We all know the impact of Nineteen Eighty-four upon its release instantly etching its name as not only one of the most important dystopian novels ever written, but also seen by many as a stark reminder of what can happen in the future. That’s all good and well at the time of it’s release, but a book that has retained its relevance across over seventy years has to have an air of plurality surrounding it, something different that allows different generations to pick it up and get something different every time. Let’s imagine it’s 1980’s and we’ve just read Orwell’s masterpiece, what would we feel?
Well, the interpretive community in the 1980’s would differ greatly from the postwar audience that first enjoyed the book, technological advances would mean that CCTV was much more popular in areas, although near as prolific as today. Other pieces of technology were just appearing in the household like computers and very early mobile phones, these gadgets would draw similarities with the technology used in the book to track and listen to the homeowner. Of course the actual year 1984 happened in this decade and this would have made reading the book slightly more nerve racking, the disaster film 2012 more than likely understood the effect of setting your dystopian story in the not so distant future. One thing that would have remained the same between the original interpretive community and the interpretive community of the 80’s would be the tension surrounding the Cold War, in the 80’s however it was coming to a head and many people would be fearing for what might happen and imagining life in a communist state in very much the same way Winston lived in Nineteen Eighty-Four. One of the biggest events in the 80’s was the miners strikes, and Thatchers brutal reaction to them, the ‘proles’ versus the ‘ministry’, Thatcher effectively making it illegal to strike would have no doubt been a reminder that Orwell’s reality wasn’t as far as they thought.
Drink: There isn’t an alcoholic beverage that sums up the 1980’s more than Babycham, a cheap sparkling perry, that allows you to drink like a member of the inner party, for the price of a proles pint.
Song: The album Soul Mining by The The is the perfect early 80’s post punk soundtrack, with a selection of songs regarding politics and distrust of the media, however there are one or two positive songs thrown in to distract from the doom and gloom of the rest of the album.