Sunday, June 15, 2008

Orwell Rolls in His Grave

All over Oceania this morning there were irrepressible spontaneous demonstrations when workers marched out of factories and offices and paraded through the streets with banners voicing their gratitude to Big Brother for the new, happy life which his wise leadership has bestowed upon us.

For the moment [Winston] had shut his ears to the remoter noises and was listening to the stuff that streamed out of the telescreen. It appeared that there had even been demonstrations to thank Big Brother for raising the chocolate ration to twenty grams a week. And only yesterday, he reflected, it had been announced that the ration was to be reduced to twenty grams a week. Was it possible that they could swallow that, after only twenty-four hours? Yes, they swallowed it… with the stupidity of an animal. — George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

From Rotten Tomatoes:

Director Robert Kane Pappas’ documentary film is the consummate critical examination of the Fourth Estate, once the bastion of American democracy. Asking whether America has entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for the truth, Pappas explores what the media doesn’t like to talk about: itself.

Meticulously tracing the process by which media has distorted and often dismissed actual news events, Pappas presents a riveting and eloquent mix of media professionals and leading intellectual voices on the media.

New York University media professor Mark Crispin Miller says, “These commercial entities now vie with the government for control over our lives. They are not a healthy counterweight to government. Goebbels said that what you want in a media system – he meant the Nazi media system – is to present the ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity.”

From the very size of the media monopolies and how they got that way to who decides what gets on the air and what doesn’t, Orwell Rolls in His Grave moves through a troubling list of questions and news stories that go unanswered and unreported in the mainstream media. Are Americans being given the information a democracy needs to survive or have they been electronically lobotomized? Has the frenzy for media consolidation led to a dangerous irony where in an era of more news sources the majority of the population has actually become less informed?

Update: I swapped the video. This one has a much better quality picture and French subtitles.