di acinephilo

From Bentham to Orwell and Reality Show: No Return

1984 is one of the most well known dystopian fictions of the XX century. In Bentham’s Panopticon as well as in 1984 no one can see if someone in power is watching (through windows, or through screens) and therefore there could be no one in power and no one watching. “The power is wielded without materiality, it is an optical illusion” as Michel Foucault claimed. It is anonymous and disembodied.

From the Panopticon to a room with a view (a screen)

Such displacement of anonymous power from 1984 to TV screens which were eventually already its birth place, it is in fact the end of any conscious quotation, because 1984 simply became true.

Any broadcast can work because the world is not excluded, on the contrary it fills up both sides, tv broadcasters and audience. The audience ends up being a replica of what is broadcast. Life watching life, in a living-room, waiting for truth (reality), but truth being always pre-determined (show).

In another sort of reality show, the News, such a panoptic power no longer wields the ancient ‘sovereign right’ to kill, but rather, to permit death while everyone else, in their living-room, is watching.