Advance Placement English III
Correlation of Social Inequality and Governmental Abuse between the American Government and the Hunger Games
The word privilege has always been very controversial throughout human history. Often times, it intertwines with the degrading of a particular minority group over a more well off dominant group, who embellishes and definitively benefits from these privileges. These privileges stem from a fundamentally abstract mindset of superiority, entitlement and racism; mindset, which was initially formed in order to ensure power and dominance and the assertion of that power without restraint. According to that logic, in any society where there is a hierarchal class structure, transparently present or brazenly implemented, there will follow blatant abuse of assertion of authority due to the disproportionate, disenfranchised and disincentivised minority by the government and those atop of the respective social hierarchy.
In the far-fetched details of the fictional book The Hunger Games, privilege is particularly imminent and blatantly precedent. As the story goes on, the main character, Katniss, faces sever discrimination and “crushing inequality.”(Van Jones) Having been oppressed by the higher ups to participate in the Hunger Games, the establishment of Panem is essentially reminding their inhabitants of their place, which is of vulnerability and submissiveness to their subjugators. Due to the existence of the 13 districts, a class system is inevitably present and boldly implements social practices that act both favorably and unfavorably. Favorably, in the sense that those of the Capitol are inarguably favored by the systemic differences. Unfavorably, in the sense the inhabitants of the Districts “can barely afford to feed their children.”(Jones) And the outstanding outlook from those of the Capitol to the people of the Districts is that they are inherently inferior, lazy and undeserving
In correlation to America, popular opinion tends to revolve around the “the notion that ‘[the poor] really don’t have to work. I’d think I’d rather just sit around.’”(Reich) He went on to state the fact that it is becoming more and more evident that a large number of the nation’s poor are working full time, “yet still don’t earn enough to lift themselves out of poverty.”(Reich) This is important because an argument that is often times framed by the dominant group of the minority group is that their asking incentives right of the beneficiaries pockets. When in reality the poor, both in the Hunger Games and in America, simply desire an opportunity in which they would then possess the ability to lift themselves up out of poverty and into an ideal lifestyle.
But this idea is unachievable due to privilege. In both instances, privilege takes the form of the common belief that the “rich deserve their wealth because they work harder than others.” In the Hunger Games, this claim is fundamentally incorrect because of its caste-like class system in which people are born into their respective districts with little to no chance of working their way up or out of it and into a better quality of life. And if one is born to the dominant group, the idea of leaving or seeking out other possibilities in life in ludicrous and profoundly unheard of. In correlation to America, the claim in inadequate at its core due to the inherence of wealth or the handing down of wealth by all the major million, billion, and even trillion dollar corporations. Resulting in “a large and growing portion of the super-rich hav[ing] never broken a sweat. Their wealth is handed down to them.” Reich makes a valid point, and the inevitable subsequent of this is the poor being unable to support themselves, no matter the amount of hours they work or the amount of jobs they have. Simply due of the systemic corruption of the government and the precedence of their policies which are intentionally implemented to the keep the poor, or the minority group, or the Districts in their place.
The internal corruption within a government or establishment takes many forms. However, these various forms share a communal purpose; to disenfranchise. In the Hunger Games, the most blatant form of voicelessness and indefinite satisfaction amongst the people takes the form of the Hunger Games itself. It takes this form by the way of the people having no say of the ways in which they think the system in which they have to live under could be improved. Instead, they have to gamble and risk their youth’s lives in order to even grasp the slippery hope of having basic necessities and low valued incentives provided for them. And due to this “take it or leave it” attitude of the establishment, Reich points out in another one of his articles, “[they] must take what they can get.” And this is also a double sided coin in the sense that it affects the inhabitants in two different ways; it first leaves the persons in the districts without a choice of occupation, residence, et cetera, but it also limits their option of consumption. And the true extent of this is ever so present in the United States. It takes popular form through the monopolistic corporations consuming power of popular choice and consumer options. This ultimately results in less power.(Reich) This lack of power towards the working class or the laborers is entirely intentional and is again rooted from the mindset that those who are low, poor and working deserve to be doing those things because they don’t work hard enough. It’s all to keep the common man small and disenfranchised.
In conclusion, there is a powerful and relevant correlation between themes involved in the Hunger Games and relevant issues in the United States. And through the initial inequality in a society, there is also governmental abuse. Yes, this is the obvious matter. However, what is not as obvious is the actual extent and the various ways in which the government abuses its power and disincentivises their inhabitants. And this is solely due to the fact that it does so in an innumerable amount of ways; Signifyingly true, fundamental corruption within any given institution is blatantly present and definitively correlates with an unbalanced and unfair social hierarchy.
Van Jones, ‘Hunger Games,’ a mirror of America’s inequality, CNN.com, November 21, 2014
Robert Reich, The Rich Don’t Work Anymore—Working Is for Poor People, alternet.org,
March 31, 2015
Robert Reich, Why Millions of Americans Feel Like They Have No Power Over Their Lives, alternet.org, April 27, 2015