Study Guide

The Hunger Games Versions of Reality

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Versions of Reality

We hate to break it to ya, folks: The Hills was totally scripted. The Dance Moms just pretend to fights. Survivor has used body doubles. Worst of all, Tori Spelling has never been a struggling single mom. There's always been a thin line between truth and artifice in our media saturated world.

Our reality TV shows manipulate the drama to increase ratings and ad revenue for the networks. TV is basically selling stuff, plus producing some content to show in between the commercials. In the totalitarian country of Panem, they're only selling one thing: their version of reality.

In The Hunger Games, there are two totally separate realities in Panem: the things that actually happen and the version that people see on television. Manipulating what people see, whether true or not, is the biggest tool the Capitol has for controlling its population. As Katniss and Peeta learn, they can use television to influence events in their favor as well.

We're all aware that reality TV can distort—we have access to tons of debunking sites like this one to set the record straight. But even Facebook can't prevent fake news from showing up on its site. Imagine living in a closed society like Panem or North Korea where all media are controlled by the government and nobody knows anything different.

By the way, did you hear that the government dropped two inches of poisonous chemical "snow" on Atlanta?

It's true—Shmoop read it on the internet.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. How is the television reality in Panem similar to ours? How is it different?
  2. What signs does the movie give you that the images people in this world see on TV aren't the way things really are?
  3. How does the distorted perception of reality shape the "real" world of Panem?
  4. Why aren't the residents of District 12 as addicted to TV as the people in the Capitol?

Chew on This

The movie is one giant advertisement for the need for a free press and an independent media.

Panem citizens' obsession with the reality-TV Hunger Games show isn't as much as an exaggeration as we'd like to think. We're just as apt to buy into television's depiction of reality.

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