Film Theory: How to NOT DIE! – Hunger Games pt. 2

Film Theory: How to NOT DIE! – Hunger Games pt. 2


Welcome to “How to win the Hunger Games, pt. 2”! Thank goodness there isn’t a part 3 to this series, otherwise we’d have to break it in half
and make two unnecessarily slow episodes out of it. Am I right? *badum-tish!* Hello, Internet! Welcome to Film Theory, where we’re devoting a second episode
to legally sanctioned child killing! I’m like a life advice vlogger,
except instead of teaching how to do quinoa five ways I’m teaching you how to manipulate a gladiator-style bloodbath to make sure you’re the sole survivor. So, you know, the usual stuff. When we left off, you had just
avoided death at the Cornucopia, and you also managed to grab
a mystery bag on the way out. So now you’re equipped
and running blindly through the arena. In a relatively good arena,
you have three days until dehydration, so classic survival theory says everything else can wait.
Water is your first priority. Unfortunately, the Gamemakers know this too. We don’t know the layout of every Hunger Games
just from the movies, or even the books, but we do know nine of them. Of the nine arenas we know, spanning 25 years
of Hunger Games, six of those used water as a weapon. The most common way is through thirst: either making water poisonous,
setting the arena in the desert, or making it accessible in some weird way
like tapping into trees. So statistically, we know that two thirds of the time,
there will be some major water issue, almost definitely a shortage. So while Cato is still sharpening his katana
back at the Cornucopia, scout the arena. Find feasible water sources and test them slowly
so you can avoid getting poisoned. If you manage to find a water source on your first day,
you’ll be doing better than the majority of your peers. And besides, 40% of them already died
at the cornucopia this morning, so… uh… more water for you, I guess. At this point, I sense that the comments
are starting to raise a very valid point: Could you survive better out there with a partner? Now you’re getting into some of
the most complicated strategy of the Games, the part that involves everyone else. In survival theory…
yes, there is really a thing called survival theory, and no, it’s not the next spinoff Theory channel.
“Hello, Internet! Welcome to Survival Theory!” In survival theory, there are two schools of thought
for solo vs. group survival. The advantages of solo survival are
that you move quicker, you leave less of a trail so that you can’t be tracked, and you get a bigger share of the food
and water when the times get light. All of those are a really big deal in the Hunger Games. But there’s also an argument to be made
the other way around. Group survival allows you to hunt
in a wider radius faster, and doubles the odds that one of you will be carrying
something useful when you need it the most. But there’s a fundamental problem here: The Hunger Games doesn’t reflect
traditional survival theory. In survival theory, the goal is for everyone to survive.
The goal in the Hunger Games is to be the only survivor. Meaning that no matter how awesome your group is, eventually you know you’ll all kill each other. And that changes everything. In fact, the further into the Games you get,
the scarier a group prospect becomes. You’re okay for the first couple of days because there are
enough enemies around to force you to stick together. Past that, it’s actually a matter of game theory! Uh… not that “Game Theory”, but rather “game theory”. Game theory that we’re talking about on Film Theory,
not game theory over on Game Theory! We’re so meta right now. Fun fact: this is the first time an episode has covered game theory and it’s not happening on Game Theory. Ironic.
Anyway, it’s sort of like the prisoner’s dilemma, where if you stick with your group,
you have good odds of going to the end, but you’re tempted to betray them the whole time
because only one of you can win. Think about this: your group of three teams up
at the beginning of the game to take out Cato, because he’s the biggest threat. It takes you eight days
to hunt him down and kill him, but you massacre him with your amazing knife skills
that you honed last episode. Go team, good job, one step closer to winning. Maybe there’s still three or four other players
running around in the Games, but your biggest mutual threat is now gone. And all of a sudden, the reality hits you:
this little threesome can’t go on forever. Only one of you can win.
So should you wait until everyone else is gone, or do you get a leg up by killing
the other two members of your group in their sleep? If you do, your odds go from one in six
to one in four, and those statistics matter a lot. There’s no way to predict where the tipping point is
for your group to turn on you; it’s all situational. But there are even more risk factors
that make being in a group worse. People who form groups often do it to protect
themselves from the most aggressive players. Think of Rue teaming up with Katniss
to protect herself from the careers. So what happens when Katniss
has bow and arrowed almost everyone else? Now Katniss is the biggest threat to Rue,
and statistically Rue has the best chance of winning by killing her off when Katniss doesn’t expect it. So if you’re a leader of a group early on,
you become the biggest threat the fastest. I’ve seen enough seasons of Survivor
to know that the most aggressive players are the first to get thrown out by their own alliance. In the Hunger Games, you don’t get to be
the second person to betray your group. Anyone who isn’t first is dead.
As a result, stay solo. The group psychology of the arena also brings us to
the last big issue you have to face directly: Should you hunt or be hunted? It’s basically the question of whether the odds
are in your favor by playing offensively or defensively. And it’s more complicated than you think. Statistically, 16 out of the 27, or about 60%,
played defensively until they absolutely had to, telling you that you should only
be aggressive if necessary. And if you need more reasons, consider this:
in the 74th Games, five of the 27 kills were revenge kills. In the 75th Games, there were three,
even though those games only lasted three days and practically every tribute was Katniss’s ally. The probability of a revenge kill goes up dramatically
if you’re the one hunting everyone else down. especially if you’re trying to pick off an alliance
like the careers. Killing one of them dramatically raises your chances
of being targeted and killed by a different one. Any time you signal the fact you’re a threat,
you’re statistically more likely to die. So laying low and waiting for everyone else
to stop surviving or turn on each other is not only the safest bet,
but also the most effective route to victory. So there you have it. Based on sheer probability,
your clearest path to winning the Hunger Games is to train for survival, grab tools early,
sit alone at lunch, only use your knife on rabbits
and play for the long game. Does it feel like something’s missing here?
That’s because it is. So far I haven’t mentioned the one factor about the Games that eclipses every other strategy in the arena. The Hunger Games isn’t a competition,
it’s a competitive reality show. I mentioned earlier that I’ve watched a lot of Survivor,
and I’ve definitely seen enough to know that no amount of stealth, survival skills or killer instinct
is any match for reality TV producers. And this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In the movies, they mention all the time how important
the Hunger Games are for the image of the Capitol. In the movies and in the books, we see the Gamemakers
making choices that shove tributes closer together, further apart, to make the Games more interesting
in case anyone hasn’t died in a while. We see them target tributes
with specific traps aimed at them. The Games aren’t any more real
than a reality TV show we watch now. I mean, except that they’re really killing children.
That part is much more real. But the purpose is the same.
When we watch reality TV, we want a good story, compelling characters, someone to root for,
someone to root against. We want to see growth, development. And in a lot of ways, how people survive under the
ridiculous pressure the show producers put them under. There’s a reason why the Gamemakers
only flooded an arena once, why they only set the Hunger Games in the Arctic once:
because it was boring. No one cares about kids who all drown
or just freeze to death instead of killing each other. The Hunger Games is about providing a good story. Statistically, what gets people through the
Hunger Games might have to do with their abilities, yes, but it has more to do with how they impact ratings. Just look at the collection of interesting winners
in Catching Fire. Their interviews with Caesar all tell interesting,
compelling stories about who they are as individuals. They all have clear brands and are highly recognizable. The girl with the sharpened teeth.
The girl who is totally edgy and goes off the rails. The brother and sister. And of course, the most classic example:
Peeta and Katniss, the star-crossed lovers. These people are survivors because
they know how to make themselves memorable. They’ve created interesting stories around themselves,
which is why they were able to survive their first Games. So let’s go through again
and see what the strategy looks like now. You need to build your story early,
and there is no way you can play the “cute kid” card. This is a show where you’re killing off children,
so everybody is pretty sympathetic. And sure, Rue may be an underdog
that people like to root for, but she’s such an underdog
that her odds of survival are astronomical. It wouldn’t be believable for the Games
to shape her into a winner. In the actual movie, Katniss immediately stands out
when she volunteers in place of her sister. She’s increasing her odds of dying
by entering the Hunger Games, but statistically, she’s lowering her chances of dying
as much as possible by winning the audience’s sympathy immediately. If this were America’s Got Talent,
that’s a guaranteed ticket through to the semifinals. People immediately know who she is. She’s immediately established herself as a brand
and a potentially interesting hero story or tragic story. Now, while you’re in the Capitol, your best chances
to win the audience over are with the story about yourself. This is where Katniss’s
love story gives her another statistical advantage. This time, Peeta pushes the odds in their favor
by setting them both apart from the other tributes. Not for their skills, not for their abilities,
but for the story the audience can watch unfold as long as the producers keep them alive. So what about the training?
Well, here the Gamemakers are watching you. Think of this like your casting call. You need to pick
a skill that distinguishes you from the crowd, that shows that you’re going to be
an interesting character to follow. Sure, anyone can throw a javelin or do a memory puzzle. But camouflaging yourself into the room – Peeta’s strategy here – brilliant. Because it’s not only super deadly,
but it’s also super memorable. And the Gamemakers, your most influential audience members, are going to remember you. Katniss firing an arrow at the Gamemakers? Again, shows that she is super deadly
and a super interesting character. This matters a lot. Statistically, the higher your Gamemaker score, the better your chances of winning. Beside your score making you look more skilled,
more importantly, it makes you more memorable. Audiences remember the one kid who scored an eleven.
They don’t remember the dozen or so who scored a six. So now that you’re in the arena, what do you do? Actually, the same stuff I told you
over the last two episodes. Avoid the Cornucopia.
Not only because it’s your best chance of survival now, but also because it makes sure that your good character remains intact for the audience. You look like the underdog
with your backpack full of twine instead of Leatherface
with ten dead bodies strewn around you. Remember, the goal is to keep sympathy on your side
as long as possible. So don’t blow it by killing off that six-year-old
from District 10 on the first day. Next, you’re going to survive,
just like we talked about in the last episode. Not just because it’s your best odds in the arena, but because it demonstrates
your clever survival skills to the audience, that they’re rooting for a smart and resourceful person.
I mean, have you ever rooted against Bear Grylls? I don’t think so!
You admire him for being resourceful. You also go solo, not just because of survival theory, but because it allows you to more fully
distinguish your personality to the audience. They get to know you as an individual
rather than your group. And even though they might like you in a group at first, the longer you stay in an alliance, the more likely
you’re gonna have to start killing people off. No one likes someone
who turns on their teammates at the last minute, so being in a group hurts your chances
of keeping the audience on your side in the long run. From there, you want to continue to play defensively, showing the audience that you only kill
when you absolutely have to. You’ll wait for the game traps
to kill the last couple of opponents. Ideally you’ll get to mercy kill one or two of them. And finally… you win.
But you win because the audience wanted you to win. Because the producers wanted to keep you around
for the storyline and the views. Sure, you could make it about survival, but it’s really about whether you accomplish
the goal of the Hunger Games: Entertaining the Capitol and creating a compelling story about 23 kids dying to remind everyone
about the power of the Games. So where does that leave us?
Can you actually make the odds ever in your favor? The answer is absolutely yes. We’ve shown you that everything you do,
from the way you eat, train, survive, play and even kill people
will put the odds very much in your favor. But we also learned that even if you have
the absolute best survival skills out there, if you’re not telling a good story, you can have
your face projected into the sky at any point. In the end, you should do everything you can
to stack the odds in your favor, but more importantly, you should remember
that your very best strategy is to have the audience stack those odds for you. But hey, that’s just a theory.
A film theory! Aaaaaand cut!

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