There is no doubt that technology is one of the strongest forces that have completely revolutionalized the modern world. It is clear that a day is approaching when the entire human race will be completely dependent on technology. In The Hunger Games, the author, Suzanne Collins portrays a world where almost everything runs on technology. She describes a high tech futuristic world with some technological features that are not even available in the world currently. Most of this technological advancement is mostly enjoyed by the upper class society who to a huge part uses it to oppress the poor. By using the narrative rhetorical strategy, Collins shows how the society is progressively oppressed by the same technology which most of them cannot live without. The constant use of technology applies very well to the cultural context of the audience because it is testament of one common notion and that is that the current society is dependent on technology for the fulfillment of almost every human need and wants including entertainment, communication, shaping the opinion of the public, warfare amongst others. One particular type of technology that is constantly employed in the novel and that is used to particularly influence others is reality television. Reality television is one type of technological advancement that has found massive following in recent years especially in American where several reality television shows are aired on national channels single day of the week. Unlike the reality shows that we are accustomed to on our television stations however, Collins reality television show is however a brutal one which involves truly graphic acts like murder. Reality television has also been accused of infiltrating the personal lives of people and exposing some of the most privately kept secrets and information. The “Hunger Games” incorporates more horrendous acts than the infiltration of people’s privacy. By focusing on two contestants , Katniss and Peeta, Collins explores their horrific adventures as part of the glorified “Hunger Games” to to show that in spite of the many advantageous aspects of technology, it can also lead to pain and suffering in the society when such powerful society forces use it.
The games are reality television designed. The contestants are forced to play the role of television reality stars. Katniss notices how the cameras are put at strategic places to capture every moment (Henthorne 23). The intent of this reality show where people are forced to kill one another is to tyrannize the people living in the districts because not only are they forced to take part in them annually, they are also forced to watch the games. The games are televised in gigantic screens placed strategically in all districts. Katniss describes this scenario as one of the methods used that the Capitol uses to wield another type of control over the kingdom’s districts, and this a reminder that all districts are under total submissiveness to the total government (Collins 34). The district people know very well that the televised games are a reminder of the thirteenth district failed rebellion and that they also symbolize the Capitol’s control. Collin utilizes the forced watching of the games to portray as one of technology’s oppression form, to show how technology may be used by powerful forces to constantly control people down to their basic motions. Collins also bring another fact into light that applies very well to the current cultural context. This is the interpretation of technology forms in different ways, mostly depending on the social class or status of the members of the society in question. For instance, some of the lower status society members may have a different interpretation of technology form the rich folks. For instance, the people of the district in the ‘Hunger Games” are forced to treat the games as a yearly sporting event when its clearly should be treated so and in fact this represents an even greater element of oppression and control as people are forced to view their children perish (Henthorne 53). While the individual at the Capitol treat the televised reality games as an entertainment form, they additionally try to create an excitement aura by manipulating the situations in the arena for dramatics sake, once again thanks to technology. For instance, genetic engineering is used to create creatures that torment the contestants. Katniss for instance is when watching the game is aware of the manipulations done by the Game maker.
Perhaps another interesting fact about the use of this type of technology that is reality television to oppress people is the fact that some people seem to enjoy games. Collins in fact uses this substantiate her message of the dependence of people on technology and the society’s seeming blindness to the negative attributes to this technology that they so much crave for. The games are broadcasted in a real reality television form with TV hosts and commentators, interviewers and judges. The contestants of the games, or the tributes as they commonly referred to have become so indoctrinated into this heinous culture that they are willingly accept all the game rules and eager to start killing once the games commence. The public masses also actively participate in the games, where they cheer for their representative’s even if the event is a celebration of the sacrifice of two of their own. It’s almost as if through reality television, the Capitol has brainwashed the people of the districts (Henthorne 53).
The goal of the reality television games to oppress the people appears to have succeeded. Through the games, the Capitol appears to have an overwhelming control over all the districts. In fact, when rebellion emerges in one of the districts, it easily crushed. The Capitol also appears to have new methods to use the reality television to their advantage. For example, the game controllers are able to create a love relationship between Katniss and Peeta. This “young love” is meant to attract more viewers who will enjoy watching the young couple. By showing the success of technology’s utilization as a form of oppression, Collins essentially shows that oppression through technology is indeed a reality and no longer a theory!
The angle of reality television is also significant in a relatively broader sense. Because Collins essentially frames these games as a spectacle of reality television, the author somehow provokes us to differentiate brutal human sacrifice and televised entertainment. There is a conflict of the two in the novel. For instance, the rich who live in the Capitol as well some of the wealthier districts see the games as either mass entertainment or a celebrated sporting event. In spite or the fact that the games are accompanied by death and anguish of the tribute, the games are an activity that young women and men train for, just like the Olympics (Collins 34). The message that Collins is essentially trying to show how the society may have varying views about the effects of technology.
As mentioned earlier, the games are displayed for every resident of Panem to see through a kind of reality TV. Reality is a television style that has emerged as a result of technological advancement and that has become very popular in recent years. In this kind of television, individuals are placed in real life situations and are instructed to act the way they would if cameras were not present. The Hunger games are a form of reality television and can be compared to another reality show that is still currently airing in the United States and this is Survivor. In this popular show, contestants comprising of both men and women compete in a number of challenges to determine the one who stays in the show longest. In addition, contestants are forced to utilize their survival skills to find food, water and shelter. The contestants also vote each off and the last person to remain on the show is awarded a large prize, usually money. The Hunger Games can be compared to survivor only that in their case, they are much deadlier. Unlike survivor where the contestants vote each other off, the contestants of The Hunger Games kill each other off! There is however some resemblance between the two and this is where rivalries and alliances are formed in the course of competition. This ultimately makes the games even more entertaining. It is indeed this kind of reality television that reveals the real side of a person. Most of the tributes taking part in the games appear to be ruthless individuals who are even willing to kill. However, it should be understood that this ruthlessness could have been created by the realization that to survive, one must be very tough from the beginning.
One distinct element of the Hunger games is their desensitizing to a new violence level. They cross a boundary that is hardy even seen in movies. This is violence commited by minors to their fellow minors. In the Games, children aged 12 to 18 years slash, stab, shoot and even strangle their fellow children (Howden 48).
The idea of the games is a very ludicrous idea. The residents of the Capitol find great pleasure in watching young people fight for their lives and the winner is then paraded across the Capitol like he or she is a celebrity. In a modern society that is dependent on various forms of media like Twitter, Facebook and reality TV, the happenings of the Hunger Games force us to think or see a world that places entertainment before morals. The author Suzanne Collins makes use of a literary device used by many authors who take a supposedly negative cultural trend and then imagine or make up an ideal world where that particular negative trend actually dominates every life aspect. In this case, Collins uses the growing popular trend of reality television to imagine a world where this aspect is actually used to swerve public opinion, exert control and also cause oppression (Howden 65)
The role of technology in the modern society cannot be overemphasized. The immense growth and advancement of this feature means that its role in the society has also grown tremendously. These days, it appears like every aspect of the human life is in some way dependent on technology. Technology has found itself being used in some situations that one would not even think of for instance to oppress people. Suzanne Collins constant use of technology and its effect are proof of the impact that technologic can have on a society particularly on some of its cultural aspects. In the novel, Collins uses reality television which is a form of technology and shows how it can be manipulated by some individuals in the society to oppress others or to place them under control. Here, she is trying to show the audience that the same thing that they so deeply crave for can essentially be used to oppress them. She hopes the audience can open their eyes to see the cons of technology and not just the pros.
Technology is a very advantageous feature but as the Hunger Games prove, it however not immune to human manipulations to serve a different purpose other than what it was interned for. The happenings and adventures of the characters in the Hunger Games novel are testament to this fact. It can only be hoped that the society will open its eyes and start treating technology with caution because as Susan Collin’s show, a time is coming when it may come to hurt the human race that have embraced it so enthusiastically without really thinking about its future unfolding.
Collins, S., Falco, P., & Scholastic Press. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press. 2008.
Henthorne, T. Approaching the Hunger Games trilogy: A literary and cultural analysis. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland & Co. Publishers. 2012.
Howden, Martin, and Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games A-Z. London: John Blake, 2012. Print.