When we eat delicious food, visit a nice café, or travel, we usually take pictures and post them on our SNS accounts. Nobody forces us to do it. We do it of our own free. We just want to communicate with others or share our special experiences. However, we should keep in mind that our postings are actually releasing our personal information. Reporters use this article in SMT CULTURE to reflect on whether we are actually in control or are we under surveillance like Winston or Truman did. Why were Winston and Truman’s freedoms suppressed? Let’s examine the life of those two men.
“Big Brother is watching you.”
– George Orwell
In the book 1984, people live under the rule of Big Brother. The slogan of Big Brother is “War Is Peace, Freedom Is Slavery, Ignorance Is Strength.” Big Brother monitors people through telescreens, posters, bills, coins, postage stamps, book covers, and flags. There is no escape from the eyes of Big Brother. Winston, the main character in the book, works at the Ministry of Truth. He alters old documentation of Big Brother’s speeches or published figures in order to make people believe what is happening now is the truth. He senses that this is wrong, and he vaguely recalls the past, which is better than the present in his mind. Winston guesses O’Brien, Winston’s coworker, might share his opinion, but he’s not sure. He writes his thoughts down on a diary he brought from a second-hand store to consolidate his thinking. At the same time, he worries that he might get arrested for his diary entries and impure thoughts. Can Winston keep his dairy a secret and avoid being arrested? Will Big Brother stay in power and control society forever?
The book was published in 1949, so George Orwell speculated on the future. The novel is a type of dystopia. Dystopia is the criticizing of reality by portraying a negative dark fictional world. Reading the novel, readers will feel that Big Brother is similar to Stalin. While the book is fiction, it also has aspects of reality. It is uncommon for today’s generation to read the twentieth-century book, but the novel provides readers with lots of food for thought. Are we living in a society where freedom is guaranteed? Is the history we learn the truth? Why did George Orwell write this kind of book? These thoughts make the reader focus more on the novel. This SMT reporter recommends the book as a way of comparing society in the book to our real life. In this situation, readers will surely ponder questions that are not easily answered. In addition to this book, this reporter recommends the book, Brave New World (1932). It is also a dystopia novel, but it presents a completely different mood. Sookmyungians who read these two books will start to wonder if someone is watching them or controlling them, and wonder how to handle the situations.
The Truman Show (1998)
“In case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.”
– Truman Burbank
The Truman Show
Truman Burbank lives on a small island, works at an insurance company, and leads a very routine life. His life is very similar to our daily lives, but it has one difference. The difference is not with his neighbors or his family. It’s that 1.7 billion people watch his life as it unfolds on television. Since birth, Truman’s life has been broadcasted worldwide on a TV show called The Truman Show. The island he lives on is actually just a filming studio, and all the people he knows or sees are supporting actors. For 30 years, he lived his life on the studio and did not realize he was part of a TV show. However, suspicious things start happening; for example, he suddenly sees his deceased father, he hears a radio broadcast commenting on his current actions, and so forth. He suspects something is going on, so he starts to act unpredictably and finally manages to disappear from the line of sight of cameras. Truman is later found on a boat in the middle of the sea. The TV producer calls for a rough storm on the water so that Truman will be unable to reach the wall of the studio set. However, Truman arrives at the water’s end, which is the wall of the studio site. The Truman Show ends for billions around the world when he walks out the door of the studio.
“Leaving a fake reality for a true life” is what many people claim. It is the main message of the film The Truman Show. However, they forget a key issue that Truman is being watched secretly. In other words, the idea of privacy is important and should not be overlooked. The movie has an open ending, so we do not know if the producer and director of The Truman Show is sued by Truman for invading his privacy all of his 30 years. Only one person sees how unethical the TV show is. Everyone else enjoys watching and consuming it. Let’s look closely at Truman’s words, “In case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and goodnight.” These words are spoken by Truman whenever he encounters his neighbors in the morning, to people he passes on the street when he goes to work, and when he leaves the film studio at the end of the movie. The line implies that it was never going to be possible to view the show forever. Nothing illegal can last. It is illegal to watch someone’s personal life unfold. This SMT reporter recommends viewers to look from side to side to see if Truman is being watched or if he is a victim of privacy invasion.
Ahn Ha Yura / Cub Reporter
Kim Lee Hyunmin / Cub Reporter