Catching Fire: The Spectacle and the Political Economy of the Senses

Iván Castañeda Screens

Guy Debord’s first three theses from his Society of the Spectacle are quite acutely applicable to The Hunger Games series and in particular in Catching Fire:

  1. In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.
  2. The images detached from every aspect of life fuse in a common stream in which the unity of this life can no longer be reestablished. Reality considered partially unfolds, in its own general unity, as a pseudo-world apart, an object of mere contemplation. The specialization of images of the world is completed in the world of the autonomous image, where the liar has lied to himself. The spectacle in general, as the concrete inversion of life, is the autonomous movement of the non-living.
  3. The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as all of society, as part of society, and as instrument of unification. As a part of society it is specifically the sector which concentrates all gazing and all consciousness. Due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is the common ground of the deceived gaze and of false consciousness, and the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of generalized separation.

The apparatus through which the Spectacle functions in Catching Fire is of course technology itself and its sensual manifestation as mass media spectacle. The seductive power of technofetishism and technophilia, as ingrained in Panem as almost a religion (perhaps)—we have no traditional religion in Panem do we? Which results in a distribution—carefully planned and executed—of sensual pleasure and excitement as a means to control and placate the masses, even those in the Capital itself. Thus: What is the theory of the Spectacle and how does it manifest itself in Catching Fire? What is technofetishism and technophilia and how do these notions apply to Catching Fire? What is the political economy of the senses and how does this notion appear in Catching Fire?

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