In 1953, a book was written that challenged certain conditions in the United States so extremely, that it is still relevant to this day. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a book that takes place in the dystopian future where Guy Montag lives as a fireman burning the most illegal of commodities, the printed book. The firemen were created to destroy books and “be custodians of our peace of mind” so that people would not dread being inferior; “official censors.” Guy lives in a world where people see the world through mindless chatter from television instead of the ideas that books present. Guy meets Clarisse, a girl who changes his perception of what his world is supposed to look like and leaves him to question everything he’s ever known. Wall-E is an animated movie that follows a robot name Wall-E, who works as a clean up crew on Earth after humanity is forced to leave due to pollution and the buildup of garbage. The little robot’s world is turned upside down when another robot name EVE arrives from the Axiom, searching for any signs of life on Earth. Time to do Everything but Think by David Brooks is an article about the excessive distractions surrounding people and how it prevents us from “diving deep.” Censorship was used as a suppressant for anti-intellectualism in Fahrenheit 451 and is still relevant to today’s society. In Fahrenheit 451 censorship is explored through mass media, propaganda, and the censorship of war.
Fahrenheit 451 has a focus on the importance of television to the people. Because of this, the citizens are easily controlled by what they watch on tv. Censorship is used to keep people from expressing their own opinion on a matter. If you get rid of the thing, in this case books, that causes turmoil among the people, it makes them much easier to control. But as soon as books are brought back into the picture, “a book is a loaded gun in the house next door.” As a person is able to express intellectualism and their thoughts on a matter, more people are able to speak up. This causes turmoil between minorities as people try to voice opinions without hurting others. Removing books made people turn to television as their next source of entertainment, where the government can easily manipulate what people are seeing. As people constantly are exposed to the same ideas repeatedly, they begin to believe what they see and hear. In Time to do Everything but Think, it states that “if you are consumed by the same information loop circulating around everyone else, you don’t have anything to stimulate you into thinking differently.” In Wall-E a large corporation known as ‘Buy n’ Large’ controls all of humanities lives. This corporation chooses what the people see, hear, and are exposed to, causing them to blindly follow exactly what it wants. This connects to real life where in the Unites States the Sinclair Broadcasting Group’s broadcasting channels reach 40% of all Americans. The Sinclair Group is conservative, Pro-Trump and consistently uses it’s platforms to expose Americans to the group’s political views. Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates how the mass media can manipulate a viewer’s perception of something. For example, Jesus is used in commercials to “mak[e] veiled references to certain products every worshipper needs” and abuse people’s beliefs for a marketing scheme. Mass media is used daily to censor topics that might offend certain groups, but also voicing their own opinions.
Propaganda is the use of media to promote a certain political stance or point of view. In Fahrenheit 451 Mildred’s friend’s believed Winston Noble was the right man to vote for only because the television viewed him as the better choice. He was portrayed as the better candidate, with good looks and a name that rolled right off the tongue. The television did not advertise the other candidate, Hubert Hoag, as anything but a fat and short man who didn’t know how to dress. The television coverage was made to downgrade Hubert and show-off Winston. Media today uses similar tactics when it comes to politics. When a person is running for office, commercials often come out mocking a certain candidate, while uplifting another. In Wall-E the Axiom is advertised as a few month space cruise, where people can get away from the polluted Earth while the Wall-E robots clean up their mess. However, ‘Buy n’ Large’, the corporation that runs it failed to acknowledge the unavoidable truth that nobody would be able to return to Earth. The corporation only advertised their products and failed to report on Earth’s impending doom. Propaganda is used however the distributor wants it to be used, always for their own personal gain.
War is a serious issue people all over the Earth face. However, the news only chooses to show what it believes is important. Censorship is used in Fahrenheit 451 to make light the subject of war. The people don’t even know what’s happening in the war, only that their men go to fight. Nobody knew the severity of the war and how close to home it was until “it began and ended in [an] instant.” The people were shielded from the horrors of war because it would cause unrest and anxiety. The country’s technological control over the people would diminish if a major war close to home was announced. Today, the news chooses to show only certain events of war in the world. It decides what it believes is important and broadcasts it. Often enough this causes one minority to be deemed ‘the enemy’ as it’s broadcasted that their home country is the reason for the strife. It fails to recognize the important topics and only show the destruction out of context. War is a very guarded topic in Fahrenheit 451 because it would cause division among minorities that will disagree on how to handle the situation, thus questioning the government’s power.
Fahrenheit 451 remains a stable in today’s literature as it addresses censorship in mass media, propaganda and censorship of war. Mass media is used to reach the masses without having to leave their house. After being exposed to this for long periods of time the people start to believe that what they’re seeing and hearing is correct. They stop ‘diving deeper’ and choose the easier option, which is that what’s shown on the television is what they should believe and disregard any other opinion. The government used propaganda to reach the people with their political views and point of view. Commercials are often used to distribute information the broadcaster sees fit and often includes paid infomercials about political candidates. People are exposed to certain view points with reasons to back up the arguments, leaving the viewer with that candidate in mind oppose to choosing for themselves. War is a topic shied away from by most people, as it is a fragile topic that leads to disagreement among people. Censorship has been utilised throughout history to limit what a viewer sees on television or in real life. It protects minorities from discrimination and shields children from adult content, but it also fails to value intellectualism. Censorship limits the intellectual freedom people have and is demonstrated as such in the novel Fahrenheit 451.