Happy New Year everyone! It’s time to dig into a new year and a new villain. While picking the first villain of the year I turned to events happening in the news. The political climate is heating up and people around the world are gearing up for what is promising to be an interesting year. Debates will be held, elections will happen and a new leader will be chosen. Like or not, it is campaigning season and why not chose a villain who fits the bill. Let us venture to the Capital itself, to the President’s mansion and say hello to President Snow.
WARNING: I spoil things, if you don’t want to know stuff don’t read any further!
The Hunger Games movies have come to a close and have gone into the young adult fangirl hall of fame. The post-apocalyptic tale is over and we are all left to rereading and rewatching the story for many years to come. The world caught fire, pun intended, as we witnessed the story of Katniss and her fight against her fellow tributes in the games, the Capital and against Snow himself.
President Snow throughout the Hunger Games series is described as an older man who has had Panem, the fictional country North America has now become, under his crazy thumb. Snow is a class A psychopath, he would poison all those who opposed him and to avoid suspicion he works up an immunity to the poison and drinks the same stuff his victims would before they died. According to Finnick, a precious victor and everyone’s favorite, Snow is left with open sores in his mouth that will never heal and that’s why he can always be found with a white rose, it hides the scent. Gross. Snow believes in two things, fear and hope and uses both of them to control the citizens of Panem. The Hunger Game are a scare tactic, depicted as a way to remember the sacrifice that was made during the previous revolution they really are just a way to keep everyone in the districts in line. Hope, as Snow explains in the first installation, is a powerful but fragile tool to keep people in line. Given in small doses it can be used against them, but give them too much and they start to ask questions, they start to think.
Throughout the story Snow shows how truly evil he can be, when the third quarter quell, a special event that happens every 25 years of the Hunger Games, is approaching Snow comes up with a way to deal with his Katniss problem by selecting tributes from the existing pool of victors, sending all of Panem into heartbreak and confusion. The promise is that once you win the Hunger Games you are left to live your life in whatever peace you can find, at least until they drag you out once a year to be mentors so you can never truly move on from the games. Now Snow is forcing these people to endure the hell of the games all over again just to punish one girl who may be a threat. That is cruel. When Katniss is in district 13 Snow tortures Peeta and forces him to speak against the rebellion and makes many in district 13 think of him as a traitor. Then when Peeta is finally rescued we find out that he has been hijacked, a form of brainwashing that makes him believe Katniss is life threatening, something he never fully recovers from. When the capital is finally taken and Snow arrested Katniss visits him in his cell, surrounded by his prized white roses, and he tells her that in the end it wasn’t him that ordered the bomb raid that killed Katniss’ sister Prim. When Katniss kills the new President, Coin, who threatens the new found peace, Snow is left to the mercy of the crowd who kill him and in the end his legacy is nothing but a blood stained rose.
Although the Hunger Games is a work of fiction, its characters and messages are becoming all too real to us. The political climate in the passing months has turned dark and many people around the world are fearing for their lives and live under oppressive dictators and governments, much like in Panem. The Hunger Games may not be real, but the lessons we could learn from them are.
So let’s compare President Coriolanus Snow to our villain characteristics. Snow is for all intent and purpose a genius, he gains power at a young age and maintains it because he is able to stay one step ahead of his opponents. Snow knows how to keep people in a state of fear and it isn’t until one girl with a hand full of berries does anyone question his authority. However like many villains before him Snow’s intelligence is his strength and eventually his downfall. He allows his smarts to mutate into arrogance, thinking that a young girl from the poorest district couldn’t possibly beat him at his own game, but when Katniss teams up with various characters she beats the pompous Snow and in the end leads him to his death.
Morality may not seem like Snow’s strong point, but it is something he discusses throughout the story. Snow often talks about how the system is fragile and if one thing tips the scale the whole thing will be destroyed. When creating propos, propaganda videos, to counteract Katniss and her Mockingjay videos, he claims to only be caring for the betterment of Panem as a whole and wishes to protect its people from destruction. We know that in the end Snow has little to no morality, the only reason he fakes it is to maintain power, he may seem to care but we all know he doesn’t.
Snow’s obsession is pretty obvious; power. Snow loves power and he intends to hold on to it for as long as possible. He uses any weapon he can to keep it and doesn’t care who he kills to achieve his goal of ultimate domination. Snow is willing to live with open sores in his mouth that are constantly bleeding as long as he can put the word President in front of his name. That is obsessive behavior. His obsession I believe is represented in his white roses, he takes very good care of them and makes sure they always appear to be perfect. In a way Snow channels all of his energy and power into these flowers and it’s ironic that they are white, a symbol in most societies of purity and in others death.
It is hard to say if President Snow was ever truly wounded in his life. It is never said he went through some kind of traumatic event so it leaves us thinking he falls on the other end of that spectrum where he has never been wounded and therefore never wants to be. Snow has lived in the luxury of the Capital his entire life and has seen how the other half lives and it seems to convince him that he never wants to be on the other side of the fence. It almost fuels him in his desire for power and could be what led him to his eventual obsession with power believing it would keep him living the good life, too bad he never heard that the higher you climb the farther you fall.
The two characteristics that Snow severely lack are sex appeal and relatability, which only makes him scarier! Snow is not sexy in any way, he is an old man with sores in his mouth that smell. Not to say that older men can’t be attractive, but Snow is purposefully described as almost grotesque. I think that’s so that he is intimidating, being in his presence should strike fear in the hearts of those that go up against him. Now in the movies he is portrayed by the amazingly talented Donald Sutherland who is even now still an attractive man, so the whole grotesque thing may not have been fully achieved on film but Sutherland was able to portray his grossness just the same. Snow is not relatable, at all. I sincerely hope none of you relate to his obsessive need to be in power and are willing to kill innocent children for sport on a yearly basis to maintain it. In this sense his total lack of relatability makes Snow a great villain. He is scary in the same way that the famous dictators of history are scary, we can’t imagine being like that and the fact that people like them exist scares us. I think that’s what makes him so scary to us in this day and age, we fear losing our freedom, something Americans especially hold on to, so someone like Snow who represents people who seek to take it from us is a scary concept.
The Hunger Games trilogy and film series made many readers and movie goers think about our world and the way it’s being run. What may at first seem to be a well-constructed plot turns into a carefully drawn out criticism of our society. I don’t know if Suzanne Collins meant to do this, but she certainly succeed in making some of us think. President Snow represents a real fear facing the world today, but thankfully for every President Snow, there are at least ten Katniss’ out there ready to defend the innocent. So the next time you face injustice take a note from this series and confront it. If we don’t do anything to change what’s wrong with the world it just leaves more room for the corrupt to take power. So thanks President Snow for the tour and the lesson.
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