The Lit Nerd’s Rant on ‘1984’



A novel by George Orwell chronicling life under the watchful eye of Big Brother. A chilling look at a far off future when the book was penned in 1949, it is now a text that reveals a frightening future, 30 years past. The story, about a totalitarian society that feigns peace through terror and war and the man who questions it all, changed the way people look at politics and government while revolutionizing the science fiction genre.

Orwell’s classic work has been reproduced numerous times, with direct adaptations, operatic interpretations, updated blockbuster films and radio programs. David Bowie even wrote a song.

The newest adaptation, “Equals”, is a Drake Doremus film in the works starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult. The movie has been coined as a “love story” and a “romantic remake”, both of which worry me. Has the success of the Young Adult dystopic genre gone too far by procuring Orwell’s political statement and focusing on the relationship between Winston Smith and Julia?  Texts such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, were written with a specific audience in mind and then became popular beyond the expectations of the author and publishing houses. Thus, films were created for, again, a specific audience. If the box office success of Suzanne Collins’ literature series is any indication, Divergent will appeal to the hipster masses, but what does that mean for the “new” 1984?

"PUNK: Chaos To Couture" Costume Institute Gala
Kristen Stewart attends the Costume Institute Gala for the “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013, in New York City.

What it means is the same thing it meant for the other adaptations. A larger audience for the original text. Although a large number of movie goers will watch ‘Equals’ as a one shot–with no intention of seeking out the text to take the appreciation to deeper level, there are always viewers who’s curiosity will lead them to the real thing. All of a sudden, the younger generation, many of whom hadn’t even been born in 1984 (!!) has discovered a text that remains timeless as it continues to call question to any and all political orders.

The headlines call ‘Equals’ the next Hunger Games, setting it up for a teen-pop win. So, can we expect Hot Topic to carry t-shirts with catchphrases? Big Brother references on bracelets? The short answer is:  yes, of course we can. This is the 21st century. Still, in an atmosphere in which young people, social media and financial gain dictate the popularity of art, this attention is not necessarily all bad. So, while I am not thrilled that the film is bound to be romanticized and watered down, I am excited to reference one of my favorite texts in a class full of students born in the 1990’s and have them, perhaps, know what I am talking about for once.

literarily yours,

The Collectiva Diva