Big Brother is Watching You

And for some reason it’s just not creepy anymore

To be honest, I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not this book warranted a review. It’s not that it’s not a good book, because it is. It’s not that it’s not interesting enough, because it is. And it’s not that it’s really old, and smells like a hospital, because it does. Maybe I just need to buy a newer copy, or maybe it’s just not that creepy anymore.

I’m certain that there was a time when George Orwell’s 1984 was astonishing: a look into the filthy heart of our social structure, and how bad things could get if left unchecked. Orwell tells the story of a man living in this dark future, where the government watches (or at least tries to) your every move, creates its own version of reality and truth, and quietly removes anyone and anything that disagrees, with all of this simply taken for granted by the masses. The majority of society is made up of lower class laborers, and even the many who work for the government have little to spare. But for some reason, explaining the plot of the book simply feels redundant.

The concept of the book and its title are so deeply engrained into our society that the phrase 1984 invariably floats in through whispers and blogs anytime the government does something brazen, and almost anyone has heard at one time or another something referred to as “Orwellian;” so much so that my spellcheck doesn’t even think about correcting the word. Even when it thinks that the word “spellcheck” is spelled wrong. I’ll give you a hyphen! But I digress.

Why is it that we are all aware, one might even say forewarned, of the dangerous path of government control by this book, or at least the cautionary tales in general that it represents, yet all around us our governments move closer and closer to the ideal of “The Party” found in Orwell’s book? Although our government is by no means the greatest transgressor in this new front of social control, this is still by no reason to ignore it.

When George W. admitted to illegal wiretapping, there was some hubbub, a few people said, “Oooo, Big Brother is watching,” chuckled to themselves, and wrote it off. Is it still going on? Yep. Does anyone care anymore? Apparently not. Habeas corpus is revoked, the official rules surrounding this change are hidden from the public, and . . . yeah, about the same thing. A little sigh of discontent, one or two 1984 references, and we go on about our business. Even with this beautiful frame of reference, this ever-so-succinct warning of impending doom for our society, it all seems to be little more than a joke now.

Something has gone wrong along the way. Something has backfired. In trying to point out the shortcomings of human nature, Orwell wrote a book that was too good. It was so good in fact, that it is considered one of the most significant works of fiction of the last century. It was so good that it has been translated into sixty-two languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. It was so good that it was taught to millions of children as course material in junior high. It was so good that – now wait just a minute here! A government committee decided that a book about defying and usurping the government – which is necessarily more corrupt and untrustworthy than it seems at all times, in the book – should be taught in our schools? Does this seem at all strange to you? It certainly does to me.

One would like to think that their friendly, frazzled, underpaid, ideological 9th grade English teacher had something to do with this decision, but they did not. It came from higher up than that. And in that decision, this precautionary tale that was destined to reshape society became boring and cliché, like all high school texts do. I’m not necessarily saying that I’m paranoid enough to believe that this was a deliberate act on the part of the government, but it has had this effect nonetheless. Orwell (a.k.a. Eric Arthur Blair), a political leftist and part-time anarchist, in writing such a well-crafted novel, has inadvertently made cliché and drab the very ideas he was trying to denounce. His ideas have become so common that they have lost their sting. Mention “Big Brother” nowadays and many people think it’s little more than a dead-horse reality show.

Stop and think the next time you hear about the government overstepping their apparent bounds. Reflect a moment whenever someone makes a parallel to 1984 or “Big Brother”, and wonder what these arbitrary alterations to your “inalienable” human rights means. These ideas are even more relevant and immediate than they were fifty-eight years ago when the book was written.

Oh, and read the book. It’s good.

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9 Comments

  1. truth9 said,

    November 10, 2007 at 2:23 am

    Ummm, that’s a nice societal rant there. Not really a book review, per se. Still, you make some good points, and I agree about the influence of the book, though I think the book is still creepy.

  2. Wes said,

    November 10, 2007 at 3:52 am

    Well, I make no claim that this one is a book review, per se. Only some ideas. I hope my next review to be more ‘reviewful’. Ahem.

  3. Maciek Alexander Budzinski said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Umm, Youre a fucking moron.
    First off, Educate yourself on the meaning of the world Review…
    1984 is more relevant now than it’s ever been before, we are on the cusp of living the Orwellian fiction, with rights being not taken away, but simply handed over on the pretense of peace and freedom…
    I wasted enough time on you…
    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face… forever.

  4. Wes said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Though I doubt you have any interest in a reply, Maciek, I thought I might as well, as I have nothing better to do, what with with all the free time Not posting on here has provided me.
    “First off”, were you to have read the first two comments, the fact that this Book “unReview” is not so much a book review as it is a societal rant and perhaps little more than a flimsy conspiracy theory has already been fully recognized. No need to be rude about it.
    Secondly, it was recognized in multiple points in the post that the ideas within 1984 are more ‘relevant’ today than ever before. The argument was not against that, but that people in general are becoming less and less recognizant of that fact.
    Luckily the world has people like you and I to draw attention to the spiralling descent of human rights with our brief, conclusion-jumping assertions in little-read corners of the internet!

  5. truth9 said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    Did the person above me here even bother to read what you wrote? I’m thinking not, or he failed to grasp its meaning.

  6. Maciek Alexander Budzinski said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Hahaha, touchè…
    I am a byproduct of my enviroment, getting mad is the only real, unconvoluted emotion I know, my only human right… Not even human but animal, as I constantly feel backed into a corner, thats constantly getting smaller…

    I believe with the ammont of people there is out there, structure and governing is a must. But not like this, and not for these reasons…

    Its already too late to do anything about any of this, we are simply already getting led by our hands to our prisons… and we shuffle our feet in their direction, My only saviour is the thought that something so intricate will collapse under its own weight, that no handfull of people could ever conseal the human spirit, it could be a year, or a hundred years…

    we will persevere and within a couple thousand years we will be in the exact same fucking situation…

  7. Maciek Alexander Budzinski said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    The truth is truth9, That I failed to grasp the fact that the internet gave even more morons the ability to huff their own excrement and think their dumbass pointless opinions, and bullshit empty rhetoric is actually making a fucking difference…

  8. Maciek Alexander Budzinski said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    …and by the way Wes, you are incorrect, by posting something on little-read corners of the internet… I appreciate a reply

    😀

  9. truth9 said,

    July 2, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Pot.

    Kettle.

    Black.


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