Throughout the weekend I watched Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. I have always been a sucker for the futuristic movies, the viewing depictions of what the future might look like holds a fascination that, I trust, need not be explained as I watched 1984 and Brave New World in particular, I was struck by both the similarities and differences between the movies. For instance, both movies depict a terrifying version of the future consisting of totalitarian governments, the dehumanization of the populace, extreme social conditioning from on high, rigid, prescribed caste systems, and the obliteration of Christianity.
In both stories there is a “hero” who gradually awakens to the horror of the society in which he finds himself. In 1984, it is Winston and Julia. In Brave New World it’s John, “the savage. ” In both movies, the heroes feel that there is more than a State-constructed reality. Yet, in both stories the heroes end in despair and defeat, unable to change the social structure or see the victorious intrusion of greater transcendent reality into their bleak worlds. In both stories, books are outlawed, individuality is suppressed, free thought is unacceptable, and a suffocating collectivism defined and controlled by the State is enforced.
The differences are striking too. For instance, Orwell depicts a future of government-enforced sterility, sex is essentially outlawed and taboo. Huxley, on the other hand, depicts a hyper sexualized society in which sex has not been outlawed so much as decasualized. Children’s erotic games are encouraged, monogamy and marriage are unheard of, and promiscuity is a virtue. Sex is simply a mechanical diversion for the pleasure-seeking people. In this, Huxley was certainly more apocalyptic than Orwell. Orwell depict of the future as one of constant if largely imaginary war.
War is always in the air as a means of keeping patriotic fervor, not so in Huxley’s future. The masses are controlled by drug, soma, as well as constant tapings of the conditioning the brainwashed people have all undergone since birth. In 1984, Big Brother is constantly rewriting history and controlling it, teams of workers, like Winston, spend their days rewriting bits of newspaper articles to make them fit more neatly into the State-approved version of reality. In Brave New World, the story of the past is allowed to be what it is because the people have been conditioned to find it repulsive.
The difference in Brave New World and our society today Despite Huxley's prediction that there will be no true "religion" in the future, it can be found in today's society because of man's need for answers to questions that cannot be solved by science and technology. Unlike the Utopian society, religion plays an important role in people's lives today. It represents our principles and values and guides us through our everyday lives. Religion also gives us something to believe in and a set of rules to live by.
However, who is to say that one hundred years from now people will still believe and practice religion? Religion has disappeared and has been replaced by the worship of another God who is Ford. I feel that this statement contradicts the way we think in our present day society; we need religion and an almighty god to believe in. Besides creating a god and teaching us the way we should live our lives, religion also helps people deal with our stress and problems. Unlike modern society, Brave New World deals with stress by the elimination of problems through the use of soma.
If one were to compare Orwell’s 1984 and today, one of my first examples is the monitors that every citizen had in there home. Yes, it is true that we do not have monitors following us every second of the day, but many people are probably unaware of how unprotected and public our private lives can be. With security cameras and the internet, it really would not be to difficult for someone in the government to keep track of what we do every day. Another example of the similarities of Orwell’s society and ours is the issues with people speaking what they feel.
For example, there was an incident a few years ago when a man wore an “Anti-War” t-shirt to the mall. After a while the security guards asked the man to leave. How different is this from Winston containing a diary that expressed his hate for “Big Brother”? Its true the man wearing the t-shirt was not tortured for speaking his mind, but the fact that they singled him out for something that he believed was just a bad choice. George Orwell’s idea for a world in 1984 shows a nation that holds all of their freedoms and their rights very close.
Unfortunately, those rights can be under attack at any time, which is similar to the threats of today’s freedoms and rights in our society. Both governments do not view people as important individuals. They do not care whether they live or die. The government uses the majority of the people for their benefit. The people do all the hard work so the government doesn't have to do much. Both governments do not believe in strong family relationships. Both never know what it is like to have a family or to really love someone. Both movies do not view each other as important; there is no real love.
In today’s society in reference to “Big Brother” is that today privacy is mostly an illusion. A useful illusion? No question about it, one that allows us to live without being paralyzed by self-consciousness. The illusion of privacy gives us room to be fully human, sharing intimacies and risking mistakes. But all the while, the line between private and public space is as porous as tissue paper. The adulterous couple sneaking off to a hotel: Is someone following them? The teenagers skipping school to visit the mall, will I bump into the woman from book club?
The solitary motorist thrashing an air guitar at a traffic light, will the driver in the next lane look over? Like children of a certain age who think closing their eyes will make them invisible, we assume that no one sees or hears our private moments, and we are right; until someone watches or listens. There are those who say that if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of. But the fact is, when a government agency can monitor everyone's phone calls, we have all become suspects. This is one of the most frightening aspects of our modern society.
And even more frightening is the fact that we have gone so far down the road; there is probably no turning back. Unless you spend your life in a wilderness cabin, totally off the grid, there is simply no way the government won't have information about you stored away somewhere. “Technological advances make it possible for devices to listen to your conversations from miles away and through your walls,” Justice Sotomayor said. “We are in that brave new world, and we are capable of being in that Orwellian world, too. ”