President Snow doesn’t know how to say “Panem” either
Maybe the real reason there’s so much unrest in Panem, the setting for the massively successful Hunger Games series, is because nobody can agree on how to pronounce the post-apocalyptic patchwork of districts. Throughout Part 1 of Mockingjay — the first installment in the two-part franchise finale, which earned a whopping $275 million at the global box office this weekend — multiple characters utter the name multiple ways. Donald Sutherland’s tyrannical President Snow, for example, opts for “PAN-am” (like the defunct airline), while his rival for the seat of power, President Coin (Julianne Moore), can’t seem to decide which pronunciation she prefers. In her big speech to the rest of District 13’s rebel forces at the end of the film, she offers up several variations, including “PAH-nEHm,” “PUH-nem” and “Peh-nAHm.”
So who has it right? You’ve got to defer to Hunger Games mastermind, author Suzanne Collins, who has said that she borrowed the name of her future dystopia from ancient Rome and the phrase “Panem et Circenses.” (That translates to “Bread and Circuses,” a reference to the two things that politicians believe will placate the public.) And based on online pronunciation guides, “PAH-nehm” is the way to go, which means that President Coin is the (slightly) better candidate for the more elocution-conscious citizens. Then again, she does have a tendency to flip-flop in key moments, whereas President Snow at least mispronounces “Panem” with consistency and authority. Honestly, throw both of them out of office and put Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman in charge. At least he’s got the media training.
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