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Nineteen Eighty-Four
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All Things Writing & Publishing > Did George Orwell accurately predict the challenges of writing today?

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Jared Bernard | 10 comments I just read this article in The New Yorker, which is about how George Orwell, author of the dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-Four, forecast the problems associated with totalitarianism. Specifically, this article discusses how Orwell predicted the impact social paradigms would have on writing.

Almost a year and a half ago, there were ciritcs who objected to repeated analogies of today's political/social atmosphere to Nineteen Eighty-Four. One was Kyle Smith in The New York Post in mid-February 2017. After all, we are not in a totalitarian society yet. But others cannot ignore the new phrases such as "fake news" and "alternative facts," and their similarities to Orwell's novel. Clearly, Nineteen Eighty-Four had a surge in popularity back then, even becoming Amazon's 5th bestselling novel, and Paste Magazine said it inspired a new entourage of songs.

However you want to take it, there are disturbing signs in the political climate, and people who experienced the atrocities of the early 20th century have issued warnings.

What are your thoughts on the New Yorker article?

Does anyone (especially writers) feel that writing is influenced by the sociopolitical atmosphere, either positively or negatively?

Do you feel that Orwell was able to predict today's problems with writing?

Is anyone alarmed by the attack on credible journalism?


message 2: by Michel (last edited Jun 14, 2018 12:50PM) (new)

Michel Poulin I am certainly alarmed by the attacks on journalism and medias, with Trump and his followers (stooges?) screaming 'fake news' and 'alternative facts'. It got even worse with Trump himself claiming that 'America's biggest enemy is the medias', and this on coming back from meeting Kim Jong Un, one of the most brutal despots on this planet. That bunch could certainly qualify for roles in a '1984' theater play. I could also see Fox News play the role of the dreaded 'Truth Ministry'.


message 3: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11780 comments I agree that Trump's attacks on the media are not good, but I am more concerned that the responsible media is contracting, in part for economic reasons, in part because of take-overs and mergers, and I fear the effect of "big money" is achieving most of the things Göbbels spent so much effort trying to achieve.

The problem seems to be an increasing reliance on opinion, and far less on facts.


message 4: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2328 comments It's ironic that the traditional media started the whole "fake news" thing in regards to their online rivals. You can debate whether they're right, and you can certainly agree that certain ads on certain social media sites have tried to portray themselves as legitimate news items, but the mainstream media has been vexed for years by the fact more and more people are turning to online sources for their news. In throwing out the term "fake news" with regards to online sources, the implication is clear that they were trying to blanket everything online with the label.

You could argue Trump has been doing the same thing by turning the label back onto the mainstream media, but when it comes to outlets like CNN, the term refers to their one-sided, slanted reporting. If these outlets want to turn themselves into the liberal version of Fox news instead of presenting the facts without the commentary and letting the viewer draw their own conclusions, than they deserve every bit of criticism they get. I agree with the 1st Amendment protection of the press, and the definition of "press" certainly allows for editorializing, but the 1st Amendment is not a shield against criticism. Like anyone else/any other entity, if they can't take the criticism, than they should refrain from dishing it out in their reporting.


message 5: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11780 comments I have no problem with opinion, if it is clear that it is opinion. Facts need to be interpreted, but it is important that the facts are clearly stated, and right now often they are not.


Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6172 comments I've never wanted events to be interpreted for me. The first time I remember this happening was when President Reagan would make an important statement to the country, and then "news commentators" would interpret what he had said. I'd just turn off the TV. I don't need someone to tell me what to think. This now happens daily. Events are reported, and the newscasters shake their heads or nod in agreement and give their interpretations. I don't know any more where to find unbiased reporting of what's happening in the world.

The great Walter Cronkite reported the news. He never told us what to think about it, although one could see how moved he was by the moon landing and Kennedy's assassination. When he finally gave his opinion about his experiences with troops on the ground in the Vietnam War, he didn't do it on the Evening News program. He did so in a special report, separate from the Evening News. It was clear that this was his opinion, based on his experiences. And people listened because he'd always been objective in his reporting. We knew he was telling the truth about Vietnam, and he showed us how the government had lied to us. There was "fake news" many years before Trump coined the term.


message 7: by Michel (new)

Michel Poulin Scout, one place where you may be able to hear fair, balanced and professional news would be from the BBC. I live in Canada and can watch both Canadian, American, British and European news, while my wife watches Latino news. Of all of them, I find the BBC being about the best and you could easily watch/read it online (bbc.com). The Canadian CBC is fair to good but I still find it a bit tainted by political bias that hurts its balance (especially on its French-speaking network Radio-Canada, which is way too much to the left of the political spectrum to my taste). I find the American news channels on the whole way too US-centric (you watch them and wonder if there is something else on this planet than the United States). CNN is wall-to-wall anti-Trump coverage and has more 'panel discussions' than true news presentations. Fox News is on its part little more than a propaganda arm of Trump and of the Republican Party. So, when I want balanced news not limited to the United States, I go to the BBC.


Scout (goodreadscomscout) | 6172 comments Thanks, Michel. We get BBC America here. I'll also check out bbc.com.


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