1984 and Brave New World Comparison
As years pass by, human society has advanced in very unpredictable ways due to the evolution of ideas and technologies. It is somewhat cloudy to forseek what new advancements that may arrive in the future. In the 20th century, two dystopian writers had predicted the fate of the world that we live in today. The novels Nineteen Eighty-Four written by George Orwell and Brave New World written by Aldous Huxley both envisioned how society would end up as a dystopia. Most of the elements that they presented in their novels ended up becoming a reality; however, only one’s vision of the future was more likely than the other. Huxley’s prediction is more likely than Orwell’s vision. The 1998 film version of Brave New World based on Huxley’s novel and Orwell’s novel both have similarities on what they thought how society would be like, but it differently approaches the use of their ideas. For example, the methods that are used to control people are different from one another. The political party uses fear in Nineteen Eighty-Four and pleasure is used in Brave New World. In similarity, both works use propaganda/advertisements in their societies to control society.
The political party uses technology in Nineteen Eighty-Four that has been modified to enable surveillance over the people of Oceania. A middle-class citizen named Winston Smith had to deal with these technologies called the telescreens everywhere he went. He states, “The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard” (5). If you were a citizen of Oceania, you would be in constant fear knowing that someone is always watching your actions. You wouldn’t be able to do the things you want to do alone in your own time. In this dystopian world, privacy ceases to exist. All the actions and conversations you make are easily recognizable by the people monitoring the telescreens.
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Telescreens are now easily recognizable in modern society today. According to an online research database academic article, “Your Secret Stingray’s No Secret Anymore…,” written by Stephanie Pell and Christopher Soghoian proves that we use telescreens in a more advanced way. They state, “In fact, the vast majority of surveillance performed by law enforcement agencies in the United States is, almost certainly, carrier-assisted surveillance. But cellular phone transmissions can also be captured without the assistance, or even the knowledge, of the carriers.” Most devices such as cameras, cell phones and other smart devices all have the same components as telescreens. Business who own their products can see their users activity. Your location, credit information, phone conversations, and other uses you might do on the web can all be tracked down by the companies who created those products. The National Security Agency is also able to use this information to provide the safety of society from hackers. Everyone now these days owns at least one smart device and allows people to do more things than telescreens.
Throughout the film Brave New World, the political party uses pleasure to control society. They distribute a drug called soma to its people to keep them under control. Ingesting soma is a temporary way to relieve problems. If someone is having a rough day having sadness or anger, taking some soma will help the pain go away; It lightens up their jubilation and arousal. Everyone in this society cannot live without soma because it’s not fun having the feeling of depression. This drug helps remove prejudice and jealousy which controls people.
There are now multiple different kinds of medications that have similar effects of soma in today’s society. In the Big Think online article, “Brave New World Predicted 2018 Better Than Any Other Novel,” the author Scotty Hendricks states, “While today we have a war on drugs, it is not on all drugs. Antidepressants, a powerful tool for the treatment of mental illness, are so popular that one in eight Americans are on them right now.” Even though we don’t have the exact perfect effects of the drug such as soma, medication has advanced throughout time helping people feel better than before. Treating different illnesses are now safer to use than before, but there are still people using it for the wrong purposes. It’s possible that one day that someone might be able to develop a drug just like soma, but that would it would be experimented for a long time before people use it.
Using propaganda to brainwash people is another form of control that political parties use to prevent people from rebelling. One of the ministries called the Ministry of Truth lies to the people of Oceania. The main character is an editor in this ministry and admits the truth about it. He states, “And the Records Department, after all, was itself only a single branch of the Ministry of Truth, whose primary job was not to reconstruct the past but to supply the citizens of Oceania with newspapers, films, textbooks, telescreen programmers…” (54). They have the power to manipulate any historical events so that people won’t know the truth of their world. There are doublethink slogans written on the buildings and posters with the caption saying ‘Big brother is watching you,’ can be found all over Oceania. Most of these are lies, but everyone is forced to believe it.
The use of propaganda has existed before the prediction of what Orwell saw of the future. Propaganda was used at churches to make people believe in certain religions. It was also everywhere during war times to help support soldiers. There are probably uses of propaganda today in society such as what Orwell predicted, but there are more advertisements used in modern times.
Huxley envisioned the world primarily focusing the on growing economy where people are conditioned to consume products at stores on a daily basis which is mass consumerism. During a scene in the film, there were factory workers who were creating new products. They had no choice but to listen to the sound system repeating the same words saying, “Work is fun. The harder you work, the more things we can buy. New things, I hate old things. I want all new things. The ending is better than mending. If it’s broke, don’t fix it.” All the factory workers are obligated to work hard and should always get new items. Forcing these motivative words at the factory workers are used to motivate them so that they feel accomplished for having the same job every day. On television, it shows these words in stores while people pass by them; It is ubiquitous around wherever they go. The use of these words is propaganda in advertising forms because they are trying to sell soma to make them happier and also spreading false information that new things are always needed to live.
In modern society, communication is much easier than before. You can now easily sell products by catching people’s attention because many people today now at least owns a television or smartphone. It’s easier now to advertise products to multiple consumers all at once. In the New York Times article, “Anywhere the Eye Can See, It’s Likely to See an Ad,” by Louise Story, he states, “Marketers used to try their hardest to reach people at home when they were watching TV or reading newspapers or magazines. But consumers’ viewing and reading habits are so scattershot now that many advertisers say the best way to reach time-pressed consumers is to try to catch their eye at literally every turn.” Every time we turn the television or scroll through social media sites, it shows advertisements frequently through our eyes. Most of the ads try to persuade consumers to get rid of their old items and for the latest product. Sometimes some of these ads are propaganda to vote or to support an individual to change your opinions about him/her viewpoints.
Both Orwell and Huxley predicted how the future might end up in the future, but the world was mostly heading toward Huxley’s vision. Orwell had correctly predicted the use of technologies to surveillance it’s people since society today all have cameras, microphones, and artificial intelligence which might now be tracking down people information. It’s effortless for the government to break-in someone’s phone and is frightening knowing that. Huxley is more likely correct because his futuristic world is slowing reaching that phase in the future. Medication is now easier to prescribe to people; It can enhance mood just like soma. There isn’t an exact drug that exists today like soma, but there have been new research breakthroughs that might help make that fictional drug possible. The use of propaganda in Orwell’s future had already existed in the past and there less of it today; It doesn’t compare to Huxley’s mass consumer dilemma. Everyone today is always trying to upgrade to the latest models of cars, phones, television and other high-tech gadgets. Advertisements are the reason for this problem due to the constant reminder that we’re missing out with the new hottest products. It is very unpredictable to determine what next for our world, and the ideas in both novels that haven’t happened yet could soon find its way that might end up as a dystopia.