Media: The New Big Brother

Countless novels have been written focusing on the rise of a dystopia where a group has complete control over what the citizens think. One of the most famous examples is the book “1984”. Written by George Orwell, it follows a man whose job is to rewrite history for the government. Known as “Big Brother”, the government as Orwell predicted it is an all-powerful totalitarian force that has cameras and recording devices everywhere, ready to observe and react to any hint of disobedience. While today we can look at this novel and the many like it as ominous warnings of the future, in many ways we have our own, current day Big Brother, invading the privacy of citizens everyday. Media is without a doubt one of the largest influencing factors on the minds of people today.

Our lives are completely saturated with television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet and, while this is an excellent thing in many ways, it is also extremely dangerous. As a culture, America is nosy.We believe we have the right to know what is going on in our neighbor’s lives as well as the lives of those in other countries and, thanks to wide spread access to the Internet, that has become possible. But what happens when that information is not there for us to see? Do we have the right to pry into the private lives of others, just because we want to know?One of the most dangerous parts our obsession with media is the relationship with people it has given us, especially when it comes to how we approach celebrities. Media has been a dehumanizing force, taking the essence out of famous people and turning them into nothing more than characters, reducing them to a series of rumors and headlines.

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The constantly watching eye of Big Brother that Orwell discussed has become akin to the paparazzi following celebrities like flies, always waiting with a camera in hand and a microphone shoved insistently into the face of anyone who is willing to talk. Those close to celebrities are offered huge sums of money to dish out the latest secrets, whether it be about a romantic relationship, a health issue, or a work venture. Recent pictures of famous celebrity couples like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were sold for $500,000. Suri Cruise, the eight year old child of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, has been followed her entire life, often shown hiding from photographers who mercilessly continue to take pictures of her. Topless photos of Kate Middleton sunbathing on private vacation were published in a tabloid after they were taken from over a mile away with a long lens camera.

Lindsey Lohan sustained minor injuries in an accident after a photographer intentionally rammed into her car. The paparazzi have even been held partially responsible for the death of Princess Diana, who was in a car fleeing from photographers when she was killed. While these issues vary in severity, they all deal with the infringement on privacy, a basic right that the normal person takes for granted, purely because we are rarely put into the shoes of celebrities. Our perceptions of people come purely from what we are told in magazines or on television and in this way, media controls us. So what can we do? The easiest response is that we should not buy into everything we are offered. Just because there is a magazine out that says a famous person has broken up with their significant other or is going to rehab, doesn’t make it true, and it certainly does not mean that it is any of our business.

Stay conscience of what information you are consuming and take everything with a grain of salt. Most importantly, remember that humans have basic civil rights, privacy among them, and we should respect that, no matter famous or not.