Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Haven't Read 1984 in 9 Years. You?

Here is a quote* from the English teacher character in Chuck Klosterman’s Night Owl, “As you read Nineteen Eighty-Four you will learn about a man named Winston Smith. This is a man watched by the government and hounded by a group called the Thought Police. He is under surveillance twenty-four hours a day. This, obviously, would be horrifying. I’m sure none of you would enjoy being watched twenty-four hours a day. Or maybe I’m wrong.”**

He is wrong. Well at least he would have been if speaking to a class of high school juniors in 2009. Why?

Reality television!

1984 existed for decades and everyone was like, "ewwww people watching me all the time, gross, when will I..." Yet now of days it seems like people have taken this cautionary tale and turned it into a celebration of sorts (dumb). I am not talking about our government***, no I am referring to the state of reality television. 1984 taught generations of people to fight to maintain their independence and privacy. Presently, we literally broadcast our private selves to millions of fools. The title for the show Big Brother was supposed to be a cheeky (twas British first) reference to this, yet it has become obnoxiously apropos.

Speaking of cheeky, Andy Warhol referring to the fleeting nature of celebrity famously pontificated, "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes" Well we now undeniably live in the future and it seems like we are approaching a society in which we all will only have 15 minutes to be not so.

Look at me. I write this blog. I am putting myself out to the world in way my great grandparents wouldn’t begin to understand, even if a time traveling me (that spoke Russian) tried to explain it to them at Ellis Island right after they finally reached the land of the free and right before their name was being changed from something a lot Jewier.

Am I famous?

Probably, not - but maybe yes. I have "published" "articles" that could be read by billions of people. It is quite possible that more people have read things I wrote than had read the original Guttenberg Bible - the first printing of Romeo and Juliet - the first run of The 95 Theses pamphlets. I know there are a lot of slippery slopes going on and a lack of perspective, but somewhere in there is truth. There are a lot of people looking for a lot of access to a lot of other people. We are choosing to give the world 24/7 access to us, or at least 16/6. 1984 cannot come fast enough.

But why???!??!?!??!? !

We want to be cared for and/or about. We want to be validated. We want a legacy. And we don't care what this legacy is and what expense it comes.

My favorite show this summer was NYC Prep, in which 6 uber-rich kids gallivanted around New York City like possibly bi-curious gremlins. A couple wanted to be actors/singers so I guess it makes sense (though has there ever been a reality star that has truly crossovered? I feel like the numbers are dimmer than that of porn stars). However, a couple didn't want to be in showbiz. One wanted to get a 1600 SAT, go to Harvard, and eventually run a major corporation. This show in no way helped her (I doubt Bravo producers will write college app references) and it might have hurt her. Yet this seemed like a smart decision to this apparently bright little lady and her probably absent parents.

We are a generation of youngest children. We are a generation of broken homes. We love to be coddled - we need to be coddled. And this trumps everything, especially freedom.

So now 25 years after 1984 I am like a mini-Big Brother. I have had 100% access to a lot of individuals. I have seen them laugh and cry and eat and do it and fight and make up and sleep and compete in challenges. This is creepy, or at least it should be. Yet there we want more. We love access. We want to know everything about everybody and we want everybody to know the same about us. The fact is this can’t stop-won't stop, not in the least bit. Imagine 2084.

At the end of the day, it probably isn’t that big of deal (yet). No one gets hurt (at least physically) from watching these shows. And its nice that I was able to spend the half-an-hour before finishing this article watching the Kardashian’s spend a day with a monkey. Right…?

The future is now!


* I read this quote immediately before starting to write this entry. Effectively, preventing me from finishing to read the rest of the page. This reminds me of when I met Mr. Klosterman and he said he didn’t read that much because he can write as quickly as he could read. This effectively reinforced bad habits of mine.

** I don’t need to do citations for blog entries. Correct?

*** God, if this was a Patriot Act article, I would hate myself.

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