A still from the movie based on George Orwell's dystopic novel,
1984. Depicted here is the daily two minutes, during which citizens
of Oceania rail against images representing enemies of the state.
George Orwell's concept of Two Minutes Hate is an effective propaganda tool, with ingenious psychological effect. On the surface it reinforces recognition of ackowledged state threats. Yet, it is an opportunity for Party members to exorcise their fear and anger in a way that reinforces the state's purpose. In fact, it is the only accepted period throughout the day, when emotion of any kind can be expressed. Here, the frustrations borne of personal privation and grim existence are diverted away from the state, which determines these bitter realities, and onto figures who are not responsible but still pose a threat--even in theory--to the state's power. After Party members have exhausted themselves hurling their pent up emotion at the screen, an image of Big Brother appears, intended to instill a reassuring calm to their weary spirits. Someone capable is in control, even if (we, the readers, suspect) he is actually a political concoction by the party rather than a figure truly at the helm.
During one of the Two Minute Hate rituals, the character Julia, with whom protagonist Winston Smith eventually becomes involved, even goes so far as to attack the screen onto which the state enemy, Emmanuel Goldstein (whom critics believe to be modeled on Leon Trotsky), is projected. And apparently, as Orwell indicates, this type of attack is not uncommon. Yet it is here that Orwell's plot device points up the ways in which our culture is prone (or perhaps we will one day learn, our political system has facilitated) the creation of public villians, against which citizens--feeling similarly burdened by unemployment, their own inauspicious life choices, and narrowing personal options--can vent their frustrations.
Consider this: why offer 24-hour coverage and perpetual analysis of the Casey Anthony trial, other than to divert attention away from people's individual woes? What value does repeatedly showing Anthony's picture, or focusing on her impasssive face during the trial, have other than to inspire a deep-seated hatred that leads away from constructive activity or focus on one's own concerns? She becomes a flashpoint, an object of derision that channels disgust away from personal circumstances created by troubled economic and political issues.
|24 Hours Hate: the impassive face of Casey Anthony on trial.|
|Ruppert Murdoch, assaulted with a pie by a protester, |
during a parliamentary probe.
|Germany's Dolchstoßlegende, circa 1919|