I feel like I was one of the last people on the planet to be sucked into “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins. For those of you still living under a rock, “The Hunger Games” is a fictional story about the former United States, now renamed Panem. The capitol punishes its citizens for the past rebellion by having one male and one female citizen from each of the twelve districts participate in a fight till you die, televised game called the hunger games.
The participants in the hunger games use strategy and mind games in an attempt to be the last man (or woman) standing. Some form alliances and some use manipulation and mind games in order to toy with the competitors. Love is also used as a weapon in this book, as the two main characters are portrayed to be lovers, so the audience and potential sponsors find them more appealing. Here is a more detailed synopsis.
Using psychological warfare and propaganda isn’t a new way of “psyching out” the enemy. Just look back in any history book and you will find numerous examples. During World War II, the Nazi’s spent a great amount of time and effort trying to convince their own citizens and the world that their ideals and methodologies were not corrupt and inhumane.
The KGB in the former Soviet Union reportedly planted false information in the American media against several standing presidents and added fire to racial tensions by sending fake letters from the Klu Klux Klan to African American families in the southern United States. According to a former KBG operative, the former Soviet Union was also said to have actively used propaganda and misinformation about Martin Luther King, Jr., J. Edgar Hoover, and John F. Kennedy to weaken the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Propaganda and psychological warfare is not limited to other countries. The United States used leaflets dropped with food during “Desert Storm” to persuade Sadam Hussein’s forces to surrender and to disseminate information to the Iraqi people. Posters of “Uncle Sam”
and ‘Rosie the Riveter”
were used as part of the American propaganda campaign during World War II.
While the above examples are part of the past, these events are also in our present. Several media outlets have reported the United States Army used similar methods in an attempt to convince U.S. Senators there was a need for more troops and money during the latest war with Iraq. It is reported that when the Psychological Operations Unit (PSYOPS) assigned the task refused, there was retaliation from those higher up in the chain of command. Those articles can be found here .
So, while the storyline of “The Hunger Games” is fiction, the psychological tactics used are very real. There are many other examples of our country and other countries using similar methods. Look it up and investigate it yourself. What’s the saying, “reality is scarier than fiction?”
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – review (guardian.co.uk)
- In the News: All About “The Hunger Games” (theipl.wordpress.com)
- Patriotism inspired “Rosies” to serve country during war (tbo.com)
- Women in Power: Rosie the Riveter (collegefashion.net)