Set in 2017: Based on Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Winston Smith (Gary Oldman) loses his identity while living in a repressive society. Smith is a government employee whose job is to rewrite history in a way that positively portrays his country’s leaders. His love affair with Julia (Vanessa Redgrave) gives him his only escape, and in a society like that, there is no escaping Big Brother.
I elected to set my fancast / story in 2017 because with each passing day, Orwell’s novel is looking more like reality. From doublethink to to newspeak to its depiction of people’s freedom (or lack of), Nineteen Eighty-Four looks like it belongs in the nonfiction section of the library and every bookshop.
A Few of Orwell’s Predictions
In the novel, there what we’d call televisions. The two-way screens in the story are called telescreens. They’re in everybody’s home and used for entertainment. However, Big Brother is always watching, making it impossible to do anything without him knowing about it.
Our televisions don’t this (do they?). Though, modern computers, smartphones, laptops and other portable devices do. They can be easily hacked, as shown by whistleblowers like Edward Snowden who exposed the NSA’s illegal surveillance programme in 2013. Our activities online are vulnerable and anyone can see our history, our emails, and follow our whereabouts with GPS.
Newspeak is media talk. It props up the totalitarian government through a language that the masses can’t really understand but still blindly follow. It takes out negative phrases and terminology to erase the chance of “crimethink” (rebellious thoughts against the system). e.g. Bad is “ungood”.
It encourages a way of thinking that makes most not question what they’re hearing. The media today uses the same methods to entice consumers. Network news stations (BBC, CNN, Fox) use certain words / turn of phrase to describe a certain person or group of people that incites praise or disdain for the said party.
Both British and American news programmes like to smear the Islamic faith when a terrorist attack occurs on European or American soil. This leads to Islamophobia, fear-mongering and the association between the religion and violent crimes.
War Is Peace
There are three nations: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. And two of them are always fighting at any one time. Wars are ongoing and when a new conflict starts the populous tends to forget about the previous war, focusing on the current one which leaves the planet in perpetual turmoil. Sound familiar?
Proles / Proletarians (Modern Society’s Mass Populous)
USA’s Mr Robot highlighted the fact that most people are happy when they’re clueless. Nobody really cares about injustice unless it is directly happening to them. The Proles in Nineteen Eighty-Four are a group of workers who are happy knowing nothing.
Big Brother pays them no mind because they don’t cause a fuss or any trouble, as long as they are fed. In modern society, they could be a symbol of the masses blindly following anything as long as they get paid. And this can be said for both the working and middle classes.
Whether we’re talking about religion, the media, or politics to name few, where there’s leaders there are followers not far behind. Organisations like Anonymous come to mind when one says “rebellion”, often portrayed as a nuisance hacker group who hide behind V for Vendetta masks worn by the comic’s lead character, V.
The Brotherhood in Nineteen Eighty-Four oppose the party much alike how groups like Anonymous keep to the shadows, as shown in Mr Robot’s fight against corporate America. Though V, in V for Vendetta (the comic at least) was a vigilante who showed society that the system can be beaten. Although, governments paint these secret groups as sinister, they’re just activists.
Once upon a time, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King were painted as terrorists. Even cricket players like Viv Richards were labelled as that too. They were just people fighting for their rights in trying to create a better world, a fairer one, through protest.
Some did it through marches, some through physical violence (a grey area) and others through sport. Someone once said: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” and it begs the question what really is terrorism? And it shows what we now define as terrorism has changed over time.
Creator: Charlie Brooker (Black Mirror)
Writers: Charlie Brooker & Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders)
Series Director: Lewis Arnold (Humans)
Musical Score: Max Richter (Taboo)
Number of Seasons: One
Number of Episodes: Six
Cinematographer: Simon Dennis (Peaky Blinders)
Distribution: BBC Two (UK) & FX (US)
Production: BBC Wales
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Running Time: 60 mins