Mockingjay Discussion 3: War and Television

Due to the revolution in the districts preventing a proper reaping, Mockingjay does not have a proper Hunger Games arena with tributes. With Plutarch Heavensbee, the former Capitol chief Gamesmaker, calling the shots about the production values of how the war is going to be packaged and presented to Panem viewers, the series finale has repeated Hunger Games elements. Finnick and Katniss simultaneously joke that the Capitol defense pods are just Hunger Games death race items turned to urban warfare usage (see chapter 18, p. 251) and the ubiquity of film crews in every combat situation delivers the message that war is not so much about about achieving political goals with force as it is an opportunity to film a ‘propo’ video with high production values to sway teevee watchers.

Were you struck by the television wars between District 13 and the Capitol? Beetee (Volts) and Plutarch’s studio and live action film crews seemed to be the real warriors of District 13 because they were the ones responsible for the teevee message that was crafted from any fighting. And, as the rebels’ cause is shown in the end to be not much different than the Capitol’s — both seem to be about power and control — their shared dependence and acceptance of the teevee medium as essential for political victory seemed another slam on the television industry. Your thoughts?


  1. Yes, yes and yes to all of the above, John. But even more, I was hit by how we the readers were all carried away with games and somehow horrified by MJ. Some readers on other threads have discussed how much more black and violent MJ was, as if it was written by someone else. I don’t agree. The deaths and scenarios in HG and CF are just as gruesome as in MJ. But Collins deflects our horror by setting up Peeta and Katniss as heroes – just like the media paints our soldiers as the good guys – so we can stomach what they are “forced” to do. In book three, the drama is the same, the horrors are the same but instead of our desensitized reaction to the deaths of relative strangers, painted as bad guys on TV, we get hit with a real time war story, lenses off, and we left mourning the tragic deaths people we loved who didn’t have to die like Boggs, Finnick, Prim and even Peeta to some extent.

  2. I saw it less as a criticism of tv than our own inability to differentiate between manufactured and real news as viewers.

  3. Louise M. Freeman says

    I particularly liked the contrast of pure “truth is beauty and beauty truth” nature of books as compared to the artificial, staged, no-thought-required TV medium. Katniss’s father’s book of plants gives life to the family and eventually all the 12 survivors. Cinna’s book allows him to continue to clothe Katniss from beyond the grave and show him as one of the true pure-hearted revolutionaries. And, Peeta and Katniss find their first solace in the creation of their own book.

    The trilogy clearly wound up being more of a sociopolitical commentary than a religious one, to be sure. But a Book is not exactly insignificant to Christians, is it?

  4. I totally agree with you Jessica. I think that Collins did this on purpose. She said before, that her motive for writing the books was to show the desensitization of society in response to the media right? I think, without realizing it, we were becoming desensitized to her books as well.

    I remember in HG and CF, although I felt sad when people died, I never really felt as repulsed when people were killed as I did in MJ. Reading HG and CF was like reading any other interesting book, where the story pretty much ended after you closed the book cover, but even now, the events of MJ haunt me. It opened up a whole sea of emotions and inner turmoil about the state of the world now, and made me ask questions about decisions and actions that we sometimes take for granted.

    I think that this is exactly what Collins wanted to do. To not just tell us, but SHOW us, and let us experience the contrast of the desensitization, and hence leaving a more lasting impact.

  5. good point, Cassie about the desentitization of us, the readers, and how Collins is also using violence to demonstrate a point against violence.
    I was also thinking about reality shows gone rampant, and how the lines between Lost –> Survivor–> TV news are so blurred. When does reality become fiction, and fiction reality? Collins is definitely trying to tell us something here about current TV trends and our interaction (lack of?) with newsreports.

  6. These comments just bring me back to Susan Sontag in regards desensitization. Of course she was talking about photographies depicting violence and death. However, nowadays we see so much violence fictional and non-fictional and we see it as fun. How gruesome is that? In with it comes our tacit approval for war. Also what I like from this trilogy is the point Collin makes about reality shows, fashion and exaggerated “happiness” as a distraction for what realm happens around us, in real wars, in real injustice, every day.

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