Synopsis: Move forward two decades. See the world as the giant media moguls and software companies have become our new big brothers. They want the best for us. They know what’s best for us. And maybe we don’t always know so well.
Ted ‘I-need-more-enemies’ Rall updates 1984 in a scathing look at where we could be headed; and this is all Rall, no holes barred, no prisoners. His best and most chillingly funny work yet!
2024, by Ted Rall 7.75
Imagine a future in which North America had been amalgamated into a Corporate-Government called Canamexicusa. In this country, people would be expected to work for the sole purpose of buying/consuming, and there would be three governing bodies in place to achieve this end: Freedom Media Enterprises, a multinational that owned and censored all media, Independent Technologies which would run all technology companies new and old, and Populist Party HQ, whose goal would be to eradicate independent thought – a threat to the status quo.
In this reality, ironic detachment would be the preferred way of being in the world and nothing would matter except seeing Canamexicusa win its trade wars over the EC, the APEC zone and other enemies of Free Trade. People would simply swallow whole the pro-Canamexicusa propaganda and react accordingly, rioting against their perceived corporate enemies and racially profiling the citizens they feel might not be 100% Canamexicusan. In fact, reporting any potential transgressors would be as simple as contacting the Corporate Police Department.
And it would be satisfying to do so.
‘2024’ takes us into the life of Winston, a schlep who works for Indietek and wastes all his time watching Web TV and spending what little money he has on crap because it instantly gratifies him and it makes him feel “happy”. In this reality, all that matters is conformity, because in conformity lies what people think is happiness. Thus Winston rewrites all his thoughts and memories so that he can better fit in. But what happens when events conspire for Winston to start thinking outside the framework provided to him by corporate masters?
What happens when he no longer lives by Canamexicusa credos:
- Assumptions Permit Imagination
- Knowledge is Impossible
- Exploitation is Benevolent
What happens when he stops deflecting all reflection with “Yes. No. Whatever.”?
Such are the questions posed in this tale that Ted Rall has penned and drawn for us, a satirical companion to George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. First published in 2001, it takes a look at the North American consumeristic society that we have built and takes its basic principles to the extreme – extremes that are worryingly more real now than I’m sure he’d imagined fifteen years ago. In fact, there were bits of obvious satire that flew a little bit over my own head because the behaviours and assumptions seemed so normal to me in some ways.
In turn, it made me wonder about my own life and the choices that I’ve made.
Is it too late to turn back?
That alone makes ‘2024’ a worthy read. Some will find its humour mordant, but others may not see the humour in it – only its challenges to the status quo and its warnings. While it’s hardly an original work, given that Rall purposely followed the structure of Orwell’s masterpiece, it’s still a creative slice of satire that I feel many people should make a point of reading. Sadly, Rall’s graphic novel is apparently his least popular oeuvre thus far (as per the author himself). A damned shame, because it deserves much of the same readership as ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’.
In fact, I can already see myself buying a few copies as gifts.
After all, Canamexicusa’s economy depends on it.