One would think by now that it would be hard for George Orwell and his book Nineteen Eighty-Four to be the number one bestseller on Amazon.com. After all, it was first published back in 1949 and while intended to be a work of fiction, many of the terms used in the book are now widely in use such as Big Brother and cult of personality just to name a few.
So, what catapulted Mr. Orwell’s opus back onto the bestseller list? It certainly couldn’t be anything scandalous regarding his personal conduct since he died way back in 1950. The movie Nineteen Eighty-Four which was filmed in 1984 really didn’t make any waves back in the day and is now more prominently known for being the movie in which acting legend Richard Burton made his last film appearance. My sources in the Hollywood community also tell me they haven’t heard about any rumors of remake being made in the near future and my attempts to contact Orwell’s heirs have thus far proved fruitless.
My calls to the representatives representing the estate have also fallen on deaf ears.
I even went so far as to conduct a séance with Mr. Orwell’s spirit to gain insight into the matter but was greeted by only silence.
So, how did it happen, how did the book sales rise so sharply in so short a time?
Well, it looks like we have to thank President Donald Trump and his administration for this turn of phrase entering the everyday vernacular. One of the first statements made by the Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway involved a discussion with Chuck Todd of NBC news surrounding the attendance (or lack thereof) at Mr. Trumps inaugural ceremonies and the ensuing kerfuffle as new White House Press Secretary offered up some dubious numbers about the festivities. It went something like this.
Todd: “Why would Spicer offer up such a provable falsehood?”
Conway: “Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You're saying it's a falsehood, and ... our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that."
Todd: “Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”
Conway then went on to blabber about how the science of counting crowds cannot be proven therefor Press Secretary Spicer’s statements were neither true nor false.
I guess it’s another form of newspeak or, as the Urban Dictionary succinctly put it:
When truth is so unfavorable to a pathological liar, that they must invent a whole new category of lies to describe their nakedly intentional acts of deception.
I have a simple question.
Is this what the next four years or God forbid, the next eight years are going to be like?
The statement about “alternative facts” was widely lambasted in social media and by the so-called liberal press who deemed the term “Orwellian” in nature but outside of that, Mr. Trump and his minions have gotten pretty much a free pass on the whole matter.
There has been some blowback though. Given the countries propensity to put things in zones like free speech zones one Democratic representative from Los Angeles has declared his office an “Alternative Fact Free Zone”. Of course, there’s now a set of entire internet memes devoted to alternative facts, they’re not too hard to find.
Oh, I should mention the actual number of sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four have skyrocketed by 9,500% since the phrase was uttered. I’m sure that will make Mr. Orwell’s heirs are very happy if they are still getting royalties. As for the rest of the planet, I’m not so sure. Hopefully those that have recently purchased the book actually read it and see or sense the comparisons Mr. Orwell was making and take them to heart.
In retrospect, I wish I had alternative facts at my disposal when I was a kid growing up. I could have offered them up to my teachers when I didn’t know an answer to even the simplest question or even propose them to my parents when I got caught in a lie.
But then again, even though it would have save me some embarrassment in school and some ass kickings at home, would I ever have learned anything?