1984 Televisions Vs Telescreens Essay Research Paper

1984 Televisions Vs Telescreens Essay, Research Paper

TV rots the senses in the head!

It kills the imagination dead!

It clogs and clutters up the mind!

It makes a child so dull and blind.

He can no longer understand a fantasy,

A fairyland!

His brain becomes as soft as cheese!

His powers of thinking rust and freeze!

An excerpt from Charlie and the Chocolate


By Roald Dahl, 1964

When George Orwell?s epic novel 1984

was published in 1949 it opened the public?s imagination to a future world

where privacy and freedom had no meaning. The year 1984 has come

and gone and we generally believe ourselves to still live in ?The Land

of the Free;? however, as we now move into the 21st Century changes brought

about by recent advances in technology have changed the way we live forever.

Although these new developments have seamed to make everyday life more

enjoyable, we must be cautious of the dangers that lie behind them for

it is very possible that we are in fact living in a world more similar

to that of 1984 than we would like to imagine.

In 1949 when Orwell?s novel was published,

television was a relatively new invention. Fewer than 10% of the

United States households had a television set in them and at this time

programming was limited to mainly news-oriented shows. Many people

believed that television would never surpass radio as the chief means of

mass communication; they could not have been more incorrect.

Presently 98% of the households in the

United States have one or more televisions in them. What once was

regarded as a luxury item has become a staple appliance of the American

household. Gone are the days of the three channel black and white

programming of the early years; that has been replaced by digital flat

screen televisions connected to satellite programming capable of receiving

thousands of channels from around the world. Although televisions

and television programming today differ from those of the telescreens in

Orwell?s 1984, we are beginning to realize that the effects of television

viewing may be the same as those of the telescreens.

The telescreens in 1984 served two purposes,

surveillance and mind control. Unlike the televisions of our present

day, the telescreens in 1984 also served as a device constantly monitoring

the citizen?s actions by means of an integrated camera and microphone in

addition to broadcasting continuous pro Party propaganda. Setting aside

the surveillance aspect of the telescreens, it is easy to see to a striking

similarity between the televisions in our society and the fictional telescreens

Orwell created in 1984.

Numerous studies have concluded that the

content and amount of television programming watched by individuals ? especially

by children – has a direct result on the behavior of that individual.

The behavior affected by television viewing can be anything from a desire

for a certain food or material good to violent distemper (Zuckerman 1985.)

Recently, more and more woman have given up their traditional role of raising

their children opting instead to work during the day and leave their children

to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, many children find that spending

countless hours in front of the television to be a worthwhile way to entertain

themselves. Most parents tell their children never to talk to strangers,

but what they fail to realize is that every day their children are subject

to the messages and ideas of strangers on the television. In fact,

a study concluded that an average American by the age of 18 has spent more

time watching television than they have spent in school; this study also

went on the state that children spend more time watching television than

any other activity besides sleeping. This may explain why an additional

study revealed that if a child was told something by his or her parents

and then viewed on television something that contradicted what the parents

had said, four times out of five the child opted to believe the television

over his or her parents. This may not seam like a problem if one

was looking at it in terms of factual information, but when it comes to

moral values we may begin to understand why our society is in the state

that it is. A study conducted by MediaScope Incorporated pertaining

to violence on television supported the notion that programs on television

create a false perception of society and resulted with the following figures:

1. The context in which most violence

is presented on television poses risks for viewers.

2. Perpetrators go unpunished in 73% of

all violent scenes.

3. The negative consequences of violence

are not often portrayed in violent programming.

4. One out of four violent interactions

involve the use of handguns.

5. Only 4% of violent programs emphasize

an anti-violent theme.

The purpose of American television is

not to educate, enlighten, or present quality entertainment; American television

is an industry and like any other industry the goal is to make money.

Unfortunately, sex and violence sells and therefore the majority of programming

on television contains such content. By continuously viewing such programming

individuals become desensitized to the pain and suffering of others and

unconsciously mold their own morals and values around that of which they

view daily.

In 1984 the citizens of Oceania had no

choice in weather or not they wanted to view the programming on the telescreen;

the telescreens were in every house and every street corner continuously

pumping messages into the citizen?s minds. The citizens did not think

twice about whether the information that was being presented to them on

the telescreen was true or not; we can find the same behavior exhibited

by television viewers presently in our own society. People for some

unexplainable reason seem to view the television as a box of impenetrable

truth. We have all heard a friend say, or perhaps even said ourselves,

?I know its true because I saw it on TV.? Rather than investigate

information to determine it?s validity by means other than the television,

we accept information as being true simply because ?if it wasn?t true they

wouldn?t show it on TV.? When we watch television the images projected

travel directly to the right hemisphere of the neocortex, often there is

not sufficient time for the messages and images we are receiving to be

processed by the left hemisphere of the brain. Therefore, when one

watches television the part of the brain that allows us to make sense of,

analyze, and rationalize what we are seeing is passed over; thus, simply

making us sponges that absorb the information being shown to us without

thinking about it.

Why do people watch television? If

you were to ask different individuals that question you would most likely

get several different answers back. You may hear ?It?s entertaining?

or ?Watching television is an easy way to relax after a hard day.? The

fact of that matter is television allows people to experience vicariously

through fictional characters situations that they feel they could not otherwise

experience on their own. What it really boils down to is laziness.

Television is an easy escape from reality. Rather than going out

and creating or experiencing situations in real life that could produce

true satisfaction, people opt to sit in a comfortable chair in a warm room

surrounded by every comfort imaginable and waste away their lives filling

their minds with a false sense of fulfillment. All of us have heard

someone or another say to us ?No, I?m sorry I can?t do that right now,

I?m watching my show.? Americans have ceased to live their own lives

and have practically become slaves to their televisions and the corporations

that stand behind them.

Unlike the citizens of Oceania, we are

able to make our own decisions. We can turn off our televisions;

we can live our own lives and make our own experiences. We can learn

about and do practically anything we want. Most of us do not take

advantage of this freedom. In fifty years when my generation has

become grandparents, what stories will we have to tell our grandkids?

Will they really want to hear about that episode of Friends that we loved

so much? Will we really have any knowledge or experiences worthwhile

to tell them? Perhaps it won?t even matter. Perhaps our grandkids

will be too interested in what they are watching on television to even

want to listen to us. Yes we live in the ?Land of the Free,? but

until we really start taking advantage our freedom to the fullest and pull

ourselves away from the television we are no better off than the citizens

of Oceania and the telescreens that surround them as they toil on in their

non-eventful lives.