No Privacy, No Emotions

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, or is he not? In nineteen eighty-four all citizens of Oceania have telescreens in their homes, at their work, in the streets, everywhere. There is being said someone is always watching them, but how do they know for sure someone is watching them? Because there are so many people in Oceania, how is it possible for the Thought-Police to watch every one of them, every single person? For example, in the German movie Das Leben Der Anderen, the Stazi are spying on suspect families. The whole film is about one spy team spying on one family. I don’t believe the Stazi spied on every suspect family in the DDR, because it’s just too much work. So, I’d say it’s just impossible, but while reading the book there are certain moments of evidence that Winston Smith is being watched. For instance, when Winston has to do his morning gymnastics, the woman on the telescreen is yelling at him and says his name, because he isn’t trying hard enough to touch his toes. Or in prison, when a man takes some bread out of his pockets. Does that mean they’re really being watched all the time? let’s assume that it’s impossible to have a watch over every single citizen, how comes that those two examples really exist? I like to think it’s because one Thought-Police Officer is watching about 100 people at the same time. So that means you’re not always physically being watched, but sometimes only in paperwork. One officer will not be able to watch 100 people at the same time, so there are always a few individuals unwatched. Unfortunately, you’ll never know when you’re unwatched, so you always have to be careful and comply with the rules. That’s the trick of the Thought-Police, the uncertainty of being watched or not, it’s really mind-messing.

And just now, in 2011, we’re really being watched all the time. In every street, every public employment hangs a camera. When you fill in your personal information at a website, you will get advertisements that fit your age and gender. They know everything about us! And now, with the smartphones, they even know where you are.

Ok, back to the book. Because off all the telescreens and the suppression of love, no member of the Party really shows their emotions. Partly because they’re not allowed to, partly because it will betray their feelings against the Party. Despite all that, they’re actually allowed to have friends, like Winston’s got Syme. They’re also allowed to read books, watch films, and some other cultural things. They should be happy they don’t get to live the life of the citizens of Libria, in the film Equilibrium.

While reading the book, I thought a lot about the film, because Oceania reminded me of Libria, although, there are a few differences. In Libria, all the citizens have to take the drug Prozium, which shuts out all their emotions. In Libria, art is forbidden, cause it will recall emotions. But in Libria, there’s also peace.

The link above will redirect you to a short introduction video of Equilibrium, in which they show the Prozium.

In short, the film is about John Preston, who is a cop. One day, he doesn’t take his Prozium, and so he sees in what kind of ridiculous society they live. He joins the Underground, something like the Brotherhood. Eventually, he kills ‘Father’, someone like Big Brother. It appears that Father didn’t take Prozium either, and his office is filled with art and rare furniture. In Equilibrium, the Underground wins. But in Nineteen Eighty-Four, everything stays the same, maybe forever.


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