It’s no secret that we are obsessed with our phones, making posts every day about our whereabouts, the things we are doing and the people we are with but why. We have been warned about the dangours of giving away too much of our private life but yet we ignore them. We need to become more aware of the mechanisms that are still controlling our life today. A song called Fake Paper Trees, an episode called Nosedive from the Netflix series black mirror, a movie named minority report and lastly a novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four all point out this problem that we are able to relate to the real world and notice that people have not taken on the warnings. Through these four texts we are able to follow the consequences of manipulation, surveillance and the loss of people’s identities shown by the use of technology, imagery such as the eye, people acting out of the current norms and people concealing themselves which are all common features of the dystopia genre.
We are confronted with the terrifying idea of the fakeness that exists in the world as a result of manipulation from technology. The song Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead explores the new reality of how people are forced to conceal themselves. It explains how we are living in a fake world with fake people as it states “She lives with a broken man, A cracked polystyrene man, Who just crumbles and burns”. This man might as well not be real, he’s empty, left with no substance. It is a metaphor as plastic can be another word for fake, just like plastic surgery, This is altering yourself to become something different. Making it not your real original self, but the altered fake version. He crumbles and burns as being a fake version of yourself is hard to keep up, it’s hard to be someone your not. The song carries on into saying “She looks like the real thing, She tastes like the real thing, My fake plastic love”, reiterating the fakeness. Looking like the real thing is technically not the real thing itself but a look-alike. Also referring to the girl being plastic as in fake can link to plastic surgery, altering yourself to make a fake version of yourself. This ultimately is due to the technology in the world. People are forced, through social media, to conceal their real selves and create a better version. Through the song, it is implied that social media is the reason for all the fakeness due to the fact everyone else portrays perfect lives through their profiles that people become jealous of and in order to get rid of the jealousy you have to make people believe that your life an even more perfect life. Technology has manipulated us into being someone we are not which creates this idea of the loss of people’s identities.
The black mirror episode, nosedive written by Charlie Brooker furthers the idea of manipulation through the use of technology. Nosedive is a dystopian society where people are to rate their pairs on a 1 to a 5-star rating for every interaction they have with that particular person. People are forced to be fake, just as explained through the song fake plastic trees, in the hope to receive a 5-star rating from everyone they run into. Your overall rating affects what you can and can’t do in your everyday life. People in the world of nosedive are forced to become the fake version of themselves in the hope of receiving a high rating from everyone they run into. Most people in the world have become someone completely different, using fake smiles, fake tones in their voice, talking about things that don’t even insert them. Trying to get that high score. People have to abandon everything they believe in just to follow this system.
In one of the first scenes, the main character, Lacey goes to a coffee shop to get a coffee. She orders a coffee sits down to drink it while also taking a bite of the little cookie she was given. She takes one bite of the cookie and places it down on her plate while spitting the bite into her hand. She then preseeds to take a photo of the coffee and half ‘eaten’ cookie and post it online for everyone to see. After the post, she finally takes a sip of her coffee but as viewers, we quickly find out that it doesn’t taste very good. Lacey’s face changes into a sour look as she is disappointed with her coffee but as soon as all the high ratings she gets from the post of her coffee and cookie, her face lights up and becomes happy again. She doesn’t even care that her real-life experience was bad, all she cares about was that it looked like she had the best coffee ever and people were jealous of it. This just shows us that the manipulation has gone so far that happiness doesn’t come from real life anymore but through their fake personality. People have adapted a life through social media, letting themselves become whoever they portray themselves as over social media. Nothing is real anymore, we have to pretend and act just in case people are watching.
Technology has pushed these two societies into becoming afraid. A smile isn’t a happy sign anymore, it has just become the normal face of everyone put on because they are scared of the judgment from an unhappy face. Fake Plastic Trees and the episode Nosedive is all about hiding yourself from your true self and becoming a fake version of yourself as someone is always watching. This surveillance that is presented through technology has forced a loss of individuality.
Similar to the episode Nosedive, we come to the movie Minority Report directed by Steven Spielberg which takes surveillance to a whole new level. We are shown what is likely to happen if we are to cross the line of taking people’s choices away. In the district of Columbia, they have implemented a system called “pre-crime”. This is where the ‘police’ are able to arrest people based on a technology system that shows what may be about to happen through the eyes of “precogs”. The crime is never performed as the arrest comes first. This stops people from being able to make that decision for themselves. These people are stripped from their choices and have to live with these consequences for something that didn’t even happen. It is no secret that the state of Columbia knows they are under surveillance just as it is in the episode nosedive. It is presented to us through the use of camera shots such as birds-eye view. Throughout the movie, we are presented with birds-eye view shots of the state, these revealing people’s private lives as we are able to see into people’s homes. The state has the power to just invade someone’s private life at any time. This is reinforced through the bug scene. The states release 8 bug-like technology into a housing apartment in the hope to find their criminal. These bugs are iris scanners and go through every apartment and scan the eyes of every person. Some people are having personal arguments, some are having baths, some are even having sex, but these bugs are able to come straight in, climb and each person and scan their eyes no matter what they are doing. We watch this all unfold during a birds-eye-view shot putting us in the position of the government and showing us the invasion of privacy and therefore loss of individuality.
The states further their surveillance by the continuous projectile of pictures of the eye. In places people go every day, there will be pictures on the wall of eyes, thus giving the people the same constant reminder that they are being watched, Making people feel small in comparison to the state. Just like in nosedive, people are forced to make different decisions about what they would usually make due to the surveillance. People have to change their behavior and therefore themselves which can relate back to Nosedive and Fake Plastic Trees due to the fakeness being manipulated upon us. The constant reminder of surveillance strips people from their individuality and their choices because they are scared of the outcome.
The consequences of surveillance are again explored through the text Nineteen Eighty-Four written by George Orwell. We explore the totalitarian states through the eyes of the main protagonist Winston. It is run by a group of people called the party who have complete control over the whole of society. They are able to do this with the use of telescreens. Telescreens are put throughout people’s houses as well as public spaces in order for the party to look over everyone. Just like Minority Report, the party can watch over and invade people’s private lives. Also linking to Minority Report is the constant pictures of the naked eye in public places representing the surveillance from the state. In Nineteen Eighty-four, pictures of eyes are presented where people are able to see them every day. They sit there as a constant reminder that the people of Oceania are being watched. People are forced to restrain themselves from their true selves and obey the rules of the party. The party wants to stop people from being individuals. It was against the law to think unorthodox or controversial thoughts. This is where the telescreens came into play. The party was obsessed with stopping people from performing these thoughts and to have full control over every individual making them into their own army of robots. In Oceania “It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when in the range of a telescreen, the smallest thing could give you away” so people were forced to conceal themselves. They took the choice to be your own person away. if you went against these rules you were vaporized and erased from existence. This forcing the fear upon people as a form of manipulation. Most people were too scared to be their own person and found it easier to just obey big brother and believe that 2+2=5.
The use of technology in the form of telescreens causes the diminishment of people just as surveillance does the same in Minority Report. People are too afraid to do anything as there are serve consequences. Peoples conceal themselves in the hope of being left alone even though they are aware of the contracted feeling of being watched. People have been manipulated into creating a fake version of themselves to combat the survivance but still overall losing them individually.
Through these four texts, we are able to draw connections between them all due to the genre of dystopian. Each texts explore a futuristic state full of surveillance control, flawed protagonists, loss of individuality and choice which all serve a warning. These warn us of the problems with taking people’s choices away, the use of surveillance and the consequences it can lead to. People need to have their own rights to private life as we do not need to control that part of people and we need to let people be their own selves as making people conceal themselves is wrong. We need to become more aware of the mechanisms around us that could be controlling. We may think that we don’t live in a world anything like these words in the text but to an extent we are. We are being controlled. Social media has taken over our world, we are told what to look like, what to feel and who to be friends with. People want to have the most facebook friends they can look popular, people want to look like movie stars and models. We are under surveillance by social media every day and it is controlling the way we live. On average we spend 2 hours a day on our phones. We post what we do, how we feel and what we look like and people are taking advantage of this. From the study of these four texts and the connections I have found, I know that I am going to be more aware of the posts I decide to make public.