Reimagining The 1984 Novel to 2017
Even though George Orwell’s 1984 dystopian novel was published in 1949, it probably hadn’t ringed as true as it does now. The constant conflict for as long as people can remember, ongoing scare tactics, fear and the hate mongering, isolation and stress, a lack of privacy and constant surveillance, and, of course, the “alternative facts” and the rewriting of history. Everyone being the victims of the System as an all-engulfing organism in and of itself.
And don’t think that people haven’t noticed this. 1984 has become one of Amazon’s bestsellers, seeing a spike in sales of over 9500% in all of the mediums this novel was presented in. The current political climate in the US is somewhat similar as well. Where in the book, there were various institutions like the Ministries of Truth, Peace, Plenty, and Love, with each actually looking to undermine the exact word they stood for, so do Environmental Protection Agency is led by a climate change denier, the Education system is led by someone who “charters” to public education, and so on. The news is somewhat similar to those in 1984 too.
We probably never thought it to actually become a reality, but the world does point our somewhat similar direction. Here are some reimaginings of how 1984 looks like in 2017. The book, after all, is about Fear. How afraid and how helpless do you feel?
For this drawing, I focused on what the government’s plans are for the American public school system and whether or not these plans will yield an acceptable outcome. I applied the idea of mind control that takes place in the sinister “Room 101” in 1984 to a run down public school in the future. In Room 101 a person is re-educated by being subjected to their greatest fear in order to forcibly control their reality.
In the drawing, government cutbacks have led to the introduction of robot teachers providing substandard curriculum. These robot teachers are blasting horrible fears into the minds of these students, forcing them to revise and believe that 2+2=5. — Joe Baker
This is my take on the the two minutes of hate idea. It’s a scene of an office space where everyone is angrily shouting at their PCs [instead of a communal theater]. — Alex Gamsu Jenkins
I’d obviously like to do Ministry of Truth. Two characters on a bench in the subway, one poor and desperate looking at another one. A nearby paper says, “Poverty Ends! Latest Tweet: Affordable housing for all!” — Jennifer Hershey
A relevant concept is “Doublethink,” and this is the quote that I’m referencing: “In memory. Very well, then. We, the Party, control all records, and we control all memories. Then we control the past, do we not?” I think that this really relates to how the Trump administration deleted sites on the Obama administration’s website and cut funding to programs that fund the arts, such as PBS and NPR.
In a classroom setting there is a trashcan with a book in it that says, “Science is real.” The teacher is passing out new textbooks that say, “Science is real when it’s convenient.” This plays on the idea of rewriting history when history is currently impacting us. — Corrine James
Lately I have been thinking about how Trump and the apparatus that Trump represents is controlling the media by launching a war on the media in the form of discrediting it. If media is always supposedly bogus, it could become hard to believe any of it. Then there was the debut “alternative facts”—which struck me as Orwellian when I first heard it—this idea that people could be lead to believe that somehow facts are subjective.
While, of course, people could become radicalized in a nationalistic way as in 1984, the path I see is more that people are gradually becoming more and more apathetic. This piece is capturing those ideas. As a sort of secret detail: all my drawings include what I think of as a surveillance bot; the little hovering orb with the red (recording dot) eye. — Alex S. Martin