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Exploiting Fear

When I first read The Hunger Games series, one of the aspects of the series that resonated with me was the power the government over its people. The President of Panem exploited the fear the citizens had of potential rebels from District 13. Even though the insurrection done by District 13 was years ago and was effectively shut down, he continues to use people’s fear of them to remain in power.

It seems as if the only tactic the President has to keep his position is to continue with “claims made about an enemy that the enemy is an abominable ‘evil.'” (Victor, 10) To emphasize his claims, President Snow holds the Hunger Games, to remind everyone of what happened, and the Capitol’s lack of forgiveness towards the rebels. The Hunger Games contribute to the moral panic by “exaggerat[ing] the numbers of the evildoers and the extent of the threat.” (Victor, 10) The yearly attacks on the districts surrounding the Capitol are “intended to demoralize the enemy… [and] escalate conflict.” (Kurzman, 60) The people in the districts as well as the Capitol don’t truly know what the situation is with District 13, but they’re still afraid because of the information the President presents them with.

Another tactic used by President Snow is “affirmation from sources of legitimate authority” (Victor, 11) that the threat was real. President Snow continuously plays a TV reel that gives updates on the status of the destroyed District 13, reminding people of the fear they felt when the rebellion happened. According to Charles Kurzman, “there is no way to completely debunk fears about massive secret threats” (61) and in the case of Panem, President Snow wants those fears to not only remain, but also be escalated.

The main reason The Hunger Games resonated with me so deeply was the fact that this could happen in today’s world. Maybe not to the same extent, but “moral panics easily lead to government abuses of power” (Victor, 11) and we’ve determined that people’s irrational fear of terrorism is a moral panic. This begs the question, how frequently does our government use the moral panic of terrorism to influence our votes and our opinions? Is it still a moral panic even with the widespread threat of ISIS and other radical groups?

Payton • October 31, 2016

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