Friday, September 26, 2008

What's On Tonight, Dear?


Prolefeed is a Newspeak term in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. It was used to describe the deliberately useless literature, movies and music that were produced by Prolesec, a section of the Ministry of Truth, to keep the "proles" (i.e., proletariat) content and to prevent them from becoming too knowledgeable and rebelling against the ruling Party. A quote from the novel illustrates it:

And the Ministry had not only to supply the multifarious needs of the party, but also to repeat the whole operation at a lower level for the benefit of the proletariat. There was a whole chain of separate departments dealing with proletarian literature, music, drama, and entertainment generally. Here were produced rubbishy newspapers containing almost nothing except sport, crime and astrology, sensational five-cent novelettes, films oozing with sex, and sentimental songs which were composed entirely by mechanical means on a special kind of kaleidoscope known as a versificator. There was even a whole sub-section — Pornosec, it was called in Newspeak — engaged in producing the lowest kind of pornography, which was sent out in sealed packets and which no Party member, other than those who worked on it, was permitted to look at.

The term has been used to describe shallow entertainment in the real world, e.g. news about famous celebrities featured in supermarket tabloids and tabloid television.

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