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V for Vendetta and Hunger Games

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An Exposé of Control in The Hunger Games & V for Vendetta
‘Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem’. Bill Clinton’s quote clearly articulates how Government seems to be the problem in society but fails to produce his rationale. Therefore his statement is ambiguous and is open to different thoughts and interpretation. Accordingly, a Government could be problematic due to a lack of justice and democracy within the system; which in turn creates a fascist and totalitarian-type rule whose fundamental belief surrounds the idea of ‘control’. This form of Government is evident within the novel ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins and the comic ‘V for Vendetta’ by Alan Moore. ‘The Hunger Games’ exposes the detriment of a corrupted, twisted, totalitarian Government controlling a deteriorated society. It is set in post-America with the ominous, terrifying Capitol reigning from the center, ruling 12 districts around it. Similarly ‘V for Vendetta’ is set in London in a world altered by the damages of war, famine and disease hence birthing a fascist, tyrannical Government inspiring fear and control over its citizens by any means possible. It is arguable that both ‘The Hunger Games’ and ‘V for Vendetta’ serve as exposé’s of their respective fascist and totalitarian Governments exerting different aspects of control over their societies.
Within the ‘Hunger Games’, the all-powerful Capitol rules the society. They possess a large majority of the country’s wealth hence leading to the control over the citizens of Panem. The first type of control is the separation of the districts and enforcement of security within each district in order to maintain the ambiance of domination upon the citizens. Each district is enclosed with high voltage power lines to prevent any escape or association with the other districts. ‘Separating the Meadow from the woods, in fact enclosing all of District 12, is a high chain-link fence topped with barbed-wire loops’ (5). The prison-like feel produced by the enclosures acts as a guarantor for the lack of any communication with the other districts. Creating a divide generates animosity amongst the different districts, especially because some are wealthier than others. This antagonism fuels the Capitols power over Panem because it hinders unity and advocates for division. In addition, the Government uses the divide and rule strategy within the Hunger Games itself since they force teenagers from the districts to fight each other to the death thereby allowing the survival of only one contestant. The Games are symbolic since they display the Capitol’s ploy of creating a divide amongst the districts. It prevents the people from other districts from joining forces together in order to commence a rebellion or an up-rise since they are constantly competing against each other for survival. The Capitol also administers ‘Peacekeepers’ or Law enforcement, who are a military police force controlled by the Capitol and tasked with maintaining order and suppression throughout Panem, and keeping its citizens in line through coercion and brutality. They act as law enforcers in each district, led by a Head Peacekeeper who is the commander of each garrison. They ensure that the Capitol's laws are obeyed and punish those who break them. An example of Peacekeeper brutality is seen through the conversation between Katniss and Rue about night vision glasses, ‘Sometimes, when we harvest through the night, they’ll pass out a few pairs to those of us highest in the trees…one time this boy Martin, he tried to keep his pair…they killed him on the spot’ (203). Such violence inflicted upon a young child reinforces the lengths the Capitol will undertake in order to oppress the people of Panem and display their control so that nobody would dare to rebel.
V for Vendetta is set in London and is governed by the Nose-Fire party; a tyrannical rule that undertakes extreme measures for ensuing control and domination of the citizens. Similar to the Hunger Games, this society is also an extremely controlled and enclosed, however the manner in which they are controlled differs. The citizens are subjected to a prison-like country where they have to adhere to enforced curfews. These curfews are administered by nine o’ clock each night and require the citizens to remain within their homes ‘for their safety’. The implications of the curfew ensues a society that offers the illusion of freedom where as in reality oppression prevails. This notion is contradictory to the Hunger Games, where it is evident through the district’s tight security and barbed wire enclosures, no hope is provided to the people of Panem. Within V for Vendetta the method of illusionary freedom is powerful since it causes people to believe they are free hence forcing them into oblivion and allowing the Government to remain in power.
The Nose-Fire party also has law enforcement just like the Peacekeepers in the Hunger Games, called the Fingermen. The role of the Fingermen is similar to the Peacekeepers for they too are in charge of patrolling the streets of London at night once the curfew has been enforced. An example of the ruthlessness of the Fingerman is seen when Evey accidentally and unknowingly approaches a Fingerman for the purpose of prostitution. The Fingerman says, ‘You know the laws on prostitution. That’s a Class-H offence. That means we get to decide what happens to you. That’s our prerogative’ (11). Evey begs the Fingerman to let her go but he responds by saying, ‘you’ve got it wrong miss. You’ll do anything we want and then we’ll kill you. That’s our prerogative’ (11). This conversation between the Fingerman and Evey illustrate the harsh consequences of breaking curfew. It is evident that the penalty for defiance of the law is death; such a penalization instills fear within the citizens hence strengthens the control held over them by the Government. The Fingerman keeps repeating how killing Evey and exploiting her is his ‘prerogative’. Prerogative is defined as a ‘privilege restricted to a sovereign Government or it’s representative’; therefore by repeating this word, he emphasizes his authority over her and that he has the domination held over her.
The second type of control endured by the citizens of Panem the control of information. The Capitol controls how much information they receive and enforces consequences for voicing out views that are frowned upon. Firstly the Government controls all media and strives to put forth frightening messages in order to kill any feelings of rebellion within the hearts of the masses. An important example of this occurs whenever the Capitol airs the ruins of District 13. ‘District 12 is pretty much the end of the line. Beyond us, there’s only wilderness. If you don’t count the ruins of District 12 that still smolder from the toxic bombs. They show it on television occasionally, just to remind us’ (83). The Capitol airs this video in order to reinforce the detriments of defiance since District 13 attempted an uprising. Additionally, since the Capitol controls the flow of information, they ensure that the actual Hunger Games are televised. The games is the only time when television is watched intently since there are children from their districts participating, therefore affirming the Capitols hold over the citizens of Panem. ‘Taking the kids from our districts, forcing them to kill one another while we watch – this is the Capitol’s way of reminding us how totally we are at their mercy. How little chance we would stand of surviving another rebellion. Whatever words they use, the real message is clear. “Look how we take your children and sacrifice them and there’s nothing you can do. If you lift a finger, we will destroy every last one of you. Just as we did in District Thirteen’ (19).
Similarly the Capitol also controls the type of information given to its citizens. In school each district learns only about its own respective specialty. For example District 12 is well known for coal mining; therefore the only education that the students will receive will be in this regard. ‘Besides basic math most of our instruction is coal-related. Except for the weekly lecture on this history of Panem. It’s mostly a lot of blather about what we owe the Capitol’ (42). Teaching students to be one track minded hinders diversity within the district thereby disallowing any sort of intellectual growth. The Capitol strives to control its districts on an intellectual level as well by ensuring that they alone remain the all knowledge and all-powerful. In addition to the influx of information, the Capitol is extremely particular about the outward outspokenness of its citizens. ‘When I was younger, I scared my mother to death, the things I would blurt out about District 12, about the people who rule out country…eventually I understood this would only lead us to more trouble’ (7). Such defiance if repeated would have consequences such as removal from ones district and he/she would be made to serve the Capitol or in a more worse case scenario, be put to death. An example of Capitol defiance is viewed through the ‘Avox’ Katniss encounters at the Hotel in the Capitol. An Avox is an individual whose tongue gets removed and is forced to serve the Capitol as a consequence for defying them. The removal of the tongue symbolizes the Capitol’s control over human speech, there is nothing that belongs to the individual everything belongs to the Capitol. The Avox is made an example of to the public so that everyone remains loyal to the Capitol since such a fate would be despairing.
The Citizens of London in ‘V for Vendetta’ also endure fabrication of information from the media just like the citizens of Panem only receive the information that they need to hear in order to be reminded of the hold the Capitol has over them. Within V for Vendetta however, the information is fabricated for the purpose of supposedly ‘protecting’ the people. When in reality they are only ‘protecting’ their own interests since they do not want an uprising of any sort. An example of this phenomenon is evident when V creates an explosion on top of the Parliament buildings. After the explosion the factions within the Government gather to determine the most appropriate method for damage control. The Fate wants the story to be released as a planned demolition since it occurred at night for the purpose of not disrupting traffic during the day. ‘Hmm what are you saying about the fireworks? Fate doesn’t think we should mention the fireworks. If anyone asks later we’ll say it was a freak effect of the blast’ (17). The demolition of a parliament building is a phenomenon that would cause the public to ponder over the implications of the blast; why and how it occurred. Such an incident would divert the attention of the citizens from their day-to-day lives and possibly cause them to think that the Government is loosing its credibility. Therefore the Government would need to provide a suitable cover-up to prevent any thoughts. Also since there is only one British Television network providing the news, the citizens would most likely believe the fabricated truth since there is no other source through which the news is presented.
Just like the ‘Hunger Games’, the Government in ‘V for Vendetta’ disallows the spread of art, music and literature. This could be attributed to the fact that such facets cause an individual to think about the nature of the society he/she lives in. Upon viewing V’s home known as the Shadow Gallery she exclaims, ‘It…it’s unbelievable! All of these painting and books…I didn’t even know there were things like this’ (18). V responds, ‘you couldn’t be expected to know. They have eradicated culture…tossed it away like a fistful of dead roses’ (18). Literature, art and music create life within an individual causing them to come alive; according to Evey the only genre of music she has ever listened to is ‘military stuff’ played on the radio. Making the populace listen to military music causes them to be mechanical and obedient. That is the aim of this Government; to make its citizens subservient – not questioning their rule hence creating a control over the population. Due to the eradication of literature, art and music, the citizens are now set in their ways and probably do not feel the need to fight back and bring back the culture that was once alive. Both the Capitol and the Nosefire party, eliminated creative learning and higher education from their systems in order to ‘dumb-down’ their societies hence allowing them to exert complete control over them.
In conclusion, within both texts, ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins and ‘V for Vendetta’ by Alan Moore, one will find the stiffening effects of a fascist and totalitarian governments. These Governments exert their control over their citizens utilizing different methods such as: control through separation, through law enforcement and through information. The Capitol controls the districts by separating them through the use of enclosures and further divides them by forcing their children to compete against each other in the actual Hunger Games. The Capitol also utilizes law enforcement known as the Peackeeper’s for the purpose of maintaining their hold over the citizens. Comparatively V for Vendetta also follows the idea of control through reinforcement but administers it a little differently. The Nose-fire party enforces a curfew after nine and therefore creating an enclosed-like country. Like the Hunger Games, V for Vendetta also use Fingermen, who like Peacekeepers, brutally attempt to keep the citizens in line if they fall short. Within the Hunger games, The Capitol controls its populace through the flow of information portrayed in the media, in schools and in the public sphere. They broadcast whatsoever benefits their cause, teach a limited amount of information and penalize those who defy them. In contrast V for Vendetta do broadcast what they see fit and just like the Hunger Games they do fabricate the truth however they do it for the purpose of providing the illusion of false hope that everything is under control. Similar to the Hunger Games, The Nose-Fire party prevent any sort of diversity in art, literature and music; therefore subduing the public further into their control. These two works are truly eye opening for the reader because of these aforementioned exposé’s. It makes one question whether such occurrences are present in our society and our Government has tossed us into oblivion through fabrication and lies. As extreme as they may be, these works of literature serve as eye-openers for us the readers.

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