The Role of Mass Media in The Hunger Games Series

The Hunger Games series is a popular, dystopian young adult book trilogy, written by an American novelist Suzanne Collins, which has had a strong impact on both teenagers and adults. However, one of the main themes, which at first you may not notice right away, is the role of media: what it shows us, what it hides from us and how it can be used to make the most horrible things seem perfectly normal and common. And in that sense, although it is set in the post-apocalyptic world, this media isn’t much different from our own. 

The Hunger Games trilogy portraits a society very much like our own, which is highly influenced by media. However, what needs to be stated is that unlike citizens of Panem, we enjoy much more freedom. While we have many sources of media from which to choose from, those in Panem have one source of mass media: the TV channel run by the Capitol.

Negative sides of mass media in The Hunger Games

As a first example of how Panem controls their citizens through media, we can just look at the Hunger Games itself. Every year, 2 children from all 12 districts are selected via lottery to participate in a death match called The Hunger Games, to honor the rebellion against the Capitol, and this is streamed on TV in every household. This could be observed as a way of capitol saying: this is what we do to you every year and we make you watch it, just imagine what would happen if you were to start a rebellion again. 

Next, we can observe how the capitol uses Peeta to promote the message they want people to hear and see. His interviews are of great importance, considering his popularity with viewers. The Capitol uses broadcasts of Peeta to influence viewers’ attitudes about the war and Katniss, presenting her as, once the favorite of Capitol, now being a dangerous enemy, that doesn’t know what she’s doing. 

Positive sides of mass media in The Hunger Games

Later in the series, when Katniss goes to District 13, they insist on making a series of propos including her as the star of them. You may be wondering why propos, why not do something else? Props are short and they tell a story, and they have the power to engage the listener. When we are listening to a story, we identify with characters and imagine what we would do in their situations. As these props were broadcast in all districts, they had a strong impact on all citizens. 

Another great example of the use of mass media, for the protagonists, can be found in Peeta’s declaration of love for Katniss. They sold the story of star-crossed lovers, and the media gobbled it up to broadcast to the Capitol as the story du jour. In the end, as Haymitch said, it was a great hook that ended up saving their lives.

It is no secret that media is all around us, and that it can be used in both good and bad purposes. However, we are the consumers, and we need to determine what we want and need to trust, because whether we like it or not, it is a fact that it, in a way, controls our lives. 

“The Hunger Games: the media” Shmoop [Online] Available at: [Accessed on: 17 Sep 2020]