George Orwell Biopic

John Giangrasso                                                                                        Intro to Journalism

8/1/08                                                                                                                     Prof. King


            Eric Arthur Blair (Born June, 25th 1903 – January 21st 1950) was an English journalist, political essayist and novelist who wrote under the pseudonym George Orwell.  He is most famous for two novels critical of totalitarianism, Nineteen Eighty – Four and Animal Farm (a satire of Stalinism).

            Eric Arthur Blair was born in Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India.  His mother Ida Mabel Blair took her from a three-month visit to England his father Richard Blair did not enter his son’s life until he was nine years old.  Blair described his family as “lower-upper-middle-class.”  His work at St. Cyprian’s School in Eastbourne, Sussex earned him scholarships to Wellington and Eton.  After a term at Wellington College, Blair transferred to Eton College where he was relatively happy because the school allowed students much independence.

            Blair joined the Indian Imperial Police in October 1922 because his parents could not afford to send him to Oxbridge without another scholarship.  He moved to Moulmein where his grandmother lived in April 1926 and at the end of that year went on to Katha where he contracted Dengue Fever in 1927.  In view of his illness he was allowed to go home in July and he reappraised his life and resigned from the Indian Imperial Police with the intention of becoming a writer.

            He moved to London and started his exploratory expeditions to the poorer parts of London and recorded his experiences of the low life for use in “The Spike”, his first published essay, and the latter half of his first book, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933). 

            In spring of 1928, he moved to Paris, where the comparatively low cost of living and bohemian lifestyle offered an attraction for many aspiring writers.  He worked on novels but was more successful as a journalist.  He published articles in Monde, G. R.’s Weekly and Le Progres Civique.  In August 1929 he sent a copy of “The Spike” to The Adelphi magazine in London and it was accepted for publication.  In December, after a year and three quotes in Paris, he returned to England.

            Orwell did his leg and home-work as a social reporter: he gained entry to many houses in Waigon to see how people lived; took systematic notes of housing conditions and wages earned; and spent days in the local public library consulting public health records and reports on mine working conditions.  The Road to Wigan Pier’s second half was a long essay of his upbringing, and the development of his political conscience, including a denunciation of the Left’s irresponsible elements. 

            In December 1936, Orwell went to Spain as a fighter for the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War that was provoked by Francisco Franco’s Fascist uprising.  In conversation with Philip Mairet, editor of New English Weekly, Orwell said: “This Fascism…somebody’s got to stop it.  Fortuitously, Orwell joined the POUM (Partido Obrero de Unification Marxista), a revolutionary communist party, rather than the Communist International Brigades, but his experiences much increased his sympathies for the POUM, making him a life-long anti-Stalinist and firm believer in what he termed Democratic Socialism, socialism with free debate and elections. 

            I asked one of my classmates Matthew Fischofer if he thought Orwell’s criticism of the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin damaged the socialist cause but he said, “No, because Stalin wasn’t true socialism.  He was a dictator with one ruling class that stood above everybody else.  Still there is a negative connotation of Socialism in this country, such as the Obama bashing for his support of socialized medicine.” 

            After the Spanish Ordeal, Orwell’s formation ended; his finest writing, best essays, and great fame lay ahead.  In 1941, Orwell worked for BBC’s Eastern Service, supervising Indian broadcasts meant to stimulate India’s war participation against the approaching.  Japanese army.  Despite the good salary, he resigned from the BBC in September 1943, and in November became literary editor of the left wing weekly magazine Tribune. 

            I asked Mr. Fischofer, during his employment at the BBC, Orwell became familiar with the methods of Nazi propaganda.  Do you think if he were around to watch TV today would he feel anything has changed significantly?  Fischofer said, “I think we still use the propaganda used by the Nazis.  Bringing the fear out of people is a good motivator.  Propaganda has snowballed.  People are to busy living their own little lives and when they hear it they take it too emotionally.”  

            In 1944, Orwell finished the anti-Stalinist allegory Animal Farm to critical and popular success.  With Animal Farm at the printers, with wars end in view, Orwell’s desire to be in the thick of the action quickened.  David Astor asked him to be the Observer was correspondent reporting the liberation of France and the earl occupation of Germany.  He had a baby later that year and also lost wife in the spring of 1945 during an operation to remove a tumor. 

            For the next for years he mixed journalistic work – mainly for the Tribune, The Observer and The Manchester Evening News, though he also contributed to many small-circulation political and literary magazines – with writing his best-known work, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was published in 1949.  The book was originally supposed to be named 1980 but due to the illness it was changed to 1982 then 1984.           

            I asked Fischofer in 1984 Oceania is in perpetual war.  The enemy regularly changes but the state is always at war.  Do you think what Orwell is trying to say is that mankind will always find a reason to go to war?  Is peace a possibility?  He said, “There’s always going to be a power struggle, it depends if blood is going to be shed.  People strive for peace but they don’t get it.  Everyone really just wants for their own good.”  We were in agreement on the latter point. 

            Orwell died in London of tuberculosis at the age of 46.  When Orwell wrote “Down and Out in Paris and London” a semi-autobiographical account of his experiences in both cities this was a prime example of how journalism shaped his literary work.  Orwell said of the experience, “At present I do not feel that I have seen more than the fringe of poverty. Still I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.”  Orwell, in my opinion, most likely turned to journalism from literature because he found it easier to get work and found the work he was doing important.  John McNair (1887-1868), quotes him: “He said that this [writing a book] was quite secondary, and his main reason for coming was to fight against Fascism.” 

            Orwell, in my opinion, was a journalist at heart before he was an essayist or a novelist.  He did an extensive amount of work that was primarily journalist material and his two most famous books were so political they could be considered works of journalism too.  Animal Farm was an allegory in which animals play roles of the Bolshevik revolutionaries and Nineteen Eighty-Four a novel about life under a futuristic authoritarian regime in the year 1984.  Both describe how a society’s ideologies can be manipulated and twisted by those in positions of social and political power, including how a utopian society is made impossible by the corrupting nature of the very power necessary to create it. 

            I thought Nineteen Eighty-Four with its concept of the Big Brother is the most realistic example of how Orwell’s work is important today.  I asked Fischofer if he thought the concept of Big Brother in which people are always being watched and under constant surveillance all the time is a valid prediction from Orwell?  Does the Patriot Act prove this theory?  He said, “Absolutely, when people are afraid of something they will look to anything for security.  The more freedom you have, the less security you have.  Free will gives them a choice of failure.  They always wanted a Patriot Act in Congress but I haven’t heard of anyone being tried for it.” 


Gay Marriage: It’s in the Numbers

John Giangrasso Intro to Journalism

Prof. King 7/26/08

Gay Marriage: It’s in the Numbers

The statistics are alarming and speak for themselves. Half of all marriages end in divorce, 1.5 million women a year are assaulted by their current or former boyfriends, one in three children are born outside marriage, 9.68 million female single parent homes, three children a day die from child abuse and neglect and each year an estimated one million cases of suspected child abuse and neglect are substantiated. Seldom has the political manipulation of an issue been so great but as soon as the statistics behind family breakdown are raised in public, the ideological debate about the ideal family form ensues.

The three different views being debated in the churches on this issue are exploring new rites of church “blessings” for gay and lesbian couples commited to lifelong relationships, others want sacramental inclusion and most Christians still believe that the sacrament and theology of the church on marriage shouldn’t be altered. Both sides of the argument have succeeded in overstating the issue. Conservatives relating homosexual marriage to the end of Western Civilization is unfounded and some liberals say that resolving the issues of gay unions is morally equivalent to the issues of racism, apartheid, and the Holocaust. They blew it out of proportion.

So the question I want to know is whether the history of family dynamics and the statistics associated with them suggest that possibly the nuclear family is an unrealistic and unwarranted ideal form of union? Furthermore, what impact if any gay marriage can and will in the future have on the nuclear family dynamics which are already in bad shape? According to an editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune called Statistical Census Findings: Traditional Married Couples are Better Off by any Available Standard, “The latest census data show that the traditional family — a married couple and their children — constitute just a little less than one-fourth of all households. On the other hand, such families constituted just a little more than one-fourth of all families a decade ago. Any reports of the demise of the traditional family are greatly exaggerated.”

So what are the most common causes for marriages failing? A survey of experienced divorce lawyers who have been elected by their peers to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers broke it down for us. Poor communication, financial problems, a lack of commitment to the marriage, a dramatic change in priorities and infidelity topped the list. The other causes seen a lot but not as often were failed expectations or unmet needs, addictions and substance abuse, physical, sexual or emotional abuse and a lack of conflict resolution skills. The only thing I couldn’t seem to find on the list was the high amount of divorces due to the relentless pressure felt by families in the form of gay marriages or civil unions breaking them down externally.

In his editorial, “No New Gays” Bill Maher says, “nobody seems to find it abominable about Britney Spears tounging Madonna…or anything else on the third shelf of my “library”. No, in America when a man puts something in another man it had better be a bullet.” Although it’s hysterical it does point out the fact that gay and lesbian acts are already right out in the open in our culture in the form of movies, TV shows and even professional athletes. When Conservatives talk about the moral degeneration brought on by homosexual values and how much of an impact they are having they fail to bring up one thing. In recent years the personal computer and the internet have become a phenomenon that spread faster than anyone could have imagined. It has transformed many industries for good, in some cases making people rich beyond their wildest dreams but for the mass populace a replacement. Yet what is the most visited website on the internet: porn. So much for the moral degeneration, we’re already there.

I talked to Pattie Daly of Rockville Centre whose brother is a homosexual. I asked her what she felt about her own brother being involved in a gay marriage and she said, “I would be completely relieved. He would no longer be in my hair.” I had to laugh but then she said, “he would have someone, company he desperately needs. Some people are gay by their innate nature and they shouldn’t be scrutinized to have a family life because of who they are.” I asked her what her initial reaction was when she first found out her brother was gay and she said, “I wasn’t surprised. I don’t care that he’s gay I care that he’s cheap. I don’t care what his sexual preference.” Her son Dan was there and he said, “That two gay men should not be allowed to be parents because then the child will be ridicule and find it won’t relate as well to the majority who are heterosexual couples.” Even between a mother and son we see that this issue touches as at our core and most people will voice their opinions openly on this topic.

The states themselves will ultimately resolve the legal and civil issues through legislative proceedings. One thing is for sure. Politicians and anyone with a vested interest in seeing us divided as a nation will polarize this issue to further tear us apart as a community and highlight what makes us different to keep us from rising up against all the other social intolerances that are over looked by this silly issue.

Mechnic asks th public to be more careful when driving

A Service Mechanic at Nick’s Exxon at 85 North Central Avenue witness one crash that starts a trend. At around nine thirty A.M. Andrew Gaudio while serving a customer saw an accident unfold right in front of his face. I asked him, “People are friggin crazy and when they’re on the road they’re out of their minds.” The first accident occurred the first week in June when two cars struggling for the lead crashed into each other. It’s a one lane main road and there was one car was parallel parked on the side of the road and the other car a minivan was driving down the road. He said, “either they didn’t see each other or didn’t care but the minivan passed him as soon as he turned out.” The person driving the minivan was a middle aged white man and the other was a young man in his late twenties. I asked Andrew what happened when both parties got out and had to deal with the accident he said, “They got out and were very civil with each other because both new they had done something wrong.”

The second accident took place only a few days later and this time could’ve been fatal for many. A cement truck and an SUV were stopped at a red light when the light turned green and the cement truck began his right hand turn. The cement truck made a wide right turn and the SUV behind him in a rush, honking decided to speed into the intersection passing the cement truck on the right. What he didn’t notice was that when the angle of the cement trucks turn made him inevitable to get it. The reaction this time was much different. Much more hostile and unpleasant. This time neither party would accept any guilt. The man in the SUV didn’t know that when passing a truck it is only acceptable when passing on the left.

Again at the red light a mail truck was stopped at the same red light and yet another accident that could’ve been avoided. This time the accident was a little more comical but still shows us the dangerous habits of our drivers. A man in a Pontiac Grand Am not even looking forward before stepping on the gas crashes into of all things the mail truck sending around hundreds of letters flying through the wind. I asked him if he thought they should make tougher laws and higher penalties for reckless driving due to the staggering of accidents which cause financial turmoil, high levels of stress and death. He said if you have stricter penalties and then you have a responsible driver who gets into an accident that allows for an opportunity to be taken advantage in court and in a civil suit. He said instead we should, “ just be more responsible behind the wheel.”

This is not a new thing for New York who is faced with the difficult task of aligning resources to make out roads safer. So far high penalties, school zones, signs, traffic gaurds, organizations such as MAD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and all of the preparatory education mandatory to get a license have done little in stopping this problem in the foreseeable future. This will be a lasting issue.