2+2=5 – As a real posthumous, ‘FU’ to George Orwell – the BBC has opted to place a bronze statue of the policeman, foreign war volunteer, journalist, and counter-bureaucratic author in front of the new Broadcasting House in London. Oddly, the BBC a target of Orwell in his novel, 1984, is identified as ‘The Ministry of Truth,’ an agency of propaganda and history revisionism. Yet, earlier this week, the BBC announced that it would be launching government approved ‘Spy Vans’ throughout the UK to ensure that their viewers and internet users were up to snuff, within their own homes. All at a time in our history when Orwell’s cryptic warning used to sit in the halls of the paranoid, from his 1949 novel, 1984, “Big brother is watching you,” which could not be more relevant in the mainstream.
Just beyond the statue, etched within the stone facade of the building will be a quotation from George Orwell,
If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
A choice of words I find odd to read alongside or within any form media, after all, in this state of affairs that we live in, we’ve almost ‘evolved’ past the worst fear of George Orwell in 1984. As we’re in an era when people are demanding to be lied to and are unquestioningly accepting the messages presented to them – despite the source. In fact, in many cases and despite the truth, people will argue and fight in defense of the often meaningless and pandering words presented to them. This is where we are in mass media communications today. Of which, I won’t cite an example of these many points, but invite you to look across the hall, and at what you disagree with – then ponder what they must think of you. Such is the landscape of now, and it presents the largest quandary for any journalist seeking to deliver the unwanted truth, which is to find a way to package the message so it will be heard. Even so, while providing news that might be published is not enough, nor is it a guarantee that the news will not be swiftly dismissed offhand for being counter to any of the readers’ beliefs. Consequently, few people care to read a counter-argument, conduct independent research, and even less dare to have their opinions challenged. That is of course, unless the message somehow incentivizes the audience.
Mass media dystopia,
Albeit, that is often not enough; for instance, you may receive a coupon or an offer to try some new laundry detergent, but you already have ‘your brand.’ For some reason or another, you’re loyal to this inanimate object that is sold to you by people who, at the end of the day only want your money. On the other hand, the coupon is for, ‘buy one, get one free,’ so maybe a few people loyal to the other brand will keep it around. Then, an internet, radio, shopping application, store ad, and/or television ad happens to grab your attention and it appeals to you with something familiar; such as family, friends, a cause, or an air of familiarity and understanding. OK, maybe then you’ll try out the new detergent. The business of changing opinions is massive, well structured, and quite honestly, a bit depressing as a reflection upon the decision-making processes of humanity. I went into some detail on this process within politics, in an earlier article on the Hillary campaign.
Still and all, any writer who steps up in this mad world, and makes an attempt beyond what is, buzz and click-worthy is already fighting outnumbered, and uphill. The real demand by the public is for what is entertaining. The public not only demands, but also requires a message that is formulated in such a way that requires a limited understanding of the topic, while agreeing with the primary ideology of the reading/viewing demographic, and most importantly – what is presented is simplistic. I don’t make these rules, but I review the ratings and know what works.
These are lessons I’ve picked up throughout my varying university coursework, and lessons that I hoped were not true. Albeit, after a stint in marketing, this terrible truth was verified to me – in real action, and a through real demand for the moronic messaging that clouds the day to day. That is when I left marketing for a string of adventures that landed me this gig. Along the way, I found plenty of propaganda distribution centers in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Although, here I’ve found the same struggle that I’m certain that every other source of entertainment, news, and media has encountered and that is providing the public with what that want. Yet, as I’ve stated above, and contrary to George Orwell’s message and warnings, people most defiantly are not interested in the truth. People rather be entertained, and honestly focus on, or worry about what could and does concern their lives in the most immediate and convincing sense. Be it a belief or an idea complimentary to their own way of thinking, points, and tips to assist their lives or someone their care for and/or wish to influence, a segue for their fantasy life or image, or a threat that is presented as immediate.
It’s all about what’s comfortable in comfort and discomfort,
Hence, why such messages are delivered to the public, and despite conspiracy theory, are not presented via some global cabal seeking to dumb-down humanity. In fact, entertainment, news, and media sources are only giving the people what that want – and they must do so, if they want to stay in business. The same goes for causes, politics, and religion, as those leaders and spokespeople also convey the messages people demand and expect – so that they too can stay in business. People, for the most part, be it conscious or subconscious, just want to be told what they’re looking for and to be entertained while it’s being told to them. If they are not, they will not listen, and if they do not listen to you – then you’re out of business. This string theory of Machiavellian marketing is old but was once reserved for senior leaders. Yet today, it is everywhere as the normal model for what is expected of people within their chosen groups, outlets, and sources – these messages are their doctrine and gospel. For each segmentation of the public, and amongst their many groups, their message is true and regurgitated amongst themselves as if they are quoting an ancient holy text. A text which can never be questioned without a targeted message approval campaign from their figureheads. Nevertheless, it is not all bad, as the folks in the espionage business are able to pull information more easily than ever from what is mainstream, for nearly any deception and as the normal accepted practice. Studying groups has never been easier; again a topic I covered on the POTUS campaign trail.
Oddly enough, as someone knowledgeable of these rules; I often choose not to play by them. Truth be told, I’d be more than happy to review them with anyone or even provide pointers on how to improve a message to the public. Notwithstanding, I find the process to be sickening even when I consider it. Granted that I’ll lean a bit and put out some titled work that fits an article, but it is meant to draw the audience – the same drawing point is found within the image that is featured with each article. The trick is to pair the two, which can sometimes be difficult as the public mood shifts a bit more quickly in news, than say, laundry detergent. Meaning that what was relevant at 05:00, is garbage by 09:00. The temperament can shift that swiftly when it comes to information and news that matters to what people care to be bothered with, or care to understand. News that actually matters is often laughed off, slackingly discredited, found obscure, or too difficult to bother with.
Again, something I don’t always abide by, nor does SOFREP, in general. My examples come for what I’ll consider to be my “New Coke.” On NATO, Ukraine, and the rising threats and direct actions from Russia. After an article has been up for awhile, I’ll review the statistics of interest on these articles and sometimes check the comments to discover a dismissive audience. In such wise, ‘No ISIS, no crisis,’ I’m competing against a million other messages that are busy scaring the hell out of the public over some idiots in the desert – yes, another group of terrorists from the Middle East. Despite that and as I’ve previously cited again and again that terrorism is not some new chapter in history but is old as time itself, and that you’re more likely to be killed by a criminal or a driver on a cell phone than a terrorist. Howbeit, the big kids on the playground know that, ‘If it bleeds it leads,’ and terrorism is this generation’s cash cow in fear ratings. Don’t worry though, everyone will catch up, when it is too late.
An iconic man, set to take another spin in his grave,
The statue of George Orwell will oddly enough, be placed by the smoking area near one of the building entrances. Thus, adding a bit of mystique to the already cloudy air and awkward symbolism in placing the statue of a man who challenged the very practices at the heart of the foundation in what, unfortunately is, the state of the media.
George Orwell’s’ visionary work and allegoric novellas, foretold the era of Big Brother, as well as the ethos corrupt; Doublethink, Newspeak, and Thoughtcrime era of today. In his simplified paradoxical presentations – he challenges what we accept as reality from commerce, government, and media.
Orwell’s work was that of philosophy in storytelling, which has helped and in many ways guided his readers in the quest for truth, and provided another voice to raise questions, to the information that is presented to them.
He was not some lame tin-foil hat pansy either. George Orwell had really cut his teeth towards his greater works first as an imperial policeman in Burma, and later as a foreign volunteer within the ranks of the Spanish Civil War. It was only after returning to the UK that he expanded into various news and media postings before making a run at the British Broadcast Company; where he got a glimpse inside the effects of mass media as a journalist . . . His greater known works such as 1984 and Animal Farm came from his stint in propaganda.
When Orwell left the BBC, his resignation letter included “I was wasting my own time and the public money on doing work that produces no result. I believe that in the present political situation the broadcasting of British propaganda to India is an almost hopeless task.”
Even though George Orwell quit the BBC, he still dabbled in journalism across various outlets – eventually moving into literary journalism while he completed his pièce de résistance, 1984, before his death in 1950 . . . In 2016 the Ministry of Truth, in an act of decadence and a manifestation of 1984; is mockingly, placing a statue of the author at their London headquarters.
I suppose that we may as well celebrate our dystopia. . . .
The Ministry of Truth — Minitrue, in Newspeak — was startlingly different from any other object in sight. It was an enormous pyramidal structure of glittering white concrete, soaring up, terrace after terrace, 300 metres into the air. From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH
The Ministry of Truth contained, it was said, three thousand rooms above ground level, and corresponding ramifications below. Scattered about London there were just three other buildings of similar appearance and size. So completely did they dwarf the surrounding architecture that from the roof of Victory Mansions you could see all four of them simultaneously. They were the homes of the four Ministries between which the entire apparatus of government was divided. The Ministry of Truth, which concerned itself with news, entertainment, education, and the fine arts. The Ministry of Peace, which concerned itself with war. The Ministry of Love, which maintained law and order. And the Ministry of Plenty, which was responsible for economic affairs. Their names, in Newspeak: Minitrue, Minipax, Miniluv, and Miniplenty.”
-Orwell, George. 1984. Ed. Erich Fromm. New York: Harcourt, 1949.
Featured Image – Film adaptation of 1984 – Virgin Produced