Fahrenheit 451: Not So Far Fetched in Today's Society
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Fahrenheit 451: Not So Far Fetched in Today's Society
Ray Bradbury's prediction of a society in which firemen start fires rather than put them out depicts alarming parallels to our current age of censorship and government regulation.
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Filmmaking in a Climate of Caution

Filmmaking in a Climate of Caution | Fahrenheit 451: Not So Far Fetched in Today's Society | Scoop.it

"Aftershock" is likely to be a major commercial success, but the film's director hints broadly that China's censorship system is keeping the industry from taking the risks needed to make great art.

 

The Chinese film, “Aftershock”, illustrates the effects of the devastating earthquake that hit the city of Tangshan thirty four years ago with great accuracy and impressive special effects. Yet although the movie brilliantly follows the emotional and psychological impact of the disaster on a specific family and has already broken the box office record for a Chinese film in the domestic market, the director himself, Feng Xiaogang, is not completely satisfied. All movies in China must receive the approval of the bureaucrats of the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and as a result, Xiaogang finds himself frustrated with the restrictions placed on expression and ingenuity within his country. Forced to adhere to the status quo of national pride, “Aftershock” is full of scenes of the People’s Liberation Army marching to the rescue of the Tangshan earthquake victims, although in reality, the P.L.A.’s actual assistance in the earthquake is doubtful.

Due to censors who rarely approve the originality required to create an outstanding movie, Xiaogang declares that, “This is not an era that can produce masters [in filmmaking].” The imagination is stifled by government regulation, and producers are forced to confine their creativity within the limits of censor-approved thoughts and ideas. Complete freedom of expression should be encouraged, but instead a permanent seal has been placed on the envelope of originality which writers and artists had once been invited to push. This lack of emphasis on the value of imaginations is depicted quite similarly in the world fashioned by Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451. As the mass media began to overtake society, the appreciation of fine art and literature began to diminish. Books were condensed, and the public sought forms of entertainment warranting immediate pleasure, rather than activities requiring reflection and analysis. If the Chinese government continues to control expression in such a way, then the public will eventually clamor solely for color and sound while losing sight of the once valued concepts of meaning and content.

 

 

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Indian courts challenge Facebook, Google content: report

Indian courts challenge Facebook, Google content: report | Fahrenheit 451: Not So Far Fetched in Today's Society | Scoop.it

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - U.S.companies Facebook, Google and Yahoo, and other internet firms, have been ordered by two Indian courts to remove material considered religiously offensive, the latest skirmish in a growing battle over website content in the world's largest democracy.

 

According to this article, major American companies have been summoned by two Indian courts to stand trial for offences involving the distribution of obscene and lascivious internet content. Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and other internet firms have been asked to remove any images, videos, or text that could potentially be considered as insulting toward Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. By restricting material that might “hurt religious sentiments”, the Indian justice system has also coincidentally limited the people’s rights to internet freedoms. Although such censorship may eliminate controversy among members of varying religious groups, it is simply not practical to attempt to preserve the emotional interests of all minority groups. No matter what information is suppressed from public knowledge, those perturbed by the mere notion of inferiority or discrimination will continue to protest and grumble their grievances.

Touchy subjects such as religion and sexuality remain in constant dispute, and government officials, large corporations, advertisers, and even school teachers must pay close attention to the political correctness of their speech and actions. Yet despite these ambitious efforts, it is impossible to maintain diversity without stepping on the toes of the masses. In order to provide universal happiness, the society depicted in the novel, Fahrenheit 451, avoided dealing with conflicts over minority interests all together. The actors and people featured in television shows, magazines, and movies no longer represented actual individuals, but rather impersonal characters to which no specific group could take offense. Contrarily to the situation in India, however, it was not court officials who took action to enforce strict laws of regulation and censorship. In fact, according to Captain Beatty, “Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick…” (58). The people had made a conscious decision to sacrifice their individuality for docile contentment—an extreme and yet potential future outcome of the internet censorship enacted in India.

 

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U.S. asks journals to censor bird flu studies

U.S. asks journals to censor bird flu studies | Fahrenheit 451: Not So Far Fetched in Today's Society | Scoop.it

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A U.S.scientific advisory board on Tuesday asked two scientific journals to leave out data from research studies on a lab-made version of bird flu that could spread more easily to humans, fearing it could be used as a potential weapon.

 

Studies recently conducted by two research groups have reportedly created forms of the H5N1 avian flu which possess the potential to spread quickly among humans. However, the U.S. National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has requested that the journals Nature and Science publish modified versions of these findings in order to prevent such vital information from being exploited and used for malicious purposes. In spite of the pressure from the National Institutes of Health to withhold key elements of the studies, the two journals are completely justified in their claim that these restrictions may obstruct the advance of public health by concealing crucial developments from scientists and researchers. Although the government is devising a method by which to provide secure access to the data, the selection process of those classified as “legitimate users of research” can exist as nothing more than a subjective game of pick and choose.

Ultimately, the government has yielded to their fear of allowing such valuable information to fall into the wrong hands. As a result, the public is left in a state of ignorance while the scientific utilization of these findings has been significantly hindered. If the government remains apprehensive of promoting functional knowledge, then perhaps Americans can fear a gradual nationwide progression to a society similar to the one depicted in Fahrenheit 451. Knowledge equates to power, and thus in this novel, firemen were instructed to burn books in order to avert any learned individual from disturbing the stability of a blissfully ignorant population. After all, “Who knows who might be the target of a well-read man” (58)? In today’s times, the government should embrace scientific and technological advancements, rather than fearing their misuse. By failing to take advantage of these findings, government officials will eventually encourage a stagnant society of “parlor walls” and “seashell radios” in which people fail to question why or how.

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