Some of you may have read recently that sales of George Orwell’s “1984” have sky rocketed due to the scandalous NSA doing scandalous things. It appears that these Orwell virgins are drawing a parallel between the omnipresent and oppressive “Big Brother” and the NSA data mining private information from tech-giants such as Google and Facebook in order to justify their paranoia and inevitably exclaim, “I told you so! They have been watching us! Let’s impeach the president!” But that’s not exactly turning the light bulb on; it’s closer to letting light through a pinhole camera. Everything is not exposed instantaneously, but rather slowly…very slowly. I can forgive them (I guess) for having little pinhole camera brains and taking a little while to process the whole picture. It’s not their fault their cognitive abilities have been gradually diminished by mass amounts of horrible pop music and the overflow of information easily accessed by any smart phone.
In fact, that is the MAJOR difference between “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World” and the irony in up-ticking sales not for Huxley’s prized novel but for Orwell’s is…well…ironic, because we are living in Huxley’s vision of the future, not Orwell’s.
In Orwell’s vision, he saw a society controlled by fear, by a governmental force so powerful that they had no need to hide their intentions. The government or “Big Brother” unabashedly controls every aspect of every citizen’s personal life. Though his novel, Orwell expressed his fear of government banning books, depriving citizens of information, and that we would become a captive culture. Inflicting pain or killing the “nay-sayers” would be the way to control the people.
Huxley saw a future society in which the people were their own “Big Brothers”, pacified by technology and complacent in the lack of desire to think for themselves. He feared that no one would read books, and that society would be overloaded with an ocean of irrelevant information so the truth would become buried too deep for anyone to exert the energy to find. Huxley envisioned a culture of ambivalence and triviality. The people would be controlled by pleasure. As Huxley remarked in “Brave New World: Revisited”, “the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions.” Basically, Jersey Shore is more important than human rights. (You gotta fight! For your right! To…I’m just gonna play Call of Duty and stuff my face with Hot Cheetos.)
Back to the irony of all this: Somewhere along the way everyone heard about “1984”, about a book that had to deal with the government spying on people. Hate to break it to those folks, but he government did not simply spy on people; it was down-right oppressive. Spying implies the person being watched has no idea they are being watched. The citizens in “1984” knew they were being watched. Granted, I would hope that people in the USA already knew they were being watched so the the announcement of the NSA doing their shady business shouldn’t have been a shock to most people, and probably for the many of the same reasons the people of “A Brave New World” were numbed via television coma.
The US government and the NSA are not like the tyrannical government in “1984”. (However, that tittle goes to Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and his minions…most of the Republican party. A few think they are doing humanity a favor by trying to impose a zero-tolerance abortion law on all women in the USA, regardless if they have been raped or are going to have a baby born without a brain. Yeah…YOU are the Big Brother part of this equation. You will not “thought control” my uterus!) We’ve already been pacifying ourselves since the 1920’s, and jumping on this 1984 craze is just an effect of simplistic, misguided, social mass-media. We are living in “A Brave New World”.
No? Still not convinced? Go watch Idiocracy.
To everyone that has jumped on the “1984” bandwagon, I dedicate this song to you: