Revolution as a Reaction to Power System Control and Fear

Dystopian novels and movies assist people in processing their fears concerning how the future might look like. Moreover, they typically demonstrate that despite all fears there is always hope, even in the gloomiest future imagined. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and the Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-ho show that there is always a limit of permitted power system control. Furthermore, no fear can restrain people from risking their lives in order to destroy the power system as such. Foucault stated that there are two methods of controlling people’s relations: the first concerns a concept of pure community, while the second is a disciplined society (Foucault, 1995, p. 199). Thus, if a society becomes disciplined against their will, requirements, and desires, this society will definitely revolt against the power system.

The members of society have to follow the admitted standards of conduct in order for the society to operate in an appropriate manner. In numerous cases, standards are induced conversationally while highly significant ones are systematized into regulations and are constrained by the government. Nevertheless, the cases of the totalitarian political systems demonstrate that the government itself appoints the standards and sustains control by any required measures. Power and fear control people; therefore, they do not actually manage their lives and are unable to change anything.

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This explanation definitely brings us to the movie Snowpiercer and the trilogy of the Hunger Games. The dystopian future of the Hunger Games demonstrates Panem, the country subdivided into twelve Districts, differing concerning the state of poverty, which are controlled by a totalitarian power system in a face of the rich Capitol. The power of fear is insurmountable in the Hunger Games, as every district, excluding the Capitol itself, is enforced to select one arbitrarily chosen boy and girl aged between 12 and 18 in order to take part in the media show called the Hunger Games (Collins, 2009). People cannot change this, as the show is compulsory and it is conducted intentionally for all citizens to remember the power of the Capitol. It also aims at reminding citizens of sequences of the 13th District revolt against the Capitol’s absolute power. On the other hand, the movie Snowpiercer demonstrates the similar dystopian universe with the analogous absolute power of the government. The train represents all the humanity and it can be considered a completely apparent and audacious allegory for the Hunger Games reality. The whole society on the train represents a greatly ranked class system. The wealthiest live luxuriously at the train’s front and the poorest people live in appalling condition at the train’s tail (Joon-ho & Chan-wook, 2013). Similarly to the Hunger Games, the society is subdivided into two categories, the rich and the poor. The rich at the front of the train and in the Capitol have absolutely everything, they do not restrict themselves in food or amusements. In the Hunger Games, they do not risk their lives and in the Snowpiercer, they are not supposed to sacrifice their children for the train’s sacred engine. The Capitol’s hegemony of a totalitarian dictatorship system of power restricts people to survive and not to live. Panem citizens constantly starve and perform complicated and life-dangerous work at various factories and mines, producing luxurious items, cutting stones, providing lumber, coal, etc. They are not allowed to leave their districts similarly to train passengers, who cannot leave their cabins and move to the train’s front.

Katniss and Curtis, the major characters of these two stories, reside in the poorest conditions, the girl lives in District 12 while the man sits in the train’s tail section. The tail section is a completely scanty and gray setting, where a rag-tag group of people living in unreliable three-story bunk beds. Wilford’s (the train’s ruler) armed soldiers control these people. They travel to the train’s tail every day in order to perform a head count, provide protein blocks, measure children, and take them away for an undetermined purpose (Joon-ho & Chan-wook, 2013). In fact, a system of power oppression on the train is apparent, as the tail-citizens are constantly admonished about their societal position and are supposed to feel obliged for it. Minister Mason claims that “eternal order flows from the sacred engine”, therefore, each person should beset the conditioned position. The minister also states, “I belong to the front. You belong to the tail. Keep your place” (Joon-ho & Chan-wook, 2013). People have no possibility to change their situation, as armed soldiers who are ready to use force or to shoot each time the person protests control them. The cabin’s existence is severely controlled and the only thing left for the tail-citizens is to revolt. Thus, it is obvious that life conditions enforce people to make this step, even despite the fact that they understand that the opposition will be complicated while forces are unequal.

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On the other hand, Panem citizens are not ready to revolt. In spite of the fact that such thoughts arise, they are not commonly supported. In addition, people are more intimidated in Panem in comparison with the humanity on the train. They saw what happened with the 13th district and they are not ready to risk their lives. They actually need an encourager in order to start a new global revolution. It is obvious that the games, which had been created in the aftermath of a revolution against the Capitol, have to be necessarily viewed by all citizens of Panem. Such policy drives people to a higher level of fear before the Capitol’s power system. The Hunger Games as a notion serve as a method of social power system control on a number of levels. Firstly, they are mementos of the Capitol’s power: “Taking 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” (Collins, 2009, p. 22). Nevertheless, the games also perform a function of rewarding to the winning district. The district of the winner “will be showered with prizes, largely consisting of food. All year, the Capitol will show the winning district gifts of grain and oil and even delicacies like sugar while the rest of us battle starvation” (Collins, 2009, p. 22). Thus, it becomes obvious that the Hunger Games create and intensity asperities among the districts. The tributes from more affluent districts (those, which win more often) are more able-bodied and have more opportunities to win the Games, which successively sustains the overall wealth of these districts. Despite the fact that the games are strictly regulated, Capitol ignores minor violations. Wealthier districts train possible tributes from their early childhood, though it is forbidden. Moreover, the show is specially created to disproportionately penalize the poorest citizens of Panem. Each possible tribute person should put one note with their name; however, young people can also purchase ‘tesserae’, which stands for food and fuel for one person for a year for each additional note in the reaping (Collins, 2009). Therefore, the chances of each such person become much higher, but people are not afraid to risk as they save their families from hunger. It practically means that the poorest residents of the poorest districts are likely to die for the entertainment of the Capitol’s residents. The people living in poverty are the most likely to rebel, thus, the Capitol uses all its power to control and exhaust them.

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The people on the train in the Snowpiercer are different from the Hunger Games citizens. The latter have some hope for a better life guaranteed by the power system even in such a cruel form. On the other hand, the life of train poor residents does not change and they do not see their future. Moreover, the major characters, meaning Curtis and Gilliam, are stimulated to alter something and rebel by notes provided to them in protein barrels. The notes are definitely transmitted from the train’s front and Curtis does not even understand that the train leader, Wilford, manipulates him (Joon-ho & Chan-wook, 2013). In the case of Hunger Games, Katniss made her choices and rebelled in order to save her and Peeta’s live (another tribute from District 12). On the contrary, Curtis has been manipulated from the very beginning. It actually demonstrates that the power system of the train is much stronger, centralized, and more cunning. The train leaders have planned the rebellion on the train, as, despite the fact that the train sizes remain stable, the number of citizens is growing. The revolution allowed lowering the quantity of poor and undesired citizens, offering them a hope and believes that everything can be changed.

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On the other hand, the Capitol’s government has not been ready for Katniss’ trick with poisonous berries. Such authorities’ unpreparedness allowed her to save two lives and stir a wave of revolts across the majority of districts. In order to understand why this innocent trick becomes a problem, it is important to analyze the Hunger Games from the viewpoint of both the Capitol and the Districts. The citizens of the poor districts have always perceived the games a symbol of the Capitol’s power over them. However, when Katniss and Peeta demonstrated that they are ready to die rather than play the game according to the power system’s rules, both characters have undermined the typical social control. It has been the first time when the citizens see that there is another way. That is the major reason Katniss becomes an official symbol of resistance to the Capitol power.

The significant difference between the two revolutions against the established power systems lies in the quantity of oppressed people. It is obvious that a higher quantity of people allowed the majority of districts to transgress their fear of power system and rebel. On the contrary, the number of people revolting against and supporting the train leader was comparatively equal. Nonetheless, both cases demonstrated that regardless of chances and quantity, people are ready to fight their fear and risk their lives in order to change the power system as such. Another difference stands for the fact that Capitol is afraid of the change while the similar change is planned in the Snowpiercer. The Capitol fears to lose control over the districts, which can lead to the government fall. Unlike Panem’s government, Wilford is not afraid of revolution, as he needs a person, who will see the train from the inside and take his place because Wilford is old (Joon-ho & Chan-wook, 2013). Nevertheless, he does not understand that the observed can awake serious emotions and feeling, which will provoke people to ruin the stable totalitarian power system destroying the train itself.

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Overall, revolutions against power systems are a consequence of the residents desiring to alter the manipulating officials. Both pieces of art demonstrated that power system utilized punishment in order to create fear and intensify control over the people. Nevertheless, penalties and complicated conditions of life have a tendency to accrue in people’s souls and minds, which provokes resentment and revolt against the power systems. Power systems cannot constantly control and restrict people and even if the revolt is planned, they are unable to predict the consequences of this revolution.

Writer’s Memo

Dystopian novels and movies assist people in processing their fears concerning how the future might look like. In fact, the future is quite gloomy, as the power system in the face of government is very strict, imposing penalties on all people who marginally violate the law and undermine the power and control of the ruling authorities. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and the Snowpiercer by Bong Joon-ho demonstrate that there is always a limit of permitted power system control. Moreover, these art pieces identify that no fear can actually restrain people from risking their lives in order to destroy the power system as such. People cannot endure harsh system control if they live in poor, improper conditions, suffering from hunger, constant penalties, and limitations of their natural needs. Thus, the two art pieces are utilized to show that societies in both cases became disciplined against their will, requirements, and desires. Therefore, the citizens demonstrated a serious revolt against the power systems. The major purpose of this research paper is to show that there is no such fear, which can constantly restrict and control a person living in terrible unequal conditions. Moreover, the paper demonstrates that even when the society’s power system plans the revolution or some cruel entertainment show for its personal purposes (as limiting the number of poor people and demonstrating its force), it can never control the process of these events. Despite the fact that ordinary people survive, they are made to live under the horrible circumstance, in which their lives do not actually belong to them. In the case of Hunger Games, young people constantly live in a fear of becoming tributes and probably die during the violent games, which stand for the demonstration of Capitol’s power. Quite the reverse, Snowpiercer demonstrates that people have to live in overpopulated cabins, eating disgusting protein blocks and giving away their children to the power system for unknown purposes. The thought that such situation might occur to us in the future cannot leave any person indifferent. Therefore, it was easy to write the paper at once because both literary pieces lift the wave of different feeling and emotions in a process of their reading and viewing.

The paper attempts to show that revolutions against power systems appear majorly when the ordinary society desires to alter the manipulating power system. Both pieces of art vividly revealed that power system utilized control and punishments to create fear and aggrandize its authority over the people. In addition, the paper demonstrates that all penalties, restriction of natural needs, and horrible life conditions have a tendency to accrue in people’s souls and minds. Therefore, when the cup of patience is overflowed, the society forgets about the fear and revolts against the power systems. Consequently, power systems should protect people and not use them for personal purposes.


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