1984

Cultural impact

The effect of Nineteen Eighty-Four on the English language is extensive; the concepts of Big Brother, Room 101, the Thought Police, thoughtcrime, unperson, memory hole (oblivion), doublethink (simultaneously holding and believing contradictory beliefs) and Newspeak (ideological language) have become common phrases for denoting totalitarian authority. Doublespeak and groupthink are both deliberate elaborations of doublethink, and the adjective "Orwellian" means similar to Orwell's writings, especially Nineteen Eighty-Four. The practice of ending words with "-speak" (such as mediaspeak) is drawn from the novel.[86] Orwell is perpetually associated with 1984; in July 1984, an asteroid was discovered by Antonín Mrkos and named after Orwell.

  • In 1955, an episode of BBC’s The Goon Show, 1985, was broadcast, written by Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes and based on Nigel Kneale's television adaptation. It was re-recorded about a month later with the same script but a slightly different cast.[87] 1985 parodies many of the main scenes in Orwell's novel.
  • In 1970, the American rock group Spirit released the song "1984" based on Orwell's novel.
  • In 1973, ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper released an album called 1984 on the Columbia label (UK), consisting of instrumentals with Orwellian titles such as “Miniluv,” “Minipax,” “Minitrue,” and so forth.
  • In 1974, David Bowie released the album Diamond Dogs, which is thought to be loosely based on the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. It includes the tracks "We Are The Dead", "1984" and "Big Brother". Before the album was made, Bowie's management (MainMan) had planned for Bowie and Tony Ingrassia (MainMan's creative consultant) to co-write and direct a musical production of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, but Orwell's widow refused to give MainMan the rights.[88][89]
  • In 1977, the British rock band The Jam released the album This Is the Modern World, which includes the track "Standards" by Paul Weller. This track concludes with the lyrics "...and ignorance is strength, we have God on our side, look, you know what happened to Winston."[90]
  • In 1984, Ridley Scott directed a television commercial, "1984", to launch Apple's Macintosh computer.[91] The advert stated, "1984 won't be like 1984", suggesting that the Apple Mac would be freedom from Big Brother; i.e., the IBM PC.[92]
  • An episode of Doctor Who, called "The God Complex", depicts an alien ship disguised as a hotel containing Room 101-like spaces, and quotes the nursery rhyme as well.[93]
  • The two part episode Chain of Command on Star Trek: The Next Generation bears some resemblances to the novel.[94]
  • Radiohead’s 2003 single “2 + 2 = 5”, from their album Hail to the Thief, is Orwellian by title and content. Thom Yorke states, “I was listening to a lot of political programs on BBC Radio 4. I found myself writing down little nonsense phrases, those Orwellian euphemisms that [the British and American governments] are so fond of. They became the background of the record.”[90]
  • In September 2009, the English progressive rock band Muse released The Resistance, which included songs influenced by Nineteen Eighty-Four.[95]
  • In Marilyn Manson’s autobiography The Long Hard Road Out of Hell, he states: "I was thoroughly terrified by the idea of the end of the world and the Antichrist. So I became obsessed with it... reading prophetic books like... 1984 by George Orwell..."[96]
  • In 2012, the film Cloud Atlas depicts a dark, dystopian future where a global world government is in power. A captured political prisoner is interrogated by a government official and warned not to use Korean, referred to as subspeak. Similarly in the book, English is no longer in use having been diluted into Newspeak, an ideological language designed to support the party line, curtailing illegal thoughts and even preventing their formation.

References to the themes, concepts and plot of Nineteen Eighty-Four have appeared frequently in other works, especially in popular music and video entertainment. An example is the worldwide hit reality television show Big Brother, in which a group of people live together in a large house, isolated from the outside world but continuously watched by television cameras.

  • In November 2011, the US government argued before the US Supreme Court that it wants to continue utilising GPS tracking of individuals without first seeking a warrant. In response, Justice Stephen Breyer questioned what that means for a democratic society by referencing Nineteen Eighty-Four. Justice Breyer asked, "If you win this case, then there is nothing to prevent the police or the government from monitoring 24 hours a day the public movement of every citizen of the United States. So if you win, you suddenly produce what sounds like Nineteen Eighty-Four... "[97]

The book touches on the invasion of privacy and ubiquitous surveillance. From mid-2013 it was publicised that the NSA has been secretly monitoring and storing global internet traffic, including the bulk data collection of email and phone call data. Sales of Nineteen Eighty-Four increased by up to seven times within the first week of the 2013 mass surveillance leaks.[98][99][100] The book again topped the Amazon.com sales charts in 2017 after a controversy involving Kellyanne Conway using the phrase "alternative facts" to explain discrepancies with the media.[101][102][103][104]

The book also shows mass media as a catalyst for the intensification of destructive emotions and violence. Since the 20th century, news and other forms of media have been publicising violence more often.[105][106] In 2013, Nottingham Playhouse, the Almeida Theatre and Headlong staged a successful new adaptation (by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan), which twice toured the UK and played an extended run in London's West End. The play opened on Broadway in New York in 2017. A version of the production played on an Australian tour in 2017.[107]

Nineteen Eighty-Four was number three on the list of "Top Check Outs Of All Time" by the New York Public Library.[108]

In accordance with copyright law, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm both entered the public domain on January 1, 2021 in most of the world, 70 calendar years after Orwell died. The US copyright expiration is different for both novels: 95 years after publication.[109][110]


This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.