What forms of censorship are used in both 1984 and in today's civilization?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As O'Brien says, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."  Re-writing the past is a favorite pastime of authoritarian governments.  Hugo Chavez recently rewrote all the history books in the Venezuelan schools.  He created a year "zero," a starting over period in his country's history.  Those individuals and institutions whom he does not support were either left out of history or were demonized.

Winston works at the Ministry of Truth, which is really the Ministry of Lies (misinformation, disinformation, censorship, and revisionist history).  He sends real people down the memory hole; hence, they never were (unpersons).  Hollywood is notorious for this, sending such despots as Stalin, Mao, and others down the memory hole.  Who do they recycle as the archetypal villain of the WWII era?  Hitler, of course.  So says critic John Bennett:

Chairman Mao, once the Big Brother of China, has almost vanished down the Chinese memory hole. He has been virtually written out of Chinese history. A similar fate has befallen Stalin in official Soviet history. Hitler, on the other hand, has not been written out of history. He is larger than life, appearing on our 1984-style telescreens on a regular basis as a Goldstein hate figure He is needed to assist in the portrayal of World War II as a war between total good (the victors) and total evil (the vanquished). Hitler is also useful for the Hollywood World War II industry which churns out a mind-boggling number of films and TV series about the war.

Other forms of censorship include war propaganda and the Goldstein effect: always keeping the enemy as the lead news story, front and center, to be hated and feared en masse.  Bin Laden, Saddam, Kim Jong Il and other non-white members of the Axis of Evil have been recently demonized by the media.

Also books are outlawed in 1984.  This is the worst form of censorship, as it denies any written record of the past, any art to inspire, any dissenting opinions to be heard.  Just check your local school board to see which books your public schools have recently banned.  At last check: Huck Finn was among the heavyweights.  Catcher in the Rye, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and The Color Purple also come to mind for their explicit language and episodes of sexual interludes.