Sunday, March 9, 2014

Appalachia and District 12

    In class last week, we had two speakers come talk to us about Appalachia. Suzanne Nida and Walt Michael showed the class a different side of Appalachia that I don't think a lot of students know about. Being an environmental policy major, and an environmental activist, I have educated myself on Appalachia and the environmental tragedies occurring there, but I never looked too much into the culture, which I learned is steeped in history and rich in passion.
     I noticed a lot of similarities between the people of Appalachia and the people of District 12. District 12 is set in a post-modern Appalachia in The Hunger Games Trilogy. With that, there are a lot of cultural similarities between the two peoples. Oral tradition is huge in Appalachia, through song ad spoken stories passed down through generations. The same emphasis is seen in District 12, where songs like "The Valley Song", "Deep in the Meadow", and "The Hanging Tree" are well known to those in the district, but foreign to anyone else. These songs shared with the people of Appalachia talk about their culture, their environment, and sometimes call for change and hint at rebellion.
     The people of Appalachia are, and have been for decades, experiencing complete exploitation of their home. To deal with this tragedy, people turned to song. Their songs speak about the injustices they experience, and sometimes the songs get heard. In the Hunger Games, this is seen as well. Katniss sings "Deep in the Meadow" in the arena when Rue dies, and it starts a revolution. The whole act of her covering Rue in flowers and singing her this song from District 12 shows everyone watching that she and Rue are more than just pieces in the Capitol's Game. Both Appalachians and members of District 12 share this desire to protect their livelihood and their homes, and for many, preserving their culture through song is how they are able to do that.
From Youtube:

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