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TitlePlaying Games: Governmental Influence and Personal Assertion in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger
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national television broadcast at some point regardless of age, location, or

economic status (Collins, Hunger Games 362).

This mandate ensures that the Games fulfill their political function each

year. As a violent spectacle, the Games are meant to be seen by each person

rather than heard about from someone else. In the Games, Snow�s power is

repeatedly displayed on the bodies of the Tributes. Rather than allowing the

district�s citizens to look the other way when confronted with Snow�s power over

them, his government�s order to engage in the Games as an observer forces

each citizen to watch as the government imposes its will on them. Whether or

not the Games directly affect the citizens is irrelevant. Older citizens who have

no personal interest in the reaping are not allowed to ignore the event because

�attendance at the reaping is mandatory unless [the citizen is] on death�s door�

(Collins, Hunger Games 16).

Aside from forcing the districts� citizens to watch the Games, President

Snow�s government uses its television broadcast to influence the peoples�

perception of District 13. According to Snow�s government, District 13 represents

the extreme consequences of defying the government�s rules. Before it was

destroyed, District 13�s chief industry was nuclear weapons development

(Collins, Mockingjay 17). At some point, however, the citizens of District 13

rebelled against the government and reached a kind of stand-off in which neither

the government nor District 13 was willing to attack the other. As part of a peace

treaty, the government and District 13 agreed to leave each other alone. In order

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to prevent citizens of the other districts from rallying around District 13, President

Snow’s government uses its national television broadcast to present District 13

as a kind of wasteland in which nothing grows and no one lives. Rather than

pretending that District 13 never existed, the government repeatedly airs news

stories and commercials which reference it. In those stories, the government

depicts District 13 as nothing more than “ruins… that still smolder from the toxic

bombs” which the government used to destroy the surface of the district (Collins,

Hunger Games 83).

With its depictions of both the Games and District 13, Snow’s government

uses technology to influence its citizens. Rather than allowing people to form

their own opinions about either the Games or District 13, President Snow’s

government uses its television broadcast to carefully construct the way that the

districts’ citizens think about both. By requiring citizens to watch the Games on

television, President Snow’s government constantly reminds those citizens that

his government exercises nearly total control over their lives. Without television

or some similar technology to dispense that reminder, the citizens would not see

the effects of Snow’s power displayed on the Tributes. The citizens may read

about the deaths in a newspaper or hear about them from other citizens, but the

power of the spectacle would be gone. Television allows President Snow’s

government to spread this bloody manifestation of its control over large areas of

space in a very cheap and effective way. Similarly, reading about District 13 in a

newspaper may not have the same effect on citizens as seeing the smoldering

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