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While it is often assumed to be a novel about censorship, Ray Bradbury actually wrote Fahrenheit 451 as a warning about the encroaching influence of television. Bradbury saw television as a negative influence on society, one that kept people from learning about life and the world for themselves, and instead only believing what they saw on the screen. Bradbury also predicted the effects of emotional, sensory-driven entertainment instead of thematic and content-driven entertainment:
Mildred kicked at a book. "Books aren't people. You read and I look around, but there isn't anybody!"
[Montag] stared at the parlour that was dead and grey as the waters of an ocean that might teem with life if they switched on the electronic sun.
"Now," said Mildred, "my 'family' is people. They tell me things; I laugh, they laugh! And the colours!"
(Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451, Google Books)
At this stage in the novel, it is clear that the "family" Mildred speaks of is nothing more than the emotional response of colors and sounds; she reacts with instinct instead of thought, and has no idea what happens on the screen except that it creates feelings within herself. Montag, however, is discovering his individualism, and finds the colors and sounds overbearing and irritating; in this manner, Bradbury shows how constant dependence on television entertainment opens the mind to absorb and unconsciously agree with anything shown, without the ability to think about content and themes in a critical fashion.
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