Cruel Optimism in Mockingjay – Part I

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According to Lauren Berlant, cruel optimism is defined as “a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realization is discovered either to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic.” In The Hunger Games we saw how hope was both manipulated and compromised, on the one hand, by President Snow (through Gamemaker Seneca Crane), and on the other by Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark themselves.

There are various strands of hope and optimism which are then developed in Catching Fire when the performativity of Katniss and Peeta as lovers is seen as a ruse by some of the population who demand “the real message,” which they putatively saw in the spectacle of the 74th Games. In Catching Fire, we see especially how Katniss is caught between her subjective optimism, which must continue to act out the love relationship, and the cruel reality of the consequences of dissent.

In Mockingjay – Part 1 the issue of hope and optimism is further complicated by the seemingly real hope of revolution—or is it? The issue is perhaps between the individual hope of Katniss and her family, Katniss and Gale Hawthorne, Katniss and Peeta as opposed to the collective cruel optimism of the revolution itself. Arguably, in Mockingjay – Part 1 the game becomes more “real.” There are the problematic characters President Alma Coin, Plutarch Heavensbee and Finnick Odair. Where do they stand in the spectrum of cruel optimism?

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  1. Cruel optimism is a very flexible topic in which subjectivity is key; each person has their own idea of what is considered "hope" and optimism, but in Mockingjay Part 1, the idea is that their hopes will be ultimately unfulfilled, or crushed. There were many opportunities, both crucial and non-important; to name a few there was when Katniss wanted to help all of the refugees in the hospital and that they would all survive only to find out that bombing planes had been sent to level their locations. This event only draws out the fire in her heart to give aid the helpless, but she was incapable of saving them. An important instance of this idea throughout the movie was the hope that Peeta was safe, unharmed, and normal. This dream was crushed due to the fact that he had been poisoned, tortured, and almost killed Katniss, although he was alive and that somewhat comforted one of Katniss’ wishes. The very symbol of the Mockingjay was a small hope people had carried throughout Panem despite the law forbidding it. For the people of Panem, this small hope in opposition would lead most of them to their death, but would also lead a very few of them to revolution. Occurences like this have too many participating for there not to be small victories and progress, so there is some reality to the people’s hope, while all else is cruel optimism.

    As for problematic characters like Heavenbee and Coin, they simply stir up the people (or are trying to) in the hopes of getting their morale high enough to revolt, but they are not making much progress with constant attacks from the Capital that render them defenseless, so their speeches hold little practicality.

    I can see how this relates to reality and today’s society; Cruel optimism is just people playing by the rules, within the system of government. There are many limitations, but it is possible that anyone can find their own liberation towards success.

    -Gino Bretana

    1. One thing to add, I find this situation in Mockingjay Part 1 to be much like the French Revolution in that there is small hope that the revolution will be successful in that the message will get through and people will understand what is going on, despite all the blood spilled and lives lost in the chaotic process.

  2. Since the end of the last hunger games a rebellion has started, the games are destroyed, Peeta is missing Katniss is messed up and the rise of the mocking jay is about to start. To understand cruel optimism we need to know what it means, cruel is evil, has no reason to do it and nasty and optimism nothing is going to happen it’s a false hope. Throughout the Mockingjay part 1 we see a lot of cruel optimism toward Katniss mainly from Panem. The games have clearly taken toll on Katniss in the beginning of the movie President Coin is talking with Plutarch and they need Katniss to be the mockingly, she is reluctant to accept, seems like she might have PTSD? Plutarch says we should make it personal for her and remind who the enemy is and to show her what happened in district 12. In president snows first speech to the districts he say each district is a contract and in return for your services you get order and security in return, but it’s a contract that you can’t get out of and if you resist you will pay the ultimate price, to show how serious he is he has 3 people executed in front of people in the district. Panem uses cruel optimism by giving Katniss hope during Peeta speech this is the first time she see him since the games but also turns the people of district 13 against him by saying war is bad, lay down your weapons, and calls for a ceasefire, Peeta is clearly being brainwashed into saying this. I think the bombing of the hospital in district 8 was the turning point in the movie the government bombed it just because Katniss was there knowing full well that he would be killing innocent men women and children, they did that to get to Katniss that anyone who talks to her will be dealt with. When Gale returns to district 12 with Peeta he goes to where they bombed district 12 and said only 915 of 10,000 people survived they were standing where they first kissed, gale is pain and this is the only way to get her attention. When Panem bombs district 13 and leave the white roses they did that just to get to Katniss. Once Gale returns with Peeta from the capital Katniss visit him in hospital and he turns on her and tries to kill her but is saved. Plutarch says he had tracker jack venom in him and that panem had been using high jacking fear conditions to torture him, they also were beating to break down memories. Panem did this so they could kill Katniss, Plutarch said this is new terrain and he is optimistic that he can save him. Panem is using mind games to mess with Katniss by brainwashing Peeta. It seems that both governments use cruel optimism well to get what they want. It will be interesting to see what happens next to Katniss in part 2?.
    -Edward Steffen

  3. Cruel optimism is a unique kind of pain. It is the feeling of watching all that you desire hang over your head, but knowing that it is out of reach. In the Hunger Games, Panem was faced with cruel optimism. Katniss, being the one thrown into the spotlight in the midst of a rebellion, was conflicted with forms of cruel optimism from a majority of the people around her, and from herself.

    When a person has a lot of power over you, it is easy for that person to have control the outcomes of your situations. That person has the ability to direct your actions and decide your rewards. But with ill intentions and selfish motives, that person may never gratify your hard work. This is how President Snow treats the people of the Capitol. He controls the districts by giving them hope of a safe and happier Panem, and also convinced them a rebellion would worse. This is a clear example of cruel optimism. Snow is misleading the districts to believe following him is the way towards happiness, but in actuality he cares of nothing more than his own self interest.

    However towards Katnis, Peeta and Finnick, Snow’s form of cruel optimism is more personal. He gives these character ultimatums: leaving them the choice between acting how he wants, or losing everyone they care about. However he does not kill Gale (Katniss’ love) or Annie (Finnick’s love) right away, not even in spite, because he intends to use them to his advantage. As a type of twisted motivation method, Snow leaves them with the idea of being happy with their loved ones once again. He wants them believing if they all do what he wants he go, even though that is most likely untrue.

    Although Snow was able abuse his power for a while in Panem, the districts began to find hope in Katniss’ stubborn and resistant personality toward him. Katniss began to been seen as a symbol for the rebellion. Although she never intended to start a following, she now had all eyes of Panem watching her. This is when characters, Coin and Heavensbee, took place as her so called advisors. They were trying to help Katniss into the "right direction" with the rebellion. However, despite her age Katniss knew better than to be easily swayed or gullible. Coin had to put some effort into earning Katniss’ trust. By doing so Coin had to make promises she could not, or was not willing, to keep. Coin was also power driven, similarly to Snow, and would use Katniss as puppet if she were able to. Coin was fighting for the side of the rebellion, but was revealing her true character by using cruel optimism for personal gains.

    Katniss was also no superhero. There were times she was selfish, wanted to protect her own and wanted nothing to do with the rebellion. But this was just her human nature. She faced self imposed cruel optimism by keeping the hope she could run away and be happy with everyone she loved. As lovely as the thought sounds, it was just not possible for Katniss; she knew this as well. But perhaps, if she did not so longingly wish it were true, she would not feel as much loss and better decide how to handle the situation she was in.

    In the Hunger Games, and like usual, everybody wants what they can’t have. But it is necessary that to be aware of cruel optimism. It is important that you can sort through the real promises versus empty ones, and separate realistic goals from unreachable ones.

  4. “Cruel,” in the Oxford dictionary is defined as, “willfully causing pain or suffering to others, or feeling no concern about it.” For example, in The Hunger Games, the Capitol changed the rules to allow two winners and later changed the rules again to allow only one winner.

    Optimism means hope, hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something: something better tomorrow than today. In The Hunger Games, people want to have a better life and food to eat.

    The two words cruel optimism do not sound like they should be together. Cruel optimism is when you have hope, but it is not going to happen. When it is not going to happen, it is a false hope. Cruel optimism is the conditions that humans would have and in The Hunger Games, the people in the Districts suffer even more. Life is under the Capitol. Is there hope in the Districts? Yes, in the rebellion and even in desperation, the rebels still have hope.

    Cruel optimism is self-feeding mechanism. It is a vicious cycle and the sense that even when something is bad, there is still a flicker of hope. In The Hunger Games, this is a mechanism to keep people going. The Hunger Games itself is cruel optimism that the winner does not die and will bring food to his/her District from the Capitol. The winners think that they do not have to be in the Hunger Games again. Wrong! President Snow announced the 75th year of the Hunger Games because of the uprising and defeat of the rebellion, reminding that the strongest cannot overcome the power of the Capitol and that the male and female victors are to be reaped on reaping day. This is cruel optimism that the winners have to fight to survive all over again.

    Cruel optimism is pretty obvious in Mockingjay-Part I, especially in District 8 when Katniss Everdeen, as the Mockingjay, went to visit the people that were bombed by the Capitol in the hospital, which is a converted warehouse. The injured citizens of District 8 – men, women and children showed joy at the sight and sound of Katniss. Katniss was the inspiration and hope for them, and soon after Katniss left the hospital, they were re-bombed by the Capitol. District 8 was an apocalyptic destruction.

    In Mockingjay-Part I, there were some changes in the structure of the government. There is a new dynamic power economy between President Snow and the people. Katniss and Peeta were caught between the government and the people. President Alma Coin’s outlook and behavior is like a Communist leader, she talks and even look like communist wearing the same uniform like the rest of District 13 citizens. It is significant that President Coin is a woman. District 13 seemed like a communist structure. Everybody has a role and is treated equally from portion of food to the clothes. Everybody was issued the same gray uniform (shirt and pants) and shoes. This new structure is a metaphor for the communist government. This is a collective government. Now, subjectivity is collective and people have to give up individualism for the cause. Communist leaders, pressure the people by using collective language, such as “we or us for the cause” with lots of lying and deception. It is a classic totalitarian ideology that it is all right to lie for the collective cause. For example, Katniss was not told that she was the Mockingjay for the rebellion as it is for the cause. Katniss needs to help, as she is important to the cause. It is one system of government taking over another system of government.

    In Mockingjay-Part-I, cruel optimism sort of fits into the dynamics between Katniss and Gale Hawthorne as there are some instances their relationship does not seem right together and some instances, they would be good together. Gale is strong, dependable, very good and moral person and he is all for the cause.

    In Mockingjay-Part-I, Plutarch Heavensbee served under President Alma Coin and was instrumental and sort of the main driving force behind the affairs of the rebellion. He is duplicitous and he is subtle with his intentions. He does have an effect and relationship with President Coin, Katniss, Gale, etc. He knows how to use people’s strength for the cause of the rebellion. He is the “King Maker.”

    In Mockingjay-Part I, Finnick Odair was a broken man having gone through two Hunger Games, used by President Snow, and his only love, Annie Cresta, being taken by the Capitol to punish him. In spite of the cruelty he had faced, there was still the optimism that he held on to for Annie and the cause. He is a good soldier and he works towards the cause.

    In Mockingjay-Part I, Beetee Latier is a smart, high technological genius, and he is all for the cause. His character is a very good and moral person.

    In Ideology An Introduction by Terry Eagleton, the statement, “Ideologies are often thought, more specifically, to be unifying, action-oriented, rationalizing, legitimating, universalizing and naturalizing” would apply to Mockingjay-Part I communist structure.

    In conclusion, in Mockingjay-Part I, people do have hope and optimism, and they kept fighting for a better life. If people do not have hope and optimism, we would all have committed suicide and died. Hope and optimism is what human nature thrives at.

    ~ Yit Wong-Walsh

  5. Cruel optimism, it can be argued, is a core function of life in Panem, particularly in the poorer Districts. We as viewers are supposed to presume that the people in the ‘better’ Districts are exposed to this concept less often, but that is very likely not the case. We are provided with only sketchy knowledge about the other Districts, and that mostly in terms of the goods they produce or their attitudes towards their Tributes. With the Capitol as the All-Father personified in President Snow, we are also supposed to presume that every District is valued equally in the semi-paternal Capitol/Districts configuration. For the most part, we are shown that this is NOT true. Despite whatever ‘advantages’ the ‘more important’ Districts might have, they are still required to submit Tributes. President Snow does not in truth play favorites, despite appearances to the contrary. Also important is the system by which families can get ‘additional’ food, for the low cost of a greater chance of being selected as a Tribute in the next Reaping. This is a prime example of cruel optimism: Your family will survive long enough to be broken apart by the next Reaping. It changes the ‘might be Reaped’ to ‘almost certainly will be Reaped’. It is hope on the one hand (hope of survival) and dashed hope on the other(your child will more than likely be a Tribute at the next Reaping). Hope is offered and taken away almost in the same motion. This same display is carried out in every District, ‘favored’ or not.

    The alternative government offered by President Coin is, in its own way another example of cruel optimism. On the one hand, the ever-distant promise of an end to the Hunger Games and to President Snow. On the other, the new government will be forced to do equally terrible things in order to secure and maintain its newfound authority. It’s not so much a removal as a replacement. The hope of change from something bad to something better never fully appears, it’s always just out of sight over that next hill. This terrible act will be the last one..until circumstances dictate that something more terrible must be done. What’s more, the leadership of the rebellion isn’t exposing itself to direct danger, most of the time. The heavy lifting is done by the ’empowered’ citizens of the Districts. President Coin doesn’t quote Jefferson or Stalin, but they would have much to discuss. ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants’ is as true in Panem as it was to Jefferson, and Coin subscribes to the idea of ‘the State above all’.

    1. I like how you brought up the notion of their families surviving to be destroyed at the next reaping. I’m not sure I agree with you however about the part where you said the alternative government offered by president Coin is another form of cruel optimism. I don’t think President Coin has any intention to do "equally terrible things", because she never intentionally sacrificed the well being of anyone in her district for the greater good. The missions that were executed from what I remember atleast, were "volunteer only". However, I’m not discrediting you because I see where you’re coming from with those assumptions.

      1. That’s a fair point — I may not have been as clear as i could have been. I got the impression that Coin is as ruthless in her own way as Snow is. While she may talk about the sacrifices being made on behalf of a new government and new tomorrow, at the end of the day I don’t think she is counting the individual sacrifices and feeling much remorse over the actions she’ll have to take; Coin has a Goal and that is what matters to her.

  6. As the saga of the Hunger Games progresses into Mocking Jay Part 1, the dynamic changes drastically. No longer are the games confined within an arena as we see them transition from a micro level into a macro level. A notion of cruel optimism plagues every character as they are forced to deal with their problems in circumstances that would be objectively considered hopeless. By definition, cruel optimism means false hope or encouragement to achieve something unachievable, or prevent something unpreventable. We see many examples of where cruel optimism affects the characters throughout the story. Katniss Everdeen in particular is crushed multiple times by cruel optimism. The situation with district 8 and the hospital would be a perfect example of one. Her mission was to visit district 8 in order to invigorate them however, in a way she was unknowingly bestowing upon them a heavy dose of cruel optimism. After her visit to the hospital, the capital sent a fleet to district 8 to annihilate everyone. The entire hospital was destroyed along with everyone in it. However as the buildings were crumbling and being bombed, Katniss was determined to rescue everyone, in a sense she found hope where there was none and fell victim to cruel optimism.
    President Snow, the antagonist in the story, in my opinion is the king of cruel optimism. He has been able to manipulate everyone for a long time and in doing so has been able to maintain his power and position. Finnick Odair said it best when he was jamming the capitals frequency and describing how President Snow was able to rise to power and keep it. His answer was “one word, poison”, he meant it in the literal sense of the word, but I believe cruel optimism can also be considered a kind of “poison”. Snow forced Finnick Odair into prostitution after his victory in the 65th hunger games because many influential people close to Snow were fond of him. President Snow threatened to kill anyone close to Odair if he refused. In a way I believe this is another example of cruel optimism because while president snow isn’t killing away any of Finnick’s loved ones he is still forced to be a prostitute indefinitely. He was forced against a wall with nowhere to turn because he was enslaved by cruel optimism or in other words, an unescapable outcome.

  7. As the saga of the Hunger Games progresses into Mocking Jay Part 1, the dynamic changes drastically. No longer are the games confined within an arena as we see them transition from a micro level into a macro level. A notion of cruel optimism plagues every character as they are forced to deal with their problems in circumstances that would be objectively considered hopeless. By definition, cruel optimism means false hope or encouragement to achieve something unachievable, or prevent something unpreventable. We see many examples of where cruel optimism affects the characters throughout the story. Katniss Everdeen in particular is crushed multiple times by cruel optimism. The situation with district 8 and the hospital would be a perfect example of one. Her mission was to visit district 8 in order to invigorate them however, in a way she was unknowingly bestowing upon them a heavy dose of cruel optimism. After her visit to the hospital, the capital sent a fleet to district 8 to annihilate everyone. The entire hospital was destroyed along with everyone in it. However as the buildings were crumbling and being bombed, Katniss was determined to rescue everyone, in a sense she found hope where there was none and fell victim to cruel optimism.

    President Snow, the antagonist in the story, in my opinion is the king of cruel optimism.  He has been able to manipulate everyone for a long time and in doing so has been able to maintain his power and position.  Finnick Odair said it best when he was jamming the capitals frequency and describing how President Snow was able to rise to power and keep it.  His answer was “one word, poison”, he meant it in the literal sense of the word, but I believe cruel optimism can also be considered a kind of “poison”.  Snow forced Finnick Odair into prostitution after his victory in the 65th hunger games because many influential people close to Snow were fond of him.  President Snow threatened to kill anyone close to Odair if he refused.  In a way I believe this is another example of cruel optimism because while president snow isn’t killing away any of Finnick’s loved ones he is still forced to be a prostitute indefinitely.  He was forced against a wall with nowhere to turn because he was enslaved by cruel optimism or in other words, an unescapable outcome.
    1. "Snow forced Finnick Odair into prostitution after his victory in the 65th hunger games because many influential people close to Snow were fond of him. President Snow threatened to kill anyone close to Odair if he refused. In a way I believe this is another example of cruel optimism because while president snow isn’t killing away any of Finnick’s loved ones he is still forced to be a prostitute indefinitely. He was forced against a wall with nowhere to turn because he was enslaved by cruel optimism or in other words, an unescapable outcome."

      I found this statement interesting, yet confusing. I did not know that President Snow forced Finnick into prostitution, based on the non-sexual type of society Panem was. Also, I’m not sure if Cruel Optimism would fit in this scenario. President Snow’s actions were indeed very cruel. However, I’m not sure if it’s optimistic at the same time. I probably missed your point, if you can, it would be great if you could elaborate on this statement a little more. 🙂

  8. The issue of hope and optimism become more complicated as the possibility of a revolution becomes real. This creates a complicated issue, since President Snow has kept hope in a controlled state. With the possibility of revolution, hope is outside of the control of President Snow, so President Snow takes drastic measures to suppress the rebel movement. The issue of hope applies to both individual characters and the collective efforts of the rebel movement.
    At the individual level, we see cruel optimism in individuals as well as in the rebel collective. The relationship between Katniss and Peeta has become very complex. In Mocking Jay, There are multiple exchanges between Katniss and Peeta through videos. Katniss tries to show the tyranny of the government of Panem, while Peeta is warning everyone that the rebel collective will cause the deaths of many. Through this exchange, it is seen how Katniss hopes and almost believes that Peeta is acting against his will. Other people see Peeta as a traitor but not Katniss. At times even Katniss questions herself because she can see that there is something odd about peeta, but even still she believes that Peeta is acting against his will. Once Peeta is rescued, it turns out he has been brainwashed and was acting willingly.
    In addition, cruel optimism is seen manifesting in Gale. Throughout the movie, it is questionable whether Katniss loves Peeta or Gale. It is clear that Gale loves Katniss, but one part of him believes that Katniss loves him back. The other part can see that Katniss loves Peeta. On many occasions Katniss reassured Gale that her romance with Peeta was only a strategy to survive, but with the way Katniss acted towards Peeta away from the cameras it was becoming questionable to Gale. Still a part of Gale still has hope that Katniss loves him.
    At the Collective level, cruel optimism is manifested with the possibility of the revolution. Although, the possibility of a revolution is becoming real. It can still be impossible. The amount of control the government and President Snow have is immense. The possibility of the failure of the revolution is very real. This same example can be viewed with respect to the government of Panem. President Snow believes that he will crush the rebel collective, but he also knows that the possibility of a revolution is real.
    The Issue of hope becomes complicated at both individual and collective level because in order to disable the rebel collective some key symbols must be taken out. The most important symbol is the mocking jay, which is Katniss. Katniss became a fuel source for hope in the rebel collective. President Snow knows this so, his plan is to crush Katniss. Once Katniss is gone it will be easier to control hope again. President Snow has been using surveillance as a tool for a long time. This makes him be able to peek at the rebel’s weaknesses. He saw that Katniss and Peeta have a complicated relationship. Knowing this, President Snow uses Peeta as a weapon to crush Katniss’ hope and ultimately to try to kill her. The issue of hope is complicated on both levels. To reach the collective level, the individual level of hope must be first compromised.

  9. The idea of Cruel Optimism is to give false hope. Politically, it can be a way to optimistically lure people to achieve an end goal, or to simply maintain a system. In the beginning of the Hunger Games, cruel optimism was used as a tactic to control the people of Panem. This was a way to brainwash people to have an optimistic outlook towards the hunger games. From the vivid details of the arena and the precise physical decor on every tribute, it exhibits an attractive and positive mindset of the games. Furthermore, the Capitol makes the tributes feel special, by popularizing them through media and pampering them with extensive care. At the end, the winners of every hunger game are promised wealth and status. Although the games are very much cruel, and inhumane where tributes have to murder one another. It is yet optimistically carried out at the same time. Another example of optimism are the personality traits of Effie and Caesar Flikerman. Effie has to present herself as an optimistic and cheerful district escort. Flikerman has to exaggerate himself (both verbally and physically) to stir up excitement from the crowd. Even though it is staged, there is an obvious sense of fake optimism. Overall, this form of fake optimism in the Hunger games allowed President Snow to maintain the districts. President Snow specifically states, "Hope is the only thing stronger than fear." Overall, President Snow tries to suppress hope by using the annual hunger games as a reminder.

    In Mokingjay part one, President Alma Coin used tactics of manipulation and cruel optimism to enforce a rebellion against the Capitol. For example, President Alma Coin sends Katniss to visit the remaining people in district 8. Due to the Capitol’s advanced surveillance, the building of the crippled civilians was automatically bombed and destroyed. It is ironic that President Alma sent out a camera crew, and targeted an area of people who were injured. However, it is obvious that President Alma purposely did this to eliminate the injured, and to make Katniss’s blood boil over the Capitol. Cruel Optimism comes into play, when Katniss is (3-finger hand sign applauded) by district 8, this scene demonstrates a sign of optimistic hope and support. It is cruel, because they died within two minutes, and it is likely that President Alma allowed it to happen. The death of district 8 is a symbol of sacrifice, after siding with Katniss and the revolution they sacrificed their subjectivity to join the collective movement.

    ~ Soriya

  10. Cruel optimism, and the pervasiveness of false hope, is exemplified by one of Snow’s quotes from the original Hunger Games: “Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.”

    That economization of hope is more applicable, however, to the pre-revolutionary Panem. In Mockingjay, District 13 and the rebellion seem to pose a legitimate threat to the Capitol’s regime. They clearly don’t have an advantage over the Capitol, but have enough to shake the foundation.

    Although it isn’t made explicit, I’d argue that Snow is acutely aware of this, more so than the rebels even actually believe it. However, Snow also understands that revolution grows within the soil of hope. Therefore, he must plant the seeds of doubt, and morph a difficult possibility into a cruel optimism. Then, a cruel optimism into a complete doubt, a complete doubt into an impossibility. He must make the rebellion wither from within their own hearts and mind, and make the cost heavier than the payoff. Turn the whole revolution into a kind of pyrrhic endeavor, especially for Katniss. Snow does this a myriad of ways.

    With Katniss, one of the more prominent methods of creating a “cruel optimism” was to prey upon her relationship with Peeta. One definition of cruel optimism is to turn an obstacle into a desire, and a desire into an obstacle. The Capitol uses Peeta to spout anti-rebellion rhetoric, using his love and concern for her to dissuade her desire for revolution. And seeing that Katniss is the symbol of the revolution, any erosion of her will serves the Capitol’s ends. They further dangle Peeta in front of her, forcing her to grapple with what’s more important: Peeta, or the revolution? When she tries to have both, they weaponize Peeta, literally turning him against her. If that doesn’t kill her, it definitely shakes her. Snow’s modus operandi, his way of disseminating cruel optimism, is consistent throughout the series: Katniss wants one thing, so he takes another thing away from her.

    They do something similar with Finnick, prey upon his relationship with his wife, Annie. As long as she remains in danger, the Capitol has a trump card over him. They really only “allow” her escape as collateral; give District 13 a small victory, lure them into belief, but crush them afterwards. Furthermore, Annie’s escape was necessary in order to unleash the “hijacked” Peeta upon Katniss.

    Beyond the interpersonal level, another obvious example is the bombing of District 8. Katniss tries to stand for something, act as a beacon of hope, so the Capitol utterly decimates the hospital, just as he did District 12. The seeds of doubt grow, the Capitol encroaches closer towards the things Katniss cares about. One can only wonder until her family itself will be in the line of fire.

    On the other side, there is also cruel optimism employed by Plutarch and President Coin. Considering that I haven’t read the books, their true motives and righteousness are still ambiguous to me. There are undoubtedly some totalitarian, communistic, militaristic tones. But besides that, they’re waging a war that might very well be unwinnable, or too costly. But they seem to believe in their cause enough, have enough optimism to endure. Whether it will turn out to be a false or cruel optimism remains to be seen. What rays of hope they do see are deftly eclipsed by the Capitol. So, to try to fan this flame of revolution, they recruit Katniss with a cruel optimism: save the world, save your family, save Peeta. But by trying to save it all, Katniss very well may lose everything she loves. Plutarch and the President are aware of this, so they try to quell those doubts. Snow is aware of it, so he toys with those fears.

    Ultimately, revolution is a possibility in Panem. But the question is, at what cost? And are the revolutionaries willing to pay that cost? If no, then the revolution dies. If yes, the revolution may or may not be successful. But will anything worth fighting for still stand?

    • Brian Oliver
    1. Brian,

      I highly agree with the last statement you made " But will anything worth fighting for stand?" I believe not, because the people who are fighting during this revolution are putting everything they have and everyone they love at cost. But the fight itself will be worth it because at least the rebels including President Snow has been defeated if that turns out to be the case.


  11. Cruel Individually means evil, or the cause of suffering to others. Causing someone pain for no particular reason. Optimism means hope. Having hope for the future or even when an individual is in a bad situation. These two words put together make Cruel Optimism which is basically fake hope in more simple terms. Hope that is barely there, but you still hope.

    Cruel Optimism takes a huge part in the Hunger Games, specially in Mocking Jay Part 1. Katness happens to be a main victim of cruel optimism because she is given cruel optimism by Hevensbee and President Coin almost everyone around her so that she gives the people of the district "Hope", which we know is cruel optimism. Katness and Gale give each other the cruel optimism that after the rebellion is finished they will be together and happy. However, this is questionable because Gale is not completely convinced that Katness only loves him. He knows that Katness feels something for Peeta as well but he is giving himself Cruel Optimism that she is just acting for the games.

    Katness and Peeta both give themselves cruel Optimism that they will save one another, but the reality is one of them will have to die. We see in Mocking Jay Part 1 that Peeta has been taken control of and he is turned against Katness, and Katness is giving herself the cruel optimism that she can fix him or bring him back to normal. Coin and Havensbee are the ones giving katness cruel optimism by making the game much personal to her and making her the mocking jay. The people of the district including Odair are given so called "hope" by the mocking jay.

    If it is not obvious, President Coin and Hevensbee are giving themselves Cruel Optimism that they will win the rebellion by making Katness the mocking Jay. As a whole, It seems that Cruel Optimism is moving in a circle throughout the Movie.

    -Shamela Qazei

    1. I missed to mention that, President Coin and Hevensbee wanted to make the Game and the rebellion personal to Katness and it surely turned personal. Now the president is not just running a game but he has chosen Katness as his main target. Which gives him the cruel optimism that if he gets rid or katness or weakens her then he will take all of the districts hope for anything.

      1. These are terribly written posts with even the characters’ names misspelled. If you are not going to be engaged with the material like all the other people on this awesome site please do not post anything. This is not some Blackboard chatroom.

  12. Cruel Optimism is simply false hope.
    The whole system in the hunger game is build around cruel optimism. In the movie everything is controlled by snow except their ability to hope. Hevensbee and president Coin see hope in katness and they use it in their advantage to win the rebellion against the capital. When Katness is chosen to be the mocking jay in a sense she becomes everyone’s hope and gives them cruel optimism. Cruel Optimism in the Hunger Games is similar to all of the characters including Finnick, Hevensbee, and Coin, of course Katness. Their loved ones are used against them and once their loved ones are taken away, not from all but certain characters, then they have the cruel optimism to win and beat down President snow who is the one taking their all away from them.

    Finnick lost her granny and got her sister rescued which was his fear if anything bad happened to her and he had the cruel optimism of her survival. We do not see Havensbee’s family but his position in the game did not satisfy him because he came to learn the truth and he gained the cruel optimism to stop the games. Same with President Coin, who teamed up with Hevensbee for the same mission.

    Katness on the other hand is surrounded with cruel optimism because she turns to being the hope for the people of the district. Her relationship with Peeta is used to give her cruel optimism to saving Peeta when it has come to Peeta being turned into a poison against Katness. At the end we question what will be the last thing that gives any of the characters Cruel Optimism, or will cruel optimism fade away after encountering all of the troubles.

    1. I agree in relation to what cruel optimism is in relation to being false hope. I also think so far from the Hunger Games movies this notion has been one of the continuing links or ties between all the movies so far – of all the notions and ideologies we studied this semester (ideology itself, subjectivity, moral vs./and state apparatus etc.,) one notion that has been continued to be replayed throughout various scenarios, situations has been the element of hope and it’s relation to the reality of the given situation in which you are examining the potential for hope thus cruel optimism and the debate to what is gained and what is lost.

  13. The entire spectacle between the rebels primarily in district 13 and the capital are about setting out the most convincing propaganda to rally support to their cause. Katniss IS the optimism for the people of Panem. She is the symbol of hope and change. She is what gives the citizens of the district the courage and hope to strike out at the peace makers and the capital. The cruelty is how the capital is punishing her for every move she makes by bombing hospitals or bombing loved ones. Peeta was simply in a bad situation and didnt have any optimism after his brain washing, which just added to the self-inflicted cruelty katniss has dealt herself for feeling responsible for Peeta’s fate. Katniss received the brunt end of that blow.

    While their reasons differ slightly, the other new characters in Mockingjay are fighting roughly for the same cause. President Coin is out for revenge for herself as well as her people (the rebels). Because of the conditions they (the rebels) are forced to live in, she lost her family and now drives all her anger towards leading the revolution. The cruel optimism is that even should she liberate Panem, she will still be short a family. Despite this, she continues to give hope and lead the revolution. Heavensbee is still a mystery to me. He has the air of a sly politician who can masterfully manipulate events to work out in his favor. Heavensbee puts a lot of stock and faith in Katniss to be the symbol of the revolution, which has played out wonderfully thus far. Finnick fights in hope of one day first being able to release Annie, his wife, and releasing a repressed Panem from the capital. All of these people are optimistic in that they will be able to bring down the capital. The Cruel reality is that they will probably lose their lives in the process.

    Haymitch to me seems to the be cynical realist of the crew. Sober now he has a bleak outlook on whats going on around him but see’s thing for what they are, not what the could be. An example would be how he noted that no matter how much they wanted it, Katniss could never just act and stir peoples emotions, that she had to be out in the field, caught up in the moment.

    Lastly, despite during Catching Fire, where we see how forced Katniss and Peetas relation has to be to keep appearances up at the capital and in the other districts, the relationship between them evolves into something more than it was. And while Katniss still is in love with Gale, she now has feelings on some scale for Peeta as well.

  14. Cruel optimism is a contradictory term.
    Cruelty is causing pain, suffering with no reason. It is torture, done on purpose, to get satisfaction.
    Optimism is to hope for something better tomorrow than today. Hope for fantasias of the "good life" allows people to live for the future, to go through day-to-day life even when it becomes unlivable.
    Even in desperate situations, there is still hope. Hope is needed, worth to fight for.
    Optimism transforms people. In the "Impossible Dream" of Man of La Mancha, Don Quixote/Cervantes (a failed playwright and a civil servant put in jail by the 16th century Spanish Inquisition) says he would rather "dream the impossible dream", of his desire to leave the world a better place, and of his fight for freedom. Aldonza, the whore, at the end of the show, believes in his dreams and transforms herself into Dulcinea. There is a return to the innocence of childhood and children are the great symbol of optimism (Berlant).
    Cruel optimism is when it is false hope, a promise not kept, or taken away after it has been promised to you to do the job. People get depressed, feel hopeless , become angry (fired employees come back to kill their employers, supervisors for false hope).
    People are under the power of rich people who run the company. Wanting a better job keeps you going, hoping to do better than others, to move forward (it is their promise to you) but you are not. You are disappointed, thinking "what is the point of all these efforts", get discouraged, and you might end up to be fired. There is no job security anymore and sometimes people are hired, promoted, not because they are smart, knowledgeable but because they can be manipulated, corrupted easily
    The cruel reality is that you will not feel loved until you get a job because without one, you have no life (Berlant). The "hold on and wait; it will get better" vicious cycle needs to be taught that it is not impossible to change.

    In the Hunger Games, hope is manipulated, contained.
    The annual game between the tributes of the twelve Districts is the game of cruel optimism.
    To bring more food to their district, to become celebrities, they have first to sacrifice themselves. It is to die or to win. The chance to die is much greater than to win. The Games are violent, lethal but they are proud to participate, hoping to win.
    Cruel optimism was also applied when Snow/Seneca changed the rule from one winner to two winners from the same District then back to one winner. Snow wants to punish/eliminate Katniss for her defiance.
    In Catching Fire, Snow threatens to harm her family and friends if she doesn’t help to calm down the Districts. Unaware of the symbol she represents, she fuels the rebellion. Snow announced the Quarter Quell (the 75th Hunger Games) in which Katniss and Peeta have to compete against the past victors. It is cruel optimism because the past winners thought they can enjoy their celebrity life and bring benefits to their districts; instead of that, they are going to get killed again if they don’t win (Johanna’s protest).
    In Mockingjay, a bomb was dropped to kill the children and another,after Katniss left, killing Prim (Katniss’ sister) but this time by President Coin to portray Snow as barbaric.
    A totalitarian government replaces the dictatorial one (a different ideology).
    President Coin, a woman, advised by Plutarch (he is a game king, very duplicitous) kills to win. She also plans to have the Games with the Capitol’s children competing (same cruel optimism).
    The new government uses the collective language about the movement, the cause, for all of us (practiced in Russia and China by the Communist party) to gain support of the Districts. They lie for the cause (even Gale but he is a true believer of the cause). They don’t act for the Districts’ welfare but for their interests (Coin, Plutarch). The result of the rebellion is worse than before like with the French Revolution in 1789 and the Russian Revolution in 1917. There is so much destruction (apocalypse)
    Katniss is cynical about everything; she is not naive or dupe. She is self-sufficient, self-reliant. She is realist, knows the truth and realizes that the world cannot be trusted (showing in her attitude "I told you so").
    She is no hero and she longed for the happy days with her mother and sister, now dead but she accepts the facts, the new structure. She is already mourning.

    Lan Tran-Trong

  15. Cruel Optimism is more of a feeling than an action, and it is a kind of feeling that brings more pain than satisfaction. It is a pain of encouragement to be stronger and fight for a better tomorrow. However, what is unclear to the victims is that there might never be a sorrow-less tomorrow because cruel optimism is nothing but false hope. Cruel optimism is a continuous inhuman and evil cycle in The Hunger Games and when the people of the Districts have lost everything including food, aid, and shelter they still find hope to help them survive.

    Every aspect of The Hunger Game, Catching Fire, and Mocking Jay – Part 1 consist of Cruel Optimism, because the game itself is pure cruel optimism. However, the cruelty in the optimism continues to increase in each part. The game is made to give the Capitol power over the districts because the capitol, where President Snow resides with all of the technology and assets, are in control of the game leaving not much choice for the people of the districts other than winning the game and providing for themselves and their loved ones. But that is not the case, because even after winning the games the survivors do not find piece. Looking at Johanna, Enobaria, Annie, Finnick , and of course Peeta and Katniss as examples of Victors of the game who never found piece as promised. Also, the defeaters of the games believe that once they win the game that is the last of it, but that changed when President Snow announced the 75th year of the Hunger Games where the victors are to fight against each other for a win all over again. This is cruel optimism, not allowing the victors to rest and giving them what was promised to them.
    This brings to question the evilness of the game but it’s not the game that is evil it is the creator, President Snow. Who I believe is the master mind in cruel optimism. Snow has power which gives him the power of cruel optimism over all of Panem. He abuses his power of cruel optimism over and over again when he allows two winners of the game and when he grows resentful of Katniss he changes the result back to one winner. Katniss seems to have become Snow’s main target and a victim of cruel optimism by many people around her.

    With Katniss, Snow aims at her relationship with Peeta to build cruel optimism. The Capitol uses Peeta as their source to send anti-rebellion eloquence, using his love and concern for Katniss to manipulate her decisions about the revolution. Because Katniss continues to rebel against Snow, they weaken and destroy Peeta leaving Katniss to choose between Peeta and the revolution. Because Katniss cannot make a selfish decision and choose Peeta over what the people of the Districts want, Snow turns Peeta into a killer device against her as a message that she will never fully get what she wants against Snow’s will.
    Furthermore, cruel optimism has grown in Gale because he questions Katniss’s love for him. Even though Katniss cleared the tension by explaining to Gale that her affection for Peeta is only for the cameras and means to win the game, he is not completely convinced that Katniss doesn’t have any feelings for Peeta. But he is giving himself hope that she is just acting for the games and she loves him and not Peeta.

    There is no uncertainty that Plutarch and President Coin are starting an undefeatable rebellion with the capitol. But that is where their cruel optimism comes in to play and gives them hope in believing that they can win this revolution and stopping the games for good. Even though they are less in weapons and soldiers compared to the capitol they place their hope in Katniss. Plutarch and President Coin give Katniss cruel optimism to save her loved ones and become the symbol of hope for the People of Panem , the Mocking Jay.

    As for Finnick Odair he simply has cruel optimism fighting for the cause and to rescue his one true love Annie because he has no one else left.

    Eventually a revolution will come to rise, if not Katniss another Mocking Jay. Though the worriers of the present might not have much to live for after the revolution at least they have built a better future for the people of tomorrow.

    -Shamela Qazei

  16. In the film Mocking Jay part 1, there is a lot of Cruel Optimism. Cruel Optimism can be defined in many ways but in this film, it is seen as having hope and believing in the inevitable, but having it not go anywhere. The head if the Capitol, President Snow, is feared by the idea of rebellion and the only thought that comes to mind when he thinks of rebellion is Katniss Everdeen. Since district 12 got bombed, the people of Panem want to start a rebellion and their only hope is Katniss Everdeen. In the beginning of the film, Katniss is in a tough state because of the quarter quell and the fact that she did not know what happened to Peeta. There are three characters that represent and play a big role in the spectrum of cruel optimism. President Alma Coin, head of the rebellion, plays a big role in the idea of cruel optimism. She wants to take down president Snow and end the hunger games. She also knows that the only way to do this is by showing the people of Panem that there is hope. Hope is something that president Snow did not want to come across. He stated many times that it is better to be feared then to be loved. Once she saw that Katniss is seen as a character of Hope she jumps to get her under her wing. Katniss is alright with it until she realized that Coin is just as selfish as Snow. Plutarch Heavensbee also plays a significant role in the idea of cruel optimism. He suggested that Katniss be their Mocking Jay in the rebellion since she is looked up to by everyone in the rest of the districts. By doing so, he and Coin gave the people false hope. They do not know that their plan is going to work, but they are willing to have the people have hope that it will. Finnick Odair also plays a role in the idea of cruel optimism by being a support system to Katniss. It could be said that he gives Katniss false hope by supporting her in the rebellion. The reason that he does that is to save the love of his life who is captured in the capitol. In order to have hope, you need to be looking forward to something at the end. The reason why the people of Panem have hope is because they saw how Katniss fought in the hunger games and they have hope that she could do the same in reality. The head of the rebellion give the people of Panem hope by using propaganda. They use it to manipulate people to be optimistic. Propaganda is seen a lot through Mocking Jay. Katniss is seen in most of the propaganda shots because she is their only symbol of hope and she is the one who president Snow fears.

  17. Is it possible that as the rebellion truly unfolds, that the lives of the people, and the hope of a better future might be attainable, or is the thought compromised my several key players of the rebellion?
    President Alma Coin has been appointed leader of the revolution, which is rooted in District 13. D13 was assumed to be destroyed following the first revolution, and it is here, underground that President Coin has fashioned the heart of the rebellion. Her dealings with Katniss from the beginning, are cold and fake. She does not have any real concern for her, but rather her image as the Mocking Jay for the revolution. Coin flatters Katniss and tries to portray that she cares about her, relating that Katniss has known loss just like D13. After the bombing of D13 Coin needs Katniss. She hastily asks how her Mom and Prim are doing, in a fake uncaring manner, and then says “I need you to do something for us”. She wants her to put out more propaganda to the people of the Districts. Coin also expresses that she does not really have faith in Katniss when she tells Plutarch “this is not the girl you described”, and that the game has “destroyed her”. She further drives this point home when she says “maybe you should have rescued the boy instead”. Her style of leadership resembles that of a militant dictator. All the people wear the same military style jumpsuits, there is no individualism there, hidden away below the surface. Everybody has assigned rooms, areas, and regimented schedules. Effie, Haymitch and Katniss’ Mother relate how strict the environment in D13 is, while under her control. Her speeches are delivered with the same rhetoric that Snow has in his speeches. She relates in her speeches that there will be no victory without sacrifice, or we will unite and become an alliance to be reckoned with. At the end of the movie, after rescuing the victors from the Capitol, Coin says “the victors have been liberated”, “let this day mark historic change”, and “we will never again endure injustice”. These words carry the same underlying tones that Snow used to talk about, relating to Panem and the first rebellion. The use of words like family, friends, and unite us as one, sound eerily familiar. This is the way Snow messaged the Hunger Games. As a true dictator, Coin does accept input on strategy, and shut down Plutarch several times when he offered advice. He was told he was a guest there, but not at depth deep underground in the control center. When Katniss said she would be their Mocking Jay, she had several conditions that needed to be met. She wants the victors rescued, as well as a full pardon from any charges. Coin quickly refuses and says no. Coin also says individuals do not make demands in 13. There will be a tribunal and judgement. It is only after she realizes that in order to keep Katniss engaged, she will have to agree. Coin later messages the people of D13 that she will meet Katniss’ demands, but if Katniss fails to fulfill her duties, “the deal is off”. Coin then says sorry for the interruption, “resume your schedules”. These examples show the cold and calculated way that President Coin operates. As coordinated strikes against the Capitol are carried out, you see that Coin is just as ruthless as Snow. The brutality and ferocity seen in the attack on Peacekeepes in D7 and D5, resemble those that the Capitol has carried out on the Districts in the past. They were overwhelming in force and resulted in all of the opponents being killed. The fact that Haymitch does not trust Coin is very telling. Haymitch is a trustworthy veteran of the Games, and has proven he can survive. He is a solid judge of character, and would be a far better asset to the revolution in D13, if implemented properly.
    Plutarch Heavensbee has become the promoter or salesman for the rebellion. He acts as almost an image person for the rebellion, and is always with Coin. As a main figure in D13, he uses the spectacle to further fuel the rebellion. He uses Katniss as the face of the rebellion through the Mocking Jay symbol, and also assembles a film crew to go throughout Panem, filming her. He does this in order to produce an image that D13 wants to send out as their message of revolution. When Katniss fails to perform to his standard during filming of propaganda clips, he somehow talks Coin into letting her go home to a demolished D12. It is there that she will be recorded showing her true anger driven defiance, when confronted by the horrible atrocities that took place there. These films, which don’t necessarily represent the truth, are what is being fed to all the Districts as their only source of information. Katniss is filmed after the D8 bombing at the hospital, and Plutarch uses her fury, as well as her skill in shooting down the planes, to produce new “Mocking Jay-Join the Fight” propaganda films. He also takes “The Hanging Tree” song, which Katniss sang, changes the lyrics, and pushes it out to the people of the Districts as propaganda for the rebellion. It becomes a source of inspiration to them, or a fight song. They sing it, as they march to blow up the dam in D5, which cripples the Capitol. He has Beetee develop a new, sensational, and more sophisticated bow and arrow set for Katniss. It is complete with exploding tip arrows to bolster her image with the people, during the propos. At the end of MJ-1, Coin delivers a speech that is meant to inspire the people. As she recites it, Plutarch mouths the words. It is evident that he wrote it, and is another choreographed form of bloating the spectacle. Plutarch is treating the revolution as a strategy/image game of sorts, much like his role as Gamemaster for the Hunger Games, where he manipulates the next outcome, with a system of designed moves. What you have is D13 using the spectacle to control images and information, and distribute it the way they want it to be seen. This is carried out in the same fashion President Snow has controlled and disseminated images and information in the past.
    Finnik Odair has been used by President Snow and the Hunger Games his entire life. As he joins the rebellion, he is distraught to learn that the Capitol has taken the love of his life Annie, captive. Annie is not well, and suffers from mental problems as a result of a past Hunger Game competition with Finnik. She is being used as pawn by Snow much the same way as Peeta is, in order to taunt, punish, and impact the key players in the rebellion. Snow’s goal is to use the captives as a weapon against the rebellion in the form of mental warfare to disengage them. Finnik, like the other players, suffers from depression and PTSD following the Hunger Games, and Snow abducting Annie. As the movie opens, you see a highly disconnected Finnik relating that he wishes Annie, and all of them were dead, so they would no longer have to deal with the seemingly endless situation they have been placed in. He is tired of the mental and physical battle that he has undergone, and just wants to be left alone with Annie. Finnik knows that Katniss also loves Peeta, and they support each other, and stabilize one another throughout the ordeal. His hope for the future is shaken, and he seems to feel like the game might never end, and that he will never have peace. As a victor of past Hunger Games, he like the other victors, are promised a life a riches and basking in the glory of their homeland. Finnik is used in a propaganda message meant to hijack the communications signal in the Capitol, to facilitate the rescue of Annie, Peeta, and Johanna. Coin and Plutarch do not really care about his story or his mental state. They only want him to talk, so the defense and communications signal will be blocked. Coin wants Peeta saved because she sees Peeta as a weapon being used against them by Snow. The mindset of Coin and Plutarch, is that anyone can be replaced. They do not really care whether Annie or Johanna are rescued. They only care that Peeta is not able to distract Katniss. During this propo, Finnik relates secrets that he has attained in the past as Snow was exploiting his body and his image. He says that the moment you leave the arena, you become a slave to Snow and the Capitol. If you fail to embrace you and your image being sold or marketed as a commodity, Snow will kill someone you love. He talks about Snow’s rise to power and his use of poison, to eliminate any threat or mutiny that stood in the way of his tyrannical dictatorship. Just as Snow has used him over the years, D13 has used him as well to advance their cause, even though he is in a weakened and fragile mental state, he is still being used as a commodity.

    As the movie ends, you see a tortured and restrained Peeta thrashing wildly about in a hospital bed going crazy. This might represent the people of the Districts and a restrained hope of the future, still going crazy, under the leadership of a new President. You have Katniss being sold and used by Coin as a symbol, just as Finnik was sold and used by Snow. As the people of the rebellion and the districts engage the Capitol in a highly competitive battle of wits, you see President Coin and Plutarch making decisions that truly benefit themselves in the name of the revolution. For the people of Panem, if the revolution succeeds, will their lives truly be improved, or will there be a continued cycle of control, dominance, and exploitation? There are a lot of similarities that can be seen in situations under the rule of President Coin, which can be seen under President Snow. Plutarch seems to be operating in the same capacity as he was for the Capitol, but has more power as President Coin’s Right-hand man. While the thought of rebellion for a renewed existence is of the utmost importance, one wonders if it will ever come to fruition, or are the people of Panem trapped with this cruel optimism for the future.

  18. According to Lauren Berlant, cruel optimism is defined as “a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realization is discovered either to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic.” Or simply, cruel optimism is a relation in which people either give hope or get hope for something, but it is actually just a lie, and in the end nothing happens. In The Mockingjay part 1, we can see some examples of cruel optimism.
    President Alma Coin is the leader of the rebellion. She seems try to make things in an opposite way with the life under the reign of President Snow. First of all, in contrast with a typical totalitarian government with a male leader, President Coin is a woman which means to give the rebellion a good start. There is also no capitol people with colorful outfit or party in district 13. Under President Snow’s government, district people have to live in poverty and work as slaves. They want to rise up to change their lives. But do they really get what they want when they join in the revolution under the lead of President Coin? Not really. They now have to wear the same clothes, work as schedule every day, and live under the ground in the place which looks like a concentration camp. When Katniss gives her conditions to Coin, she even responds that “Individuals don’t make demands in District 13”; she means there is no individual in district 13, they are all one unit, and individuals have to follow the group which is under her control. She just wants to use people who listen to her and follow her demands. President Coin with an unemotional face and an even-toned in any situations is another insensitivity leader just like President Snow. Hoping for a new better life, the rebels believe in President Coin and what she says. But it seems like she is leading them to another totalitarian government.
    Plutarch Heavensbee is the right hand of President Coin in the revolution. Like President Coin, being one of the main factors leading the rebellion, Plutarch is expected to make changes for it and help district people get out of their dark days. But in fact, what he is doing now is just the same as before. He used to be the mentor for President Snow and the Game Master of The Hunger Games. He was the one used technology to control the Games. Now, he is always with President Coin, gives her advice, tries to make her do as he wants. He also uses technology, films Katniss and uses her image as symbol for the rebellion. He seems to treat the rebellion as another Hunger Game. He always acts like he knows what he is doing, makes people believe in him, but when the capitol attacks, he shows his truth color as a tremulous and coward guy who scares of the death.
    Finnick Odair is a victim of cruel optimism. He used to be a muscular, charming man. He was the youngest winner of the Hunger Games, and for his whole life, he was a favorite one of the capitol and lives under control of the government. Joining in the uprising, Finnick maybe hopes to changes his life, at least hopes to be with his love Annie. But now, Annie is kept in the Capitol, and he wishes “she was dead. I wish they were all dead, and we were dead, too.” He is now a weak guy who is struggling with not only a physical pain after the Game but also a mental pain. The hope for the rebellion he has is not strong as it should be. When he decides to go on broadcast, he wants to tell secrets of the Capitol that he knows and opens his soul to others, but it seems like nobody seems to pay attention to his story. They use his story as a tool to break in the capitol’s computer system. Finnick is one more time used by the government, by other people as before.
    In conclusion, in The Mockingjay part 1, when the Games become a real battle, the hope is more complicated and cruel optimism of the characters makes the movie become difficult to predict.

  19. Cruel optimism is defined as “a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realization is discovered either to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic.” In the case of President Alma Coin, it is almost a dead give away that she is leading district 13 using cruel optimism, by judging her body language and emotionless expressions. She sounds convincing for the revolution but is only in for her own best interest. Coin is taking advantage of the cruelty and mistreatment given by President Snow and has created her own underground system where people work hard for minimal wages and as a collective rather then having a subjective individual voices and representatives. Like a totalitarian dictator ruling government, she is the only voice and representative that speaks for everyone as a whole. People are too caught up in revenge and striking back at the Capitol that they cant see that all theyve done is transition into another similar totalitarian government. To further prove this point, when Katniss lays out her conditions with her role as the mockingjay, Alma Coin responds by stating that "Individuals don’t make demands in District 13." After exchanging some words with Plutarch, she reimprovises and agrees to abide with Katniss’s demands; only because in the grand scheme of things she sees an advantageous opportunity which is to her sole benefit as a dictator. Plutarch Heavensbee is President Coins protege and sort of like a mentor just as he was for President snow. He sees great opportunity with the mockingjay as a forefront to the revolution and he acts as if he is fed up just like he is a part of the people in the district and wants some change. His skills in manipulation and deceit makes him seem like he can bring better days. But it seems hes pulling the wool over everyones eyes because he isn’t trustworthy and seems as power hungry as President Snow and his new partner, Alma Coin. He’s just using people with higher power and resources like puppets used for his own benefits to fulfill his own vision. Finnick is not as upbeat and as confident as he once was from the previous Hunger Games. Since they took his loved one, Annie, it seems they also took his drive and his heart. He clearly expresses his depressed state when he says, "I wish she was dead. I wish they were all dead, and we were dead, too". President Snow knows what he’s doing is affecting Finnick mentally as he holds Annie captive, just as he affects Katniss by holding Peeta. He wants to get under their skin deep and leave them in a very low mental state so they don’t have much opportunity to thwart his power from the Capitol and his government. These are war tactics. Just as Finnick was used by President Snow in the Hunger Games, President Coin used Finnick to speak to the districts where he opens up and becomes more in depth with how he feels, but this is only used as a distraction for the rebels to sneak into the Capitols headquarters to save Peetah, Annie, and Joanna.

  20. The entire Hunger Games series is an example of people in power using cruel optimism to give false hope to the people. Since the establishment of the games, there has been hope for better days. Whether it be a victor returning to the district or ultimately a chance to break free from their current life, the games have always provided this hope and possibility. There was always hope for better days. That is, until Katniss destroyed the very thing that unified everyone, the games. The emergence of the mockingjay and it’s ideas may very well have frightened and overwhelmed the people of the districts at first. They were trained to be completely subservient to the hegemony of the Capitol. They do not wish for an uprising and especially not a violent one. They have learned that anything that deviates from the "norm" is unacceptable and not ok. The districts become even more scared as 12 is bombed and 13 is forced to retreat underground.

    First, I’ll address the cruel optimism Snow provides the people. Not only does he deceive the people of the districts but the people of the capitol as well. He deceives the districts by getting them to think their is a possibility for them to rise out of their ranks one day as a result of hard work and subservience. He deceives the Captiol’s people by "giving" them a choice in their individual appearance. This is more evidence of Snow deceiving the people to advance his own agenda. As I said in my other essay Snow portrays an unauthentic reality (through media) where the people in the districts crave the "individuality" and "voice" of those in the Capitol while those in the Capitol seek an environment removed from the Capitol with an ability to enact change. I agree that this is very shady and he may be deemed as fake because of this but his role in the story needs him to act this way.
    Alma Coin, on the other hand, is also cruel in the way in which she provides false hope to her people. Coin is a very stern and careful dictator. She plans out her steps and is very smart as she sets up the ropes to the Revolution. She begins to use propaganda herself when they begin shooting Katniss and her squadron. She is using good people to disperse her truths and ideas while trying to further advance her agenda, as Snow does. The two leaders both come as fake whenever they speak in public. Coin carries on a monotone voice and boring attitude that is not believable. Snow on the other hand is always standing tall with a huge smile and authoritative tone that come off as hyper-realistic. Both leaders have an "eye for an eye" mentality in politics and everything leading up to the war. I believe Coin is just as fake as Snow but it is not as obvious that she is shady because of her position and her supposedly running for a good cause. We end up figuring out that she is not. The two are master manipulators which is what a total rule calls for. Specifically, Snow is able to manipulate individuals like Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick by either brute force or deception of the truth. It is unfortunate that the people with the most power take advantage of people with not as much. But we know this is how this type of system works and without it this system couldn’t function properly.

    In conclusion, false hope and false happiness is what Snow’s government and Hunger Games promote. He has done his job in erasing history but he did not do it well enough. The very idea he used to separate the people from their past is what has come back to bite him and is what leads him to his demise.

  21. False hope is a way of describing the concept of cruel optimism. It is when the thing you desire most is the thing that holds you back from flourishing. Cruel optimism is definitely a major factor in the Hunger Games; it is all over the place! In the arena, the participants try to develop allies so that they can survive longer. This is false security because in the end, everyone must die except for one person and allies will keep you from actually winning. I do not think there is any components of cruel optimism in Katniss’ leadership as she leads the districts in revolution. As she states in the first movie, she is an open book and is led by her subjectivity.
    Katniss is unsure if she is facing cruel optimism when she realizes President Coin’s true colors. President Coin is the leader of District 13 as well as the leader of the revolution. Katniss is not given any clear signs as to whether she can trust Coin or not but she does notice that Coin is quick to condemn and judge her. In the deal of giving immunity to Peeta, due to him being brainwashed by Snow, Coin is against it. This is somewhat understandable. However, Coin is the first to say Katniss has an agenda of her own and that Katniss could be a possible threat. I think Coin is the one who is guilty of having her own agenda. She insists on having Katniss make propos with a film team. These propos are supposed to scare the capital and give hope to the districts. However, Katniss begins to realize that Coin might not be hosting those propos for the same reasons as herself. If this is true than this whole rebellion could be a beacon cruel optimism. This districts would be in hope that the leadership in going to get them liberated from being controlled by the government; when in reality will be liberated from Snow’s government but back in ownership by Coin’s rule. These are the thoughts that Katniss endures while the rest of District 13’s army mindset are optimistic about the overthrowing of Snow’s government, liberating them from oppression.
    Plutarch’s leadership displays a bit of cruel optimism. He only cares about the representation of the rebellion. This is so that Katniss will always have a heroic image and be a beacon of hope among all those willing soldiers in the rebellion. This is effective but is false hope because what is going on the screen is sometimes completely different then what is going on behind the scenes. For example, having Peeta back on board with the rebellion on camera. This gives all the soldiers hope, but in reality Peeta’s state of mind is not on the side of the rebellion. This component of cruel optimism definitely delivers hope, unity, and strength among the districts, however, it is not authentic.
    Finnick battles with the thought that no matter how far they get in the rebellion, the capital has access to his wife, Annie. This does not lead him to break down, however it gives him a weird sense of hope. He has hope to defeat the capital in order to be free and be reunited with Annie. However, he knows that while he fights against the capital, they have access to Annie and could do anything that they want with her.

  22. What is cruel optimisms? “a relation of attachment to compromised conditions of possibility whose realization is discovered either to be impossible, sheer fantasy, or too possible, and toxic.” A relation of cruel optimism exists when something you desire is actually an obstacle to your flourishing, basically its falls hope. In this movie there countless number of cruel optimism.
    Finnick suffers from the games heavily with PTSD, also loosing Anne to the capitol enhanced his state. This leads him to being depressed and losing all hope to get her back. When said “They took her, she is in the capitol. I wish she was dead, I wish they were all dead and we were too”. President Snow took them hostage know it would hurt Finnick and especially Katniss since Snow has Peeta as well. Finnick has been a spectacle of Snow all his life and now he is used by Coin for her agenda and used as a diversion to rescue the victors that are held by the capitol. With him being part of this spectacle for the rescue mission, he does get Anne back. Coin the leader of the rebellion and president of district 13, she seems to have different intention and power thirsty character. She leads her people by cruel optimism, uses it as a motivation. Her and Snow are very alike given this fact Katniss and Plutarch never really trusted them but had to work with them. They are both persuasive with ill intentions. In the beginning of the movie she compliments her and acts caring towards Katniss then quickly starts to inform her on her agenda and what’s best for them. When Katniss makes demands Coin said "Individuals don’t make demands in District 13." But Katniss value to the rebellion makes her change her mind when Plutarch reminds her of it. Just like snow both leaders use propaganda’s to change people’s ideology of reality. She uses Katniss as a propaganda for her motive, just like Snow did spectacle for the games. Plutarch seems to be wise and is a very bright adviser for both since he was originally aiding and was beside President Snow. Even though he knows that both leaders aren’t to trustworthy, he sits beside them and I believe he writes their speeches this is the reason Snow and Coin sound the same. After Coin accepted the demands of Katniss, she gave a speech to the people of D13. Plutarch told her that her speech was “concise”. Even though she didn’t appreciate his comment, I believe after this incident Plutarch wrote and advised all her public speeches and the propaganda’s. When she asked if she should has said more he “I am only talking about Salesmanship” this I believe he refers to cruel optimism since the crowd didn’t appreciate speech “The thing about revolutions…and they need to be nurtured” I leave this means we have to keep the rebel armies and the people motivated against the capital with cruel optimism. Also after this President Coin start sound just like Snow in the other speeches. The key evidence of Plutarch writing her speeches is when he coinciding her words at the last speech she gave. People in power always know how to use and manipulate the less fortunate to benefit them and their cause. Both leader are Machiavellian types meaning; using clever lies and tricks in order to get or achieve something also they are clever and dishonest.

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