When we look at texts and specifically texts of the same genre it is common that we find significant connections and these links between texts are able to make us understand the texts in a more complex way. The four texts that I will study and make connections between are, “Nineteen Eighty Four” by George Orwell, “Minority Report” by Stephen Spielberg, “The Matrix” by the Wachowskis and George Orwell’s Language Essay. As all these texts are of the same genre, dystopian, the list of connections is huge. The one major connection however, is that all of these texts are able to control the population, without the population knowing it.
Nineteen Eighty Four is a novel that is set in the near future, thus making it a dystopia. The working class population are known as the proles and they are able to be controlled without knowing it. Through the party placing them in a state of fear they are unaware of the control that they are placed under. In the text we see this idea come across through the thought police and through the careful use of technology. “The telescreens received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a whisper would be picked up by it…there was no way of knowing if you were being watched at any given moment.” It is through this quotation that Orwell alerts us of the massive surveillance that the population are placed under. “So long as they continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbours, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.” Think about our lives. Social Media was once a novelty and it was once feared. When the population found out about that every message sent or received was recorded and could ultimately be used against you, they were horrified. The concept was extremely unusual and there was a lot of care take with social media during this time. Nowadays Social Media is part of everyday life. The constant presence of it, diminishing in importance as time goes on. It is this same concept that can be applied to Nineteen Eighty Four. Having something present like a telescreen or a secret authority will soon enough mean nothing to the population. The dangerous fact is that once this happens and people start to ignore the importance of such ideas the control that once consumed the minds of the proles is forgotten and it is at this point that The Party have gained control, without the population knowing or consenting to it. This control is also exerted through the manipulation of language. In the text it is one of the main ideas that if the Party can control the language and manipulate it to suit the needs of the Party, the thoughts of an individual can be controlled. “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” It is this exact reasoning that we should be cautious of and holding onto things such as our free speech and the control over our mind and body. In the novel the concept that O’Brian is forcing into Winston, the concept that “2+2=5” because the party wants it to be. Through the power the Party posses they are able to force this idea into the people, without reasoning.
The Matrix directed by the Wachowskis also has this element of controlling a population without them knowing it. Similar to “Nineteen Eighty Four”, “The Matrix” is a dystopia and the ideas and the controlling features are all alerting us to a greater message. In “The Matrix” the technology has advanced to the point where the AI have placed the population in a virtual reality and the machines are essentially growing the humans and using them as a power source. By putting the population in a world that is believable and that is not necessarily perfect, but fair, will place them in a state of control. The fear that so many dystopias use to place the population under control is not evident in the general population of the matrix. This is because the horrors of the “real world” are to ghastly to imagine. It is only through the characters that have been woken that we see the fear they live in. Because of the fear that “The Crew” have of the real world their aim is not to wake up every individual and put them is this horrible place, which is so much worse than their reality, but to stop the AI from advancing the slavery the humans are subject to. It is not apparent to “The Crew” but the fear they experience is essentially controlling the whole population. It is the same as the proles in “Nineteen Eighty Four”. They are not aware that by obeying the government and not rebelling it is effectively handing the power over to the higher organisations. The technology in “The Matrix” is also extremely advanced and is the ultimate example of how technology can be used to control us. “Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you seemed so sure it was real? But if were unable to wake up from that dream, how would you tell the difference between the dream world & the real world?” In this quote, distinguishing between reality and the real world is so difficult because of the advanced technology and the way that “the machines” are able to conceal a world behind the human slavery scheme. In other dystopias such as “Nineteen Eighty Four” and “Minority Report” the technology aspect is still hugely controlling but it is the most prevalent in “The Matrix”.
“Minority Report” is also a dystopian text and through technology, fear and the manipulation it is able to control a population. The film is centred around three “pre-cogs” who are able to see future murders. The main character, John Anderton, who is head of the pre-crime unit sees himself commit one of these murders and he is forced to go on the run. The hidden idea in this text is that can you be committed for something you haven’t physically done? Because of this idea the population live in a semi permanent state of fear and I believe that the way an individual behaves will change a lot because of this. Because the population are constantly being monitored and watched it is observed that they are afraid but the interesting concept is why are they? The “Pre-Crime” operation relys on the fact that the murder will actually take place and there is nothing that an individual can do that will change the outcome of the future. A scene in the movie that illustrates this fear and the constant scrutiny that the population are placed under is the “Spyder Scene” This scene involves two Pre-Crime agents deploying mechanical spyders in a accommodation building with the purpose being to ID everyone within the building. The birds eye view shows the spyders enter several different rooms and every person, no matter what they were doing, temporarily gave themselves up to this authority. The reactions of these people were of genuine fear and towards the end of the scene the office say’s to a distressed mother, “If you don’t want your kids to know terror, keep them away from me.” The ruthlessness shown by the officers and therefore by the government is terrifying and it is strongly comparable to the brutality that is shown by “The Computers” in “The Matrix”. The similarities don’t stop here however. Another connection that is worth mentioning is the anti-hero character that both texts have. John in “Minority Report” is pretty much identical to Neo in “The Matrix”. Both of these characters are average people but they are both given a significant amount of power. They are both fighting the society that seems to be comfortable for the majority of the population and it is only through these characters that we see the scale of the corruption in both dystopian worlds.
The final text that i have studied this year really ties all of the above texts together. George Orwell’s essay on Politics and the English language is all about the manipulation of language, an idea that is strongly evident in all of the other texts. I have chosen this piece of writing as it is able to accurately back up what i have said about the other texts and how they have manipulated language in all sorts of ways. “Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it.” This is the opening quote of the essay and it is worth discussing for a lot of reasons. Like Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” or Spielberg’s “Minority Report” the general idea is that a corrupting power is able to control the language and the people are immensely discouraged from taking any action against the government. What Orwell is trying to communicate in the rest of the essay is that if we are going to hold on to what we value the most and if we are going to remain in a state of freedom that we all need to speak up and not give in to the control of the powers. This is why in all of the texts that I have evaluated there is an anti hero character who defies the government and fights for his/her freedom. Be it Neo in “The Matrix” or John in “Minority Report” it is common to see these characters in dystopian texts and this is I believe one of the reasons that Orwell is a dystopian writer. In the essay it is also said that, “In our time it is broadly true that political writing is bad writing. Where it is not true, it will generally be found that the writer is some kind of rebel, expressing his private opinions and not a ‘party line.” This quote beautifully expresses the opinions of the anti-hero characters and because it is regarded as being “bad writing” is is understandable why these characters live in a state of fear.
If our language is no longer allowed to be free and we are restricted as to what we say and therefore think are we really human anymore. This is expressed in “Nineteen Eighty Four,” “The Matrix,” “Minority Report” and Orwell’s Essay on the English Language. The aspect that I find the most overwhelming is that all these texts are able to control the population and they are able to do this without the population knowing it. The question that is now in my mind is, How do we know? If we are unaware of the control then there is going to be no turning point and life will continue, for all we know we could be living in a controlled state right now. The technology, fear and manipulation of language are all alerting us to the extent of this corruption but how do we know when it has gone to far? All of these texts have a hidden message, a message which states that if we don’t hold on to our voice then we will be controlled.