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Perspectives That Define the Meaning of Culture: Analysis of Mockingjay – Free Essay Example

Raymond Williams identifies three perspectives that define the meaning of culture – the ideal, documentary, and social. His categories of culture and the political environment in which these categories were drawn are recognizable in The Hunger Games trilogy. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a well-known movie that portrays the cultural and social differences in the country of Panem that consists of the twelve districts and The Capitol. Additionally, all of these areas are presented with identifiable social, political, and economic issues. The movie portrays the idea that the culture is present across all societies and is not unique to a superior class only. Thus, it supports Raymond Williams’ cultural theory.

The ideal category identifies culture as a state of human perfection. In the film, The Capitol exists as an idealistic utopia driven by the desire for perfection. Only the richest and most powerful citizens of Panem live in the Capitol. The city portrays perfectionism through The Capitol’s governing structures, its residents’ physical appearance, social identity, and values. The superiority of this idealistic society is also evident when compared to those living in the twelve districts. While people in The Capitol live in the technologically advanced, perfect city where everyone parties and enjoys life, the Panem citizens from the twelve districts live in poverty and are driven by survival. The city’s tyrannical dictatorship ultimately rules over the country and is comprised of the most powerful people in Panem whose interests and values are absolute. To demonstrate power, The Capitol hosts an annual televised event – the Hunger Games – where the ruthless government selects a boy and a girl from each district to participate in the game. The tributes are between the ages of twelve and eighteen. In the game, they are forced to fight each other to death and those who survive to get to experience a wealthy life at Panem. The relationship between the capital and the districts illustrates the relationship between the dominant societies and the people they oversee. In the Hunger Games movie, the government does not only use power to dominate the districts but also to establish norms and trends within Panem. The film exposes the social, environmental, and economic influences of the authoritarian regime across different societies. For example, the second district has positively adjusted to the Hunger Games by raising children to become warriors and volunteer as tributes in the games. It is evident that this type of governance creates a lot of issues including persisting inequality, discrimination, and the loss of cultural heritage and identity. Thus, the movie demonstrates a flourishing lifestyle for the dominant societies and the inferior environment for people surviving in the districts.

According to Williams, culture, when categorized as the documentary is the written or painted records of human thought and experiences that spread for reference and criticism. The film Catching Fire has several artifacts, which are used to symbolize a human experience. Panem’s national flag, the Hunger Games, and the Mockingjay pin from the twelfth district are the key artifacts of the nation. The country’s flag of a flying eagle holding eight arrows and surrounded by two crops represents the nation’s theme of power and dominance. Additionally, it symbolizes the need for authoritarian governance to establish control as well as social inequality. Additionally, it also symbolizes the previous war between The Capitol and the districts. The nation’s most anticipated annual event, the Hunger Games demonstrates the power, control, and dominance to prevent another potential rebellion plotted and executed by the twelve districts. Furthermore, it ultimately establishes the spirit of insurgency among some of the wealthy citizens and those living in the districts. The Mockingjay pin is a symbol of a bird “with a spirit on its own”. It is a sign of a rebellion and resistance because just like the Mockingjay birds, the district citizens eventually break free of the control of the totalitarian government. Additionally, the pin’s design of a Mockingjay holding an arrow in its beak also symbolizes the rebellion or as Katniss says the “slap in the face to the Capitol” (Shmoop, 2019). Finally, the Mockingjay represents Katniss as the leader of the rebellion who is the Panem’s hero that won the Hunger Games and gave people hope. All in all, it is evident that the film uses various symbolic artifacts that represent historical experiences. The movie Catching Fire allows audiences to identify with its fundamental themes of inequality, marginalization, ethics, humanity, and dignity, which ultimately led to the success of the franchise.

The social category defines culture as an expression of certain meanings and values of a particular way of life. The social perspectives of culture explain how society’s values, interests, and language shape a unique cultural identity. All of Panem’s districts had unique and distinctive cultures. For example, a mass culture of perfectionism was prevalent in the capital city. However, the citizens living in the other twelve districts derived their cultural identities from the nature of their work, their history, and the effects of war. Therefore, the explicit and implicit interpretations of cultural meanings and values should be unique to each individual and society. Additionally, the influence of institutions on behavior and values is evident across all citizens and societies of the country of Panem. Thus, while it may be easy to judge The Capitol citizens in the film, ultimately their behavior and values are defined by The Capitol’s culture that is driven by ideals founded in their institutions. Overall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a phenomenal movie that challenges the existing totalitarian regimes and portrays several issues that societies experience under such governance including injustice, inequality, and violations of human dignity.

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