Amy Stern (bigbrotherreads) wrote,
Amy Stern

Chapter 1

I'm not exactly sure what I'd call this; it's not a close reading, because it's not being used to study the text itself, but nothing else really fits better.

So, I'm going chapter by chapter with not-a-close-reading, taking notes on passages that might work and why, as well as various comments on the book itself if necessary-.

There will be spoilers for the book to that point, as well as spoilers for basically any reality program out there that I think to use.

Also, I am completely abusing LJ's tagging function, in the hopes that it will help the process a bit.

chapter one First of all, the voice used. Present tense brings to mind the immediacy of programs which really are up for grabs- Big Brother and American Idol producers edit the first episode not knowing who will be there at the last. The behind the scenes people have no more knowledge than the audience. And the first person of the narrative works similarly. While the author presumably knows where the book's going, Katniss has no idea, and so the first-person present-tense narration offers the best opportunity for the character's and reader's ignorance to be shared.

(The character, of course, doesn't have the book jacket to look at, or the Horn Book review- but then, none of the people in the Big Brother house know what the season's twist is going to be until they're in the house and it's suddenly sprung on them that someone in the house is their ex-boyfriend, long-lost half-sister, or estranged father.)

"Reaping Day" is the day when everyone's selected. Reality programs have various stages of applying, but it's not in any way random- they want the most possible entertainment per person.

Everyone having a day off for the reaping is a little more tenuous. (Yes, I realize not everything is a direct parallel, but I would rather get all of this out and then narrow it down.) I can only associate with the way that, especially at the height of its popularity (2001ish), unscripted programming has been actual appointment television, and frequently is a TV event. (I'm thinking of Survivor: Australian Outback's first episode airing right after the Superbowl, which is basically the prime-est spot you can get all year. Also, programs like American Idol have completely revitalized some networks' ratings. I need some more accurate stats for the past few weeks but I know it's still doing obscenely well. But it's still not government-mandated, and there are other options.

On the other hand, all the ritual associated with it is very reminiscent of reality programs. Katniss and Gale imitate the tag line of the "auditions" process:

Suddenly he falls into a Capitol accent as he mimics Effie Trinker, the maniacally upbeat woman who arrives once a year to read out the names at the reaping. "I almost forgot! Happy Hunger Games!" He plucks a few blackberries from the bushes around us. "And may the odds-" He tosses a berry in a high arc toward me.

I catch it in my mouth and break the delicate skin with my teeth. The sweet tartness explodes across my tongue. "-be ever in your favor!" I finish with equal verve. (7-8)

At the height of Survivor's success, "The tribe has spoken" reached surreal levels of popularity, even among people who didn't watch the show. It permeated pop culture (note to self: There should be a few things to cite for this in the EW articles in the reality TV folder) and became simply a "known" thing. Same is true of many other shows. Exhibit A: But First (Julie Chen on Big Brother, stolen from, originally posted sometime in 2005 during BB6).

I love this:
The camera crews, perched like buzzards on rooftops, only add to the effect. (16)

It's the first reference to cameras at all in the book, and it's the last line of a paragraph. It's almost offhand. Which works well; it speaks to how acclimated people can get to omnipresent cameras.

Gale and I agree that if we have to choose between dying of hunger and a bullet in the head, the bullet would be much quicker. (17)

Survivor, again.

The rules of the Hunger Games are simple. In punishment for the uprising, each of the twelve districts must provide one girl and one boy, called tributes, to participate. The twenty-four tributes will be imprisoned in a vast outdoor arena that could hold anything from a burning desert to a frozen wasteland. Over a period of several weeks, the competitors must fight to the death. The last tribute standing wins. (18)

It's the basic premise for any unscripted competitive program, although in most of those, rather than "fight to the death" it's more "fight til your friends and allies decide they no longer like you." Given that Survivors have to go back to living in the "real world" after their worst qualities may have been broadcast on national TV (I'm thinking here of Debb Eaton, Survivor: Australia), the shooting might actually be more humane.

...I really need better icons.
Tags: hunger games: chapter 1, hunger games: part 1, reality: applying, reality: catchphrases, reality: post-show, reality: ritual, reality: rituals, reality: survivor: australian outback
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