The Hegemony of Society

“SCUM! That is what you are. That is all you can become and all I will ALLOW you to become!” I can proclaim this to anyone I feel deemed fit for me to control, at least that’s what today society is becoming. The irony in living in society today is that more than ever we are able to express ourselves in any manner we deem fit. This, however, does not mean that we cannot be controlled by propaganda, division of classes, or the charming works of a person’s ideology. Our society is overwhelming with the advances of technology and has become a market for free research for anyone to look up but ironically in all of these advances and being linked by the touch of a button society is falling into a world of ill informed people. The argument that a utopia is not possible can be made by anyone at any given time today but the dystopian world has already been written and actually already created through the works of many charismatic men such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and many more with probably more to come. Totalitarianism in the United States is sure not to come… well so we hope. Literature such has Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and George Orwell’s 1984 show society that has succumbed to the hegemony influence of the ruling class. Films such as Minority Report and V for Vendetta demonstrate how society gives up certain freedoms for the betterment of society as a whole. Through advancements in technology, literary works, critical theories, and films society is being given the opportunity to be educated and warned not to be allowed to be scared into the hegemony form of politics.

Technology has brought forth resources to society that in the past have not been easily accessible. Internet, cell phones, mp3 players, portable television, and many other forms of communication has carried into this generation a life lined of knowledge for and given member of society in particularly the world wide web. Jeremy Bentham’s panopticon is an efficient architectural building that can properly control and regulate a group of people through this architecture. An example of one is this prison in Ireland which has been closed since 1927:

In Michael Foucault’s Discipline & Punishment Foucault examines this architecture and applies it to society’s social classes. With taking his idea that “power is exercised without division, according to a continuous hierarchical figure, in which each individual is constantly located, examined and distributed among the living beings, the sick and the dead - all this constitutes a compact model of the disciplinary mechanism” he shows that the hierarchy of the classes has a form of control over the lower classes (Foucault). But it is extended to the fact that the hierarchy of the ruling class begins to use the panopticon and transform it into panopticism in which they don’t just use a room but use a form of control by using observers in and around all of society. Today we have excelled technology to make communication with each other as easy and convenient as possible. IN the process of excelling technology we have also made it easier for us as a community of people to be observed by the ruling class, the government or anyone else through such devices as web cams, cell phones with video, televisions, and much more. In George Orwell’s 1984 the telescreen is used to watch the people at all times. Society knows this but are taught by Big Brother, the so called leader of the ruling party of Oceania, that it is for the safety of the people. 1984 shows a society in which it was lead to fear and gave up many freedoms to live a safer life in war time. The hegemonic stance by the ruling class took a peaceful route and persuaded the population to give up certain freedoms for the safety of the nation. With that being argued the film The Island shows a society of clones being imprisoned without the clone’s knowledge by making a lie of a situation to keep them in the building. When watching the clip, notice that where the clones are held gives a shape of a panopticon like the image above. This film imagines a great vision of what society’s technology can become and how it can control us entirely:

Following technology is the idea of propaganda, which is very similar to panopticism, however, it is more than just the ruling classes form of leading the people to believe in things. It is a way to convenience the people that their country is the almighty one and can become anything. In the Nazi Germany of the 1940’s we have a poster in which they have their national bird withstanding on top of Europe:

We can see the power Germany at the time is trying to convey to its people. The almighty power of Germany is able to dominate Europe through this image. Louis Althusser extends the power of propaganda even further with his theory of Ideological State Apparatus, or the ISA. Althusser claims that it is the institutions of the ISA, such as the family, the media, education, etc., are what determine society’s personality is and will become. It the influences of the ISA which can determine society as a whole but they can change from area to area since each ISA has different teachings. In this clip from the film Land of the Blind we can see the media has a very pronounced voice with the people in changing the street light colors. More importantly we see a society that is being ruled by a dictator and is allowing these things to be changed for the pride of the nation:

It should also be said that change is a very strong factor in allowing for something to be. A lot of people cannot deal with change while some will embrace it. When those who are very strong willed are able to be persuaded you know that the hegemony state of politics won over them. But looking back on history it is the fight that sometimes sells us to that change. In the film Pleasantville two teenagers of the real world are sent into a TV show that is black and white. Once they beginning to corrupt the black and white world color starts too show. The mayor of the Pleasantville begins to stand up to them in this scene. Note that the director took a very strong position with the choice of where his camera was. When the major makes his speech to the guys in the bowling alley there is irony in the way the camera is fixated on the major and with the background of the image:

Emotions are another phase to be considered when analyzing society and its stance on authority. In Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 the world is being deprived literature and any form of reading. Though there is some reading with in that society Bradbury showed a world that lacked literature and insight on the world. By depraving society of literature the world started to become emotionless. It could be argued that transforming a society into one that does not think or have emotion would be the only way to create a utopia today. That might very well be the case but not the argument here. When Montage, the main character begins to read books his emotions start to stir up in him. Literature would not be the only thing needed to be robbed of to create an emotionless society. Music has a profound influence on many people in the past and of today. Thomas Adorno, along with Max Horkheimer, discussed in paper The Culture Industry: Enlightment as Mass Deception that he had a love for music and did believe it had an influence on society. He continued to believe that music was a form of an artist utopia being released in the form of music and it was meant leave hope for a better world. By robbing the artist, or society, the chance to express themselves emotions are being lost. Without opinions, emotions, thoughts, etc. people would not feel suppressed by the ruling authority. In the film Equilibrium there are two scenes in which art is express deeply with thought and emotion. In the first clip you will find a member of the authority police reading a book which is banded in that world. He is willing to die for it. In the second clip we have a very similar scene to Fahrenheit 451 where artifacts of the past which had emotions are found. The main character puts on a record and once it starts to play he is overwhelmed with… well you can make that guess of which emotion:

Clip 1:

Clip: 2

Giving up certain freedoms is the question of the millennium. Before continuing on watch this clip from V for Vendetta:

You can see here how V strongly shows that by giving up freedoms to give up fear was not a right choice. V fights back with the government by calling on society to fight back in one year but he was not afraid to call the publics lack of strength out either. V is a great example of what mankind can do to fight back to the ruling social class order. If the ruling class is not doing the right things we can stand up and fight. However, V does point out that it was mankind who allowed them to take control and change things over them. So where does that leave us in the state of totalitarianism? Simple; in a state of free choice. Though the majority of us live in a society where we have free choice there are many who still don’t. V for Vendetta calls upon those societies’s to come to the plate and hit a home run out of oppression. But how far are we willing to go to give up certain inalienable rights for a better world? Minority Report brings that question to society. In Minority Report there is a society which has allowed for a department of pre-crime to exist for the well-being of society. This department has three precogs which can predict the future of crimes to happen. Here is a scene which an outsider is looking in on the department trying to figure out the precogs. You will be able to tell immediately that he does not like the idea of pre-crime:

The defense for precogs was that they see what is going to happen and not what might happen. If this were so would you be willing to allow the government to see within our life and determine you were going to commit a crime and be punished for it? It brings into question the saying of “innocent till proven guilty.”

How society has a warning is up to each individual to decide. When the fall of the Roman Republic came Caesar Augustus was able to become a monarchy in a democracy by playing to the fears of all of society to gain that control (Cleve 306). Today we are filled with a world that stands up to intolerance, racism, poverty, disease, and much more but we are also a society that is easily sold on things. Our world is filled with “facebook’s” and advertisements everyone that fulfill our inner desires. We might already be controlled by hegemonic state right within the marketing world but the political world could be a different story. With novels such as 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, The Time Machine, The Iron Hell and so many more authors everywhere are trying to warn society to pay attention to the mistakes of the past. With films like Minority Report, Blade Runner, Brazil, The Running Man, Artificial Intelligence: AI and many more to come directors and screenwriters alike are telling us to stop and think of what is too come if we are not watching the leaders of our society. Everyone is a critic. Some, like Althusser and Foucault, just make a career out of it. Don’t wait for the career critics to point out what is happening in your society. Maybe stopping change is good for society and the world. It might be the other way around but do not allow yourself to sit back and relax to cost of freedom lose. It’s your freedom, so understand it and fight for it. I leave you with a long clip from Pleasantville and the feeling of change. Maybe you are the red in the love of a rose.

Works Citied

Robert Cleve, History of the West to 1500, (Dubuque, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2004), Print.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1953. Print.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classics, 1950. Print.

Foucault, Michael. "Discipline & Punish (1975), Panopticism." Foucault.info. foucault.info, Web. 14 Dec 2009. < http://foucault.info/documents/disciplineAndPunish/foucault.disciplineAndPunish.panOpticism.html >.

Althusser, Louis. "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses." Web. 14 Dec 2009. < http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/althusser/1970/ideology.htm >.

Adorno, Theodor, and Max Horkheimer . "The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception." Web. 14 Dec 2009. < http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/adorno/1944/culture-industry.htm >.
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Children of Men and Zizek

Children of Men, in my opinion, is one of the better films of the decade. When you watch the film remember the fear that can be instilled on you by a certain class. Children of Men brings forth a very strong look on theocracy totalitarianism.

This clip has Zizek explaining why he loves the film but it also serves me because it almost clearly distinguishes why I love the film as well. Take a look:

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Other Notable Post

From the WebCT I chose a couple of discussions I had with my class mates.

First, I chose this one because I felt that the text read that we were being controlled but we could stop it. This was in light of 1984 and the article by Rowe. I did spark a bit of anger in my comments but it was not intended to insult anyone:

Message no. 98
Posted by Gregory Porter on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 11:30am
Subject: Control... Slavery
As I finished reading these papers I thought why couldn't we be controlled? Weren't we the ones who enslaved a whole race? All it requires is some discipline and out smarting of us, doesn't it? I alot of questions there but I want some honest thoughts on that. We have talked about a perfect Utopia a ton already but wouldn't it mean being controlled by a higher master and how would that be done.

I believe that the timing of Orwells novel was perfect as Rorty suggests. He was in the right time of communism and the right place of US and USSR's cold war. Today, what would we write about? Iraq, 9/11, Afghan, Health Care, Gay marriage? Whatever it is, I believe we ARE a product of our environment. Generally where and how we grow determines what we believe (IE Texas generally conservative, New York generally liberal). If you go deeper into we can find that even our beliefs are determined by our parents or people we associate with. We may not realize it but we chose to associate with a certain type of person (Social Class division anyone?). Wealthy with wealth's, middle with middle, and low with low.

Howe mentions Orwell discussing 1984 before he died and he stated that " I do not believe that the kind of society I describe necessarily will arrive, but I believe ... that something resembling it could arrive.” That hit me hard. I see Orwell trying to tell us to be conscience of this society. Howe closes his argument with saying "What Orwell seems to be telling us is that it need not be if there is a sufficiently high level of human consciousness, that the experiment rests finally on that high level of human consciousness. I see no reason to disagree." Simply put DO NOT BE BRAIN DEAD. Think about what is going on, ask questions, vote that person out of office, vote someone into office, protest, blog, write, speak up etc. Do things for you and your country... Stand up.


Message no. 107[Branch from no. 98]
Posted by Manuel Luis on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 5:53pm
Subject: Re: Control... Slavery
As for the higher being controlling us, I was actually wondering the some thing, because ecen as we see in 1984, big brither does not control all. As seen simplky with Winston and his ability to see the world around him. I believe for true complete control you need to have the complete control inside and out. I dont personally don' believe that'll ever exist because we are too much of a spoiled nation for that. We're a selfish society that only cares about our own selves at heart.


Message no. 114[Branch from no. 98]
Posted by Billimarie Robinson on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 8:52am
Subject: Re: Control... Slavery
"As I finished reading these papers I thought why couldn't we be controlled? Weren't we the ones who enslaved a whole race? All it requires is some discipline and out smarting of us, doesn't it?"

No. There are a lot more intricate and complex factors which made slavery (in this country)possible. It isn't as simple as simply suggesting "discipline" and "out-smarting"...in fact, that's downright patronizing and I am completely offended, since it doesn't seem like you're being sarcastic.



Message no. 128[Branch from no. 114]
Posted by Gregory Porter on Wednesday, September 16, 2009 1:58pm
Subject: Re: Control... Slavery
In NO was i trying to be offensive. I meant it in the manor of that every person could be controlled by just shutting them up even to the extremes of death or torture. Another post mentioned North Korea as a prime example. How do you control the people, by killing those who speak up.

Apologies if I offended ANYONE. It was meant as a comparison to all of us. That we shouldn't let ourselves be controlled and stand up for it. Thousands of African Americans stood up and we as a nation acted in a way I am not proud of in any way. Hope this makes more sense


Second, I chose the posting involving Genetic mainly because a few people responded to it but also because I revealed a little bit about myself. Sometimes to understand a persons take on things you need to know about them... :

Message no. 134
Posted by Gregory Porter on Saturday, September 19, 2009 10:47am
Subject: Eugenics vs. New Genetics
Oh the debate over genetics. I for one have some issues with the research behind it. As is mentioned in the article new genetics is feared today because of the connection with the Nazi enforced eugenics. An interviewee said how there is a lack of knowledge on the subject and when he goes to a information meeting on the subject there would be people with disabilities saying if they had their way he wouldn't have been born today. I must admit, I have never been to meeting on this subject but I see that happening al over the US today and this article just talks about Britain! When I look at this concerning issue i do not believe these scientist are trying to wipe out a so called 'sickly' race of people. They are trying to make life much better for everyone. But, when we look at eugenics with the Nazis we see that people were trying to make the human race a better world (crazy Nazis, I am serious about that) but with murder. Today they are trying to do the same but at what point does it go to far to 'cure' disease? I did not see any details on how they are researching these new genetics but i believe that is where so many people
take aim. It says "totalitarian regimes and the eugenics movement were seen as
having abused genetics." That's the issue of at what point do we realize we have started to abuse genetics if we ever get to that point? Its interesting just to put some thought into it.
As we can see these new genetics is trying to give people choices to each individual. Of course this can bring up the discussion of abortion but we can save that for another day since this issue is a very divisive. But what about behavioral genetics? Its hard for me to believe that there is even just a thing. The gay gene, the fat gene, etc? I'm not scientist but it sure does seem hard to believe but maybe that is just a gene I am lacking.
I have no issue with new genetics but we as the people must keep a watchful eye on the scientist whom study this to make sure it does not go far. Of course how far is too far is up to the individual person. I say study and find cures for disease, disabilities, syndromes, etc. but do so with moral ethics and do so with great care and concern for people. I have a sister who has downsyndrome. I love her all my heart! Of course I would have loved for her to expereince this majestic world in I guess what you could call 'normal' eyes but her Begin here today with downsyndrome means nothing to me beside the fact that i Will have to be there more often than a so called 'normal' sister. I am glad to spend more time with her. Had you have been notified before your child's birth that they had downs would you have 'cancelled' that child? My mom didn't, I love and respect her more and more everyday.


Message no. 136[Branch from no. 134]
Posted by Highkuhi Dzhanszyan on Sunday, September 20, 2009 2:08pm
Subject: Re: Eugenics vs. New Genetics
Well, Greg I have to say that I dont know your mom, but I really do respect people like yourself and your mom who stay dedicated to family members that have a sickness. I know that this means putting a lot more time into making sure all her needs are met and making sure that your always there when she needs you. May God give your family the strengh to do what you guys need to in order to keep your sister healthy and feeling better.

I definately agree with you on how we need to keep our eyes open on scientist who are trying to "cure diseases" and also how we need to be on top of the question, how far is too far with this whole concept. It so very important and people sometimes dont take it into consideration, but this is our world and we have to stand up to issues that we think are getting carried away.

Message no. 144[Branch from no. 136]
Posted by Cinthya Archila on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 12:58pm
Subject: Re: Eugenics vs. New Genetics
I too commend your mothers choice. I'm sure it must be diffcult. As my
fellow classmate said, may God give you the strenght. I definately agree
with you. I dont consider children with Down Syndrom "diseased," and neither
should society. We seem to believe everything just because a well know
scientist says its true. We should be able to know from all angles and
all sides waht is going on in the world of science.


Message no. 155[Branch from no. 134]
Posted by Gregory Porter on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:32am
Subject: Re: Eugenics vs. New Genetics
Thank you both. It is one of many reasons why I am proud to call this lady my mother!

Message no. 176[Branch from no. 134]
Posted by Billimarie Robinson on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 3:42pm
Subject: Re: Eugenics vs. New Genetics
Thanks for sharing that story, Greg. Appreciate the parallel.

I agree with you when you state the obvious flaws with "new genetics" and past eugenics. There is a disturbing lack of concern for The Other's freedom. While the scientists quoted inthe article seemed to be very much aware of their own freedom (freedom to study, to probe,etc.), when it came down to abortion and behavioral genetics, there was no individuality given to their subjects. It's a blurry area which is, for me at least, extremely hard to navigate.


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A Utopian Beer?

Sam Adams Utopia

Society might just have determined that we are in a utopia when we get a beer that is 27% alcohol. This article is one of interest that has me craving more... beer or utopia? I'm not sure but I am thirsty now. Anyone have an extra $150 to spend on me?
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Response Paper:

Fahrenheit of Lies
Literature is a gift taken for granted. Or so it could be assumed it is according to the world of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Society today lives in a world in which tolerance is strived for but looked bad upon. The diversity of books shows many different characters and life forms in every part of the world. Relating with some character in any of the books the world has to off should not be an issue. The question in here lies if society today is ready to stand up for its beliefs and feel the persecution that people suffer in books and in the world today. Bradbury is asking society to stand up for what it believes because without tolerance there is no difference.
Montag, the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451, is a character the starts to realize what the world has to offer through the life of books. When he experiences the woman burning herself to die with her books Montag has this sense of remorse and self awakening. The realization through the heart ache of someone else leads Montag into an experience of tolerance for difference. Looking at the film version on Fahrenheit 451 the director subdued to the society and put in a love affect that the book lacked on purpose. Bradbury had the two women in Montags life leave (or die). The debate on why does not matter here but the result in the film does. Society demands in film a love interest. Why? That’s an entirely different question also not needed to be answered here. The added love interest greatly affected the outcome and result of the film. By replacing Farber for a female love interest the film lost the heart that the book contained. In a class presentation the question was asked “Do you feel Clarisse adequately replaced Farber in the film compared to the book?” The class overwhelmingly responded with no. The emotion of the characters was lost. By the director choosing to follow the society wants he ended with a piece of art that lacked a following the way the book did.
In 1984 Orwell instills a slogan of magic that reads “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength” (Orwell 6). Diving straight into this slogan is one of great distress. The first part of “war is peace” encourages war. War encouraging tolerance seems odd to believe. The part of “freedom is slavery” seems almost perfect for this argument. This suggests that with the freedom we are now enslaved but to have the freedom we need to be enslaved. In the novel of 1984 there is a thought police which watches over your thoughts. The suggestion of a “Big Brother” watching over us to have the great life is a notion that can bring forth no toleration since there will be no differences between each person. “Ignorance is strength” insinuates that knowing nothing, or being blind to what is happening, is the strength behind it all. It fills in the saying of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you” perfectly. In the film of 1984 you see the slogan everywhere. It makes appoint of saying the slogan over and over again to show the audience the strength behind the slogan for the society of 1984. Uniting the slogan we can see that Orwell shows that if society allows itself to be ignorant we have no individual strength, with allowing slavery of others society allows its freedom for un-individualism, and to give society peace it needs war. In Winston’s character in the film we see a man who is aged and really dead. By the end he really hasn’t changed in appearance. So what does society have to lose with change and tolerance is one the film can be argued it makes.
To say a world has no tolerance would be a lie amongst many. The goal of a society should be to be one of tolerance. Though it may be impossible, it is those differences that make us who we are. Tolerance is a subject many people get upset with because to be called intolerant is morally wrong. A self reflection is needed to fully understand if being tolerant is within your mind. Charles Taylor suggests in his book, Modern Social Imaginaries, that “mutual respect and service is directed toward serving our ordinary goals: life, liberty, sustenance of self and family” (Taylor 13). There may be some truth in that. But it is the “our” that must be remembered. Being tolerant is difficult for some, noticeable for many, and not practiced by all.

Works cited

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451. New York: Ballantine Books, 1988.

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: New American Library, 1961.
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Fahrenheit 451 Group Project

I think when anyone starts out in a group project we each DREAD it. Why? Well, because one person ends up doing all of the work or the others tend to do a half asked job on their area of focus. This was an experience that was quite different from past experiences I have had with group projects.

During class time we each threw in some ideas for the project. Some we ended up using others we didn’t. We, as a team, set up a time and place on a weekend where we were all available. I ended up not being able to go because of another class project I had to meet for that day. Though I missed it I felt that each team member really caught me up to what I missed. I felt that through email I was able to keep my participation in the group and continue to throw in ideas. In the next meeting we organized and assigned our presentation. At this meeting we brainstormed questions we would be asking, key clips to show to the class, and filming to mimic what the film did with asking a question to the people watching TV.

My contribution was with the basement scene and comparing it to the lack of Farber in the film. I also contributed by suggesting a poll question for the class to respond to. Overall, we all contributed to each question, clip, and scene from the film. This was surprisingly fun and educational on how we as a team can actually work together and relieve stress from each other by discussing concerns and questions with each other.

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