Sunday, March 30, 2014

Dr. Shibley Telhami on the Arab Spring and my relation of it the Hunger Games

               One particularly interesting point of Dr. Shibley Telhami's lecture on the Arab Spring was the topic of a dictator's relationship to his people. In most Western or free world thinking, people assume that a dictator operates in a vacuum. He does not need to worry himself with public opinion, because he is a dictator, he does whatever he wants. Dr Telhami's example was President Sadat of Eqypt. He was a dictator, but in his negotations with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin he made it clear he could not give in to certain demands because his people would revolt. Prime Minister Begin thought as most do and questioned why he could not just ignore public opinion. The fact that he could not do that is blatantly clear as his unpopular treaty with Israel resulted in Sadat's assassination. The truth of that situation parallels in the Hunger Games. Even though President Snow is a dictator, he still must keep control of the Districts. He cannot do anything that would incite all of them at once, because the Capitol relies upon their goods, and if the Districts band together they are more powerful than the Capitol alone. Therefore he must maintain a balance, and cannot act as if his decisions have not consequences.

               Another topic in his lecture was that one of the causes of the Arab Spring was the loss of the governmental monopoly on information. Most people in the Arab world now receive their news from outside sources instead of state run news agencies. This switch caused people to become dissatisfied now that they knew what others had, and thus revolutions began. This is much the same in Hunger Games. Once the Rebels started hijacking broadcasts, the Districts started banding together and fighting the Capitol. The loss of information monopoly caused the real rebellion.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Music and Dance in the Hunger Games

               Music and dance are very important to both the Hunger Games and in Appalachia. Both the fictional and the real rely upon music and dance to bring the community together, and both focus on the same topics.
               In  the Hunger Games we see dance and music specifically mentioned at the wedding of Finnick Odair and Annie Cresta. After their ceremony, a fiddler from District 12 begins to play. This leads to many people  from District 12 including Gale and Greasy Sae getting up and dancing along. It is also noted that as Katniss and Prim are dancing that they had plenty of practice dancing on the cold nights back in District 12. This ties in with Appalachia in that one of the themes we discussed in class was family. If Katniss and Prim danced often, that indicates that it was a family event used for entertainment. This is often when dancing is done  in Appalachia as well. Large family gatherings or community gatherings will probably be accompanied by singing and dancing. It also talked about how Katniss's father taught her to sing and the songs, thus reinforcing the family ties to music.

               The topics of the songs in the Hunger Games and in Appalachia are also similar. The song Katniss sings to Rue as she dies ,"Deep In The Meadow", talks about  a nice safe place to rest that is located in a secluded meadow. The central theme in this song is the connection to nature and safety that brings, which is also a theme heavily used in Appalachian songs and ballads. The song "The Hanging Tree" 's theme is the separated lover's struggle, and struggle is of course a common theme in Applachia.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

TV and Society

Based on the discussion we had in class and the readings we did, it seems that television and texts are a sounding board for society. When the subject matter is satire it is very easy to see to the connection to society. In the book Brave New World, written in the 1930s, the idea of test tube babies is very prominent. This mention is basically pointing to eugenics, or the genetic advancement of humans through selective breeding. The theme of eugenics was very strong throughout the world at the time, with both the US experimenting with it, and then Nazi Germany in Europe(on a side note, it is often overlooked that a great deal of the world was interested in eugenics, not just the Nazis).

                The other way we can see it connected to society is how popular the types of shows are. In the early days of television, the most popular programs were informative news and the like. This would show a society looking to learn and stay informed. Turning our gaze to more recent programming, we see a move to more dramatic television. With reality TV and “breaking”news, it appears that society wants something different. The way I see it is that we now want life to be interesting and have a story. This means news must be gripping, which leads to a focus on the sob stories and the negative. Our regular television must dramatic, and nothing is more dramatic than fighting or emotional arguments. By watching these shows, we reinforce the ideology pushed by the show in society. We start living our lives like a reality show, because that is what we expect. As is referenced in the reading, we allow ourselves to be distracted from news elsewhere with created drama at home.