In Fahrenheit 451, what are three things that Beatty talks about in his speech to Montag that are true about our world today?

One thing that Beatty talks about in his speech to Montag that is true about our world today is culture speeding everything up. This resembles America's fast-paced civilization, where technology and social media have significantly dumbed down information to make it more palatable to easily distracted audiences. Beatty also comments on schools eliminating classes. This parallels the way many educational institutions are dropping electives nationwide.

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The speech that Beatty delivers to Montag, written by Bradbury in 1953, has many elements that still resonate with today's world. He talks about the condensation of entertainment and media into shorter and shorter forms.

Books cut shorter. Condensations. Digests, Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending .... Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume.

This accurately predicts the trajectory we have seen with media in the past century, especially in the last twenty years. Attention spans are on average shorter, increased with the advent of apps like Snapchat, Vine, and Tiktok, which only allow for incredibly short video content, or apps like Twitter with restrictive word counts for written content. Entertainment is condensed to be consumed as quickly as possible.

This relates to not just creative media, like books or television, but to news, too.

Digests-digests, digest-digest-digests. Politics? One column, two sentences, a headline!

We are facing this in our current trends in journalism and news broadcasting. News has been leaning in recent years towards "click-bait" headlines and condensed articles. The goal has become entertaining the masses rather than reporting the facts of a situation, to the point that many people do not know which news services are reliable. Many people, especially with more access to newer technologies, consume news from Instagram graphics shared in short bursts on their friends' stories or Twitter headlines, not from full articles in newspapers or online periodicals.

Beatty also speaks to the development of political correctness. He says that as a population grows, so do the number of minorities who will potentially be offended by any given piece of media.

The bigger your market, Montag, the less you handle controversy, remember that!

Certain elements of this ring true. As we have developed a better understanding of the insensitivity and inequality that exists in our society, in relation to race, gender identity, sexuality, and physical ability, we have become more aware of how media can reinforce or upend established social privileges. This sometimes can be referred to as "cancel culture." Some people believe that this has created a wave of censorship, driven by the people, just as Beatty described. The way reality diverges from Beatty's story is that our awareness of minorities and their relationship to media has allowed for a greater diversity in storytelling rather than reducing media to "a nice blend of vanilla tapioca," as Beatty says.

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During Beatty's lecture in part 1, he tells Montag that media and technology dramatically sped up everything to a "snap ending" in the twentieth century. According to Beatty, people in Bradbury's dystopia would rather digest a "two-minute book column" or dictionary reference than read an extensive, in-depth article or book.

Generally speaking, Beatty's comments ring true today. American culture is also fast paced, and the advent of technology has made reading less popular and less necessary. For example, adolescents would rather watch short clips on Snapchat, YouTube, or Instagram than read a book. Even articles on news apps are cut short for audiences to skim through quickly. Popular culture views reading and intellectual pursuits as boring and mundane, while social media and online gaming continue to grow in popularity each year.

Beatty proceeds to comment on their shallow culture by asking Montag, "Why learn anything save pressing buttons, pulling switches, fitting nuts and bolts?" (27). He goes on to tell Montag that school is shortened while "philosophies, histories, languages dropped" in favor of exciting games. In modern America, certain electives and relevant classes are being dropped from curriculums nationwide while more and more students choose to be educated online. America's schools are struggling to educate students amidst the pandemic, and many subjects are being eliminated. There is also a lack of skilled laborers in the country, and people prefer to buy new things instead of fixing or rebuilding them.

Beatty then elaborates on why censorship is important and explains to Montag that minorities in their civilization could not be satisfied. Authors and critics were "full of evil thoughts," which is why censoring everything and anything considered upsetting or controversial became the norm. Beatty's description sounds eerily similar to America's obsession with political correctness. In today's society, many ideas, brands, teams, celebrities, and politicians are being "canceled" because they offend certain groups of people. In general, censorship seems to be the answer to anything controversial or offensive in America.

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Beatty mentions that political correctness takes over: "The bigger the population, the more minorities...the people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual [people]." Today, books are banned from schools. We have to be careful not to offend minority groups, and many of our laws, books, and media are centered around not offending them.

Beatty states that their society tried to make everyone equal, so as to make everyone feel better about themselves. He states, "the word 'intellectual' became the swear word it deserved to be...you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright'...and wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beatings...after hours?" This happens in our society too; smart kids don't answer questions so that they aren't labelled as a suck-up, being smart is socially uncool, and the stuff we teach in schools is slowly becoming more and more basic, in order to cater to everyone.

He states that their society cut all books down to brief summary, because people wanted to know what it was about without having to go through the effort of reading it. He states, "Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute readio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column." This happens in our society too; we would much rather watch the movie of the book instead of reading it. We look up plot summaries online instead of making the effort to read it.

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In part 1, Montag calls off work, and Captain Beatty visits his home to give him an enlightening lecture on the history of the fireman institution and the importance of their occupations. Several elements of Beatty's speech are relevant to modern society and continue to ring true. Beatty tells Montag that the culture change took place when the world began to have mass media. With the advent of film, people began to spend less time reading and information became condensed. Beatty says,

Books cut shorter. Condensations, Digests. Tabloids. Everything boils down to the gag, the snap ending.

In today's society, technology and mass media have also begun replacing books with other forms of media, and information is shortened to allow consumers to digest it quicker and easier. For example, there are news applications on phones that have replaced extensive articles with shortened video clips, where information is significantly condensed.

Beatty proceeds to describe their dystopian society by telling Montag,

School is shortened, discipline relaxed, philosophies, histories, languages dropped, English and spelling gradually neglected, finally almost completely ignored. Life is immediate, the job counts, pleasure lies all about after work.

Beatty's description parallels modern society's educational trend toward STEM education, where the humanities and liberal arts are considered less important than math and science. Throughout America, schools have been dropping their arts programs, while an increasing number of students have been opting to earn their education online. One could also argue that public education is primarily concerned with teaching students job skills and less focused on developing an intellectually driven population.

Beatty then mentions how the world became oversensitive as minorities began to resent authors and critics. The vast majority of citizens preferred to indulge in mindless entertainment rather than analyzing their own lifestyles. Beatty says,

Technology, mass exploitation, and minority pressure carried the trick, thank God.

Beatty's conclusion corresponds to modern society's current trend toward an increasingly ignorant, intolerant world, where the majority of citizens would rather consume meaningless entertainment than engage in intellectual pursuits.

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Much of Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 should make a modern reader feel uneasy. The prevalence of so many of the mentalities and technologies that appear in the novel are seen just as frequently today. One of the places in the novel where this is especially poignant is in Beatty's speech to Montag. In this speech, Beatty is explaining how firemen and culture in general came to be as it is in the book.

One thing that Beatty speaks to is the shortening of the attention span for the population at large. He states:

Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten- or twelve-line dictionary resume.

Certainly, the pacing of today's society, especially with the immediate availability of most technology, speaks to the lack of long attention spans and the need to shorten everything. Then, he discusses the effects that a fast-movie culture has on transportation. Beatty says the following:

Impatience. Highways full of crowds going somewhere, somewhere, somewhere, nowhere. The gasoline refugee. Towns turn into motels, people in nomadic surges from place to place.

Travel, too, is something that has grown monumentally since the 1950s when Bradbury wrote this novel. Another thing that Beatty points out about culture is that as population grows, the possibility for offense does, as well.

You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right?

Beatty's appeal to "keep everyone happy" is a common call to political correctness. These three examples are just a few from this fascinating novel that so well depicts a world in which the populace loses sight of the importance of gaining true knowledge through reading.

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In his speech to Montag in Part One, Beatty makes a number of claims that are true about our world. Firstly, he talks about the population growth which occurred in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and this did indeed happen. The population of the US increased considerably during this period, fueled primarily by industrialization and mass immigration.

Secondly, Beatty talks about highways being "full of crowds" as people travelled around in search of entertainment. Again, this is also true about our world. Our highways are always busy, full of people traveling here and there.

Thirdly, Beatty is also right about the number of minorities in our society. As he argues, the bigger the population, the more minority groups. By way of examples, he mentions Mormons, Baptists, Chinese, Swedes, and Italians, among many others. Similarly, in our world, we can find a plethora of minority groups from all over the world and belonging to every creed and culture.

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In part one, Captain Beatty visits Montag's home and discusses the history of the firefighter regime and why the citizens disregard literature. Beatty makes the keen observation that once technology advanced, books became less popular as citizens chose to entertain themselves by listening to radios and watching televisions. This aspect of Bradbury's dystopian society mirrors our modern American society, in which citizens read fewer novels and watch more television shows. Beatty also mentions that entertainment is fragmented into shorter clips, which corresponds with the quick, entertaining videos people watch on Youtube, Snapchat, Vine, and Instagram that last less than a minute. Beatty also elaborates on the education system and how the arts are completely ignored in schools. Diminished variety in coursework is becoming a trend in education due to increased legislation and school budget cuts. Beatty also mentions that citizens stopped reading because they were tired of being criticized by authors. In today's modern society, political correctness is emphasized, and in America's multicultural society, it is relatively easy to offend someone.

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"With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knower and imaginative creators, the word 'intellectual,' of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally 'bright,'...and wasn't it this bright boy you selected for beating and tortures after hours?"

In this, Beatty is saying that in their society, being smart is not valued as much as being athletic or daring, or doing action-oriented things for the thrill and excitement. He relates it to the smart kid that everyone makes fun of. If you think of your grade, and the super smart kids, don't people make fun of them? Don't they get picked on? They are apart, not part of the "popular" crowds. Being smart simply isn't cool like being a really good football player is. So, intelligence, reading, and book-smarts are looked down on and made fun of in their society. This leads to a generalized "dumbing-down" of their society, and pretty soon no one thinks on their own anymore. I can see that happening in our society too.

"We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal."

In this quote, Beatty explains the trend that their society has of trying to force everyone to be the same. In our society, there are many policies and situations where that also happens. If you make a lot of money, you are taxed more than if you don't make very much money--this "forces" the wealthier to have less money so that they are more similar to the poor in wealth. So, our society is alike in that way too, in many ways.

"Classics cut to fit fifteen-minute radio shows, then cut again to fill a two-minute book column, winding up at last as a ten-or twelve-line dictionary resume."

In this excerpt, Beatty is referring to the fact that books were shortened and shortened and shortened until finally no one read the book anymore, they just read a little summary about it in the dictionary, so that they could feel like they read the book without having to go to all of the work of reading it. So, when is the last time that you know of someone who watched the movie version of the book so that they wouldn't have to read the book? It happens all of the time. People don't take the time to read a book these days--they are so long! They take so much time and effort! And why bother when you can watch the movie or read the Cliff's notes?

These are just three things that are true about our world; there are many more, but I hope that gets you started. Good luck!

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