What role does media play in Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood? What are some central themes surrounding media in Oryx and Crake?

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In Oryx and Crake , media plays a supporting role to the dangers of technological development by tying those dangers to rampant capitalist exploitation. Within the novel, the media serves three purposes: the desensitization of the public, the acceptance of a surveillance state, and the use of advertising to drive...

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In Oryx and Crake, media plays a supporting role to the dangers of technological development by tying those dangers to rampant capitalist exploitation. Within the novel, the media serves three purposes: the desensitization of the public, the acceptance of a surveillance state, and the use of advertising to drive a destructive capitalism.

Desensitization of the public can be seen through the games that Jimmy and Crake play on their computer. These games involve either significant violence or use historical atrocities as minor game elements. The computer also allows them to view snuff films, pornography, and child pornography (which is how they first see Crake). Interestingly, viewing content on the computer it is treated much more like television (with the boys demanding a channel change when they are bored) than the internet we are used to.

The options to watch snuff films and child pornography, along with some of the other shows that can be accessed, undermine some of the values of privacy that citizens usually desire. The proliferation of CCTV cameras and spy-recording devices also grant individuals substantial access to invade the privacy of others, some of which can be accessed from the internet. The slowly eroding value of privacy allows for greater surveillance tools to be used on the populace, especially within the corporate enclaves.

The final use of media is advertising. Advertisements are used in a barrage and spammed format to reach as many people as possible as often as possible. The importance of advertisement is so great that schools focusing on language development study and develop advertising skills rather than skills in literature or law.

The combination of these three things leads to a society where near universal surveillance is accepted by much of the public, human lives are devalued to the point that abject suffering outside of corporate compounds is largely ignored, and the march of capitalism is such that money is accepted as more valuable than the lives and safety of people.

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