the amount of swimming pools in the metro area, a lot of bikini waxes are experienced on a daily basis in greater Los Angeles.

LA Live is buzzing, the plaza that so many wish was open for

LA Live

LA Live

cutting across to the sporting arena, is laden with red carpeting, cameras, screaming fans, famous, and also famous-ish people, and lots and lots of industry professionals that only deal with the behind the scenes. Almost the entire expanse of the plaza is blocked off by barricades, except to one side where sleek black town cars drop off a staggering stream of actors, actresses, and sometimes singers. The air is charged, and the never smiling guards all in black, holding their ever-present walkie-talkies, surround the area and act as an odd blanket to the atmosphere. I am allowed nowhere near the inside of this activity heavy place, I am not special enough, I am an out-of-towner who writes for a fan blog.

Eating and drinking is just something that’s not going to happen apparently, I came to this conclusion twice today: Once when the makeup artist I had paint my face earlier that day didn’t secure my stark red lipstick with the layering methodology I knew would ensure its not being mussed by anything short of a nuclear attack, and now. I’m sitting in Wolfgang Puck’s with nine other people, and I can’t seem to get the waiter’s attention to give me a much-needed straw so I can attempt to sip at the likely room temperature tap water he plunked down in front of each of us, once he realized that the lot of us were not ordering dinner, but finger food, or nothing at all– like me, because food smears unsecured lipstick. I totally get why he could care less about treating me like I exist, because I’m not obligated to tip him– straw or not. I want to get out of this restaurant, it’s loud, actually all the restaurants I’ve been to over the last three days have been loud, either the music is blasting right on the unfortunate edge of the need to shout almost everything you say to the person next to you, across from you, or standing behind you as they take your over priced order of humus and pita bread, or everyone has decided that that’s the night to have the loudest conversations they’ve ever had ever. Nope, it’s the music’s fault.

Walking in six-inch heels is not as easy as it sounds. Wait, it doesn’t sound easy, does it? ‘Cause if it does the world is likely ending, or worse. Rephrase, walking in six-inch heels with ankle straps that are too tight, and rubbing your skin raw— is difficult. The majority of the group I am with have walked the length and breadth of most of LA Live three times in the last two hours, and no, we have not been seated inside the theater yet, that’s next on the agenda. The night has taught me many things and most of them are things I never wanted to learn, like that stairs are evil when you’re traversing them in six-inch heels, because this is just something you never have to think about when you spend majority of your time in nothing that resembles six-inch heels. Stairs are even more evil when studio executives are probably walking behind you, and talent from the film are meandering in from the Red Carpet after grabbing a complimentary Dasani from one of the many concession stands inside the lobby of the theater. My anxiety only increases after I’ve found my seat in row H in the orchestra section though, especially when I see Alan Ritchson walking up the aisle, greeting people he knows with his impossibly white smile, and helping his heavily pregnant wife into a seat three rows or so behind mine. I try not to look around me like a Meerkat, because people watching at a Hollywood movie premiere is like shooting fish in a barrel, and my eyes keep wanting to fall on people like Matt Damon, who I heard is in the vicinity, and Donald Sutherland– who I know is. I refrain from craning my neck around, and restrict myself to only looking to my left, my right, and to the front of me. My friends have no qualms about looking around like hungry children standing in front of a sweet shop window though, and when one of them declares that Bruno Gunn is seating himself a few rows behind us, I break my promise to myself and glimpse him for a brief moment, I quickly turn back and force myself to focus on the Yahoo! Livestream showing on the massive screen 8 rows in front of me, because it feels like I’m spying. There is nothing normal about this entire experience, and odder still is that a year and a half before I was in the same building one level up, my eyes taking in the blur of colors that was the talent, the executives, and the family and friends of those involved or half involved with the film, below me. A year and a half before we were seated in the Screaming Section, this year we’re 20 feet from the actress cast as Annie Cresta, and the fictional president of Panem. When the head of Lionsgate finally takes the stage, I’m ready to burst.

 

That’s all for now folks! Hope you liked my experimental style with this one. I am actually a fiction writer at heart, and this is what’s lovingly referred to as– Creative Non-fiction.

Them There Eyes

Sexuality In The Hunger Games

Awhile back, less than a month ago actually, a quote from an interview Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), did with The Advocate Magazine, started making the rounds. See, Elizabeth was asked, “have you ever played a lesbian?” And her answer was this, “I don’t think I have — although Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games might be gay.” And then the world did something amazing, at least amazing coming from the point of view of someone who’s been on this planet for longer than 16 years, the world didn’t have a hissy-fit. The world’s having a little bit of a hissy-fit right now though, not over Effie Trinket being possibly gay, but over a former Disney kid coming out on Twitter. But back to what Elizabeth Banks said, because I’d rather not scour Twitter and come across any negative spewings over today’s revelations. Elizabeth went on to say something that I’m personally rather keen on as a near constant student of history, and sociology, “my vision of the Capitol is pansexual like ancient Rome, where everybody’s doing everybody.” Astute assessment of the Capitol, that’s what I’d like to say to Ms. Banks, but then another part of me is just itching for her to say more– or simply for the trilogy to say more having to do with that reading of that world. I’m not an expert on Ancient Rome, I’m also not an expert on human sexuality, hell– I’m not even an expert on The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m not one for labels, unless they’re on food, and they’re telling me what I’m potentially eating. I am however a believer in the Kinsey Scale, and a proud eye roller at Freud, and Jung, ’cause those guys were fuckin’ crazy, yo. url

Sexuality, or sexual expression I think in the world of The Hunger Games is kind of a luxury. Now, lemme explain that point of view without totally pissing people off! In the world that Suzanne Collins envisioned I see an even greater divide between the haves and the have nots other than the socioeconomic. In the Capitol you have choices, you can wear what you want, eat what you want, and of course sleep with whomever you want, including former Victors of The Hunger Games, but likely only if you pay… of course. However, in the Districts sexual freedom is well, restricted, much like almost all aspects of life are in that world. True Katniss states that she at least gets to choose whether or not she marries at all, but in her saying that she also is saying, at least to me, that she only had two choices: Marry and pop out babies, or not marry and not pop out babies, because she’s saying without words that she’ll live a celibate life for the rest of her life. Essentially Katniss, before she got all conflicted over Peeta and Gale and developed a sexuality, was going to live the life of a nun, because that’s how you don’t have babies in the Districts. Ugh, sad lot in life, no? The juxtaposition on this sadness is the all out crazy sex lives I’m now imagining the people of the Capitol were having, and also how strange their up front sexuality seemed to the people of the Districts or the Tributes, and then the Victors, I mean think about it… the undergarments alone must have been nightmare inducing to behold.

Oh well, I guess we’ll never know unless Suzanne Collins writes a trilogy from the point of view of a Capitol citizen.

 

Them There Eyes

Panem Independence Day Must-Haves

Happy 4th of July, Americans! Happy belated Canada Day, Canadians! ..Hell, wherever you are, Happy Independence Day of some sort that will come around eventually, whenever that may be! We’re heading to Panem in this post, anyway.

As we all know, you don’t just win a war without then turning it into a national holiday. We don’t think Panem is any exception! It may not happen right away, but eventually, the country is going to start celebrating the defeat of President Snow in a big way.

And you know what that means? MERCHANDISING! You’ve gotta be able to show your national pride!

So what would that entail, you ask? We have some ideas…

P.S. This already exists.

P.S. This already exists.

Katniss Everdeen’s (Novelty) Bow and Arrow Set - This one’s for the kiddos. Nerf bow and arrow sets to commemorate the victor whose arrows burned through the hearts and hovercrafts of her enemies, minus all that nasty bloodshed! …Though, walking through a crowd, you’ll notice many parents trying to comfort a child who has just been whacked in the eye by a foam arrow. Fun for the whole family!

“Peeta” bread - The name begs that the main dish of the revolution be named after Peeta. Rather than being an actual bread, of course, it’ll be more like a fried dough– smothered in cinnamon and sugar and whatever other sugary topping the consumer wants! Something delicious to warm the heart on a cold Panem Independence Day (since the defeat happened in mid-winter)!

Abernathy Brewery’s 451 Lager- Given his infamous love for the bottle, it’s only fitting that Panem’s first brewing company be named in honor of Haymitch Abernathy. He is credited for his behind-the-scenes efforts that sprung forth the revolution, though some people still have trouble seeing him as a political figurehead. The company released a year-round variety of seasonal brews, but the 451 Lager, named after “Star Squad” 451, is by far the favorite.

Girl on Fire-crackers - Deemed responsible for the most injuries on Panem Independence Day, the owner must snap a firecracker on the ground in front of them to be momentarily surrounded by a ring of fire reminiscent of the “Girl on Fire” dress Cinna made for Katniss. Unfortunately, no one has managed to reproduce Cinna and Portia’s synthetic fire, which means burns galore for fidgeters and anyone with copious amounts of leg hair.

Sold with matching fishing spear!

Sold with matching fishing spear!

Light Up Trident - Finnick Odair is the poetic hero of the revolution. He was a well-known figurehead across Panem who died to save the nation from tyranny. He and his doomed love are immortalized in every form of art, but as far as Independence Day celebrations go, all he got was a plastic light up trident that most people use to poke their friends or fight through a crowd.

City Circle Fireworks Spectacular -
The Capitol remembers the devastating bombs that went off in City Circle by offering by a stunning fireworks show in front of the President’s mansion. As the ash falls, people are encouraged to think about the lives lost to make the country great, but usually get distracted by that kid with the light up trident on the side of them.

You Go Get Your Independence On, Panem!
The Girl With The Pearl

Show me the money!

dolla dolla bills y'allJust imagine.

You’re walking down a Capitol street, your bright pink mink coat wrapped around your dyed-blue shoulders and your heel-less shoes stomping up the way. You come across this shop with a dress covered with ruffles – I’m serious, even the ruffles have ruffles – and you decide you have to have it. You reach into your pocketbook and you pull out…

What?

Something that I’m always interested to know when it comes to futuristic societies in books, TV and film is what has happened to the money. Since Panem is located in North America, it’s widely accepted among the fandom that it is comprised of parts of the United States, Canada and Mexico. It would not make much sense for just the American dollar, Canadian dollar, or the Mexican peso to be used as the currency of the nation.

We know that the “currency” of District 12 is primarily in the form of trade – though in the movie Katniss does ask the lady who sells her the mockingjay pin “How much?”, implying some use of money – but it seems unlikely that it is that way across all the districts and even more unlikely for the Capitol. Not to mention that in District 12, the trade economy seems more or less de facto rather than Capitol-sanctioned, considering the Hob goes up in flames in Catching Fire.

alternate_currency

So back to the scenario above. Do you hand over a card similar to our credit and debit cards? Has paper money at least in concept withstood the catastrophes that occurred prior to the formation of Panem, so you’re offering a bill worth 15 pans (15PN for short)? Is there a machine that scans your eyes or your fingerprint or a chip imbedded in your neck that links to a bank account?

We don’t know how the money thing actually works in Panem, but we know how the wealth does: the rich are über rich and the poor are devastatingly poor. Whatever the rich have, they have a lot of it, and whatever the poor have they barely have any of it.

Yo dawg that dress cost 2000 nemmies that’s outrageous
Twiffidy

Erasing History

Oh look! Another post in which we analyze canon as if it’s real! Would you expect any less from us?

It’s been a long time since Panem was America! Centuries upon centuries, though nobody knows the exact date (and everyone has their own theory!) The exact number really doesn’t matter, but it does bring up a good question…

Exactly how long does it take to erase history?

If we become THIS MESS, we demand remembrance!

If we become THIS MESS, we demand remembrance!

Admittedly, the question was brought up thanks to another YA dystopian I’m reading– Legend by Marie Lu, which takes place in the much more recent future of 2130 AD. In those books, people tell stories and occasionally find relics from the old United States, despite the government’s best efforts to pretend it never existed. In The Hunger Games trilogy, things are a little more lucid. Katniss was taught in school that District 12 was once known as Appalachia. Plutarch knows that the country was once a democracy and what that entails, but he’s also a revolutionary and a scholar who has likely had access to information that others didn’t.

For the most part, The United States of America has been stripped from the record books. No character mentioned its existence by name. How did it disappear?

Think of oral history. Stories are passed down from generation to generation, sometimes in secret when the circumstances force it. We all know family history and fables by heart that we could share with others. It’s basically the oldest form of gossip and DAMN, the world is good at it! You’re telling us that an entire country rose up from the ashes of the dissolved governments of more than one nation over the course of many years and no one discussed it in detail?! Much like Katniss’ hunting skills, somebody passed the stories to their grandchildren under penalty of death, knowing that they’d be better off for having the knowledge. Was it so long ago that as the generations went on, nobody cared about the old world? Or is the information so dangerous and secret that only a few people, like Plutarch, are lucky enough to be privy to such knowledge?

We hope historically inaccurate Patriot Barbie survives!

We hope historically inaccurate Patriot Barbie survives!

Then there’s this: We have A LOT of freakin’ stuff! There are people that pretty much hoard patriotic symbols and signs of North American nations that would be relics in future worlds. Sure, the majority could have been destroyed by that whole totalitarian regime thing. Other things probably deteriorated with age, but not EVERYTHING. Somebody dropped a silver dollar in a field somewhere and eventually, somebody else is going to find it. If we’ve still got art that the Ancient Mayans made in 250 AD, Panem damn well has some masterpieces of American culture floating around somewhere!

It’s safe to assume that all of American history isn’t dead and gone. Our heroine is a teenage girl from the least privileged part of society, so her knowledge is both limited and subjective. Even when we learns about democracy, she’s not that impressed and doesn’t care much, given her circumstances at the time. It’s also very possible that information on what existed before Panem is kept to the wealthy with the exception of the most basic details. Of course, it’s likely twisted to make Panem look like a shining beacon of hope.

Either way, we know we’re in there somewhere! Right? RIGHT?!

Say The Ladies From Cities That Are Underwater in Panem,
The Girl With The Pearl

Team Katniss – The Playmakers

So long, Superbowl! We admit to subjecting ourselves to food-bingeing, booze-swilling, dude-broing whenever you come around, even though we really don’t care who wins.

We hope Katniss has better taste in teams than this shirt implies...

We hope Katniss has better taste in teams than this shirt implies…

Right now, we could write up that post about how the massively watched semi-violent sporting events could kind be a precursor to the sick obsession with violent realities in The Hunger Games but we’re not going to. We love both our denial and occasionally acting like Hemsy and his imaginary frat brothers. DEAL.

Instead, we’re going to talk about sports! … Yeah, yeah, quit ya groaning!

The one thing that’s missing in the world of Panem is play. We suppose in a world where everyone is starving and live death matches are classified as “games”, playing isn’t on the forefront of a child’s mind. We realize this isn’t Harry Potter and there ain’t no room for Quidditch in the dystopian future. But even in the most torn up, impoverished countries, simple play still exists: soccer with any number of kickable items, hand-clapping games, tag… it’s out there.

Chances are we didn’t see a lot of playing around because the story is told from Katniss’ perspective. She grew up far too quickly and she’s not someone to notice or revel in children playing. The closest she gets to a game is Crazy Cat, which is really just a metaphor for her inner anguish. The girl rolls everything in a thin layer of emo.

So if Panem has given up on the game, we’re bring the game to them! That’s right…

CHARACTER FANTASY FOOTBALL OF ATROCIOUS ATROCITY!

Let’s start by saying the Presidents Snow and Coin are not players. Coaches, perhaps, maybe just owners up in their box seats. And because “Team Capitol” doesn’t have a lot of members with names, we’re basically sticking to “Team 13″, where Haymitch Abernathy is the world’s drunkest offensive coordinator.

 

We pretend to know what this means. WE DON'T.

We pretend to know what this means. WE DON’T.

Quarterback – Katniss Everdeen. It may seems obvious, but we considered putting Peeta or Gale here too. Katniss wins because the QB is a leader, the one who everyone has to follow if the team is going to work. Reluctant or not, likable or not, everyone follows Katniss. In return, SHE MAKES PLAYS.

Running Back – Peeta Mellark. Fans have love/hate relationships with Running Backs. Sometimes, under the right circumstances, they’re brilliant and win big. Other times, they don’t have the chance to do much and they’re seriously taken for granted. Peeta is hunted, beguiled, betrayed, and hijacked, yet he still chugs along, making the best plays he can.

Wide Receiver – Gale Hawthorne. Wide receivers work with the Quarterback quite a bit. They’re usually the go-to guys the QBs look for when the game gets tense. When everything is on the line and Katniss needs someone else she can trust to share her burden, she goes to Gale. He helps her complete her goals when the pressure is on.

Tight End – Finnick Odair. Because have you seen the descriptions of his sweet, sweet muscles?! Just kidding! Tight End is an important role, but also a versatile one, back and forth between the jobs of a receiver and an offensive lineman. He protects his QB, but also makes plays of his own. It’s the Finnick we know and love.

Cornerback – Johanna Mason.
Becuase she needs a defensive position! Cornerbacks are typically small and agile with a bite. They keep the other team’s receivers from making the big play, which was pretty much Johanna’s job through all of Catching Fire.

Linebacker – Boggs. More specifically, the Inside Linebacker, who traditionally calls the shots for the defense and takes on various defensive “jobs” on the field. They’re usually the ones taking down the other team’s players, to boot. Boggs is calling is shots, managing the politics, being a father and a friend, all while daringly kicking a revolution into gear.

We know there’s more positions to fill, but frankly, our knowledge of football isn’t all that extensive.

This Takes TEAM KATNISS To A Whole New Level,

The Girl With The Pearl

Panem TV — Post Mockingjay

Reality TV, it’s not something I imbibe on a regular basis, but the people of Panem, better yet the citizens of The Capitol are addicted to it. The Capitol falls though, we all know this, and their favorite entertainment of the entire year is disbanded forever and ever, and boo hiss say the lot of them. However, as a society that is in fact totally jones-ing for a reality TV hit to the arm, I’m pretty damn sure that in a hypothetical world post Mockingjay they fixed their urges with less, um, shall we say murderous fare?

Let’s think about this for a tick, ‘kay? In a post-Coriolanus-Snow world, as well as a post-Alma-Coin world, I think that with the infrastructure already semi in place, the money, and other resources, Panem wouldn’t, or actually The Capitol wouldn’t sit idly by with nothing on their televisions to watch. We know their favorite kind of programing is reality TV, so I say don’t knock what’s already been proven brings in the masses. But, what kind of reality TV would flicker across the airwaves of Panem? To me at least, I think they’d go for much tamer fare, also because anything too extreme would be against the law– oh yeah, I totally think Panem has censors still very much so in place.


So, what say you to Panem’s Next Top Model? That’s right, Panem’s, not The Capitol’s, but the whole of the country’s new favorite, but equally easily forgotten walking talking mannequin! Each district will be represented of course, perhaps even more than once in a cycle, but the count would be a baker’s dozen of 13: There would also be judges from the Capitol, of course, because what District resident would know a thing about fashion, I mean really? The challenges would include teaching sessions like probably non of the girls (yep, girls–they’re still excluding boys even in this fictional version of Top Model), have ever encountered, run-way, style challenges, things like taking the girls to the worst part of town, and telling them to ask random people for pieces of clothing off their backs, just to make the perfect challenge outfit, can’t kill children anymore– may as well put people in danger of possibly being spit on by an angry random on the street. Also, of course photo shoots, perhaps something as extreme as trekking down the coal mine shafts of the slowly being restored District 12, or fun shoots out in the palm trees of District 4, getting splashed at by Finnick look-alikes whom never fully come into focus in the photos. Who the hell knows, but it will be fabulous, that’s for sure, and for some reason I think Caesar Flickerman will be one of the judges. There’s no way that man is dead, just no way.

Reality TV was the opiate of the people, I honestly doubt they’d be able to go cold-turkey after 75 years of that tar being pumped into their veins, let it be girls traipsing about making faces at the camera, than kids letting out war cries and hacking each other to pieces.

Besides, we all know that teenage and 20 something girls are vicious enough as it it.

 

Them There Eyes