Cultural perspectives

Popular culture

Nineteen Eighty-Four is considered a science fiction classic and it is well known all over the world. References to the book are therefore very common in popular culture.

A particularly famous example is the reality television show “Big Brother”, which was directly inspired by Orwell’s novel and has itself inspired a large number of other reality shows with similar concepts (typically centred around the idea of contestants living under constant surveillance while facing various challenges).

The novel has also inspired a lot of music throughout the years since its publication. For example, the rock band Radiohead have referenced it several times (they even have a song called “2+2=5”). Muse was also heavily inspired by the novel when producing their 2009 album The Resistance.

The phrase “BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU” (p. 4) has become widespread in both popular culture and everyday life as a figure of speech which refers to government surveillance - and even people who have never read or heard about Nineteen Eighty-Four are often aware of this phrase and its meaning.

Finally, note that Orwell’s work - particularly Nineteen Eighty-Four - has become such a central part of popular culture that his name has inspired the adjective Orwellian, which is now a recognised part of the English language. Here is the definition from the Oxford English Dictionary:

Characteristic of the writings of George Orwell, especially


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