I first heard about Nineteen Eighty-Four when I was in college. How we were headed that way. How scary it all was. I was intrigued. Since then I heard other things about it. How well it was written, etc. It's been on my "To Read" list for a long time now.
So I've finally read it.
Easily, I can give all those who praised it for skilled writing their credit because it was crafted very well, despite the few times when the hero would lapse into a memory and at some point I wasn't sure if I was still in the memory of if I'd reverted back to the present. It's still better than what I've produced, and likewise Orwell gets plenty of kudos for making something like this during 1949. Not for the content, as that sort of thing is still around, but more the futureness involved. We still don't have telescreens and the closest we've come to making one could be the little camera you have on your computer where you and your friend share real time video of one another. Considering the way telescreens are used though, that's a good thing.
When it comes to people freaking out over the government and the whole "Big Brother is Watching You" thing, they fuss over telephone conversations and emails. Now while I don't see us headed in that society as of yet, or in the immediate future either, I can't believe people ignore the other restrictions the government wants to put on us. People fuss about privacy. There's no telescreen in your house yet, but what about saying what you can and cannot consume/do to yourself? Cigarettes are barred from public places statewide. Yeah, ok, yammer on to me about cancer and while sure that's a possibility and the government wants to keep us all safe from secondhand smoke, consider also where it stops? Hmm? I read an article once about a consideration on taking Coke and Pepsi machines out of schools just to keep kids from getting fat. Are you serious? Whatever happened to conscious, intelligent thought? Don't want your kid chugging down suger-filled drinks? Don't give him/her money for it. Sure, he/she might get money from a friend, but face it, that friend isn't going to keep supplying them forever.
Here's one thing that always freaks me out. I'm a chocolate junkie. There's a really bad movie out there named Demolition Man where things deemed bad for you are outlawed. Chocolate is one of them. In this book, people get chocolate rations. You know what I say? Fuck that. The day chocolate is restricted in any form or fashion is the day I freaking riot. That's when you know things are getting way out of hand.
But back to the book. In some ways, I found myself disappointed. First because of the content. I expected something like The Giver or Fahrenheit 451. But a lot of it turned out to be exposition that no doubt contained Orwell's concerns at the time. That's all very fine and well, but it takes things down a notch when you have different expectations. It's just that everyone all giddy about it gave me that initial impression. Ah well.
Second is the end. I accept it, but I'm not thrilled by it. I guess that too is Orwell's thoughts on the subject. That "they" win in the end. Well...hopefully not. The whole world was like that? Eech. You get just a couple glimmers of hope throughout the book only to have more rhetoric take over and then whump. The end. Hero loses. Game over. Unless you read the appendix like some critics do; as the subject content is written in the past, it implies that Winston, the hero, was indeed right, and the Party fell. One may never know...
That's my take on it as fiction. It's still quite good, the fact that it freaks people out, not just as in "Ohmigod, that could happen to us!" but instead as politically dangerous and thus getting it banned from libraries and such. Well, well. More power to it then. The more a group rejects a book, the more I tend to rally behind it. Especially if it's a ridiculous claim *coughHarryPottercough* and people start chucking books into fires. Nazis.
You know what this book did remind me of though? V for Vendetta, totally. At least in that movie we get to see what might have been the results of the rallying lower class.
Ah well, hat's off to Orwell. I'm tired.
P.S. I forget what's "weirdly ironic" as my title says. I'll be sure to come back and mention it if I manage to remember...
Read my Epinions review on Nineteen Eighty-Four.