Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Dan and Paul take an in-depth look at the worlds portrayed Young Adult dystopian fiction.
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Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Paul » 31 Aug 2015, 08:20

It's the Hunger Games, All Star Edition! Where the opponents are deadlier, the police state more oppressive, and the stakes...death. Yeah, there wasn't really anywhere to go from "death". In this episode, Dan and Paul are joined by Cynthia to talk about the second volume in the Hunger Games series: Catching Fire.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Dubious_wolf » 31 Aug 2015, 15:08

It occurrs to me that Snow probably could have just framed catniss' death as PTSD suicide....
Guess that's less compelling.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby DaMage » 31 Aug 2015, 19:05

So I've been holding off watching the movie until you did this podcast, having seen the first one back when it was in cinemas. This is going to be a long one.

Wow, what a terrible story and I kept noting plot holes that occur from actions that make no sense.

1) The hunger games have 2 people from each district, which is 24 people. Obviously for this special games there wasn't 2 people from each district to choose from. Instead it was about 12-ish people I think. It is told that these special games are held every 25 years (this is called the third one), then only about 12 people from every 25 hunger games will actually survive. That means being picked for the hunger games is basically a death sentence even if you do win.

2) Why was there a choosing in district 12 if Katnis and Peeta are the only choice (as they are the first of district 12 to win), and then why was thier instructor guy picked there? WTF is going on? Maybe this is better explained in the book.

3) In the end we find out that district 12 has been destroyed and everyone killed. Okay not the best way to stop a rebellion, but there are also some economic problems with this. They have just crippled their supply flow, and no have no access to minerals or metals that were being mined. What is their long term strategy for this? Cause that future city in the capital isn't going to last long without metals. This gets worse in the next part when they destory much of their manufacturing and industry to stop rebellions.

The one thing that did make sense was the special games. It is clear that people in the lower districts are the ones rebeling, and that they don't have many winners from those districts. That means you end up with a games without many members from the angry districts, which I think would help against the rebellion. It actually makes sense outside of the 'We need to kill Katniss in a story way'. Seriously, Katniss caused so much trouble for the government, it silly they didn't just kill her early on since they could completely control the message of her death.

I also note this hunger games had a lot of people dying from the arena events, rather then the other contestants. I don't know how effective these games would be at calming people if most of the deaths are caused by the arena. It's more public execution then death battle. Though we find out that the guy who planned it is on the rebels side, maybe he planned it that was specifically, but it also makes sense for the evil side, as it is clear that most of these contestants don't want to kill each other, so it would be bad if they all just sat in the middle and waited.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby ritchards » 31 Aug 2015, 22:41

DaMage wrote:Wow, what a terrible story and I kept noting plot holes that occur from actions that make no sense.


Having read (listened to) the (audio)book, I can go for these. I haven't seen the movie.

DaMage wrote:1) The hunger games have 2 people from each district, which is 24 people. Obviously for this special games there wasn't 2 people from each district to choose from. Instead it was about 12-ish people I think. It is told that these special games are held every 25 years (this is called the third one), then only about 12 people from every 25 hunger games will actually survive.


The special games every 25 years are different to the usual. The 50th was 2 girls and 2 boys from each district. Can't recall the first one. They're even more of a reminder of "you failed to overthrow the capital". The "previous winners are picked" was the theme for the 75th game.

What that does rely on is at least two people (one of each gender) having won in a previous game and still alive, something I found doubtful for some of the districts.

DaMage wrote:2) Why was there a choosing in district 12 if Katnis and Peeta are the only choice (as they are the first of district 12 to win), and then why was thier instructor guy picked there? WTF is going on? Maybe this is better explained in the book.


There was a choosing because there is always a choosing. It's spectacle more than practical. And all winner were up for grabs so both Peeta and Haymich are up for the male choice. In the book, Haymich is chosen, but Peeta volunteers to take his place.

DaMage wrote:3) In the end we find out that district 12 has been destroyed and everyone killed. Okay not the best way to stop a rebellion, but there are also some economic problems with this.


The capital has back up supplies to last a while. They are wanting to put down the rebellion, then can repopulate the districts with people to get production up and running.

DaMage wrote:Seriously, Katniss caused so much trouble for the government, it silly they didn't just kill her early on since they could completely control the message of her death.


Because any death of her would be seen as suspicious and she would be made into a martyr. Even with the government controlling the message, people would still talk.

DaMage wrote:as it is clear that most of these contestants don't want to kill each other, so it would be bad if they all just sat in the middle and waited.


I was hoping the author would go the route of "the winner just decided to say 'sod you' to the capital and just sit there... but that wasn't the story she wanted to tell.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby DaMage » 31 Aug 2015, 23:55

ritchards wrote:
DaMage wrote:
DaMage wrote:Seriously, Katniss caused so much trouble for the government, it silly they didn't just kill her early on since they could completely control the message of her death.


Because any death of her would be seen as suspicious and she would be made into a martyr. Even with the government controlling the message, people would still talk.


Still, when they control all communication between districts and all the news...it is a bit weird that they couldn't just kill her. IN the long run, she has done more damage then if they bumped her off a month later and blamed something.

Hell they could have blamed rebels for her death (turning her into a martyr for the capital) and it would be hard for anyone to say otherwise. It's not a huge plot problem in my view as it is the main conflict for the story, but it's always there in the back of my mind.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby SixFootTurkey » 01 Sep 2015, 17:23

DaMage wrote:1) The hunger games have 2 people from each district, which is 24 people. Obviously for this special games there wasn't 2 people from each district to choose from. Instead it was about 12-ish people I think.


There were indeed 24 contestants in this Quarter Quell; there's a specific reason the new game master was able to suggest doing a reaping from the winners, as Katniss winning made it so they had at least one male and one female from every district (until now there had only been a male - Haymitch). In the movie if you look at the starting positions, you will notice there are 12 slices of the 'clock' (one for each hour), with two participants in each wedge.

It is told that these special games are held every 25 years (this is called the third one), then only about 12 people from every 25 hunger games will actually survive.


I can't recall this particular part, so I'd be interested in a specific page/time if you can remember it, or at least the scene.

That means being picked for the hunger games is basically a death sentence even if you do win.


That's kind of the point... It's the capital that has coined the term 'victor', and it's the same capital that enforces a 'victory tour' to remind the districts.

2) Why was there a choosing in district 12 if Katnis and Peeta are the only choice (as they are the first of district 12 to win), and then why was thier instructor guy picked there? WTF is going on? Maybe this is better explained in the book.


Katniss is chosen 'randomly' because the capital likes to pretend there is a chance. (Similar to how they mention in the first podcast how the 'May the odds be ever in your favor' phrasing from the capital is kind of a joke.)

The male participant for 12 is actually explained in the movie quite clearly. Katniss asks Haymitch to volunteer for Peeta, as he is too nice for the games. He tells her he'll do what he can, but if his name comes up first and Peeta volunteers, there is nothing he can do. (And this is exactly what happens; Haymitch's name is selected, and Peeta volunteers so he can protect Katniss.)

3) In the end we find out that district 12 has been destroyed and everyone killed. Okay not the best way to stop a rebellion, but there are also some economic problems with this. They have just crippled their supply flow, and no have no access to minerals or metals that were being mined. What is their long term strategy for this? Cause that future city in the capital isn't going to last long without metals. This gets worse in the next part when they destory much of their manufacturing and industry to stop rebellions.


At this point, Snow is getting desperate. He's tried more controlled measures (martial law, curfews, etc), but the district went into open rebellion. Wiping out a district also historically worked out well for the capital (see District 13), so he's also following his predecessors.

The assumption is that the capital really needs the resources from the Districts, but the reality is just as likely to be that they're doing busy work while the capital has all it needs. (Note that they're quite a bit more advanced than modern day; they might even have automated mines somewhere closer to the capital.)

Also, afaik the only thing it's mentioned that District 12 supplies, is coal, not 'metals and minerals'.

The one thing that did make sense was the special games. It is clear that people in the lower districts are the ones rebeling, and that they don't have many winners from those districts. That means you end up with a games without many members from the angry districts, which I think would help against the rebellion. It actually makes sense outside of the 'We need to kill Katniss in a story way'. Seriously, Katniss caused so much trouble for the government, it silly they didn't just kill her early on since they could completely control the message of her death.


The specific game concept came from Plutarch Heavensbee, who as is revealed in the movie (although moreso in the book) to have been working to instigate the rebellion and move things along. (More on this in my next post that will be to Dan and Paul.)

I also note this hunger games had a lot of people dying from the arena events, rather then the other contestants. I don't know how effective these games would be at calming people if most of the deaths are caused by the arena. It's more public execution then death battle. Though we find out that the guy who planned it is on the rebels side, maybe he planned it that was specifically, but it also makes sense for the evil side, as it is clear that most of these contestants don't want to kill each other, so it would be bad if they all just sat in the middle and waited.


The participants were all victors, which meant they weren't going to get caught unawares like someone who hadn't been through it before. The deadly arena - while it did kill quite a few participants - was designed to force the participants to the center of the arena (the 'safe zone'), where they would be forced to face off against one another.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby SixFootTurkey » 01 Sep 2015, 17:49

Paul, first thing I want to say thank you for your concern for the turkeys, it is appreciated. Other than that, this might be a bit all over the place, but bear with me:

You mentioned an 'interim' game, but the Quarter Quell is the game for the 75th year, it's not between two years.

I can't recall if they tell you what District 13's specialty was in the second book, so I'll refrain from going into that here (feel free to PM if you're curious).

Johanna attacking Katniss was elaborated on more in the book, but I also think it was hinted on pretty strongly in the movie as well. Johanna cut out Katniss's tracker, which allowed District 13 to get her out quickly.

You touch on knowing this, but a lot of your earlier comments are said as if you don't know. Plutarch's design of the game wasn't to appease Snow, it was to help facilitate the rebellion happening. This is why the Beetee got his special wire, and why the lightning was part of the game. In the book, Plutarch makes a point to reveal his watch to Katniss, which has a subtle image of a mockingjay on it. (This hints rather strongly at his allegiance, as well as helping Katniss recognize the importance of the game's layout similar to a clock.) Even something as simple as Katniss and Peeta getting perfect 12s on their demonstration. While it might be explained as showing the pair as a threat (and thus making them targets), it also shows them as having enough potential to be threatening to the capital (maybe they're worth taking a risk on). While I could be imagining some of them, to me the book is full of these subtle decisions and actions that hide an ulterior motive for a character - especially from the capital.

I will probably have more thoughts as others respond, or just as I recall more, but that should do it for now.

Edit: Oh, they mention how there was a lot of politicking going on behind Katniss's back, as she was oblivious and tended to be bad at keeping secrets. (It's a sneaky reason for not needing to go into the details.) This is why you have Johanna going out of her way to get Beetee and Wiress to Katniss. Basically, Haymitch wanted to get more people on Katniss's team, but needed a way for her to accept them. He got her those she mentioned she wanting as part of a joint deal with those she needed.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby DaMage » 01 Sep 2015, 18:44

SixFootTurkey wrote:
DaMage wrote:It is told that these special games are held every 25 years (this is called the third one), then only about 12 people from every 25 hunger games will actually survive.


I can't recall this particular part, so I'd be interested in a specific page/time if you can remember it, or at least the scene.



That is never stated, I was infering from the numbers. Since there are 24 people in this special games, it would instead mean that only 1 person, from 25 years of hunger games would survive (since the victors from all the other years would be killed in this games). But as ritchards said above, the rules for these special games are different each time, so it's only this time that victors were chosen, giving a larger backlog of victors to pick form. If these rules were used at every quater games, then there would be only 2 victors left after the last quater games which would make no sense.

SixFootTurkey wrote:At this point, Snow is getting desperate. He's tried more controlled measures (martial law, curfews, etc), but the district went into open rebellion. Wiping out a district also historically worked out well for the capital (see District 13), so he's also following his predecessors.

The assumption is that the capital really needs the resources from the Districts, but the reality is just as likely to be that they're doing busy work while the capital has all it needs. (Note that they're quite a bit more advanced than modern day; they might even have automated mines somewhere closer to the capital.)

Also, afaik the only thing it's mentioned that District 12 supplies, is coal, not 'metals and minerals'.


Once again, I was just infering from the information. There is only one 'mining' district, so it makes sense that any metals they need are also coming from that district. But I do agree that the capital would obviously have stockpiles for just this kind of event.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby SixFootTurkey » 01 Sep 2015, 19:19

Oh, on not killing Katniss off. If you'll notice, there are several times when Snow wants to do exactly that, but Plutarch convinces him that it needs to be done in the proper manner at the proper time.

The books are actually a lot more complex than a lot of their detractors give them credit for. I'm not saying they're perfect by any means, but they're far more than 'let's copy Battle Royale' (which I have had others try to tell me the series is).

@DaMage, I would put a bit more care into your critiques; you don't appear to have put the thought into them that typically accompanies how much emphasis and emotion you put into the post.

Edit: I should apologize, this may have come off more harsh than I meant it to. It wasn't meant as an attack on you, rather it was intended to be an honest message - although one that deserved more space than I gave it. I'm going to put the rest in its own post rather than leave it in an edit.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Daniel » 02 Sep 2015, 10:20

Thanks for all these clarifications, @SixFootTurkey, @DaMage, and @ritchards! So what did y'all think of the episode?
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby SixFootTurkey » 02 Sep 2015, 11:29

@DaMage, continued from above:

I think what might have set me off a bit, was starting with "Wow, what a terrible story and I kept noting plot holes that occur from actions that make no sense." Making emphatic statements like this typically results in either a knee-jerk reaction, or a long history of heated debates on a subject. The problem with the former is that it can often be taken as the latter, i.e., a response from someone who has been involved in this particular debate numerous times. This is especially true in a written medium, and even more so when it's a lengthy post and not a quick reply.

I brought it up, because until a few years ago, this was something I had a pretty significant problem with, and it can be quite detrimental to one's ability to converse. Having that type of reaction also tends to limit your ability to analyze your conclusions or even yourself, and can also be quite harmful to your state of mind. It's worth taking a look to see if it's a symptom of other things, such as an inclination to make rash decisions or anger issues.

I'm still realizing just how messed up I am from someone close to me while I grew up, who was... 'not the best role model' is putting it lightly. Even after realizing their faults, it's still taking quite a while to unravel unconscious notions that I have built up after an entire childhood of obliviousness.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby DaMage » 02 Sep 2015, 14:18

Episode was really fun to listen to Dan. I think it really helps episodes when get an extra person in to talk about it.

@SixFootTurkey: I have only a passing reference to the series, however I feel the storyline get mutilated when turned into a movie like most book adaptations do. Most of my complaints with it I would assume are addressed in the book. You obviously have read the books as well as seen the movies which gives you a much better view of why events happening and the character's themselves. Much of the background information is left out in the movies, or is only mentioned in passing making it easy to miss.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Daniel » 05 Sep 2015, 01:25

@DaMage Thanks for the feedback!

Do keep in mind that some people (including me) are very fond of the movie, and that movies aren't books and have to be very selective in the information they include. And lots is always cut out at the last minute, making for loose ends. Plot holes are not that big of a deal to me. There's always more time to get into rich character details in the book, but for me it's important that what we see of their character matches the picture I've built of them and their behaviour, and for the main characters at least I think they did a great job.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby DaMage » 05 Sep 2015, 21:13

Daniel wrote:@DaMage Thanks for the feedback!

Do keep in mind that some people (including me) are very fond of the movie, and that movies aren't books and have to be very selective in the information they include. And lots is always cut out at the last minute, making for loose ends. Plot holes are not that big of a deal to me. There's always more time to get into rich character details in the book, but for me it's important that what we see of their character matches the picture I've built of them and their behaviour, and for the main characters at least I think they did a great job.


Definitely agree. A sign of a good movie is that I want to watch the next one, which this movie had me do. As I said earlier, without the context of the books, you can see plot holes...but it doesn't bother me too much as I expect those plot holes are explained in the books. And anyways, having a movie where EVERYTHING is explained makes for poor viewing, cause you get too stuck in the details.

I may sound negative about them, but really, I wouldn't spend time thinking about these sort of things if I didn't enjoy the movie in the first place. If I don't like something I tend to just ignore it, rather then think about all it's problems. Even so, I'm not a fan of the overall storyline in this series, what makes it good is the character interactions and the smaller events. It's also the first time there has been a 'love triangle' that I didn't immediately groan at.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Daniel » 06 Sep 2015, 12:49

@DaMage Good to get your perspective, and in general to hear about someone who cares about these stories. We too nitpick because we care!

I'm a fan of the character interactions (I also think what she does with the love triangle is pretty fresh), and of the overall story arc and its resonance. It's totally devastating, in exactly the way she intends. The only thing Suzanne Collins doesn't do well, in my opinion, is designing the arena and its hazards. You can just tell her heart isn't completely in it, and doesn't put in the extra care that would make the elements of the arenas both a) memorable and b) resonant with the story and characters. I'm trying to think of a good example - it's not actually that easy to pull off. Maybe Goblet of Fire? Or the movie Cube? Oh, and the names for things and people are ridiculous, but I think I mentioned that.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby SixFootTurkey » 07 Sep 2015, 06:03

I can't really blame her for not having her heart in that. I was talking with someone about game design, and they mentioned an article I should read (I'll post it whenever I get it from them). It was about how horrible being involved on the art team of a game that is trying to portray something less than pretty can be. You spend a excessive amount of time researching and looking at pictures of awful situations (bodies, hangings, racist imagery, etc) to make your art look as accurate as possible. It isn't talked about, but it can be quite devastating to an artist if they have to spend months or years of their life it.
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Daniel » 08 Sep 2015, 12:52

It's somewhat to her credit as a human being, I would say, that she's not great at designing death traps for teenagers or twisted dilemmas that make them do horrible things to each other. I read about the Saw movies on wikipedia (too scared to see 'em) and I find the kind of nerdy detachment from actual human suffering that you must have to design all those traps, even just as a screenwriter, chilling.

Suzanne Collins cheats sometimes when it comes to violence, as in Katniss getting to stay noble and have clean hands through two different hunger games, but she is also very concerned with giving violence weight, unlike many of the movie franchises we cover (the books we do are usually a lot better).
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Re: Fight the Future 12 - Catching Fire

Postby Daniel » 11 Sep 2015, 01:23

Heads up, the next episode is Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, if you want to start reading. Coming this monday!

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