Friday, October 22, 2010

Bradbury Hates Television

I know this comes from '' but it's an interesting take on one of my favorite books. As I remember, this novel also didn't have much good to say about TV as the paragraph below claims. It's anti-censorship storyline often overshadows this point.

It's the defining anti-censorship book of our time. The image of government crews gathering up and burning books is as iconic in the free world as Big Brother.

In Fahrenheit 451, America in the future is a clusterfucked society and a nation of dimwits. Books are outlawed for promoting intellectualism and free thinking, which inevitably leads to objective discourse and debate, which are now considered politically incorrect because dissenting opinions make people sad. Instead of preventing homes from going up in flames, firemen have been reassigned to rifle through homes and seize any contraband books that remain.

Just about every critic and literary scholar on the planet viewed the novel as metaphor for the dangers of state-sponsored censorship. Can't see this as much of a stretch, considering it was about book burning (although, the title may have suggested that it was really about book warming, since, according to Bradbury's sources, the temperature at which paper combusts is actually 450 degrees Celsius, or 842 degrees Fahrenheit).

What it's really about:

Bradbury was actually more concerned with TV destroying interest in literature than he was with government censorship and officials running around libraries with lit matches. According to Bradbury, television is useless and compresses important information about the world into little factoids, contributing to society's ever-shrinking attention span. Like "Video Killed the Radio Star," television would kill the, uh, book star (he said same thing about radio too, by the way). An interesting rant from the author, considering that much of Bradbury's fame was a direct result of his stories being portrayed on science fiction shows.

For a science fiction writer who predicted the development of flat-screen TVs you hang on the wall, ATMs and virtual reality, he sure hates new technology. Along with bitching about radio and television, Bradbury also has something against the Internet. He apparently told Yahoo! they could go fuck themselves, and as far as he's concerned, the Internet can go to hell. He doesn't own a computer, needless to say. At least we can say whatever we want about him without getting sued.

What probably pissed Bradbury off more than anything was that people completely disregarded his interpretation of his own book. In fact, when Bradbury was a guest lecturer in a class at UCLA, students flat-out told him to his face that he was mistaken and that his book is really about censorship. He walked out.


Kelly Sedinger said...

On a tangential note, have you seen "F*** Me Ray Bradbury" on YouTube? If not, go watch it. Mr. Bradbury himself apparently enjoyed it!

Megan said...

There's actually quite a lot in the book about Montag's wife and her shows and how she has completely tuned out because her "reality" is what comes out of the wall screens.