Dave's Reviews > 1984

1984 by George Orwell
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's review
Jul 28, 2007

it was amazing

In George Orwell's 1984, Winston Smith is an open source developer who writes his code offline because his ISP has installed packet sniffers that are regulated by the government under the Patriot Act. It's really for his own protection, though. From, like, terrorists and DVD pirates and stuff. Like every good American, he drinks Coca-Cola and his processed food has desensitized his palate to all but four flavors: sweet, salty-so-that-you-will-drink-more-coca-cola, sweet, and Cooler Ranch!(tm). His benevolent overlords have provided him with some war happening somewhere for some reason so that he, and the rest of the population, can be sure that the government is really in his best interests. In fact, the news always has some story about Paris Hilton or yet another white girl who has been abducted by some evil bastard who is biologically wired by 200,000 years of human evolution to fuck 12-year-olds, but is socially conditioned to be obsessed with sex, yet also to feel guilty about it. This culminates into a distorted view of sexuality, and results in rape and murder, which both make for very good news topics. This, too, is in Winston's best interests because, while fear is healthy, thinking *too* much about his own mortality is strictly taboo, as it may lead to something dangerously insightful, and he might lose his taste for Coca Cola and breast implants. The television also plays on his fears of the unknown by exaggerating stereotypes of minorities and homosexuals, under the guise of celebrating "diversity", but even these images of being ghetto-fabulous and a lisping interior designer actually exist solely to promote racism and homophobia, which also prove to be efficient distractions.

For some reason, Winston gets tired of eating recycled Pop Tarts and eating happy pills and pretending to be interested in sports and manufactured news items. But, in the end, they fix him and he's happy again. Or something.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 28, 2007 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-50 of 142) (142 new)

message 1: by Malissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 08:45PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Malissa Medina I love your comment. Well said.

message 2: by Arthur (last edited Aug 25, 2016 09:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Arthur Fine comment, but it seems to fit Brave New World better-- for me, at least...

message 3: by Malissa (last edited Aug 25, 2016 09:16PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Malissa Medina I'm ashamed to admit I have not yet read Brave New World. It just made it's way to #1 on my must read list.

message 4: by Arthur (last edited Aug 25, 2016 09:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Arthur Yeah, it complements 1984's brutal reality with a streak of Romanticism (boiling passions!, and all that...). A curveball of dystopian novels. Let me know if you enjoy it.

message 5: by Meg (last edited Aug 25, 2016 09:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Meg What are you talking about! Science fiction doesn't have anything to do with the REAL world. O.o

PS. Well put.

Ryan wow! awesome review!

Audrea I couldn't have said it better.

Paul This was brilliant.

Jonatron But I like Pop Tarts. :'(

Adele McVay Liked the review, a lot of those comparisions were going through my head as I read it!

Tatiana This is great!

Rohan Ouch.

Peyton Very well put, except that he is not an American. The story is set in London

message 14: by T.J. (new) - rated it 5 stars

T.J. Bell Poetic.

Vegas I liked the end. Or something.

Carrie Chaney lol. Best review of this I've ever read. :)

message 17: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Miller Peyton wrote: "Very well put, except that he is not an American. The story is set in London"

True, but in the novle both britain and the americas are part of Oceania.

Peregrine 12 Whoa - at first I thought you were writing about AMERICA! Then I realized, 'Oh. Dude, he's writing a BOOK review. Whew. Hmm... I wonder what's on the TV? Now, where did I leave my pop tarts...'

message 19: by Eoin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eoin Dave, have you actually read 1984? Modern day America is nothing like Oceania. Even if America were really as you describe it, it would still be nothing like Orwell’s dystopia. This should be obvious from the very fact that anyone can go online and post what you have posted for all to read and freely comment on. This is pretty much the exact opposite of how things work in 1984.
I like this novel a lot, but does anyone really think that Orwell’s vision actually came true, outside of North Korea and other such isolated, backwards hell-holes? The idea that it did seems to be very appealing to a lot of people for some reason.

Marvin I really don't see why you don't notice any parallels between 1984 and modern day America. Let me point out a few:
The Patriot act and an increasingly police state approved because of fear mongering about terrorism threats both within and outside the US.
Three wars ongoing - more than any other country - while still continuing to preach peace and tolerance.
Military spending that doesn't result in technological advancement and the opposite where the economy is concerned.
A general sense that someone who criticizes the government and it's military excesses is unpatriotic.
Senate proposals such as an internet kill switch and even hundreds of sites being seized under spurious excuses.
In California, cops can demand to read your texts. In Arizona, anyone suspected of being an illegal on sight could be asked to provide documentation. It's not difficult for cops to come up with a reason to crash into your house with assault rifles or put a tracker on your vehicle. People are being stripped nude and groped at airports. If Orwell's future hasn't arrived yet, it's very near and the US government has all the resources it needs to make it happen.

message 21: by Eoin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eoin Fair points. I'm sure you know a lot more about what America is like than I do. (I’m not American).

But I respectfully disagree.
Here's a list of ways in which I think America is the opposite of Oceania:

-You were able post a comment that is extremely critical of the US government. Anyone can do that, and in a huge variety of media.

-You can protest laws that you think impinge on your freedom. You might not succeed but you are certainly free to try.

-Many people in America have very similar views to those you've expressed. (The above comments show that, but there's also the evidence of the many films, books, editorials, activist groups etc that openly criticise government policies). If America were oppressive of free thought and expression in a similar way to Oceania, popular anti-government opinion could not exist. And not only that - the anti-government side actually has huge cultural currency and sway. It's by no means underground. Filmmakers like Michael Moore and others have power and credibility. In many universities it seems that being a radical is a prerequisite for being cool. In 1984, even the tiniest suggestion of radicalism makes you an instant pariah, and then you’re tortured and killed.

-In Oceania, the government controls information absolutely. In America, government documents are routinely leaked and even low-level government misbehaviour - for example, claiming too much on expenses – can be exposed. And when it is exposed, the public has no hesitation in baying for blood. This is nothing like Oceania.

It's not perfect, but the modern Western democratic system is better than anything that went before as far as I can see. I think we're freer now than we ever were in the past.
I agree that the bad things about America which you've pointed out are apt for criticism, but I think the comparison to Oceania is not fair.

message 22: by Marvin (last edited May 07, 2011 05:03PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Marvin I'm not American either (I'm Nigerian haha!), but I have lived there and follow the news avidly. And I did say although it's possible to make comparisons, 1984 still hasn't arrived yet.

I agree that, in certain ways, we are freer than people in the past; but I think that's because the government can't effectively censor the internet and other new media. It's definitely trying as I mentioned. I think the biggest threat to liberties is the invocation of counter-terrorism measures as a valid reason to ignore the constitution. In today's America, the most power isn't in the hands of the media, or the opposition, or public sentiment; it rest with the politicians. Even though the different political parties harangue each other over differing ideologies, in practice their methods aren't very different (compare Bush militarism with Obama's). Also, the American public has the general sentiment that it is unpatriotic to not support the troops and whatever "hipsterness" might exist on college campuses, most people still agree that terrorism is a threat that should be pursued vigorously and if they aren't keeping quiet about excesses, they don't oppose it vehemently like the Vietnam War protests in the 60s. In my opinion, these gradual lapses build up and it's shocking that it's even possible for people to be violated in airports when it's obvious that it's been more luck than vigilance that's prevented any repeat terrorist attacks. As for not being able protest successfully; I think if your complaint isn't ever taken serious, you might as well not complain and it doesn't bode well for American democracy that that is increasingly the case.

About the government leaks: Bradley Manning has been made a scapegoat for releasing incriminating documents about the murders of innocent people. That's another point that's worth noting: in the new world of American hegemony, the life of anyone who isn't American has very little value compared to an American life. In my opinion, the wars in the Middle East have wrecked much more havoc to those people than the terrorist attacks ever did in the west and it's resulted in even more recruits to terrorism (think endless war). But that's very little accounted for.

Consider also that whatever is being taught in public schools must be sanctioned by the government for the schools to receive funding and if say, the government were to overstep its bounds(as is the case with anti-sharia proposals) and make counter-terrorism required reading, terrorism is linked with Islam so it is possible to subtly inculcate into children a sense that Muslims are inherently bad.

I don't mean to be melodramatic and I do realize the West has the freest kind of government but I think when compared to communist governments, excessive acts of violence are easier to sweep under the rug or ignore altogether because people believe that their freedom is inviolable.

I could go on and on about similarities but this is supposed to be about reviews and I've already said way too much.

message 23: by Eoin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eoin Yeah I think I said too much too :)

We'll have to agree to disagree.

Don Incognito I'll have to disagree with the reviewer and agree with Eoin.

Heather This is not a book review. The Party would be appalled at the liberties you have taken.

Don Incognito Also people of good taste.

M. D. R. Oh my! Actually laughed out loud! Extraordinarily witty extrapolation of 1984 to to-day.

Sophie @ Marvin: Do you read French? If yes, you should definitely check out "La Zone du Dehors", from Alain Damasio. It develops all the points you presented, and is furthermore set in a world in which all political systems are social-democracies while showing how the spirit of democracy's been long ago dead and buried under glass towers, virtual games and endless classification.

Sophie Oh, and also: a little tidbit on why it's better to stick with original works http://www.commondreams.org/headlines...

message 30: by Larry (new)

Larry O'brien You forgot that his job is to create new packaging for Coke when they change the artificial sweeteners.

message 31: by Eoin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eoin The packaging on Coke cans? Again, I have to ask whether anyone who thinks this review makes sense has actually read the book. You're conflating all forms of government and public relations with a fictional caricature of a farcically cynical, soulless, manipulative hyper-autocracy where everything bad or questionable about government is taken to absurd extremes. Even if you take Orwell's view as just an exaggerated version of how things are, remember that it is exaggerated. It is obviously not an accurate version of how things are. Don't believe me? Ask yourself this question: were you taken to an underground torture facility after you posted your comments? No? Then we’re not in Oceania just yet.

Jamie Haha, love that the guy before me can use the word farcically, but seems to have no sense of humor. Sounds a bit like "Parson's Syndrome" to me : )
Obviously Dave's review is also a "farcically" exaggerated version of life as we know it today. Hilarious!
Eion - Have you read anything that has been report in the news lately about the government that hasn't been "taken to absurd extremes" as you so eloquently put it?
Your comment begs to question whether or not you have been conscience in the last 15 years, but alas, that is a topic for another time.
Very well written Dave.

message 33: by Eoin (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eoin That's some super reasoning: "It's just a joke, don't take it seriously!!!.... but also it's totally accurate! Look around you, man, 1984 came true!!!" The "1984-came-true" theory is very trendy. But it's basically a conspiracy theory like any other. It's trendy to be anti-government, anti-America etc. It's more difficult to actually think.

Jamie Ok, first I guess I wasn't very clear about my view point. I took Dave's comment as a jest, as in jokingly stating that 1984 is upon us. Honestly, I don't think the majority of people truly believe that we are living in anything quite as exaggerated as Orwell's version of life.
Second - All of the media, whether it is supplied from the governments view point or the so-called "people's" view point, it's grossly exaggerated, spun and skewed.
Don't know where you got anti-government in anything that I said, nor anti-American. People aren't against the government per se, but the policies that certain political parties wish to enforce on others with out the lawful right to do so.

If you want to get into a discussion about actual detailed view points, BRING IT ON. We will see just who actually thinks here and who doesn't. But if you want to fight like a child, call each other names or paste labels on everything that is said with out basis or fact, then I think we will just have to be done with our discussion.

Jamie PS (in jest I say to you) How do you know that Dave wasn't thrown into an interrogation room after posting this? I haven't seen any additional posts from the guy
: )

message 36: by Dave (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dave Actually, when I wrote this, I was living in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Canada (I am American). I shit you not.

Don't worry, I'm better now. At least it wasn't an interrogation room.

I mostly forgot about this review, but I'm really glad that it has inspired so much debate. You guys are really cool. I especially appreciate Eoin, who seems to think that I'm a dummy, for taking the time to elaborate on his/her reasons for disagreeing instead of just calling me a dummy. I shan't try to refute any of his/her points because, as Jamie pointed out, I just wrote the review to be a dick. I was really tired of monks forcing me to wake up at 4am and shve my head every morning and was feeling really anti-authoritarian.

This is why I love the Internet.

Marvin Sophie wrote: "@ Marvin: Do you read French? If yes, you should definitely check out "La Zone du Dehors", from Alain Damasio. It develops all the points you presented, and is furthermore set in a world in which a..." It's funny you should mention it because I have studied French a couple of times and even lived in Cote D'Ivoire for a year but I didn't put in as much effort as I should have and don't read or speak it very well. Thanks for the recommend! I could use it to work on my french skills sometime.

message 38: by Elen (new) - rated it 1 star

Elen George Orwell comletely ripped off his 1984 from Yevgeny Zamyatin 's We (published in 1921)


Yevgeny Zamyatin 's We novel is much better. I recomend it to everyone who liked 1984

Jonatron Wikipedia says:

George Orwell believed that Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) must be partly derived from We.[3] However, in a 1962 letter to Christopher Collins, Huxley says that he wrote Brave New World as a reaction to H.G. Wells' utopias long before he had heard of We.[4][5] Kurt Vonnegut said that in writing Player Piano (1952) he "cheerfully ripped off the plot of Brave New World, whose plot had been cheerfully ripped off from Yevgeny Zamyatin's We."[6]

message 40: by Elen (new) - rated it 1 star

Elen Just read We ;)) You`ll like it. Language and other stylistic and symbolic aspects are much better. It is a story written by the witness or even by the main character. It contains more truth.

Cazangelcat I really liked your comment. I couldn't agree more! 5 stars for your review:-))

Maxim Chetruşca nothing to add... great review!

Adi Narayan Mandalemula Dave, what a review. Very hilarious. Superbly funny and great allusion to the present circumstances. The Goodreads moderators do surely have a very good taste to place your review on top. Super review.

Duane very clever!

João You sir, have made my day!

message 46: by Adi Narayan (last edited May 22, 2012 06:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Adi Narayan Mandalemula I didn't get all the points in the review when I read it the first time. But this second time when I'm reading it, I found that this is a great review. The allusion you made shows how accurate Orwell's prophecies are. Really shows us how great a work '1984' is. Great review.

message 47: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Skretvedt That's beautifully relevant. 2014.

message 48: by Amir (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amir Shahabi Fantastic review, very refrashing.

message 49: by Nick (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nick I don't know what edition you've read, but I want a copy.

فاروق الفرشيشي Man! You are awesome!

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