The Hunger Games is the ultimate reality television show. It’s the end point for a society that has lost its way, with a government that now punishes its people with a deadly, sickening competion wrapped up as a game show. Entertainment Weekly decided to do a break down of how Suzanne Collins has woven the many stylistic devices of reality TV into her story.
The Makeover: One of the great running subplots on American Idol is the steady Hollywood-ization of the contestants over the course of a season. Remember when Clay Aiken had glasses? Or when Adam Lambert didn’t wear guyliner? Practically the first third of Games focuses on a similar makeover process, including a full-body wax.
The Dress: What’s a makeover without some new clothes? One of Katniss’ closest allies is Cinna, her Alexander-McQueen-esque stylist. In stark contrast to the flighty prep team, Cinna is a semi-heroic figure in Games. Cinna almost seems like a contestant on a fascist version of Project Runway, using Katniss’ outfits as a vehicle to express potentially dangerous ideas.
The Showmance: “Showmance,” in its most cynical definition, refers a fake reality-TV romance created to aid the two contestants’ gameplay. That’s a pretty apt summation of Katniss’ forced flirtation with Peeta in Hunger Games. (Sure, Peeta thinks the romance is real, but as everyone who’s ever watched The Bachelor can attest, a good showmance always needs a sap.)
The All-Star Edition: Catching Fire focuses on the Quarter Quell, a special edition of the Hunger Games, in which former winners come back and compete. Practically every major reality show has had an “All-Stars” edition, but the Quarter Quell most resembles MTV’s Real World/Road Rules Challenge, the mash-up franchise in which old enemies and ex-lovers engage in sub-Wipeout feats of strength.
The Host: Caesar Flickerman is the ageless TV host who interviews all the tributes before they go into the arena. Crazy suits, perma-tan, smile etched in his face: He’s basically Ryan Seacrest in forty years. (Heck, he’s Ryan Seacrest tomorrow.)
So which parts really hit home for you? Is it the way the tributes form alliances that they ultimately know they’re going to have to break as they do in Survivor? Or how about the gifts that get parachuted in to help out the tributes? Do you see that as similar to the little bits of news from home that reality TV contestants sometimes receive as a reward? Jump on board and let us know what you think.
Category: The Books