1984 as a metaphor for consumer culture in 2004
Note: This is probably the most contrived excuse for reading into a piece of literature that the world has ever seen. Considering that consumer culture in 2004 was obviously not around in 1948 or indeed 1984, Orwell could blatantly not be connecting the two.
Anyway, we all know 1984 is about Communists.
In this writeup, I will try to explain how the book Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell could be seen as a metaphor for cultural homogeny and brainwashing through the media and consumerism.
The principal item of note in this metaphor is the omnipresent telescreen, which is present on at least one wall of every house in the Nineteen Eighty-Four world, maybe more. It constantly broadcasts government propaganda into every living room, and cannot be silenced.
The telescreen could therefore be seen as a metaphor for the MTVs and CNNs of the world in 2004, broadcasting images of the world filtered through large corporations which we must believe lest we be seen as unknowing, and forcing upon us new definitions of "style", to which we must all conform otherwise we will be seen as "uncool" and out of touch. The telescreen's inability to be silenced could be seen as a comment upon the pervasiveness of the media in our everyday lives and our inability to be seperated and barred from experiencing it, and how it is always around us and influencing us subconsciously.
The figurehead of the Nineteen Eighty-Four world is Big Brother, the most likely non-existant leader of the Party and he who must be worshipped by all in society. His analog in my metaphor is the unattainable definition of cool that is forced upon us by the media and if strayed from will be punished by ostracism, or death in the 1984 universe. This idea of death=ostracism also highlights the need for us to be accepted within "cool" society to feel good within ourselves and to feel "alive".
The Party in the Nineteen Eighty-Four world corresponds to the mass media in the 2004 world, influencing our daily lives in many ways and controlling the world and our perceptions of it, indeed sometimes misleading and brainwashing us, blinding us from the truth and subverting us.
The "Prole Song" is yet another way of conveying the idea of a massive homogenised force of "cool". The proles all sing the same lines of the same song: the "cool" people now all listen to the same music, watch the same movies, read the same books, surf the same websites. In this way, the Prole Song is a metaphor for cultural homogenisation.
Emmanuel Goldstein, in the book, plays the role opposite to Big Brother-that of the reviled and hated underdog, reviled and hated despite wanting only the best. He is anologous to the anti-commercialists in 2004, attacking the mass media, calling a spade a spade (referring to it as wrong and biased) and making sense, though regarded as wrong by the "cool" people. He is seen as the definition of uncool.
In the ways outlined above, 1984 can be seen as a metaphor and critique of the mass media and its power, as well as increasing cultural homogenisation around the world.