A dystopia is a community/society that inhabits frightening or manipulative behavior typically in a futuristic setting. The word dystopia translates to “not a good place”. Dystopian films,novels and songs have become relevant in recent years as they provide us with entertaining/relevant problems that could arise in coming years. These pieces of literature are not only inspiring but they are also key for the development of human kind, as they provide ideas and warnings that could save us from a corrupt manipulative environment. Dystopian pieces can usually be linked to other dystopian pieces as the back bone of the ideas that make them up are usually using similar ideas. A common interlinking theme of dystopian texts is the use of technology(surveillance) by the state to exploit and control individuals . The dystopian texts that i will be talking about are “Minority Report”,George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four”, Radio Head’s song “2+2=4” and Black Mirror Episode three series 1 “The Entire History of You”. These great pieces of dystopian literature are related through the use of symbolism of the human eye,which prompts us back to the idea of surveillance being used to control community’s and states
Minority Report is a dystopian film released in 2002 and the story is set in a state run by a corrupt police force, called the Pre-crime unit. In Minority Report, directed by Steven Spielberg, a symbolic image which is constantly being referred to is the eye. In dystopian texts such as Minority Report the symbol of the eye is generally present in some way, shape or form, and alludes to the idea of being watched/surveillance. Surveillance is a powerful tool as it catches peoples secrets and as it is said by Tom Clancy(a American Author) “The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government” this quote supports the idea that knowledge is power, and that realistically surveillance is used by the government to have more power and sense of control over state. The concept of Minority Report relies on the idea that we all have a future which is set in stone, because the Pre Cognitives tell the future. However it is found to be a corrupt system. In reality our futures are made up of a series of different pathways and decisions. The protagonist named John Anderton is one of the major officers in the Pre crime unit. When John surprisingly becomes the target of the Pre Crime unit he has to disappear and to avoid leaking his location and identity he has his eyes replaced. Eye scanners were found every where from each street corner to public transport and were used by the Pre Crime unit to exploit individuals and gain knowledge on them and their whereabouts.
The idea of symbolic images such as the eye carry over into the novel Nineteen Eighty Four, which is written by George Orwell. This book was published in 1949 and is a dystopian novel set in the future. Symbolism of the eye is mentioned through Big Brother’s posters which is constantly being referred to, with the words of “Big Brother is watching you” running under the poster. ”War is peace freedom is slavery ignorance is strength”. One of the main mind control programs of the party was called double think, this meant getting society to preserve two contradictory beliefs as correct . Mind control was just another tool used to suppress individuality and control the state . This quote is comparing two opposites to be the same thing. While war isn’t peace, we wage war for peace. “Freedom is slavery”, this entails that there is no such thing as freedom as we are all slaves to society. Who knows, right now we might be slaves to society without even knowing it. It also deters the subjects/citizens of Air Strip One (1984’s Britain), from seeking freedom. “Ignorance is strength”, this part of the party’s slogan encourages citizens to believe what they are told and not to think for themselves. This allowed the party to control what people were thinking and when they were thinking it. Another quote in the novel nineteen eighty four that alludes to control of state is “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?”. This is used by Orwell to explain that controlling/ limiting the words available to think and express yourself with, makes thought crime virtually impossible, as the words to display your feelings are no longer words. Thought crime is just as dangerous as crime if not more dangerous, this is because thought crime can be noticed through the subtlest of motions and sometimes you don’t even know you’re doing it. In the novel Orwell uses this paragraph explaining how the subtlest of abnormalities of movement could lead to your demise. “They were only a few meters apart when the left side of the mans face was suddenly contorted by a sort of spasm. It happened again just as they were passing one another: it was only a twitch,a quiver, rapid as the clicking of a camera shutter, but obviously habitual. He remembered thinking at the time: that poor devil is done for”. This shows how sensitive the surveillance must have been and how people were so exploited that even their thoughts were able to be surveyed.
2+2=5 is a Radio head song, which was written inspired by “1984” and highlights the idea that with modern technology we are trading our freedom for ignorance. 2+2=5 is the title, and it is very foretelling about the song as it is a reference that shows that people are easy to manipulate and to be made to believe anything , even if the reality of the situation is clear. This song is about the exploitation of individuals through the means of manipulation and mind control methods. This song gives us insight to the obliviousness of human kind and how easy it is to gain control of someone’s reality with lies. “Don’t question my authority or put me in the docs”,Im quoting this line from the song because it shows us that we do not question what is going on around us enough. While pieces of dystopian literature inspire and entertain us because they provide interesting realatable concepts they haven’t been making us take action in responding to the warnings that they provide.
Black Mirror is a dystopian series where each episode is not sequential however, each episode is undeniably a Black Mirror episode as it is the ideas which relate. The Episode I am discussing is Episode Three from Series One which is named “The Entire History of You”. Directed by Brian Welsh, The Entire History of You is set in the future and it utilizes many future technologies to convey the idea that there is a point when Future technology can become too advanced, and can start to cause destructive situations or a controlling environment which you cannot escape from. Some of the technology which is first seen in the episode is an eye contact lens which records what you see. What you see can be replayed either to yourself personally in the inside of the contact lens, or it can be connected to a TV screen to be shared. While the government hasn’t made the lenses compulsory it is clear that is is very rare to not have one as we can see from the surprised faces around the dinner table when Hallam mentions how she enjoyed not having one and being able to just live in the moment. At the beginning of the episode I saw the lens as a fun constructive piece of technology, but the more i watched it, the more i started realizing how the lenses weren’t as great as they initially seemed. The lenses were causing more harm than good and they were being used by the government in a subtle way of keeping tabs on people.
Currently our society is undergoing a huge development of technology. Up to this point the warnings that these books provide have been disregarded, but with Orwell’s book coming to life, they have shown us that technology is powerful and can be used to control us, and leach personal information from us with out us even noticing. It is time we opened our eyes and look were we are heading because Orwell s world is now appearing more and more real. These ideas of control of state through technology and symbolism of the eye relate to our world today we to are being watched, In fact we encourage it and sign our personal lives away to sites like Face Book, Instagram and even snap chat. Surveillance is every where, we are watched at work, walking down the street, our online activity and even right now i could be being watched through the camera in my laptop. Its time we started paying attention to who is one the other side of the camera.