America Abroad: Glued to the Tube

Glued to the Tube

In the totalitarian world of Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell imagined that the Thought Police would rely on a ubiquitous "oblong metal plaque like a dulled mirror" to keep the citizens of Oceania brainwashed and obedient: "The instrument (the television, it was called) could be dimmed, but there was no way of shutting it off completely." That prophecy turned out spectacularly wrong. TV, along with radio, computers, modems, copiers and fax machines, caused big trouble for Big Brother in 1989. Once the more repressive precincts of the global village were wired for glasnost, legions of little brothers whispered subversion in everyone's ear.

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