Pulling Together


Definitely Bradburian

The BBC has a weekend about Orwell and Kafka, claiming both authors were prescient enough to foresee the current world many decades before its values emerged. After a reading from 1984 they proceeded to a half-hour discussion of whether current political and civic values would be better described as Orwellian or Kafkaesque.

Then they broke off for a programme about the forthcoming General Election. This might have been a discussion of the policies of the two parties or the extent to which they could be trusted to carry out their promises if elected. It might even be expected to be that. After all, isn’t that what politics is all about. Well, so one might think, but not the journalists at the BBC, it seems. No, the whole discussion was about Rishi Sunak’s decision to leave the D-Day commemorations before the international event attended by the French and American presidents. The Foreign Secretary stood in for him instead. This was held to be a serious error and a blow to his election campaign.

All that mattered to the BBC, it seemed, was the campaign itself, and how well the performers came across. What the candidates might do if returned to power seemed to matter little if at all. For these journalists, the election itself and the campaign leading to it were what mattered. It was a sideshow to be admired, a performance to be assessed, a mere entertainment with no deeper significance than that.

This was not the world of either Orwell’s 1984 or Kafka’s The Trial. It was Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury’s dystopia about a world where the medium of popular entertainment was all that mattered and everything was reduced to that alone. Books were banned because books induced thought, and thought was undesirable. A General Election result matters not because it might shape the country’s future, but merely because it will provide a night of dramatic television as the seats are announced. The campaign matters, not the policies revealed in it. The issues are who made mistakes and who got it right, not in proposing solutions to problems, but in mere presentation. I switched it off. It was rubbish, unworthy of serious listening.

So if Orwell and Kafka have been adopted as adjectives, neither applied to the programme which had interrupted the Orwellian versus Kafkaesque discussion. No, I could only describe what I heard as Bradburian, a word which might not exist, but brilliantly describes modern coverage of politics in our current world of twisted media priorities.

About the Author

K J Petrie has a Full Technological Certificate in Radio, TV and Electronics, an HNC in Digital Electronics and a BA(Hons) in Theological Studies.

His interests include Christian and societal unity, Diverse Diversity, and freedoms from want, from fear, of speech, and of association. He is a member of the Social Democratic Party.

The views expressed here are entirely personal and unconnected with any body to which he belongs.

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