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The New Newspeak: In Music

The media, and the popular culture it generates, permeating through every facet of our society, have gone to hell. Our circles have known about this for a long time, as well as (((who))) is behind it, but, even outside of our purview, people are beginning to pick up on this. Music is now composed of nothing but pejorative slurs, clichéd expressions, and mindless degenerate messages. Cinema and television are the same stories that have been told time and time again, repackaged with new colors and images, cast and recast to be sold to the lowest common denominator. Literature, the last bastion of the thinking man, is being invaded, in a manner predicted by one of the great classics of the literary world.
In 1949, George Orwell wrote the book that would bring him the most fame, 1984. 1984 painted a horrific picture of a dystopian future under an all-encompassing communist dictatorship. One of the more subtle horrors in this vision of things to come is a form of

language known as Newspeak. Newspeak is a dumbed down and truncated form of English. It is a ghastly, brutal language, with neither subtlety nor nuance. The purpose of Newspeak is to control the population. By controlling how people can articulate themselves, express themselves, and in the end, how they think, a more thorough and terrifying means of control can be achieved than any legion of jackbooted thugs could ever provide. The most the legion of thugs can take from you is your liberty and life. The threat of the slow creep of Newspeak is a far more chilling one. It promises the gradual corruption and consumption of your thoughts, your mind, and in the end, your very soul.

The most pernicious facet of this looming specter is how subtle it can be. By the time you feel the noose begin to tighten around your throat, it’s far too late; it’s long since been set and dug into the flesh. Only by drastic measures can one cut the noose, and preserve themselves. It’s easy to think of this portrayal of Newspeak as hyperbolic worrying. However, if you take a look at the various media industries, you can see how the fabric of our culture and society has started to warp like rotting wood.

Much to my, and presumably your, irritation, I cannot go for a full day out in public without hearing the thumping, omnipresent, beat of some sort of rap music. All of us know the sort that I’m speaking of. I used to joke that it was some sort of secret competition to see who could use the words ‘bitch’, ‘nigger’, and ‘fuck’, the most in a three minute track before someone put a stop to it in sheer incredulity at the raw coarseness and vulgarity of it. It’s pervaded throughout our culture, and can be heard everywhere. We all think about, and espouse our disapproval of, the negative effects that this music has upon our society. It promotes a derogatory and degrading attitude towards women, a sense of false entitlement towards the land, and a sense of disdain and rebellion towards the police. We all notice these, but what we should be looking at is on a more subtle level. Take a look at the words used in these songs. Not only are they simple, often monosyllabic, there isn’t any real variety in them. No range or variance in tone, no diction other than the most basic. The same handful of short, simple, guttural words that rhyme easily. When we focus on this aspect however, we can shift our gaze to the music industry as a whole. Rap is not the only genre where we are seeing this simplification. Spend a day listening to a popular radio station, and see if you can find a song with any sort of musical or lyrical composure or connotation. I’ve tried it before, and couldn’t. Everything is being chopped up, dumbed down, and packaged for the lowest common denominator.

Of all the genres of music, rap is the easiest to see the decline in, because of how vulgar it has become. If one looks at other genres though, it’s not too hard to see it, with a bit of effort. Gone are the songs of years past, the poetic wonders, the musicians who carved their legacy in the annals of history. We have radio stations dedicated to playing the best of the past three decades, but we will not see the same for the music that is coming out now. It’s trash, meant to capture the ears of an audience, and leave them humming along to the tune for a few weeks until the next ear worm is released.
We express ourselves in so many ways throughout music. Sad songs to share our sorrows, songs of war, love, anger, and lust, songs to uplift, and songs to bring low. Music is an inescapable part of our culture, tied into our very souls. When you start limiting what people can do with music, the words they use, the tones, the melodies, everything condensed down into the same few rehashed snippets sold to the masses again and again, you start to limit the people themselves. You condition them to only use what they are familiar with, and what they are familiar with is what you have given them. This is the specter of Newspeak lurking in our music, and it is one of many.