1984: Pulp friction

February 21, 2010

Any photographer will tell you, the same thing can seem completely different if you look at it from the other side. 1984 is claimed by left and right as a polemic against the ‘surveillance society’. Orwell was clear; he was a socialist writer. That hasn’t stopped American right-wing libertarians from using the imagery of the novel for their conspiracy theories about for example, how Barrack Obama is ‘Big Brutha’ planning a dangerous socialist future for the US of A. (You get which side I’m coming from.)

Today my latest eBay acquisition arrived – a 1951 US paperback edition with a pulp fiction cover and blurb that puts a spin on the storyline that’s a bit different to most interpretations. It doesn’t say ‘dystopia’ once, but instead describes, “Forbidden love and terror in a world many of us may live to see!”

Can’t help noticing on this cover what seems to be more of a homoerotic sub-text than a communist one, and I don’t remember the leather clad wrestler character either. If you’ve seen the 1956 Edmond O’Brien version, (here it’s poster asks, “Will Ecstasy Be A Crime?”) you will get the message that the proles want more sex and less politics in their entertainments. If there is a future, it lies with the proles.


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