How Americans Resemble the Capitol

Posted: December 3, 2013 in The Hunger Games Op Eds
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By Jordan Lee

The U. S. military has been actively deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan for nearly ten years. But, how many Americans do you think wake up in the morning and feel as if we are a nation at war? Often we forget that our own soldiers are still engaged in these conflicts. We are nearly out of Iraq, and Afghanistan has become the new theater. The media typically does not report on the military, and it becomes a forgotten subject. Why weren’t our soldiers talked about for the years and years of time they had spent and are spending fighting in these far away countries? I feel our distance and amnesia about war stems from the lack of media coverage on conflict, our literal distance from the battlefields, and the lack of change in most of our communities as a result of war. It is really frightening how desensitized and unconcerned with the results of these conflicts Americans can be because the majority of us do not suffer in them or because we buy into these myths of heroic and celebrated war.

I feel the American spirit is driven forward in our minds when we hear of acts of heroism or stories of war. In the Hunger Games series, this same sort of warm applause for soldiers exist. The protagonist, Katniss, is given a massive welcoming before the first Hunger Games. The event is essentially a bloodbath of children from each district in the country, but it is heavily televised and seen as a massive national spectacle. The following is a description of the parade of tributes that will fight in the games from the first book of Collins’ series. “The twelve chariots fill the loop of the City Circle. On the buildings that surround the Circle, every window is packed with the most prestigious citizens of the Capitol. Our horses pull our chariot right up to President Snow’s mansion, and we come to a halt. The music ends with a flourish.” Much like the American population, the citizens of the Capitol, who are the richest district in the entire series, are incredibly captivated by these soldiers and celebrate them publically. Shortly after, they are shipped into the arena to fight to the death. But, the public is so obsessed with this image and pride and strength, they forget that war is inherently dangerous.

The U. S. mirrors the Capitol because both groups of people are so desensitized by conflict. When we see incidents of our military being wounded, it’s so easy for us not to think about the impacts of war on these soldiers. When media coverage closes on these stories, we are briefly sympathetic before it is replaced with some other form of news or entertainment. A glimpse into the second portion of the trilogy shows exactly how Panem is similar. “After they’ve exhausted the topic of the Quarter Quell, my prep team launches into a whole lot of stuff about their incomprehensibly silly lives. Who said what about someone I’ve never heard of and what sort of shoes they just bought and a long story from Octavia about what a mistake it was to have everyone wear feathers to her birthday party.” The Quarter Quell from Collin’s series is the seventy-fifth Hunger Games where unique rules are put in place. Naturally, it is still a massacre. The image team from the Capitol that dresses Katniss can easily move from a disturbing topic to their own trivial lives. This isn’t so different from Americans discussing Iraq or Afghanistan and then talking about TV shows or sports.

It seems our amnesia about conflicts comes from the distance from the struggles. Also, our resources and daily lives are largely unaffected by these conflicts. The Capitol in the series does not begin to worry until a revolution threatens their resources. Before this point, the rebellion was something that was not heavily covered. Furthermore, their attitude towards the annual slaughter is similar to a reality show, not a mandated death match between Panem’s children. Also, Americans are not forced to go to war much like the Capitol has volunteers to fight in the games.

Americans need to begin to see war for what it really is. We can’t just turn off our TV’s, watch something else, or forget about what goes on out there. We should not see war when our media chooses to show it. Instead, we should constantly remind ourselves of the sacrifice our own citizens choose to make for us. We should try our hardest to prevent these sacrifices to be made, or at the very least remember that this is happening more than the handful of times it shows up through media outlets. It is not to say all Americans do not see the reality of war, but that more Americans need to be actively involved in understanding what war really means.

Work Cited

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Toronto: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Collins, Suzanne. Catching Fire. New York: Scholastic, 2013. Print.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Even though I never thought of how Americans resemble the Capitol, I agree with you that we as Americans tend to forget about the ongoing war because it is not on our land and the media does not report on it as much anymore. Yet, regardless if there is media coverage or not, it is still occurring and people are still dying for our country. I also see the connection between the people of America and the people of the Capitol and their insensibility to war and conflict. The people in the Capitol are not affected by the Games just the war does not affect Americans.

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