October 20, 2004 -- “Orwell Rolls in His Grave” is a provocative political documentary that draws fascinating parallels between statements made by the Bush Administration and statements made by a totalitarian government in George Orwell's classic science fiction novel, “1984.”
A film about corporate control of the media, government, and the Republican and Democratic Parties, it makes a pretty convincing argument that the Bush Administration, and the right wing media led by the Fox News Channel are accumulating and wielding power in ways chillingly similar to those described in “1984.”
Passages from the book are highlighted and then compared to current events, and the similarities are startling. An example is George Bush's strategy of perpetual war in order to maintain power is virtually identical to the strategy described in the book. Another example is the constant redefining of the goals of this perpetual war. First, it was to get Osama Bin Laden, then Bin Laden was forgotten and Saddam Hussein became the new goal because of the threat of his weapons of mass destruction. Then the new definition of the war became not one of defending the United States against weapons of mass destruction, but a war to liberate the people of Iraq. This is very similar to the book in which war becomes peace and other definitions get changed to suit the needs of the government. The people, sheepishly go right along with it.
Filmmaker Michael Moore (“Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11”) is quoted in the film as saying there is less turnover in the U.S. Congress than there was in the Politburo of the old Soviet Union. The primary reason for this is the need for modern politicians to have access to the media to deliver their message. That costs money, which usually means corporate money, often from the same corporations which control the media. What you get from this system is a conformity among politicians. There is virtually no one left who will stand up for the rights of citizens over the rights of corporations.
Examples of corporate control of the media through government manipulation include the elimination of the fairness doctrine by the Reagan Administration, loosening of rules to allow a few corporations to control most of the radio stations in the country, enacted during the Clinton Administration, and new rules allowing corporations to control more media monopolies in more cities, proposed during the current Bush administration. The film argues that the Federal Communications Commission has become a virtual corporate captive.
The film helps explain how President Bush, who's had a disastrous record in war, national security, diplomacy, the economy, human rights and the environment is still ahead in election polls. He has failed in nearly every way a president can fail, yet he is portrayed in the media as a strong leader and a patriotic hero. Even though Bush was a draft-dodger during the Vietnam War and his opponent, John Kerry was a decorated war hero during the same war, whose war record is being attacked in the media? You guessed it, Kerry's. What do corporations get for supporting Bush? Lots of huge tax cuts. The latest one is a $136 billion tax bill that amounts to corporate welfare. Bush just signed this bill into law. It contains a plethora of tax cuts and loopholes for large corporations, including media companies. At the same time, the new law removes tax credits for military reservists who are called to active duty. Despite the corporate pork, despite benefit cuts and “back door draft” policies aimed at reservists, Bush will continue to get most of the military vote, because he is portrayed as a patriotic pro-military leader by the media. Orwell's predictions have come sadly true. This film rates a B.
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