The theme I have selected to demonstrate “how the unifying elements of the genre are employed across different texts by different authors to form warnings about the future”, is the state-controlled media as a form of propaganda. In this paper, I will discuss how political parties turn their citizens into outsiders through the use of media propaganda, how people treat these outsiders, the problems caused by the way they are treated and what this says about society overall. I will do this by analyzing and interpreting four dystopian pieces, breaking down the forms of propaganda they used and the effectiveness of achieving state control. The four pieces I have selected are:

  • Nineteen Eighty-Four, a novel written by George Orwell.
  • Orwellian nightmare, a poem based around a dystopian future.
  • The Hunger Games, a novel written by Suzanne Collins.
  • Minority reports, a film directed by Steven Spielberg.

Nineteen eighty-four. “Who controls the past, controls the future”

Throughout this dystopian novel, we notice ways to examine how communications and media can be used to control the masses and lead them to do, and believe, even that which goes against their very nature as rational human beings. The self-proclaimed “Inner Party” used propaganda in extreme quantities along with “two-minute hate sessions” to encourage violence and hatred within the population of Oceania. An example of how they utilise technology to achieve their motives are the telescreens which litter the entire facilities and homes available to the people. A specific illustration of how they work can be demonstrated by the one ubiquitously telescreen placed in Winston’s apartment, representing the parties all-seeing eyes, when it is not monitoring his conversations it can be found roaring party slogans and praising the party for its most recent victory over its enemies. This is more relevant to today’s society than previously thought, just as the telescreens in Oceania keep diffusing propaganda against Goldstein and his Brotherhood party, the American media keeps broadcasting updates of the “War on Terror” against the so-called Axis of Evil. This is done in such a way to create hate within a population towards the enemy of the state. Not only do they control current news and media with the use of technology in Nineteen eighty four, but we can also see that Winston’s job is to manipulate history and make it seem that the party has been a victim throughout its past wars, presented within party textbooks to manipulate all of its citizens to adore the party, there is a human desire to “fit in” amongst everyone else. After reading this propaganda, each citizen will assume that almost everyone thinks that way and will act accordingly. Finally, the most vulnerable target for propaganda is the children within the state. From very young ages children are groomed into believing that individualism is disapproved, it isn’t necessary as they are all under the protection of the big brother. Children are far more susceptible and can be easily convinced to become an idealistic party member through the use of state posters and documents.

The concept of state-controlled media as a form of propaganda I’ve analyzed within the novel Nineteen eighty-four can be expanded further in other texts. A poem, “Orwellian nightmare” can demonstrate just that. “Reject evidence of eyes and ears.
That’s what THEY say. Watch how hate
Turns the unquestioning supporter
Against the enemies of the state.”

This snippet I have selected from the poem perfectly shows how the state intention is to mold each and every person, no matter what age or background, to intake their propaganda as the truth. Their truth is the only truth on record, that they are supreme to their so-called “enemies”. Doublethink is what they call it, using the clever art of reality control. They suppress the ignorant to maintain hatred and violence within the population of Oceania. “Ignorance is strength, THEY tell you. Controlled insanity is THEIR goal.” The Party ensures that the citizens’ minds are filled with propaganda and confusion so that thoughts of rebellion cannot be sustained, and comes with a harsh consequence if challenged. Whether the act of rebellion is pursued or not, the thought was there and this is a crime. We learn that the criminals are abducted at night and never seen from or heard of again. The ultimate punishment is death, the only punishment. Their name is erased from all documented history as if the person never existed. Citizens aren’t existing as thinking individuals, only as puppets of the state. Emotionally dead.

The concept of individuality being nonexistent, demonstrated in Orwellian nightmare can very clearly be linked to “The hunger games”, a novel by Suzanne Collins. Propaganda is vast in this dystopian novel. The use of media is monumental in the success of state control in Panem. President Snow utilizes live stream broadcasts, interviews, drama, and fashion to downplay the absolutely brutal society he has control of, and what “The hunger games” exactly is. Much like the novel Nineteen Eighty-four, the Capitol made sure every household had a television no matter their place of living and also had TVs around just in case you were not home. This would be exploited by the state to glorify the games as a positive event for Panem, used to persuade people in the country to believe and follow the event. Much like a reality tv show in today’s modern society, the televised version to the rest of the country showed a different image of what the reality really was, teenagers being forced to mercilessly slaughter one another for the survival of their families.  “After the war, the Capitol destroyed all the nests surrounding the city, but the ones near the districts were left untouched. Another reminder of our weakness, I suppose, just like the Hunger Games. Another reason to keep inside the fence of District 12. ” The state rigorously enforced their ideas on to the people, using extreme measures to keep the districts within Panem segregated to diminish the possibility of inter-district association as this could ruin what the party is achieving. We learn that the mutant tracker jacker hornets were a form of governmental control. They were placed around the districts to keep people from leaving their regions. 

Minority Report is an excellent representation of a dystopian society. Much like in the Hunger Games, the use of media to mold citizen opinions is vast. Propaganda is seen throughout the film in multiple forms, to demonstrate that pre-crime is an effective way to lower the crime rate. Seen on billboards and advertisements across the country, the pre-crime organization claims that they have decreased the number of crimes by 90%. Statistics are an extremely easy way to convince, and to an extent brainwash the population into certain beliefs. Who can argue the “facts” that are put in front of them on a daily basis? But they never mention in these advertisements that the pre-cogs can sometimes disagree with one another to generate a minority report. This can result in innocent people being captured for a crime that they were never going to commit in the first place. An example of a minority report is when Jad comes across one pre-crime in particular,  “Red ball, double homicide, one male, one female. The killer is white, male, 40’s. Agatha nailed the time at 8:04 a.m. The twins are a little fuzzy on that.” There is a “fuzziness” in the pre-cogs visions, showing that there is unreliability in the system yet they choose to pursue the pre-crime anyway.  This is a flaw in the system they have in place, making pre-crime ineffective and unfair, but this is kept confidential as it could ruin what the government is trying to achieve. 

In conclusion, I can say with confidence that propaganda (especially with the utilization of media and technology) is a standard mean for a state or organization to achieve the results they are after. This concept is clearly linked throughout the 4 dystopian pieces I have selected, used to deliver societal standards and plays on social tensions to the mass population. By breaking down exactly how the propaganda is applied, it’s evident that the authors have formed warnings about the future in our modern society. Media and technology are so present in our lives, we encounter the use of words and images to encourage us to feel or behave in a certain way across different media in our daily lives. It wouldn’t be that hard for us to be manipulated into certain beliefs, for all we know it’s already too late, the impact that publicity and advertising have on our attitudes and behaviors is immense.

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