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The Hunger Games and Surveillance

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James Tilton

on 31 August 2017

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Transcript of The Hunger Games and Surveillance

The Hunger Games & Surveillance
Facts About Surveillance
Surveillance occurs when the government watches someone closely, in order to catch them doing something illegal.
Many dystopian films and books (including the Hunger Games) feature governments that value surveillance over privacy.
The most famous example of this is the quote, "Big Brother is always watching you" from the George Orwell's book 1984.
Katniss' View of Government Surveillance
The Capitol believes that this surveillance keeps them safe and prevents another rebellion.
This is best demonstrated when they created the jabberjays, "funny birds" that were bred "as weapons." (42)
The jabberjay "had the ability to memorize and repeat whole human conversations." (42-43)
Once the birds had gathered these words, they flew "back to the centers to be recorded." (43)
This shows that the Capitol wanted to find new ways to record the supposedly illegal activity occurring in the Districts.
The Capitol's View of Surveillance
You? Suzanne Collins?
Capitol? US Government?
Katniss, like the rest of District 12, is under constant government surveillance. She assumes that everything she says and does is being recorded by government officials.
When she was younger, she "scared her mother to death" by blurting out negative things about the Capitol, things which the Capitol might overhear. (6)
Eventually, Katniss learns to "hold [her] tongue" so that "no one could ever read her thoughts." (6)
Even when Katniss arrives in the Capitol, she can't escape the feeling that she "might be under surveillance." (80)
To see how well you can differentiate between fiction and real life, let's see if you recognize the following movies.
Name That Film
Every street in the United Kingdom is filmed constantly by CCTV cameras so that the government can see if anyone is breaking the law.
Film - V for Vendetta
This is a film...

But it is not far from the facts...

Which are...

The United Kingdom has one surveillance camera for every eleven people.
Name That Film
Using surveillance, the police can predict who will commit crimes before they are actually committed. Then they arrest these people before these crimes are committed.
Film - Minority Report
This is a film...

But it is not far from the facts...

Which are...

The United States can check the email records and phone calls of any American person to see if there is any indication that a person is thinking about committing a crime.
Name That Film
A government official working as an American spy realizes that he is being asked to spy on thousands, even millions, of everyday Americans without any criminal record. He and his organization do this by hacking people's phones, tablets, and laptop to record video and audio, which is then analyzed by hundreds of government agents. Realizing this is wrong, he shares this top-secret information with the news outlets and is forced to flee the country when the US Government declares him a criminal.
This is not a film.
It is the ongoing story of Edward Snowden and his exposure of the NSA.
Which is more important: the individual's privacy or the country's safety? Why?
Who should be the focus of government surveillance?
Are whistle-blowers like Edward Snowden heroes or traitors?
Gale's View of Government Surveillance
Gale, like Katniss, is under constant government surveillance in District 12.
Gale, however, doesn't always control his tongue. Katniss is afraid his tendency to speak his mind will get him in trouble.
That's why Gale tries to express his anger at the Capitol while "deep in the woods." (14) It is "better he does it in the woods than in the district." (14) That way, no one from the Capitol can hear him.
The Peacekeepers's View of Government Surveillance
The Peacekeepers are always listening to the citizens of District 12, to see if there is any talk of rebellion-talk which would cause a person to be "publicly executed." (5)
In fact, this surveillance goes beyond the limits of District 12. According to Katniss, "Even in the middle of nowhere, you worry someone might overhear you." (6)
This digital surveillance is complimented by the "informers," citizens who report any illegal activity that might not have been observed via surveillance. (17)
Full transcript