Harrison Bergeron Questions and Answers
by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Harrison Bergeron book cover
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Is the Bergerons Society equal in all ways? I am doing a research about the movie "Harrison Bergeron".

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The society of "Harrison Bergeron" is one of forced equality.  Those who are superior to others physically are made to wear handicaps that reduce their abilities to the average level.  Likewise, the intelligent are handicapped by devices such as the mental handicap ear radio so they cannot take  "unfair advantage" of their brains. So, "normal" means below average and ignorant. Blind allegiance to the authoritarian government comes as a consequence of this dumbing down; people easily believe that obeying the laws is the right action to take in order to live safely.  Thus, compliance is a result of all the handicapping as any individual spirit is removed from people.  While the author Kurt Vonnegut does not describe what jobs people hold other than the broadcasters, the reader may assume that people are assigned roles as in similar science fiction narratives like "Brave New World."  Much like the Alphas in BNW, the Handicapper General agents are the only ones who can move upward in the society; all others are held back because of natural mediocrity or because of forced mediocrity by means of handicaps.

The media is a key element in maintaining this equality of mediocrity.  In 1961 Vonnegut perceived the power of television to control information and lower people's attention abilities.  His is a powerful story if one reflects on certain aspects of 21st century American society.

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