Study Guide

The Hunger Games Versions of Reality

Versions of Reality

CRANE: I think it's our tradition. It comes out of a particularly painful part of our history...

CAESAR: Yes.

CRANE: ...but it's been the way we're able to heal.

Crane is talking about events that took place 75 years ago. It would be kind of like explaining how we have to kill 24 German or Japanese children every year as a way of "healing" from World War II. He's excusing murder, but he's doing so on television. Somehow that makes everything okay.

KATNISS: So you're here to make me look pretty.

CINNA: I'm here to help you make an impression.

And as we're going to see, making an impression is the name of the game here. Be bold, be memorable, stand out from the crowd. If you do it right, the people will love you for it. Cinna wants to create a new version of Katniss; he knows the people will believe it. He's going to turn this down-to-earth, unpretentious country girl into a glammed-up superstar. It's a commentary on our celeb-obsessed culture.

GALE: If no one watches, then they don't have a game. It's as simple as that.

Gale is putting his finger on one of the few places where people in their position (i.e., under Panem's boot) can make a difference: by turning off the television.

EFFIE: A dramatic turn of events here in District 12. Yes, well. District 12's very first volunteer. Bring her up.

Effie's talking like a sports broadcaster here: putting a spin on Katniss's sacrifice for the cameras. Everything's packaged, everything's commented on, all in the name of spinning a story out of the reality unfolding before the cameras.

HAYMITCH: I don't know how else to put this: Make sure they remember you.

Television is a harsh medium. You need to be interesting if you want to hold people's attention In the Hunger Games, holding their attention means staying alive.

CAESAR: And this moment here, this moment is a moment that you never forget. The moment when a Tribute becomes a victor.

We wonder how many times this particular clip has been shown. Caesar treats the image of one boy murdering another so passively, like it's no big deal. The more you see of such images on the TV, the less it affects you.

HAYMITCH: Now, I can sell the star-crossed lovers from District 12.

KATNISS: We are NOT star-crossed lovers.

HAYMITCH: It's a television show, and being in love with that boy might just get you sponsors which could save your damn life.

Television is a storytelling medium. Even reality TV or sporting events are designed to tell a story. The same is true here: Haymitch wants the TV to capture an interesting tale for these two, whether it's true or not.

CINNA: Did they explain about trying to get sponsors?

KATNISS: Yeah, but I'm not very good at making friends.

CINNA: We'll see.

At least Katniss understands how important television is here, and how looking good on television can help her. Her problem? She's too authentic.

EFFIE: You realize that your actions reflect badly on all of us, not just you.

CINNA: They just want a good show. It's fine.

EFFIE: How about it's just bad manners, Cinna? How about THAT?

Cinna acknowledges that what's on television isn't the same as reality, but that it can have an impact, both good and bad, on that reality.

CAESAR: Ladies and gentlemen, from District 12: Katniss Everdeen, the girl on fire!

By giving Katniss a catchy nickname, Caesar makes her memorable. That's exactly what she needs to stay alive, and what might even turn her into a real enemy of the Capitol.

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