Freedom: A Limited Commodity | Video Essay


What makes a dystopia effective? Composers of dystopian texts depict bleak futures to highlight the potentially detrimental consequences of contemporary issues, aiming to spark a
change in society. Brave New World, a dystopian novel written by Aldous Huxley, portrays a futuristic society of genetically modified citizens to warn audiences of the potential adverse effects
of scientific developments. Similarly, V for Similarly, V for Vendetta is a dystopian film depicting a future where the United Kingdom has been subjugated by a dictator who rules through fear and totalitarianism
to raise awareness about tyranny and oppression by government. Both texts are very effective
in sending their message as they depict a bleak future that urges contemporary audiences
to consider current issues that could be detrimental to future generations, including the issue
of freedom and individuality. What will happen if governments continue to subdue our freedom
and remove our individuality? Audiences are urged to consider issues of
freedom and individuality through Huxley’s depiction of a bleak future where citizens
are confined to a hypnotic state from birth, inspired by his observation of the increasing
tendency of Western governments to intrude upon people’s lives in the 1930’s. Huxley
persistently employs animalistic imagery throughout the novel, such as when John observes the
Delta children staring with “the stupid curiosity of animals”, or when he quotes
“goats and monkeys” from Othello to reinforce how the lack of freedom results in dehumanisation.
This dehumanisation is also ironic, as Huxley’s dystopic society seeks to “elevate” humans
by making them less primitive, but instead, it only dehumanises its citizens. Moreover,
the citizens constant repetition of the word “Ford” as symbolises worship, alluding
to Henry Ford, who was revered for perfecting mass production techniques. Consequently,
this implies the loss of individuality to the point where humans are mass-produced and
“grown” on an assembly line, thus positioning the audiences to consider the issue of a lack
of individuality through a depiction of a bleak future where humans are mass-produced.
Essentially, what Huxley is trying say is that without freedom and individuality, we
would all be the same and there would be no genuine happiness in society.
Similarly, V for Vendetta depicts a bleak future through a society devoid of emancipation
and where individuality is suppressed through discipline and surveillance to urge contemporary
audiences to consider issues of freedom and individuality. The inspiration behind the
film was based on George Bush’s presidency, portraying a government built on fear. Analogous
to Brave New World, V for Vendetta also employs irony by highlighting the measures the government
took to restrict freedom during a period where the United States was imposing the so-called
“Freedom Act”, thus urging audiences to consider the absurdity of a lack of freedom
and individuality. In addition, the song “1812 Overture” is deliberately played each time
V obliterates a government building, written by Russian composer Tchaikovsky to commemorate
Moscow’s victory against Napoleon’s army. “1812 Overture” *Music* The dramatic and victorious music builds suspense
and foreshadows how the London society will ultimately overcome the oppressive government,
consequently urging audiences to consider the importance of freedom. In addition, V
is illustrated with a masked, vigilant-like appearance, providing a stark contrast to
ordinary citizens, implying that he does not conform to society, hence provoking audiences
to consider the issue of individuality. The Guy Fawkes mask itself and V’s persistent
repetition of the slogan: “Remember, remember the fifth of November” both allude to Guy
Fawkes’ failed attempt to destroy the British House of Parliament, illustrating V’s anarchistic
nature and urging audiences to consider the value of freedom. In essence, V for Vendetta
emphasises that our freedom and individuality should not be taken away by the government,
and that “people shouldn’t be afraid of their government, government should be afraid
of their people”. In conclusion, both Brave New World and V
for Vendetta depict bleak futures resulting from current societal behaviours to urge audiences
to consider contemporary issues, most notably freedom and individuality. Both are extremely
effective as rather than explicitly conveying their message to the audience, they warn audiences
of the potential implications of current trends, hence achieving the ultimate goal of a dystopian
text: to create change within society.

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