1984 or Brazil?

Not a long post today, more a question I cannot resolve. People are saying we are living in a time akin to George Orwell’s imagined totalitarian nightmare, 1984. There are a lot of compelling arguments to that.

I won’t bother listing them all out. Either you’ve read 1984 (or even seen a film adaptation) or you haven’t. Most likely, even if you haven’t, you understand the reference and why people might feel that way.

The more horrifying possibility that I entertain, and that I have for a number of years, is that instead we’re living in a world akin to Terry Gilliam’s brilliant Brazil.

Sure, it’s got the potential to be a malevolent totalitarian nightmare, but…it’s both better and worse because the bureaucratic machines are just so incompetent. Every regulation breaks a rule, and every rule is a regulation. People are monitored constantly, but it’s not by some well-organized central system.

It’s run as, and by, a confederacy of incompetence. If the wrong (right?) person were to coordinate things, it would be a horrifying nightmare.

As it is, it’s still a horrifying nightmare.

We’re not being pursued through a labyrinth by a vengeful minotaur. We’re being stalked in a ramshackle field by an ill-tempered bull.

I don’t know if that should make anyone feel better, or worse.

But if you haven’t, watch Brazil and read 1984, and let me know what you decide. If you have done both, let me know which one you think better represents our times.

Bonus points if you throw THX-1138 into the mix and see if that works even better.

Oh well.