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1984 and Pinoy Big Brother:
Lost in Translation

According to "When evil is good" (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 21 March 2006), George Orwell's novel 1984 is "a chilling portrayal of a totalitarian society." The editorial goes on to mention "the all-powerful, all-present, all-seeing Big Brother, the embodiment of the Party who is seen only on TV," but forgets or chooses to ignore the fact that Filipinos are not quite scared of Big Brother.

Instead, Filipinos are tuning in to "Pinoy Big Brother," the TV show with the all-powerful, all-present, all-seeing Kuya, the disembodied voice who is never seen on TV. And then there are the House-mates under the "care" of Big Brother Jose de Venecia, who probably makes Filipinos' lives easier by not being seen or heard.

This disconnect between the original Big Brother and the Pinoy version is, perhaps, the reason why Filipinos don't seem to be as alarmed as the media at the alleged state of undeclared martial law. Maybe many still remember what martial law was really like. Then again, maybe something was lost in translation when the frightening novel was turned into the latest money-making scheme of the Big Brother who lets his beloved audience bake in the sun for days and allows them to get trampled in a stampede. But that's another story.

Anyway, if you'd like to read 1984 without buying the book, there are several "editions" available online. The best one for online reading is the one at the University of Adelaide Library. There is, of course, Project Gutenberg, for those who'd like to copy and paste the entire text. But for those who'd like to search (e.g., count the number of times the term "Big Brother" appears in the novel) and read more information about George Orwell and his novel, check out George-orwell.org and Charles' George Orwell Links.

Category: The Philippines

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