Thursday, July 7, 2016

What Is Real and What is an Illusion?

How many of my readers have read the classic dystopian novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four"?

This novel was published in 1949 and enough of it has chillingly come true.  The real "chillingly" part has come true though advances in technology the author, George Orwell, could only begin to imagine.

In this dystopian future, there is a government agency called the Ministry of Truth. 

The Ministry of Truth (or "Minitrue"), among other responsibilities, must constantly revise history to agree with the Party line.  In the book, editors would work to revise history and delete "unpersons", those who had been eliminated by the State.  The obsolete documents are then destroyed.  The Ministry is in charge of the truth - their truth, that is.  A truth that is a lie.

Now, we can edit reality with a flick of our computer mice or finger swiping a tablet.

We can edit photos with ease.

And, we can even change live broadcasts.

On the night of July 4, my spouse and I, as the nightcap to our celebration of Independence Day, watched a PBS (public television) broadcast of festivities in our capital, Washington, DC. I've been there at the DC fireworks twice in person and I do know what the fireworks are like.

The night was overcast and foggy.  When the fireworks began, they disappeared right into a layer of fog.

But, strangely, the broadcast kept switching to one camera that, miraculously, was broadcasting amazingly clear fireworks.  How beautiful!  And how puzzling. But a lot of people figured out, quickly, what was going on, and took to Twitter to express their displeasure.

Tuesday, we discovered the truth, as PBS admitted they had edited the live broadcast to edit in fireworks from previous years.  And they didn't label the show as "prerecorded", either. 

So now the debate rages:  should PBS have inserted "rerun" fireworks into a live broadcast without full disclosure of same?  (My personal opinion is: they should have said something like "gee, folks, the visibility is terrible, so we are going to play some firework reruns for your entertainment while you listen to the wonderful, live, music.")

But to me, the question is even more simple:

Where does reality begin?  Can you even trust live event transmissions anymore?

Has the Ministry of Truth infiltrated every aspect of our lives?

14 comments:

  1. I haven't read the book but it is on my wish list...But yes nowadays, you can't trust anything they show on television..what is reality and what is scripted, you can never say...It's all about TRPs for them

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    1. I highly recommend the book. When you read it, and I hope you do, keep in mind when it was first published.

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  2. I was under the impression that the "live" performance was live. It was the repeated presentation that effected this chicanery. (I was watching the Boston Pops and Fireworks, which has always been my favorite.)

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    1. My spouse and I were watching the live fireworks (as you correctly point out, the show is immediately rerun right after the live broadcast ends) not the rerun. And there were amazingly clear fireworks interspaced with the foggy, barely visible fireworks. We were truly puzzled. We did DVR the Boston fireworks, and haven't watched them yet. Seeing them in person is on my bucket list.

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  3. I read 1984 in high school, scary novel.

    As for PBS...

    When Macy's broadcasts the Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV, you will sometimes see one of the giant balloons come across your screen with the notation that the flight was "recorded earlier". That's been known to happen when, for example, a balloon has to be taken out of the parade, or the balloon is badly damaged as it comes down Broadway. The TV audience was expecting the balloon, the network delivered, but truthfully.

    As I understand it, the weather in DC was not conducive to fireworks, and the actual show was mediocre. I see nothing wrong with PBS showing pre-recorded fireworks, but I see everything wrong with their lack of truthfulness.

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    1. I would have been OK with a disclosure of "weather conditions stink, so enjoy these reruns with the live music". After all, I did tune in to see fireworks. But, there is a part of me who feels live broadcast shouldn't be "touched up" to include items that the audience was expecting but couldn't be included. The people really there went through a lot more to see the event then people sitting on their couches. I can see it both ways (but, always with touch-ups fully disclosed.)

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  4. I can see why they did it but yes, sometimes it would be better not to know the lie behind the truth... in today's world, they would hav been worried of all the legal implications. Sadly, it does take away some of the magic.

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    1. It does take away some of the magic. It does sadden me a little when everything must be "touched up" to be perfect - photos of celebrities, especially.

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  5. Where does reality begin? that is a very powerful question. Everything in REEL world is sold out. One cannot trust any broadcasts without a pinch of salt. lobbying you see.

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    1. Sadly, there is a lot of truth to what you say.

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  6. I agree. If the visibility was terrible, it is understandable that they'd play a better view of fireworks from a prior year. But they should have disclosed as much.

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    1. I have a feeling PBS has learned its lesson. It was, at one time, called Educational TV. And they certainly, I hope you'll excuse the expression, got schooled.

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  7. I deal with one of my client who has trouble with what is an illusion and not.
    He is schizophrenia
    Coffee is on

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  8. Has the Ministry of Truth infiltrated every aspect of our lives? I'm pretty sure it has. And there are so many tools that allow people to show you an alternate view of reality, it's hard to tell fact from fiction. I figure I'm too old to worry about it anyway, so I just sit back and enjoy the show.

    By the way, PBS is one of those tools I was talking about... XD

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