The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins are some of the most popular Young Adult books ever written. The sales of the trilogy surpassed those of the Harry Potter series. I wondered what type of online fan community might exist online since many of the fans of the books would be teenagers. I know my students use Instagram and Facebook, but would teenagers use Twitter? What might they talk about with the release of Catching Fire this fall? Would what people post about #TheHungerGames create an online community? I followed this hashtag through the fall semester to learn whether a community was created around #TheHungerGames.
Update January 3, 2014:
After following the community for the course of the semester, I discovered that I opened Martin Hawksey’s TAGS in October to archive #TheHungerGames. Approximately 20 days later – one month before the movie’s official release date – it reached its maximum cell capacity. After culling 30 random tweets, I applied the next step in the Grounded Theory process. Twitter Archive 2
I saw that the majority of tweets incorporating the hashtag primarily served three rhetorical purposes: mediating, narrating and dispersing. Many tweets narrated the users current experience then included pictures or links to other websites or articles. I defined very few tweets as primarily mediating, but many of those narrating and anticipating chose to mediate that experience for their followers and those also including The Hunger Games hashtag. Another noticeable connection was that users narrating their activities expressed a high level of excitement or anticipation about The Hunger Games, so I often used both mediating and anticipating as secondary codes for those. I defined retweeting as dispersing because much of the retweets for The Hunger Games hashtag came from what I would consider official or fan accounts for the series or actors cast as major characters. It appears that the majority of Hunger Games enthusiasts simply want to share their involvement or excitement with like-minded people. While those including #thehungergames in their tweets are narrating their involvement or excitement about The Hunger Games, there are few if any conversations taking place between members of the larger community.
As the popularity of the films encourages interest in the literature, there may be a shift in the relationships in the community. Overall, The Hunger Games fans – whether they be fans of the literature, celebrities, or music – seemed to simply want to share their interest and excitement about the release of Catching Fire.
Something unique to #TheHungerGames is that it included fans of musicians whose songs were on the soundtrack, celebrities starring in the films, and the book series.
The trilogy falls into the science fiction and dystopian literature genres. The stories are set in an unspecified time in the futuristic nation of Panem. Each novel chronicles a new adventure of 16-year-old heroine, Katniss Everdeen against the totalitarian government of the Capitol. With the romantic love triangle of Katniss, Peeta and Gale as a backdrop for the suspense and violence of the arena, the books easily made the transition to the big screen. As a high school teacher, I considered how incorporating the movies in my class would benefit my students and engage their interest. I created two lesson plans that one could use to engage student interest, enhance understanding of the dystopian genre, and discuss the uses of social networking in effective communication.
Lesson 1: Dystopia