Outgoing Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, created a small firestorm last week – and raised a few eyebrows, when he nixed any idea of a statue of George Orwell being placed at the BBC’s new Broadcasting House – on the grounds that it was “too left wing.” … The statue on the Piazza – the hill, the square – continues to shock and provoke. This one though, has not yet left the artist’s desk, … and for us the feeling is more of bemusement than shock. Yes, we’re “bemused… ” and a little bewildered, and also seduced by this unfurling media boondoggle (… but the headline “Sculpture Bemusement” is just not nearly as catchy as “Sculpture Shock.” …)
George Orwell worked for the BBC during WWII, from 1941 to 1943 – countering Hitler’s propaganda with radio broadcasts to India, as part of the Beeb’s Eastern Service. He left the BBC disillusioned and stated once that he found the news organization “in atmosphere something halfway between a girls’ school and a lunatic asylum” He based his hellish vision of bureaucracy and doublespeak – “1984‘s” Ministry of Truth – on his experience as a journalist there. While he was a supporter of England’s Labor Party, when it espoused socialism, we can safely state that much of Orwell’s work attacks all totalitarian regimes regardless of the party ideology or affiliations. His work skewered both Hitler and Stalin. “In my opinion,” Orwell said about the Soviet Union, “nothing has contributed so much to the corruption of the original idea of socialism as the belief that Russia is a socialist country.” Orwell was convinced that: “the destruction of the Soviet myth was essential if we wanted a revival of the socialist movement.” Socialism, as a concept, has seen better days, for sure – but as a word it’s more than a little “challenged.” Today ‘Socialism’ – the word – has been robbed of any meaning… While Orwell did “support socialism,” the BBC itself, (incredibly, really) has been long accused of being a Bastion of Socialism – and in the US media, Obama is regularly called, without comment, a “socialist…”
Anyway, while, for some, all this may appear either troublesome … or moronic – or seem to point, by its sheer banality, to the low level of discourse in today’s world*, we remain duly impressed with Mr Thompson’s ability to so deftly maintain the “brand value” of the Beeb and wish him well at his new gig at the NYT – where, after all, “all the news that’s fit to print” … is printed.
The sculptor – of the banned sculpture – Martin Jennings’ site is linked here.
We link to George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” here.
Aand we take the opportunity to post Orwell’s “1984” – the filmed version from 1984, starring John Hurt and Richard Burton, Suzanna Hamilton, and Cyril Cusack:
* We state, for the record, that we are not, nor have we ever been, a member of the Socialist Party.